Instant Pot Polenta Recipe on Food52 (2024)

Instant Pot

by: Emma Laperruque



24 Ratings

  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 4

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Author Notes

I got an Instant Pot over a year ago, but, between you and me, I still only use it for two things: pressure-cooking dried beans and polenta. That said, I use it for those two things a lot! My husband and I are big polenta people—we love it with braised pork shoulder, roasted vegetables, glazed tempeh, pan-fried meatballs, you name it. What we don’t love is standing over the stove, stirring a pot every 10 minutes, for 40 minutes, and still ending up with chalky-burnt bits. And sure, you can try the double-boiler method or boiling-water shortcut method (both Genius-certified). But the most hands-off approach, by far, comes by way of the Instant Pot. Just throw the polenta, water, and salt in the pot, beep-beep-boop a few buttons, and ta-da. A hunk of butter at the end and you’re good to go. (Or, if the rest of dinner isn’t ready just yet, no big deal—the Keep Warm feature has you covered. Bless!)

Now, you could stop at just salt and butter, and often I do. But if you’re feeling fancy, you could zhuzh it up a bit. Think cheese, ground spices, fresh herbs. My favorite is a cacio e pepe–inspired combo of pecorino and lots of black pepper. Also great: Parmesan and thyme (maybe even some lemon zest? Who knows?). Or blue cheese and cayenne. Or gouda and sage. All of which to say, have fun with it. I’ve included measurement guidelines for the bonuses below, but I hope you don’t worry about them too much. The beauty of Instant Pot polenta is you don’t have to worry about anything. —Emma Laperruque

  • Test Kitchen-Approved

What You'll Need

  • Polenta
  • 1 cup(173 grams) coarse polenta
  • 4 1/2 cupscups (1,023 grams) water
  • 1 teaspoonkosher salt
  • 2 tablespoonsunsalted butter
  • Bonuses (optional)
  • 1/2 to 1 cupsgrated or crumbled cheese (such as sharp cheddar, Parmesan, pecorino, Gouda, blue), for stirring in and sprinkling on top
  • 1/2 teaspoonfreshly ground black pepper, for stirring in and sprinkling on top, or another ground spice to taste
  • Fresh herbs (such as minced chives, thyme leaves, finely chopped sage, or roughly chopped parsley), for stirring in and/or sprinkling on top
  1. Combine the polenta, water, and salt in the Instant Pot and whisk. Secure the lid and adjust the pressure release to Sealing. Pressure cook on High for 15 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for about 10 minutes, then carefully move the pressure release to Venting (I like to cover it with a towel to prevent steam from blasting the nearest wall).
  2. Whisk the polenta to smooth out, then add the butter and whisk again until incorporated. At this point, you can stir in any cheese or spices, and adjust the salt to taste. You can also close the lid and use the Keep Warm feature until you’re ready to serve.
  3. When you are ready to serve, ladle into bowls or onto plates, then sprinkle with any additional cheese, spices, or herbs.


  • Italian
  • American
  • Cornmeal
  • Polenta
  • Instant Pot
  • Weeknight Cooking
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Vegetarian
  • Side
  • Dinner
  • Lunch

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kellia Brinson

  • AntoniaJames

  • FoodFanaticToo

  • Josh Dormont

  • Scott Basye

Recipe by: Emma Laperruque

Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

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26 Reviews

Nanette January 1, 2024

As others have noted, waaay too much liquid! We followed the recipe to a T, and opened to a soupy mess. We decided to go another 10 minutes after stirring it, and STILL soup! We transferred it to a pot on the stove and cooked it down. To add insult to failure (yep, that's a thing!), the InstantPot had a thick mess that had to soak overnight.

Kellia B. May 5, 2023

Good method, but too much liquid as written. I ended up using the ‘sauté’ function for about 10 minutes after removing the lid to thicken, which worked well.

Sydney Y. December 31, 2022

This recipe got me the dreaded BURN message. Twice! I scraped after getting the first BURN message and tried bringing to pressure again. But it persistently burned and then bubbled and splattered when I tried to stir it. I finally switched to the Saute function and stuck a badly fitting glass lid on top to keep the Saute mode going and keep the splatters in. So i ended up dirtying more lids than necessary, and also had a splattery countertop to clean off. I will try a tip from another reviewer using hot water to start so it pressurizes faster; and if that fails I will also try the pot-in-pot method described by another reviewer. But I'm disappointed in the high rating for this recipe as quite a few others have got the Burn signal.

Linda December 6, 2022

Worked perfectly. Followed advice to add 1 TBL Olive Oil so it wouldn’t stick. I do that with all grains cooked in Instant Pot. Used 4 & 1/2 cups of water as written. It does thicken as it sits a few minutes.

Stu F. June 26, 2022

The recipe calls for more water than is needed. The ratio is good if you want very thin/soupy polenta. If you want it thicker, go with 4 cups of liquid or even 3-1/2.

AntoniaJames February 16, 2022

A keeper to be sure. I’ve been using my Instant Pot for just about everything *but* polenta, having tried once early on, with disappointing results. I knew I could trust Emma to get this right so I test drove this recipe - success! - and then made another batch the next day for our dinner party. Raves all around. Thank you for another excellent recipe! ;o)

Lauren O. December 6, 2021

Worked perfectly. So much easier than standing over a hot stove getting burned by bubbled-up polenta!

angelclark November 28, 2021

I made this more or less exactly as written. What a great recipe and use of an instant pot! I love polenta, and while not difficult to make traditionally it is more than a bit fussy. This recipe could not be easier. It needs no attention. It stays warm and ready without worry. I saw in the notes that some found it clumped, and while I too found more clumping than traditional polenta when I opened the instant pot a moment with a whisk fixed it no problem. I like my polenta loose like porridge, and this recipe delivers. I would just hit the sauté feature and stir for a few minutes if I want it thicker. Really a game changer!

Winkcn October 28, 2021

Tried for the first time. Polenta turned out runny and could not get all the lumps out even with a lot of whisking. ???

Janis O. July 17, 2021

I’ve made this several times using the “pot-in-pot” method. Instead of putting ingredients directly into the IP’s insert, they go into a lidded flan pan that sits on the trivet inside the insert (be sure to add a cup of water to the insert). I follow all the other directions exactly, and there’s never any worries about burning or sticking. The end result is wonderful, hands-free, worry-free polenta.

Janis O. July 17, 2021

PS: Be sure your cooking container has plenty of room for expansion of boiling hot polenta!

agapegirl July 4, 2021

Tried with PAN cornmeal, same gram measurements, got BURN message.
Transferred to stovetop and now to clean the brown layer off the insert. :-(
Will try one more time another day with the suggested pre-boiling water and a spoon of olive oil. Fingers crossed.

Sipa January 22, 2022

Pan is precooked and all you need to do is add water.

FoodFanaticToo January 1, 2021

Followed the recipe exactly, and it was absolutely delicious! No “burn” message. It did need to be whisked with a wire whisk after I gave it a thorough stir with a wooden spoon. Thanks, Emma!

MsGadgeLady December 1, 2020

Prepared polenta a 2nd time. I could hear the pressure building in my instant pot Duo SV (6 qt), but the timer never started. Instead, heard beeping and received 'burn' messages. The polenta was creamy when I stirred it, but stuck on the bottom.

Unfortunately, the cook timer never started. I will have to experiment some more as I have prepared rice and steel cut oatmeal to perfection, with no sticking.

Josh D. October 31, 2020

Quite good and very easy. Few tricks to make it even easier:
- add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the mix in the IP. No burn, no stick.
- toss in a bayleaf to the IP if you have it
- it will probably look really watery when it's done. Totally normal. As it cools it gets thicker and by the time it's room temp it will largely be solid. If you want it on the softer side, keep it warm.

Susan August 3, 2020

I made this a couple of times and got the “burn” alert on my Instant Pot, with and without the nonstick insert. So frustrating! I decided to try one more time using very hot water to bring it to pressure more quickly. It worked!! It’s a great recipe and now it is foolproof for me. Thanks!

Catherine G. April 4, 2020

I got basically cornmeal soup...not sure if it will thicken enough to eat or if it’s going to stay liquid. I was using polenta from the bulk bin and it does taste a little more like masa than polenta, so maybe the grocer messed up. I will try again with different cornmeal though.

Jul February 20, 2020

I followed this recipe to a T using my new instant pot duo nova and it came out perfectly! The consistency of the instant pot polenta was creamy and light. The process was so much easier, faster, and less messy than stove stop. Added an additional tsp of kosher salt and some parm reg. and pledged to make polenta more often! Thanks for posting this recipe.

J February 18, 2020

Oh my goodness, this is a 10-star review! I love polenta and have been making it for decades, the old-fashioned stovetop, 40-minutes-at-the-stove method. Moreover, I have previously thrice tried to make polenta in the IP using supposedly pedigreed recipes, and here’s what I wrote on the last trial: “Not worth another trial: it’s not working.”

Well, this recipe worked!!! I used Bob’s Red Mill “Polenta,” which is not coarse, as the recipe specifies, but it is what I always use. I used my beloved nonstick IP insert because, of course, I know that polenta can be quite gluey. I did up the salt to 1 TB rather 1 teaspoon (a good choice). Otherwise, I followed the recipe (was going to say “to a T” but I did deviate between a t and a T) without deviation.

It worked!!!! I really can’t quite believe it. The texture was perfect and, finally, only those of you who have made stovetop polenta will understand this: there was zero Vesuvius factor (the tendency of cornmeal to spit up out of the pot and into corners of one’s range and stovetop)—which also meant that I didn’t have to scourge out from those corners one of Mother Nature’s finest natural cements. And it was one pot!

Thank you!!!!!!!!

Scott B. February 17, 2020


jcasare February 17, 2020

Tried this tonight for a dinner party. Kept getting the "burn" message on the IP. Really stuck to the bottom. Not sure what went wrong...

Emma L. February 18, 2020

Oh no! Sorry to hear that happened, jcasare, especially when you had company over. I've never gotten the "Burn" message on my Instant Pot, and have never encountered any sticking with this polenta-to-water ratio (it's actually a bit waterier than other recipes), so I'm stumped as to what happened. Curious to hear if other community members have any ideas!

Laura M. February 18, 2020

The same thing just happened to me. I opened the lid and added another 1/2 cup of water. The "Burn" message came back but then the count down started. I released the steam and opened it a little early and there was definitely liquid on top of the polenta so when I whisked in the butter I got a more liquid-y result than I might have wanted. I'm making this to have the next day so I think it will work out.

jcasare March 7, 2020

J, above, mentioned a non-stick IP insert. I didn't know that existed! Am getting one now and will try again.

Alison September 19, 2020

Burn message! Frustrating. Had to scrap it out into a pot and cook on stove top. Where do I find a non-stick insert?

Instant Pot Polenta  Recipe on Food52 (2024)
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