Creamy and Hearty Hands-free Polenta

Creamy and Hearty Hands-free Polenta

An endlessly versatile, comforting and delicious recipe for creamy polenta, which pairs well with a multitude of dishes. Adapted from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook.


  • 5 C water
  • 1 C coarsely ground polenta
  • About 2 t salt, or to tast
  • Unsalted butter (optional)


  1. Bring the water to a simmer in a 2-quart saucepan.
  2. Whisk in the polenta and stir until the water returns to a simmer.
  3. Reduce the heat until the polenta only bubbles and sputters occasionally.
  4. Cook uncovered for about 1 hour, stirring as needed, until thick but still fluid.
  5. If the polenta becomes stiff, add a trickle of water.
  6. Add salt and a generous dab of butter.
  7. Transfer the polenta to a double boiler set over simmering water, to rest for at least 30 minutes (or up to you a few hours)
  8. Wrap the lid tightly in plastic wrap and cover the polenta to prevent the polenta from developing a skin.


I don’t always rest the polenta and often serve immediately. Either method I’ve found delicious.