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Creamy Polenta with Mascarpone

I’m Jenn, a retired chef with more than 20 years of professional cooking, and Polenta with Mascarpone is one of those super-easy but indulgent side dishes that restaurants don’t want you making at home. I’m going to show you just how to make this creamy, cheesy, flavorful Italian side dish that pairs so well with roasted meats, grilled shrimp, or even hearty ragus! 

A bowl of polenta with mascarpone with tomatoes in the background.

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What is Polenta?

At its core, polenta is nothing more than ground cornmeal cooked with liquid. It can be served soft and creamy, or allowed to cool and then sliced. Originating from Italy, this dish was once known as “peasant food,” but today, polenta graces the tables of gourmet restaurants worldwide and once you master cooking it, you’ll never look back!

This dish is so fabulous! I have made polenta over and over again a bunch of different ways, but the magical flavor of mascarpone really changes this dish and makes it a keeper AND one of my favorites!

What is Mascarpone?

Mascarpone is a creamy Italian cheese made from cream and citric or acetic acid. With a rich and velvety texture, it’s often used in desserts like tiramisu. However, when paired with savory dishes like my creamy polenta recipe, it adds a delightful richness.

Polenta with mascarpone in a white bowl with parmesan cheese.

What You’ll Love About Polenta with Mascarpone


  • It’s incredibly creamy, flavorful and easy to make.
  • The rich taste of mascarpone beautifully complements the cornmeal base.
  • It’s a versatile dish that pairs with various main dishes – see all my suggestions below.

Ingredients

  • Polenta – Not instant polenta.
  • Chicken broth – Use low or no-sodium broth to control the sodium.
  • Mascarpone – You can use cream cheese if you can’t find mascarpone.
  • Shallots – Finely chopped.
  • Garlic – Fresh cloves; finely chopped.
  • Butter – Unsalted butter.
  • Salt and pepper – To taste.
  • Parmesan – Freshly grated to garnish.
The ingredients for a recipe for roasted corn on the cob.

How to make Polenta with Mascarpone

  1. Melt half the butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet or saucepan and cook the finely chopped shallot until soft.
  2. Add chicken broth and simmer. Add a good-sized pinch of salt.
  3. Whisk in the polenta and continue cooking. Cover the saucepan and leave it on a very low simmer, whisking every few minutes until the mixture is thick and bubbly, and the polenta is soft. The polenta should slowly bubble over low heat. It can take about 25 minutes.
  4. Whisk in the remaining butter and the mascarpone.
  5. Finish with grated parm and serve immediately.
Polenta in a bowl with tomatoes and herbs.

Chef Jenn’s Tips

  • Always use a heavy-bottomed skillet or saucepan when making polenta to ensure even heat distribution and prevent burning. Make it in a non-stick pot or skillet for easy cleanup. Polenta will stick to a non-stick pot.
  • While whisking in the polenta, make sure to pour slowly to avoid clumps.
  • Keep a close eye on the mixture as it simmers. Polenta can stick to the pan or become lumpy if not stirred frequently.
  • Finishing with freshly grated parmesan enhances the depth of flavors. Don’t skip this step!

RECOMMENDED

Make It A Meal

To elevate Polenta with Mascarpone into a complete meal, top it with an authentic Bolognese sauce or even just your favorite tomato sauce. Or, serve it as a side dish with ham or braised short ribs– and spoon that rich gravy over top the polenta. Don’t forget a Gingerbread Brownie for dessert! Yum!

Storage

Should you find yourself with leftovers, store cooled leftover Polenta with Mascarpone in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat polenta, heat it slowly on the stovetop or in the microwave with a splash of water or milk to loosen it up.

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A bowl of polenta with mascarpone with tomatoes in the background.
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5 from 37 votes

Polenta with Mascarpone

Creamy, cheesy, and silky smooth, Polenta with Mascarpone is a restaurant quality dish that's easy to make at home. Enjoy it as it is or top it with braised beef or a ragu, then dig into an authentic Italian side dish!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword mascarpone, polenta, polenta with mascarpone
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 377kcal
Author Chef Jenn

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup diced shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp butter divided
  • 4 cups chicken broth low or no sodium
  • 1.5 cups polenta not instant polenta
  • 3/4 cup mascarpone
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan cheese freshly granted

Instructions

  • Melt half the butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet or saucepan and cook the finely chopped shallot until soft.
  • Add chicken broth and simmer. Add a good sized pinch of salt.
  • Whisk in the polenta and bring the mixture back to a very slow simmer. Cover the saucepan and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring every few minutes. The polenta should be thick and creamy and not too grainy.
  • Whisk in the remaining butter and the mascarpone.
  • Finish with a few sprinkles of grated Parmesan and serve immediately.

Notes

  • Always use a heavy-bottomed skillet or saucepan when making polenta to ensure even heat distribution and prevent burning. Make it in a non-stick pot or skillet for easy cleanup. Polenta will stick to a non-stick pot.
  • While whisking in the polenta, make sure to pour slowly to avoid clumps.
  • Keep a close eye on the mixture as it simmers. Polenta can stick to the pan or become lumpy if not stirred frequently.
  • Finishing with freshly grated parmesan enhances the depth of flavors. Don’t skip this step!

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cups | Calories: 377kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 125mg | Potassium: 240mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 713IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 1mg

A Note on Nutritional Information

Nutritional information for this recipe is provided as a courtesy and is calculated based on available online ingredient information. It is only an approximate value. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.

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2 thoughts on “Creamy Polenta with Mascarpone”

  1. 5 stars
    This turned out perfect!!! I am so glad you stressed stirring often I would not have thought to keep such a close eye on it! Will be making this again!

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    I tried making polenta before and was disappointed with the results. Your recipe was different enough to make me want to try again. Your directions were so easy and clear and I really think the mascarpone made a tremendous difference in the final taste and texture – I’m already getting requests for a repeat!

    Reply

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