What to Serve with Polenta: 25+ BEST Side Dishes

Wondering what to serve with polenta? I’ve got you covered with this guide of the 25+ best side dishes. Whether you’re serving cheesy polenta, creamy polenta, or polenta cakes!

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Creamy polenta is one of the most simple side dishes that you can make. It makes a perfect side dish to compliment hearty, saucy dishes like these red wine braised short ribssmoked beef short ribs, or this sausage ragout, because it soaks up all that delicious sauce.

But, what is traditionally served with polenta?

In this article, I list 25+ of the most popular side dishes for polenta.

What to Serve with Polenta

short ribs and mashed potatoes in white bowl
These red wine braised short ribs are the perfect, savory dinner party recipe! Easy to make ahead and then just pop in the oven to cook, this mouthwatering short ribs recipes lets you enjoy the night while also serving a delicious, home-cooked meal.
Braised Short Ribs
Overhead close up of bowl with polenta and osso buco.
This Slow Cooker Osso Buco is super flavorful and tender. Serve it over polenta for the most delicious and amazing dinner. 
Slow Cooker Osso Buco
Piece of mushroom chicken in white bowl with mashed potatoes and gravy.
Mushroom Chicken is a simple, yet elegant meal to enjoy for quick dinners or fancy events. Pan-fried chicken and mushrooms are smothered in a rich and creamy garlic sauce and ready to eat in just 30 minutes.
Mushroom Chicken
Overhead shot of beef stew in bowl on wood background.
Instant Pot Beef Stew is the perfect cozy meal for chilly days. With this easy recipe, tender chunks of beef, potatoes and carrots cook together in a flavorful sauce with red wine. This hearty and savory dish will be on your menu over and over all season!
Instant Pot Beef Stew
French Onion Chicken cooked in skillet and sprinkled with parsley
This creamy French Onion Chicken is a simple yet crave-worthy dinner that’s made in one skillet! Tender chicken breasts are covered in a rich gravy with caramelized onions, then piled with Gruyere and baked to form a perfectly melty, cheesy layer on top.
French Onion Chicken
Overhead shot of cioppino in white bowl with spoon.
This Cioppino (Italian Seafood Stew) recipe is made with freshly cooked seafood in a bright and aromatic tomato-wine base. It’s easy to prepare ahead of time and can be ready to eat in just 1 hour.
Cioppino
Chicken marsala in large skillet with spoon in sauce.
30 Minute Easy Chicken Marsala is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner, but it’s also elegant enough to serve at a dinner party. The Marsala wine, bacon, butter sauce will have you licking your plate!
Chicken Marsala
Pork piccata slices on white plate drizzled with lemon caper sauce.
This 30 Minute Easy Pork Piccata makes a quick and easy weeknight dinner, but it’s also elegant enough for a dinner party at home. The lemon, garlic, butter sauce will have you licking your plate every time!
Pork Piccata
Shrimp Fra Diavolo features sautéed shrimp tossed in a spicy tomato sauce spiked with white wine. It's a quick & easy delicious pasta recipe perfect for the weeknight dinner table. 
 
Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Three pork chops arranged on grey plate with mashed potatoes and gravy.
Instant Pot Pork Chops cook up deliciously tender and juicy in your electric pressure cooker, and they’re finished off with an irresistible gravy.
Instant Pot Pork Chops
Chicken piccata in skillet.
This 30-Minute Easy Chicken Piccata makes a quick and easy weeknight dinner, but it’s also elegant enough for a dinner party at home. The lemon, garlic, butter sauce will have you licking your plate!
Chicken Piccata
Overhead shot of bowl of sunday gravy.
This Authentic Italian Sunday Gravy is what I grew up eating every week. Nana’s tomato meat sauce holds a fond place in my heart, and her recipe lives on to this day in my recipe box. It’s my most requested recipe and today I’m sharing it with you.
Sunday Gravy
Sausage & Fennel Ragout
This Sausage & Fennel Ragout is one of my favorite dishes. It’s got tons of flavor and is the perfect comfort food. Served over a bowl of hearty grains and topped with parmesan cheese.
Sausage & Fennel Ragout
Hands holding bowl of pasta topped with slow cooker bolognese.
This Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce would make my Nana Lamancuso proud. It’s silky and luscious with super tender meat and so much flavor. Crockpot bolognese is where it’s at! 
Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce
Skillet filled with shrimp piccata on pink backdrop.
This easy recipe for Shrimp Piccata is delicious. Shrimp tossed in a lemon-garlic, butter sauce flecked with capers. Made in just 30-minutes!
Shrimp Piccata
Bowl of pasta topped with white bolognese sauce and parmesan cheese.
This White Bolognese Sauce recipe combines beef & Italian sausage in this silky, rich & delicately spiced sauce that's perfect for topping a bowl of pasta!
White Bolognese Sauce
This Lentil Bolognese Sauce can be made in no time with the help of your Instant Pot.
This Lentil Bolognese Sauce can be made in no time with the help of your Instant Pot.
Lentil Bolognese Sauce
Overhead shot of bowl of turkey swedish meatballs served on top of mashed potatoes.
Easy Ground Turkey Swedish Meatballs are a lightened-up version of traditional Swedish Meatballs. Served in a delicious, creamy sauce. Serve them over mashed potatoes, rice or egg noodles. 
Sauce with spoon in skillet.
Diavolo Sauce is an easy and spicy marinara sauce made with flavor-forward ingredients, like tomatoes, garlic, white wine, and red pepper flakes. Toss it with spaghetti and your favorite seafood and enjoy!
Diavolo Sauce
Overhead shot of short rib in brown bowl with mashed potatoes and red wine sauce next to bottle of wine.
These sous vide short ribs are the perfect, savory dinner party recipe! Easy to make ahead and then just finish in a hot skillet. This mouthwatering recipe lets you enjoy the night while also serving a delicious, home-cooked meal.
Sous Vide Short Ribs
Overhead shot of butter chickpeas served on bed of brown rice in grey bowl with pita bread.
Indian Butter Chickpeas feature tender chickpeas simmered in an intensely flavorful and aromatic Indian-inspired butter sauce. Either serve it as the main course with rice or as a delicious vegetarian and vegan-friendly side dish.
Indian Butter Chickpeas
Side view of sous vide roast beef sliced and drizzled with creamy mushroom sauce.
Sous Vide Roast Beef is tender, juicy and perfectly cooked every time. It’s a perfect dish for the holidays, especially when it’s served with a Creamy Mushroom Sauce and these easy Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes. 
Sous Vide Roast Beef
Close up of grilled lamb chops with rosemary.
Marinated Lamb Chops with Rosemary and Garlic is an easy summer grilling recipe you can cook in minutes. Each chop is saturated with rich and earthy flavors thanks to an herbaceous marinade made with simple ingredients.
Marinated Lamb Chops
Harissa chicken in skillet topped with dollops of yogurt sauce.
One Pot Harissa Chicken with Chickpeas is a fuss free dish that's easy to make at home. Spicy, fragrant harissa coats the chicken and chickpeas as they roast and a creamy yogurt harissa sauce finishes it off at the end.
Harissa Chicken
Overhead close up of chicken in white wine sauce in skillet.
Chicken in White Wine Sauce is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. Crispy pan-fried chicken cutlets are nestled in a rich, creamy, and extra garlicky white wine sauce. It’s a 30-minute meal done in one skillet!
Chicken in White Wine Sauce
Two smoked beef short ribs in brown bowl on top of mashed potatoes.
Learn how to make Smoked Beef Short Ribs! Smoking them low and slow with a tangy spritz and red wine braising liquid results in delicate and perfectly seasoned meat every time.
Smoked Beef Short Ribs

