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Great-tasting, nourishing, and incredibly versatile, polenta (coarse cornmeal cooked with liquid) is every plant-based eater’s best friend. From smooth porridges topped with stewed fruit or savory toppings, to cakes, crispy air-fried bites, pizza crusts, lasagna, crostini, shepherd’s pie, and so much more, polenta does it all with style. There’s something for everyone in this collection of delicious vegan polenta recipes, which highlight all that is golden about this easy-to-use ingredient. All recipes are free from oil, so they’re healthy, too!

To learn more about polenta—what it is, how to buy it, and how to cook it—check out our handy Polenta Guide.

Polenta Lasagna with Kale and Lentils

This inventive lasagna alternates layers of creamy polenta with a saucy veggie-lentil marinara to delicious effect. The best bit? You don’t have to fuss about making a separate cheese sauce. Writes a fan: “It’s even better the second day. If I make it for company I’d make the day before. Maybe serve cold as a lovely summer dish. I’m eating it cold now for breakfast!”

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Polenta Cake with Apples and Cherry Compote

One of our most popular recipes, this luscious polenta cake is ideal for special occasions and is incredibly simple to make. Moist, firm, and a little nutty, it can be served as is, or with a cherry compote for bold color and extra fruity flavor. Notes a commenter: “I just made this and love it, will make it again when I’m ready for my occasional treat. My husband (pure epicurean foodie, not WFPB) even loved it.”

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Polenta Pizza Pie

Your taste buds will flip over this mouthwatering pizza pie, which sports a creamy polenta crust topped with basil-infused veggies and a tangy tomato sauce. This is a recipe of two halves: The polenta crust needs to be chilled for at least an hour, and can be made over the weekend, or earlier in the day; plan ahead and this is a stunningly satisfying meal.

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Black Bean Polenta Cakes with Pepper-Cilantro Salsa

Black beans, chili, and cilantro add full-bodied Southwest flavor to these hearty polenta cakes. Top with lime-infused roasted poblano chiles, bell pepper, and onion for a crave-worthy meal with stand-out plate appeal. Be sure to allow at least a couple of hours for the polenta to set. A reviewer writes: “Delicious! Love these lime-roasted veggies.”

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Crispy Baked Polenta Sticks with Ranch Dip

Crispy, golden, and deliciously dippable, these cheesy vegan polenta sticks are great to serve to guests or anytime you want a tasty snack for yourself. Serve with vegan ranch, vegan spicy ranch, or marinara. Shares a reviewer: “These are amazing! I made them just as described, what a fantastic side dish or snack! My husband had thirds!”

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Vegan Shepherd's Pie with Polenta and Lentils

Give spuds the day off and enjoy this rustic shepherd’s pie, polenta-style. The crispy-on-the-outside polenta crust gets creamy-cheesy flavor from plant milk and nutritional yeast, while the saucy lentil-veggie filling is easy to adapt to what you have on hand. One reviewer notes: “A dish I would be confident to serve to all types of eaters.”

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Polenta and Sweet Potato Mash with Mushroom Sauce

Tube-style polenta makes quick work of this tasty mash, while sweet potato lends a sweet, velvety touch and spinach adds a pleasing green element. Top with garlic-infused mushrooms and cherry tomatoes for a tasty meal guaranteed to stick to your ribs. Notes one commenter, “It was absolutely delicious, everyone, including the kids, loved it.”

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Polenta Curry

Chewy, bite-size chunks of polenta pump up the comfort food factor in this tasty curry, which features a richly seasoned blended tomato base. Note: This recipe includes instructions for both dry polenta and tube-style polenta; tube style is great if you’re in a hurry.

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Savory Tamale Breakfast Bowls

Instant polenta (or grits) cook up quickly and make a hearty savory breakfast that’s a great alternative to oatmeal. Top with chili-seasoned kidney beans, avocado, salsa, and cilantro and you can serve this anytime. Shares a reviewer, “Wonderful breakfast! I live in the deep South, so I used stone ground grits in mine. This will be on my ‘repeat’ menu!”

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Polenta with Pears and Cranberries

Stewed pears studded with cranberries quickly turn a comforting bowl of polenta into a festive treat. This golden porridge has a decadent quality and works equally well for brunch or dessert. “Delicious!” shares one reviewer.

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Polenta Pizza with Pesto, Caramelized Onions and Potatoes

Featuring an almost-chewy gluten-free polenta base topped with caramelized onions, homemade pesto, and steamed Yukon Gold potatoes, this primo vegan pizza pie proves once again that pizza is so much more than a vehicle for cheese. Note: You can caramelize onions with water rather than oil and still achieve a beautifully sweet, caramel flavor.

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Polenta–Black Bean Medallions with Spicy Salsa

This mouthwatering appetizer has serious plate appeal without being tedious to prepare. A well-seasoned broth infuses polenta with savory flavor, while a squeeze of lemon juice keeps things fresh and black beans lend extra bulk. Once chilled, cut the polenta into discs using a cookie cutter and serve with guacamole and salsa. Easy peasy, pass another, pleasey!

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Polenta Crostini with Chickpea Pesto

These gluten-free, vegan crostini are why you should always have pre-cooked tube-style polenta in the cupboard. Half-inch slices of polenta take just 15–20 minutes in a hot oven to become crunchy, golden crostini, which you then slather with chickpea basil pesto. Top with finely diced tomato and onion for a restaurant-quality munchie that’s super easy to prepare.

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Tex-Mex Polenta Bowls

Ready in as little time as it takes to cook the polenta (about 15 minutes), this earthy bowl combines cumin-infused polenta with ready-to-go toppings such as black beans, pico de gallo, avocado, cilantro, and jalapeño. Writes one commenter: “One of the best things that I have made and will definitely do it again! Quick and easy.”

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Polenta Sopes with Beans and Corn

Tube-style polenta is a convenient swap for masa harina in this twist on sopes. Just slice and bake, then top with a smoky-flavored kidney bean and veggie mix, avocado, scallions, jalapeño chile, and vegan sour cream. Hearty and colorful, your eyes will enjoy this as much as your stomach.

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Polenta with Black Beans and Mango Salsa

Tube-style polenta does it again, providing a ready-made base for these tasty veggie-bean medallions. While the polenta is baking, prepare the black bean and veggie topping then serve with mango salsa for a delicious meal that’s guaranteed to wow. A commenter notes, “Fabulous meal—easy to make on a weeknight after work and the kid loved it!”

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Mole-Style Chili with Tamale Croutons

Crispy broiled polenta cubes soak up the rich flavors of this vegan mole-style chili, seasoned with cocoa and cinnamon and featuring mushrooms, kidney beans, pinto beans, corn, and tomatoes. “I could eat this once a week,” writes a reviewer.

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Baked Mushroom Polenta Bowls

In these ultra-flavorful vegan polenta bowls, polenta is baked with veggie broth and dried porcini mushrooms then topped with roasted brussels sprouts and onions. White beans give extra heft, and a little freshly grated tomato provides the perfect acidic tang to balance the flavors. Shares one commenter, “This was absolutely delicious! Turned out restaurant quality flavors. We loved it!”

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about the author

Lisa Esile, MS

Lisa Esile is an author, illustrator, blogger, vegetable gardener, and whole-food enthusiast with a special fondness for potatoes. She has a master’s degree in human nutrition and is passionate about showing people how to live happier, healthier lives. She is the author of Reach Your Big Calm and the co-author of Whose Mind Is It Anyway? Find her on Facebook.

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