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A bowl of creamy polenta with herbs and spices on top.

Quick Cheesy Polenta

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Units Scale
  • 2 cups milk, more as needed
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 9 ounce box of instant polenta
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons italian herbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Add milk, water and salt to a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Be careful to prevent the milk from boiling over.
  2. Once boiling, slowly whisk in the polenta. Turn down the heat, to medium-low.
  3. Cook until thickened, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Shut off the heat and stir in butter, cheese, Italian herbs, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning and consistency, adding more milk if necessary.
  6. Serve immediately, as the polenta thickens up as it cools.


If your polenta is too thick, you can add in additional milk or water to thin it out. This is also how you would reheat polenta.

The instructions for this cheesy polenta side dish will only work for instant polenta. It will not work for coarse cornmeal or the already cooked polenta that comes in a tube.