Sides

Crispy Baked Polenta Fries

February 27, 2020 (Last Updated: May 17, 2020) by Emily

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Incredibly delicious Polenta Fries baked to perfection with a crispy and crunchy outside and soft and creamy middle. The easiest side dish or appetizer, serve with a juicy steak or delicious dips for dunking!

An overhead shot of polenta served as fries in a bowl

I’m a big believer that side dishes should be just as exciting as the main!

Our pan fried gnocchi and cheesy roasted asparagus are some of my absolute favs alongside these polenta fries!

I mean I love potato fries (who doesn’t?) but these are so much more fun and super easy to make.

You can make them with pre-cooked store-bought polenta or make your own using quick-cook or instant polenta and let it set (I’ll guide you through both methods).

Pre-cooked polenta vs instant polenta

Pre-cooked polenta

If you love recipes with practically zero prep work then pre-cooked polenta is for you!

I’ll often buy it pre-cooked, cut it into fries, toss with some herbs then bake! Seriously it’s that easy to make crispy, crunchy fries!

Quick cook or instant polenta

The great thing about quick-cook or instant polenta is well, it takes no time at all to cook.

I personally never use quick cook polenta unless I want to set it for grilling, baking or frying.

By making your own polenta you can add in cheese, butter and delicious herbs for an extra punch of flavour, SO delicious.

If you do use this method then you have to pour the polenta into a rimmed lined baking tray and let it set in the fridge for 1-2 hours so there’s extra prep work involved.

Top Tip: If you love silky soft polenta as a side to stews, roasts and sauces then you’ll want to use traditional polenta, not the instant stuff, check out our creamy polenta recipe with step by step guide (it’s super easy).

A close up of polenta cut into fries and served in a bowl with herbs

How to make polenta fries – step by step

If using pre-cooked polenta

Remove the pre-cooked polenta from its packet and pat dry if it has any excess moisture (see video).

Cut the polenta into fries, try to make them roughly the same size so they cook evenly (photos 1 & 2).

Add the olive oil, herbs and salt to a large bowl and add the polenta fries. Toss to coat them in the oil and herbs (photos 3 & 4).

Step by step photos for making polenta fries with pre-cooked polenta

Two photos showing polenta before and after being baked

Place the fries on a baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and crispy (photos 5 & 6).

If making polenta from scratch

Bring the chicken stock to a boil (photo 1).

Once boiling turn the heat down to a simmer and slowly add the polenta whilst stirring until all the polenta is fully incorporated (photo 2).

Step by step photos for making polenta from scratch

Next, add the butter, parmesan, herbs, salt and pepper and stir until the butter has melted and the polenta has thickened slightly (2-3 minutes) (photos 3 & 4).

Pour the cooked polenta into a lined baking tray and spread it out evenly. Let the polenta cook completely then chill in the fridge covered with plastic wrap for 1-2 hours or overnight (photo 5).

Once chilled and completely set, remove the polenta from the tray and cut into fries (photo 6).

Place the fries on a baking tray and brush with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden brown and crispy (photos 7 & 8).

Step by step photos for making polenta fries from scratch

Different seasonings to try

You can play around with the flavours and add in any herbs and spices you like to these fries. If you’re making your own polenta then I recommend adding the seasoning into the mix and for pre-cooked polenta simply toss them in the seasonings and a little olive oil.

Here are some ideas to try;

  • Red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper for a spicy kick
  • Dried oregano
  • Freshly chopped rosemary, parsley, or thyme (any herb will work)
  • Parmesan
  • Good melting cheeses such as taleggio, gorgonzola, fontina mixed into the polenta.

Dips and serving suggestions

These crispy baked fries are the perfect side dish to almost anything, I love to serve them with a juicy char-grilled steak and a simple salad or you could serve them with any meat, fish or veggie main you like.

If you’re serving them as an appetizer then you’ll want some dips!

Our Sour Cream Pesto Dip is by far my all-time favourite dip but warning it is highly addictive. Regular homemade basil pesto or garlic mayo would also be perfect!

A side shot of polenta fries in a bowl with rosemary

Top tips for making polenta fries

  • If you’re using pre-cooked polenta (store-bought) then pat it dry before cutting into fries.
  • Pre-cooked polenta can be heavily seasoned with salt (different brands will vary) so I find it best to only season with salt if they need it (try them first once baked).
  • It doesn’t matter if your pre-cooked polenta comes in a tube or box you’ll still be able to cut them into fries.
  • Cut the fries roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
  • If making polenta from scratch then you’ll want to give it 1-hour minimum in the fridge to set but you can prepare it in advance and store it overnight.
  • Chicken stock can be replaced with vegetable stock or just water.
  • I love baking these fries because it’s so much easier and healthier but you can fry them in vegetable or sunflower oil until crisp and golden!
  • Leftover fries can be frozen (both before and after cooking).

