This fried polenta recipe gives you a whole new way to enjoy polenta! Homemade polenta is cooled, cut into strips, then fried to crispy perfection. Pair these polenta fries with your favourite dipping sauce and dig in!
Fried polenta is a game-changer, friends. Imagine taking that creamy, comforting bowl of polenta and transforming it into a crispy, snackable delight. That’s exactly what we’re doing here! It’s like a magic trick, only it’s one you can eat—and honestly, isn’t that the best kind of magic?
I love using leftover polenta to make crispy polenta, but leftovers really aren’t enough to satisfy a polenta fry craving, which is where this recipe comes in. You’ll make a whole batch of polenta just for fries!
Trust me, once you’ve tasted crispy-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside, absolutely divine crispy fried polenta, you’re going to want to make this recipe all the time!
Why You’ll Love This Fried Polenta Recipe
- The crispiest exterior. These polenta fries are seriously crispy! In fact, I’d say the outside is much crispier than French fries and more like the exterior you get on fried homemade falafel or arancini.
- Creamy inside. While the exterior of these fries is divinely crispy-crunchy, the inside is still creamy. The combination of textures makes fried polenta irresistible!
- Versatile flavour options. This recipe is great on its own, but it also acts as a blank canvas for flavourful additions. You can add herbs, spices, or vegan cheese to the polenta before frying to give it an extra punch of flavour. I share some ideas below!
Notes on Ingredients
Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.
- Polenta – You’ll need dry polenta grains, not the polenta that comes in a tube.
- Garlic powder – This adds savoury flavour to the polenta fries.
- Olive oil
- Canola oil – Or another oil you like to use for frying.
- Vegan Parmesan cheese – I find that store-bought vegan Parmesan sticks to the fried polenta better than homemade vegan Parmesan cheese, but you can use either.
- Chopped fresh parsley – For garnish.
Is Polenta the Same as Grits?
Some brands, like Bob’s Red Mill, do label their polenta as grits. That said, there is a difference between the two, although you can use them interchangeably.
Polenta and grits are both made from ground cornmeal, but they come from different types of corn. Grits are made from white corn, while polenta is usually made from yellow corn. The other main difference between polenta and grits is the texture. Grits are usually finer and smoother, while polenta is coarser and has a more pronounced texture.
How to Make Fried Polenta
- Prep. Liberally grease a square baking pan with olive oil.
- Cook the polenta. Bring 3 cups of water to a rolling boil in a pot. Salt the water, then whisk in the polenta. Continue to whisk until the polenta absorbs the water. Stir in another cup of water, along with the garlic powder and olive oil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the polenta thickens.
- Cool. Pour the polenta into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer with a rubber spatula. Cool to room temperature.
- Prepare to fry. Heat the canola oil in a 2-quart pot set over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 375°F. Line a plate with paper towels.
- Cut. Turn out the cooled polenta onto a cutting board. Cut it into strips about 3 inches long and ½ inch thick.
- Fry. Fry the polenta strips in the oil for 3 minutes, flipping them with a spider skimmer every 30 seconds or so. Transfer the fried polenta to the prepared plate.
- Serve. Sprinkle the polenta fries with vegan Parmesan and fresh parsley before serving.
Tips for Success
- Use a deep pot. The polenta may spatter as it cooks, so I like to use a deep pot so I don’t have to worry about making a mess on the stovetop!
- Don’t skip cooling the polenta. Warm polenta will not hold its shape when cut or fried, resulting in a crumbly mess. To avoid this, make sure your polenta is fully cooled before cutting and frying it.
- Keep an eye on the oil temperature. Use a candy thermometer to monitor the oil temperature and adjust the heat as needed to keep it between 375°F and 380°F.
- Don’t overcrowd the pot. Frying too much polenta at once can cause it to stick together or cool down the oil, making your fries soggy. It’s best to fry in batches, making sure the oil returns to temperature between each batch.
- Add herbs. While I garnished the fries with fresh parsley, you can also fold fresh or dried herbs into the polenta mixture itself. This adds more herbaceous flavour in every bite! Rosemary, basil, and thyme are all delicious options.
- Stir in vegan bacon. For a savoury twist, whip up some vegan bacon crumbles and mix it into the polenta before frying.
- Spice things up. Add cayenne pepper or chili powder to give your fries an extra kick.
- Add cheese. Fold vegan Parmesan or cheddar into the polenta, or use nutritional yeast, which also adds a cheesy flavour.
I like to serve polenta fries as a side for a caprese sandwich, chopped cheese sandwich, or quinoa burgers. And don’t forget to serve your fried polenta with a dipping sauce! Marinara sauce, ranch dressing, or even spicy arrabbiata sauce are excellent for dipping.
How to Store Leftovers
Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, place the fries on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes until crispy again. The air fryer also works well!
Can I Freeze This Recipe?
Yes, you can freeze your fried polenta for later. Place it in an airtight container or freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat as instructed above.
Alternatively, you can also freeze the uncooked polenta strips and fry them straight from the freezer. Just add a couple of extra minutes to the frying time.
More Tasty Vegan Side Dishes
- Pineapple Fried Rice
- Maple Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Pecans
- Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole
- Air Fryer Green Beans
- Lemon Garlic Grilled Zucchini
Enjoy friends! If you make this fried polenta recipe, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much!
- 4 cups water, 946 ml
- ½ teaspoon salt, 3 grams
- 1 cup polenta, 140 grams
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder, 2 grams
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, 15 milliliters
- 1 liter canola oil
- ⅓ cup vegan Parmesan cheese, 30 grams
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, 15 grams
- Grease a 9X9-inch baking pan liberally with olive oil.
- Bring 3 cups of water to a rolling boil in a pot. Salt the water. Whisk in the polenta. Keep whisking until it absorbs the water. Stir in one more cup of water along with the garlic powder and olive oil. Reduce the heat to a low and simmer until the polenta has thickened nicely.
- Pour the polenta into the prepared baking pan and smooth it into an even layer with a rubber spatula. Allow the polenta to cool to room temperature.
- Pour the canola oil into a 2-quart pot. Heat it over medium-high heat until it reaches 375°F (190°F). Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature. Line a plate with paper towels.
- Once the polenta has set, turn it out onto a cutting board and cut it into equal-sized strips (about 3 inches long by ½ inch thick).
- Fry the polenta strips for 3 minutes, flipping them with a spider skimmer every 30 seconds or so. Do not crowd the oil. Fry in batches if you need to (be sure to bring the oil back to temperature between batches). Remove the fried polenta from the hot oil with a spider skimmer and transfer them to the prepared plate.
- Serve the polenta fries warm sprinkled with vegan Parmesan and fresh parsley.
- The nutritional information does not include the oil for frying, as most of it is discarded.
- To store: Keep your leftover fried polenta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, place on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes until crispy again. The air fryer also works well!
- To freeze after frying: Place fried polenta in an airtight container or freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat as instructed above.
- To freeze before frying: You can also freeze the uncooked polenta strips and fry them straight from the freezer. Just add a couple of extra minutes to the frying time.
Disclaimer: Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.