11 Substitutes for Polenta (Similar Alternatives to Try)

Polenta is a delicious Italian dish made from cornmeal. It has a creamy, porridge-like texture and can be served with a variety of toppings.

Do you love polenta but don’t always have the time to make it from scratch? Or maybe you’re looking for a substitute that has a different flavor or texture.

Whatever the reason, we’ve got you covered. In this blog post, we’ll list 11 substitutes for polenta that taste great and are easy to make. We’ll also provide the ratios to use when substituting, as well as examples of how we’ve used them ourselves.

So, let’s get started!

Substitutes for Polenta:

  1. Oatmeal
  2. Cream of wheat
  3. Mashed potatoes
  4. Sweet mashed potatoes
  5. Rice porridge
  6. Couscous
  7. Pureed cauliflower
  8. Mashed pumpkin
  9. Grits
  10. Semolina
  11. Corn flour


Oatmeal can be used as a substitute for polenta in many cases. It has a similar texture and appearance when cooked properly.

Oatmeal is also a whole-grain meal, which means that it contains more fiber and nutrients than polenta. And is also gluten-free so it will be good for those with gluten intolerance.

When substituting oatmeal for polenta, use a 1:1 ratio. So, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of polenta, simply use 1 cup of oatmeal instead.

Simply cook the oatmeal according to the package directions, then use it in place of the polenta called for in your recipe. You may need to adjust the cooking time slightly, but overall, this substitution will work well in most cases.

Cream of wheat

Cream of wheat is a type of breakfast porridge that is mixed with semolina, similar to oatmeal. It can be used as a substitute for polenta in many dishes.

When substituting cream of wheat for polenta use a 1:1 ratio. So, if you need 1 cup of polenta for a recipe, use 1 cup of cream of wheat instead.

When cooked, it has a similar consistency to polenta. Cream of wheat is a good source of vitamins and minerals, and it is low in fat and calories. However, it is not gluten-free so if you have a gluten allergy then it will not be suitable for you.

Mashed potatoes

When it comes to side dishes, mashed potatoes are a classic. They can be paired with just about any savory dish.

Moreover, potatoes are widely available and usually cheap. So, mashed potatoes are not only easy to make but also budget-friendly.

You can cook it just how you do and then top it off with extra cream. The texture of mashed potatoes and polenta is not similar but it is a safe option as most people like it.

Sweet mashed potatoes

Sweet mashed potatoes may not be a traditional Italian dish. But they can make a delicious and easy substitute for polenta.

Sweet potatoes are similar to regular mashed potatoes in texture and consistency. But they have a sweeter flavor that pairs well with savory toppings.

They can be served in the same way as polenta, as a side dish, or as a base for other ingredients. The benefits of using sweet mashed potatoes as a substitute for polenta include convenience and flavor.

Sweet potatoes are usually easier to find and prepare than polenta, and their sweetness can add an extra layer of flavor to your dish.

Rice porridge

Rice porridge, also known as congee, is a type of rice pudding that is popular in many Asian countries. It is made by cooking rice in water or broth until it breaks down into a thick, creamy consistency.

It can be made from any type of rice, but long-grain rice is typically used. Brown rice and Basmati rice are also popular choices.

Rice porridge can be served plain or with add-ins such as meats, vegetables, or mushrooms. It is often eaten for breakfast or as a light meal.

It is filling but not heavy, and it is easy to digest. It is also widely available, as rice is a common ingredient in many cultures.

Making rice porridge from scratch is fairly easy. So, use actual rice instead of rice flour for better consistency.


Couscous is a type of meal made from semolina flour that is popular in North Africa. Both polenta and couscous are grain-based dishes. However, couscous can be a healthy alternative to polenta for those looking for a change.

Couscous has a similar consistency to polenta, but the two dishes have different tastes. Polenta is usually flavored with cheese and butter. While couscous is often served with vegetables or meat.

In addition, couscous is a good source of fiber and protein, while polenta is higher in carbohydrates. For these reasons, couscous may be a better option for those looking for a healthy alternative to polenta.

