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Microwave Polenta


Martha Rose Shulman for The New York Times Cooking website

You can have delicious polenta as often as you like with this easy microwave method. No stirring required.

Nutritional information per serving
148 calories; 3 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 grams polyunsaturated fat; 1 gram monounsaturated fat; 28 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 590 milligrams sodium; 3 grams protein

NOTE: the original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of butter; I substituted 1 tablespoon of olive oil, which has no cholesterol. I removed the cholesterol count from this information, which was published with the original recipe, but I do not know how to change the fat relationships. Probably the olive oil version has less saturated fat, but I don't know how much. The 3 grams of fat would be the same for the olive oil and the butter.


Time: 15 minutes
Yield: Serves 4

¾ cup polenta
¾ teaspoon salt
710 ml3 cups water
15 ml1 tablespoon olive oil


Combine the polenta, salt and water in a 2 1/2- to 3-quart microwave-safe bowl, and stir together. Cover the bowl with a plate, and place in the microwave. Microwave on high for eight minutes. Remove from the microwave carefully, wearing oven mitts, as the bowl will be quite hot. Carefully remove the plate from the top, and allow the steam to escape away from your face. Stir in the olive oil and mix well with a fork. Cover the bowl again with the plate and return to the microwave. Microwave on high for three minutes. Again, remove from the microwave carefully, wearing oven mitts. Carefully remove the plate from the top, and allow the steam to escape away from you. Stir the polenta, and return to the microwave for three more minutes. Carefully remove from the microwave. Stir and serve, or pour into a lightly oiled bread pan and allow to cool. The polenta thickens as it cools and becomes stiff enough to slice and grill or sear in a lightly oiled pan. It's also good without further cooking.

Advance preparation: If you are serving polenta hot with a topping, it’s best to serve it when it comes out of the oven, allowing it to sit for five minutes at most.

Martha Rose Shulman can be reached at


The polenta cooks at different rates at different times. The first time I made this recipe, it took three rounds in the microwave, as in the recipe. The second time it only took two rounds to thicken nicely.

Major Ingredients: