When I posted my Mom’s Zucchini Soup the other day, I showed pictures of it served with Polenta. And awhile back, when I made my Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts, I served the leftovers with Polenta, too. For some reason I thought had already posted the miracle of Instant Pot Polenta, before now.
I don’t think I’ve posted it before because I was never in love with the photos which make my Instant Pot Polenta look a little lumpy, when it really wasn’t, and maybe makes polenta look just a bit like scrambled eggs! I did use a coarser grain, though. Despite the photos, the Instant Pot truly is a miracle when making Polenta, It’s an absolute breeze! Easy, peasy, and maybe cheesy, if you want. 🙂 If you don’t own an Instant Pot, try the Polenta recipe embedded in my post for Chorizo Polenta Bites.
About Instant Pot Polenta:
While my pics seem to exaggerate the texture of the Instant Pot Polenta, it’s actually absolute creamy, dreamy deliciousness. If you’ve never had polenta other than that polenta in the tubes from the refrigerator section of the store, you might not know how absolutely delish it can be. Once you make Instant Pot Polenta, I can just about guarantee you’re going to be a polenta fanatic. The fact that it’s so easy and hands off when made in the Instant Pot doesn’t hurt at all, either.
I have a few other recipes that use polenta here on my site (follow the tag at the bottom of the page) but I want to highlight this one, Pork & Mushroom Ragu. The ragu, served over polenta (a match made in heaven!) is actually made from leftovers from my Sweet & Sour Country Style Ribs, and right now, in the fall, is the best time to make that recipe! I served that ragu over store-bought polenta, but now that I know how easy it is to make Instant Pot Polenta, I’ll probably never buy that stuff in the tube, again!
There are a few things that the Instant Pot does so much better than any other cooking methods. Especially, long, slow braises, and dried beans, peas, etc., and grains, which can take a long time to cook. The Instant Pot can also make some killer Italian food – pasta dishes come to mind. Risotto is perfect in the Instant Pot, and polenta, which can take quite a bit of attention on the stove is superb and drop-dead simple when done in the Instant Pot.
Making Instant Pot Polenta:
I have tried a couple polenta recipes in the past with my old stovetop pressure cooker, and fooled around with a recipe or two in my Instant Pot and wasn’t impressed. At least not until I tried a method by Hip Pressure Cooking. The key takeaway is to bring the polenta to a boil and give the polenta a big stir before immediately locking on the lid. That final big stir is everything! It keeps the polenta moving around enough so that you don’t get the dreaded “burn” notice on your IP, which automatically turns your IP off – and that’s a bummer! Laura has quite a bit more info on Instant Pot Polenta on her site so make sure to visit! My polenta, btw, has yet to scorch on the bottom of my IP, as Laura warns it might. Now that I said that, you know what’s going to happen next time I make Polenta, lol!
You can vary the liquid in your Instant Pot Polenta. Use a water, a mix of milk or water (all milk will increase the possibility of scorching; I wouldn’t go more than half milk) or a broth. And don’t be skimpy with the salt. You need a good amount of salt or your polenta will be dull, dull, dull. If you do use broth or stock, you can probably cut back a bit on the salt, especially if the broth is salty, and if you add cheese, you’ll probably need less salt, too. Typical Italian herbs can be added, fresh or dry to the recipe, maybe a teaspoon of my Italian Seasoning Blend or a little oregano or basil. Laura recommends dropping in the rind from Parmesan cheese as a possible variation.
Once your Instant Pot Polenta is cooked, you have a few choices to finish it off. It can be served as is and is perfectly delish. Or serve as is with a pat of butter or a little drizzle of olive oil. Even better, stir in a little grated Parmesan cheese and/or a drizzle of milk or cream. Just FYI, your polenta should “flow” when hot, then be a bit firmer as it cools down from “molten.” You’re looking for the texture (but not the looks, like my photo lol) of soft scrambled eggs.
Saving Money on Instant Pot Polenta:
I’ve actually been having a lot of fun making polenta with various grinds of cornmeal. I started out with some actual polenta, which was a little pricey and once I went through that, I started raiding whatever cornmeal I had in the pantry! It’s all been fantastic. I love all the slight variations in texture, flavor, and color my experimenting has given.
Besides that, I tend to use cornmeal sporadically. I’ll make some cornbread or some other recipe, then my cornmeal tends to sit and sit. Instant Pot Polenta is a great way to use up that stock and keep items moving in the pantry. Our American style cornmeal may be made from a different type of corn, but has varied grinds, just like “real” Italian polenta. And it’s much more cost effective. Give it a go; you might be surprised even if you’re a purist.
When you bring your polenta or any cornmeal or flour product home, give it three days in the freezer. That eliminates the possibility of bringing any “peskies” to your pantry, which can be a disastrous happening.
The best way to save money on Instant Pot Polenta is to not waste it! Leftover Instant Pot Polenta can be slowly reheated with a little water, broth or milk. An even better use is to spread it about an inch thick a casserole and let it firm up overnight as I do for my recipe, Chorizo Polenta Bites. It can be baked off or sauteed just like the store bought Polenta in a tube.
Instant Pot Polenta
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup polenta
- 2 tablespoons butter
First, add the sealing ring to the Instant Pot lid and have it at the ready; you’ll want to pop it on immediately when you’re ready to seal the Instant Pot.
Add water to the Instant Pot and bring it to a boil. Whisk in the salt and polenta, whisking in one direction, either clockwise or counterclockwise. Bring to a boil. Give it a final big stir and immediately lock on the lid and set for High Pressure for seven minutes. Allow to go to keep warm function for 10 minutes then release any remaining pressure.
When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Slow Normal release – release the pressure very slowly in small bursts. If anything other than steam comes out of the valve, stop and wait 10 seconds before continuing to release pressure slowly (or in small bursts), again.
Add butter and stir vigorously with a whisk until polenta is homogenous and creamy. The polenta will thicken as it is stirred and a bit more as it rests. If your polenta seems too thick, add more water, broth, milk or cream or if it does not seem to be thick enough, turn Instant Pot to Saute and heat, still stirring until desired thickness is reached. Polenta should have the texture of soft scrambled eggs.
Taste and season with more salt and black pepper.