Pureed cauliflower

Pureed cauliflower is a versatile substitute for polenta that can be used in a variety of dishes. This healthy alternative is vegan and paleo-friendly. And is a great option for those looking to cut back on calories or carbs.

Pureed cauliflower can be used as a base for toppings such as grilled vegetables or roasted tomatoes, or it can be served on its own as a side dish.

Whatever way you choose to prepare it, pureed cauliflower is sure to be a hit with your guests.

Mashed pumpkin

Mashed pumpkin is a healthy, keto, and vegan-friendly alternative to Polenta. It is high in fiber and low in carbohydrates. This makes mashed pumpkin an ideal substitute for those on a diet or looking for a healthy option.

Pumpkin also resembles mashed sweet potatoes in taste and texture, making it a versatile option for recipes. When used as a substitute for Polenta, pumpkin can help to cut down on calories and fat while still providing the same flavor and texture.

As an added bonus, pumpkin is also rich in vitamins and minerals!


Grits are usually made from yellow corn, while Polenta can be made from either yellow or white corn. So they have a similar taste. They also look similar, making Grits one of the best alternatives to Polenta.

The main difference between the two is that Grits are coarser than Polenta. Grits can be cooked in water or milk and served with butter, cheese, or gravy.

They can also be fried or baked. Polenta is usually boiled in water or broth and then served with cheese, vegetables, or meat.


Semolina is a granular flour made from durum wheat. And it is an excellent substitute for polenta.

Semolina comes in various coarseness levels. But when substituting semolina for polenta, use smooth semolina. It is also widely available in most grocery stores.

When cooked, semolina has a similar texture to polenta and it absorbs flavors well. It is also hearty and filling, making it a perfect base for savory or sweet toppings.

Whether you are looking for a traditional polenta dish or something new, semolina is a great option.

Corn flour

Polenta and corn flour both come from different types of corn. But they can actually be used interchangeably in a number of recipes.

For example, corn flour can be used as a substitute for Polenta when making muffins or pancakes. The different taste of corn flour will add a new dimension to these classic recipes.

Similarly, corn flour can also be used in soups to thicken them and add a bit of extra flavor. The benefits of using corn flour as a substitute for Polenta are that it is generally less expensive and easier to find.

However, it is important to keep in mind that the two products do have different tastes, so you may need to experiment a bit to find the right flavor balance for your dish.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I use instead of polenta in a cake?

One of the best polenta substitutes in cake or baking, in general, is semolina. Semolina comes in different coarseness. However, when getting semolina for baking cake ensure that you get the fine semolina.

The smooth texture of semolina will ensure that your cake turns out soft and fluffy. Moreover, you can use the 1:1 ratio when using semolina. So, if a cake recipe calls for 1 cup of polenta, use 1 cup of semolina instead.

The texture of semolina cake is not much different than polenta cake. So, after the cake is done, you can use the same steps to decorate it.

What is the best polenta substitute for cornbread?

As polenta is made from white corn, it gives cornbreads the authentic corn flavor. However, if you do not have polenta at hand, use corn flour instead.

As the name suggests, corn flour is made from corn. Hence, it will offer a similar taste. However, it is still different than polenta so the end result might look a bit different.

When substituting corn flour for polenta, use the 1:1 ratio. So, if the recipe for cornbread asks for 1 cup of polenta, use 1 cup of corn flour instead. The cooking instructions and cooking temperature will remain the same.

Can I use flour instead of polenta?

No, unfortunately, you cannot use plain wheat flour instead of polenta. Both of these ingredients have different tastes and will yield different results.

But you can use corn flour instead of polenta. Even though these two ingredients look different, corn flour is a great polenta substitute in cooking.

In conclusion

There are many substitutes for polenta that can be used depending on what you have on hand and what you are looking to make. Each substitute has its own unique flavor and texture that can change a dish.

So, experiment with different substitutes to find the perfect one for your next meal! And never forget to experiment with different ingredients to find the best polenta substitute for your recipe!