How long does polenta take to cook? I never made one before. Chefs on YouTube always make it in like 10 minute tops. But people online have written that it takes like 40 minutes with constant stirring. Which one is correct? Also, once the polenta has gotten cold, how can I heat it again?

  • 1
    Hi. Does the packet not have any cooking instructions? There are different kinds I believe. Some are instant (I presume pre-cooked or processed), and others that aren't.
    – Billy Kerr
    Nov 6, 2021 at 16:34
  • 1
    Welcome to SA! You have two different questions here, and not a lot of detail, which makes it hard for us to help you -- one is about cooking time, and the other one is about reheating. Can you ask those as two separate questions, please? Also, please explain what result you're looking for with the polenta: is it going to be eaten soft, or chilled into a cake and sliced?
    – FuzzyChef
    Nov 6, 2021 at 18:19

3 Answers 3


The time for cooking polenta is in the range between 2 minutes and 2.5 hours. It depends on the technique you have chosen, the starting material, and to some degree also on batch size and a few environmental variables, although those will rarely make a noticeable difference.

Since the range is too wide for planning, many recipes will give you an estimate. If you have picked a recipe which doesn't, you can look for other recipes which use the same technique as yours, and see their estimates.

If for some reason you need high precision, the only way forward is to measure it yourself. Make your preferred recipe a few times, stop the time, and average the results. It is probably more trouble than it's worth though, since polenta is rarely a critical dish when computing complex menu timings.

A side note on TV chefs - they have a vested interest in claiming unrealistically short preparation times. Their timings are "for show", just like the food photography in recipe books is "for show". Don't assume it will be the same under real conditions in your own kitchen.

  • While I agree with "follow the recipe" in general, as Mark Wildon alluded to, it's pretty common for recipes to not mention whether they use quick-cooking polenta, leading to the risk of that squishy sand texture if they were and you're not.
    – Sneftel
    Nov 8, 2021 at 11:42
  • @Sneftel The world is full of misinformation, yes, including bad cooking recipes :( We just have to learn to vet our sources, and to accept that there will be duds along the way to building a collection of trusted recipes.
    – rumtscho
    Nov 8, 2021 at 11:52

Instant polenta is partly cooked and can be cooked completely in a few minutes. It's possible to buy it without even realising that there is another version.


Polenta is just a pretentious version of mielie pap. A staple food in much of sub-Saharan Africa. Polenta is made with geelmielies or as it is known in the West yellow corn. South African pap as it is made is made from witmielies or white maize meal.

Polenta as the Italians make is made to an porridge-like consistency. It is what is known in South Africa as stywepap or firm porridge. If you stir it constantly you will give it a crumbly texture and it will become krimmelpap. If you add butter, sugar and a spot of milk to it you can eat as porridge. It then becomes a mieliepap ontbyt (breakfast)

I would say the indications of 45 minutes would be a better estimate. It is quite a chore making it. You have to constantly stir it or it will burn and you want to use as little water as possible. Polenta flour seems to be a very fine refine maize meal which probably makes it easier to make but it still should be a fair amount of stirring.

  • 3
    Polenta is far from a pretentious dish... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polenta And it's not always eaten as porridge. Besides, there is an instant version as mentioned on the other answer which will cook much faster.
    – Luciano
    Nov 8, 2021 at 10:42

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