More delicious side dishes you might like

If you’ve tried these Polenta Fries or any other recipe on the blog please let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

Step By Step Photos AboveMost of our recipes come with step by step photos, helpful tips and tricks to make it perfectly first time and even video!
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5 from 5 votes

Crispy Baked Polenta Fries

Incredibly delicious Polenta Fries baked to perfection with a crispy and crunchy outside and soft and creamy middle. The easiest side dish or appetizer, serve with a juicy steak or delicious dips for dunking!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 352kcal
Author Emily Kemp

Ingredients

If using pre-cooked polenta

  • 1 package pre-cooked polenta ( around 500g/17.5oz )
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Pinch of salt and pepper (if needed, see notes)

If using quick cook polenta

  • 1 cup quick-cook polenta (190g)
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock (800ml)
  • 4 tbsp butter (60g)
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan (30g)
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary finely chopped
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp sea salt flakes (kosher salt)
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

If using pre-cooked polenta

  • Pre-heat the oven to 430F/220C.
  • Remove the pre-cooked polenta from it’s packet and pat dry if it has any excess moisture.
  • Cut the polenta into fries, try to make them roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
  • Add the olive oil, herbs and pepper (no salt) to a large bowl and add the polenta fries. Toss to coat them in the oil and herbs.
  • Place the fries on a baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

If making polenta from scratch (quick-cook)

  • Add the chicken stock to a medium sized pot and bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling turn the heat down to a simmer and slowly add the polenta whilst stirring until all the polenta is fully incorporated.
  • Next, add the butter, parmesan, herbs and salt and stir until the butter has melted and the polenta has thickened slightly (2-3 minutes).
  • Pour the cooked polenta into a lined baking dish (10x8 inch) and spread it out evenly. Let the polenta cook completely then chill in the fridge covered with plastic wrap for 1-2 hours or overnight.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 430F/220C.
  • Once chilled and completely set, remove the polenta from the tray and cut into fries.
  • Place the fries on a baking tray and brush with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Serve with as a side or appetizer.

Notes

  • If you're using pre-cooked polenta (store-bought) then pat it dry before cutting into fries.
  • Pre-cooked polenta can be heavily seasoned with salt (different brands will vary) so I find it best to only season with salt if they need it (try them first once baked).
  • It doesn't matter if your pre-cooked polenta comes in a tube or box you'll still be able to cut them into fries.
  • Cut the fries roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
  • If making polenta from scratch then you'll want to give it 1-hour minimum in the fridge to set but you can prepare it in advance and store it overnight.
  • Chicken stock can be replaced with vegetable stock or just water.
  • I love baking these fries because it's so much easier and healthier but you can fry them in vegetable or sunflower oil until crisp and golden!
  • Leftover fries can be frozen (both before and after cooking).

Nutrition

Calories: 352kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 611mg | Potassium: 159mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 580IU | Calcium: 162mg | Iron: 1mg
Helpful Info for All Recipes
  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
  • When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
  • All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
  • All recipes are tested and developed using a fan (convection) oven
  • Find out more about how nutrition is calculated here
  • Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples here
  • You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking here
Did you try this recipe?Mention @insidetherustickitchen or tag #insidetherustickitchen! We'd love you see what you're getting up to in the kitchen!

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Kushigalu
    February 28, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    So crispy and delicious they look. Would love to try your recipe soon?!5 stars

  • Reply
    Marie-Charlotte Chatelain
    February 28, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Oh my goodness! Could these look any more delish????They look just like thick cut fries! But with cheese, so BETTER!5 stars

  • Reply
    Kelly Anthony
    February 28, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    I love that you included 2 different ways to make these yummy polenta fries making it even easier for busy nights when I don’t have a ton of time to cook.5 stars

  • Reply
    David
    February 28, 2020 at 11:58 am

    Yum! This is such a delicious idea! Totally agree about the side dish being a key part of the meal. I like all the different options for this, including fresh herbs and mixing up the cheeses.5 stars

  • Reply
    Corina Blum
    February 28, 2020 at 9:42 am

    I’m impressed by how deliciously crispy these look! I have to admit that I haven’t tried polenta fries as I’m not a big fan of polenta but I do love fries and these look just as good as potato fries!5 stars

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      February 28, 2020 at 9:48 am

      They’re super crispy! I hope you get a chance to try them they may just convert you, ha! Thanks so much Corina.

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