Is polenta the same as cornmeal?

  • Yes. Cornmeal is polenta, but there are different types. See below ↓↓↓

What type of cornmeal to use for polenta?

  • Cornmeal labeled as “Polenta”. This will typically be a medium ground yellow cornmeal.
  • Stone-ground. This type of cornmeal retains some of the hull and germ of the kernels. It will produce polenta with wonderful, creamy texture and delicious corn flavor.
  • Medium. This will produce a more creamy polenta.
  • Coarse. Similar to stone-ground cornmeal, coarse cornmeal will produce a creamy polenta with a bit of texture to it.

Polenta vs. Grits

  • Though they look somewhat similar, grits and polenta are not the same. Grits are ground finer than polenta and are typically made with white corn hominy rather than yellow corn.

Can you make polenta ahead of time?

  • You can make polenta up to three days ahead of time. However, soft polenta will firm up as it cools. See below for how to reheat and serve cheesy polenta.

How to reheat leftover polenta

  • Add your desired amount of polenta to a saucepan, adding in 3 Tablespoons of liquid (milk, broth or water) for each cup of polenta.
  • Heat over low heat, stirring to combine.

Or, make polenta cakes. 

How to make polenta cakes

  • Spread hot polenta into a baking tray.
  • Refrigerate until firm.
  • Slice the firm polenta into portions and fry, grill, or bake until crispy and delicious.
  • You can also make polenta fries using the same method but slicing the polenta into fry-like sticks.

More side dish recipes

Did you Make Any of These Polenta Side Dishes?

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short ribs and mashed potatoes in white bowl

What to Serve with Polenta: 25+ BEST Side Dishes

Wondering what to serve with polenta? Here's a guide of the 25+ best side dishes to serve with creamy polenta or polenta cakes! These red wine braised short ribs are the perfect, savory accompaniment! Easy to make ahead and then just pop in the oven to cook, this mouthwatering short ribs recipes lets you enjoy the night while also serving a delicious, home-cooked meal.
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

Short Ribs

Instructions

Short Ribs

  • Dry the ribs thoroughly with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to an oven-safe heavy pot or dutch oven and heat over high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the short ribs and brown on all sides, approximately 2-3 minutes per side. The pot should not be overcrowded. Work in batches if necessary.
  • While the short ribs are browning, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Puree all vegetables and garlic in a food processor or blender until finely chopped into a thick paste.
  • Once ribs are browned, remove the ribs to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Drain the fat from the pot and add remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil.
  • Add the pureed vegetables and season generously with salt. Brown over high heat, without stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste, stir, and let the vegetables brown for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and, using a wooden spoon, scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir occasionally, letting this mixture reduce by half.
  • Once reduced, return the short ribs and any accumulated juices to the pot along with enough water to almost cover the meat. Add the thyme and bay leaves. Cover the pot and place it in the hot oven. Allow to cook for 2 1/2 hours, checking periodically and adding more water if needed. Remove the lid and cook for 30 minutes longer, to allow the sauce to further reduce.
  • Transfer the ribs to a serving platter or dish. Let the sauce and solids sit in the pot for a few minutes to cool and with a shallow spoon, skim off as much of the fat as possible from the surface. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper, and add the vinegar.
  • Serve the ribs on top of creamy polenta with additional braising liquid.

Notes

To Make Ahead: Prepare your short ribs as directed above. Allow to cool slightly and then place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, scrape off any solidified fat that may rise to the surface. Bring the gravy and short ribs to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until heated through.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!

Nutrition

Calories: 473kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 970mg | Potassium: 413mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 4050IU | Vitamin C: 3.3mg | Calcium: 274mg | Iron: 0.7mg

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