Creamy Oven-Baked Polenta (with toppings)

Bowl of creamy oven-baked polenta garnished with sliced squash and kale

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

No more stirring polenta on the stove! Oven-baked polenta cooks all by itself in the oven. It's creamy and comforting and everyone in the family can add their favorite toppings.

I often roast a sheet pan of vegetables tossed in olive oil at the same time that the polenta is in the oven, so I can serve roasted vegetables on the side. 


Units Scale
  • 1 cup course or medium grind cornmeal (look for cornmeal that's labeled as "polenta")
  • 4 1/2 cups water*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter (I prefer butter)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

*You can use between 4 and 5 cups water. Four cups for firmer polenta and 5 cups for softer polenta.


  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. 
  2. In a baking dish that’s close to 9x13 in size, combine the cornmeal, water, butter or olive oil and salt. Mix well with a fork or whisk. 
  3. Carefully put the baking dish in the oven, being careful not to slosh water over the side.
  4. Bake the polenta uncovered for 40 minutes. You don’t need to stir or check on the polenta while it bakes, just let it do its thing.
  5. After 40 minutes, stir the polenta and bake for another 10 to 20 minutes until the polenta has absorbed all of the water and the texture is no longer runny. It will start setting around the edges first. If the texture in the middle looks like cake batter, you need to bake it longer. The texture should be soft, but not watery. Taste the polenta - if it's bitter, that's a sign that the cornmeal is still slightly raw and hasn't cooked long enough. 
  6. When the polenta is done, add salt as needed and top the polenta with your favorite toppings. 

Polenta Toppings:

I often also roast a sheet pan of vegetables while the oven is on and serve the veggies on the side. Many people like adding butter and cheese to polenta. See the blog post above for more topping ideas. 


Oven-baked polenta needs to be made with medium or coarse ground cornmeal. Two brands I like are Albers and Bob's Red Mill. I haven't had luck with Arrowhead Mills Cornmeal, which is too finely ground.