12 Best Substitutes for Polenta


If you’re looking for a quick and easy alternative to polenta, there are a few options that can be just as delicious.

So, let’s dive right into it. 

12 Best Substitutes for Polenta

1. Oatmeal

The easiest swap for polenta during breakfast rush hours or last-minute fixes is oatmeal.

Oatmeal gives you a creamy carb base that can work well with both savory and sweet toppings, making it cheap, easy to make, and easy to find an alternative.

How to Substitute? 

Although you might want to keep an eye on the consistency of the oatmeal to match polenta, you can use more or less the same measure when substituting. 

Check out this YouTube tutorial for making easy oatmeals with a couple of different toppings, for when you don’t have polenta to work with – 

2. Couscous 

Couscous is a great carb alternative to polenta, especially if you are looking for a bit of texture.

It is also said to be a healthier option and pairs well with braised meat or veggies.

It might not, however, be a great call if you are looking for gluten-free options.

How to Substitute? 

You can use similar portions of couscous to replace polenta but be sure to experiment with the cooking time to get the consistency you prefer. 

Here is a video tutorial to help you make a couscous polenta – 

3. Semolina 

For savory recipes, semolina is a great fit to replace polenta in your recipes. It is coarse and is a perfect canvas for sauces, veggies, and meat.

Depending on the kind of semolina you like, you could play around with the flavor nuance. It is, however, not gluten-free. 

How to Substitute? 

You might want to experiment with the measures of semolina to polenta before finding the ratio that best suits your taste. 

For a quick breakfast semolina porridge recipe instead of polenta, check out this video – 

4. Mashed Potatoes

Another quick-fix solution to replacing polenta in your dishes is mashed potatoes.

This buttery carb base needs no lengthy introduction as to how well it pairs with meats, veggies, and gravies.

And when it comes to ease of access and cooking, what can beat a potato? 

How to Substitute? 

3 to 4 medium-sized potatoes should give you a healthy heap of mashed potatoes to work with instead of polenta. 

For a creamy and super easy mashed potato recipe, here is a video recipe to try – 

5. Cream of Wheat 

Cream of wheat is a surprisingly highly recommended alternative to polenta, especially for your breakfast options.

It is much like oatmeal but creamier and more flavorful. It is easy to prepare and versatile enough to handle a range of toppings.

How to Substitute? 

A cup of cream of wheat does the same job as a cup of polenta, though you might want to experiment with the consistency to find your fit. 

Here is a warm and hearty cream of wheat porridge recipe that you can give a shot – 

6. Rice Porridge 

You would always have some rice lying around in the pantry and when you want a quick alternative to polenta, be it for a sweet or savory recipe, some rice porridge can do the trick just fine.

But keep in mind that the flavors will be different but still great. 

How to Substitute? 

You can use more or less the same measure of rice porridge to replace polenta in your dish, after adjusting the texture to your liking. 

7. Grits 

Grits and polenta are close relatives in terms of origin and style of cooking, so you can confidently swap one for the other in your recipes.

But keep in mind that grits is a mushier base than polenta, so it might not be a great fit for all dishes.

How to Substitute? 

A 1:1 ratio substitution works just fine when replacing polenta with grits unless the recipe calls for something thicker consistency. 

To make grits from scratch for when you want to replace polenta in your dish, check out this video – 

8. Mashed Sweet Potatoes

If you are watching your carb intake, mashed sweet potatoes are here to help you out.

They are easy finds at grocery stores and can work just as well as polenta in both sweet and savory recipes.

It is also great if you want to add more fiber to your diet. 

How to Substitute? 

2 to 3, medium to large, sweet potatoes should do the trick to give you enough polenta for a cup. 

For a mashed sweet potatoes recipe that you can use as a base for your menu, here is a video guide – 

9. Pureed Cauliflower

Another great veggie alternative that can replace polenta is pureed cauliflower.

Once pureed, this veggie works like a hummus base and will pair wonderfully well with any savory add-on that you like.

It is an easy find at stores and a super healthy option. 

How to Substitute? 

You can play around with the measure of cauliflower puree you want to use instead of polenta or use the same portions. 

To make the perfect smooth and creamy mashed cauliflower recipe that is also vegan friendly, check out this tutorial – 

10. Mashed Pumpkin 

If you are reading this in the fall season and want a carb alternative, mashed pumpkin is your best bet.

It is creamy and packed with flavor, making it a great fit to replace polenta with savory meat and veggie add-ons. 

How to Substitute? 

1 to 2 cups of mashed pumpkin will suffice to replace a cup of polenta. You can play around with consistency till you find the right balance. 

Here is a lovely spiced pumpkin mash recipe that you can try when you want to try something instead of polenta – 

11. Corn Flour 

For very specific replacement of polenta in your recipes, like that of soups, muffins, or pancakes, you can try using corn flour for that distinct cornmeal flavor.

But keep in mind that you can’t use corn flour to use as a base for your breakfast or meat dishes.

How to Substitute? 

Corn flour substitution of polenta can change from recipe to recipe and you might want to play around with the ratio before you get the balance you are looking for. 

12. Broken Barely 

If you have barely broken in your pantry and are looking for a more wholesome and earthy alternative to your polenta breakfast, you could try this substitute.

Although quite the healthier alternative, it is not gluten-free.

How to Substitute? 

You might have to experiment to find the right broken barley ratio that you like to replace polenta in your meals. 

Bottom Line 

I hope this article has given you the best possible alternatives to polenta.

Each option has its own unique flavor that will add something special to your dish.

Give them a try, and let us know which one is your favorite.

Feel free to share this article with your family and friends who would love to experiment. 

Show Some Love by Sharing!

About Betty Ellis

Betty is a food researcher who spends most of her time analyzing the nutritional aspects of various foods. She also researches methods to enhance taste, as well as how to store certain types of foods. She enjoys cooking for herself and her three dogs even though she doesn't have a lot of free time outside work.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.