Top 9 Substitutes for Polenta (+ IMAGES)

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Having a plate of polenta is a treat almost anyone would love for breakfast, especially if you’re making a hot porridge polenta on a cold morning.

It is such a great pantry item to have on hand. However, it’s not uncommon that a nearby store runs out of stock all of a sudden, leaving you polenta-less and sad.

Have you ever found yourself in this situation or wanting to try something similar to polenta that can still deliver a flavorful and satisfying experience?

Lucky for you, there are plenty substitutes for polenta such as oatmeal, mashed potatoes, sweet mashed potatoes, cream of wheat, rice risotto, rice risotto, pureed cauliflower, pureed pumpkin, and more.

Best Substitutes For Polenta

Below, we’re going to look into each of them – telling you the dishes you can use them for and how to actually use them.

Let’s get started!

1. Oatmeal

Substitutes for Polenta

Think about it, polenta soft porridge can be topped with milk or cream and some fresh fruits for a hearty breakfast dish, so do Oatmeal when cooked right.

Oatmeal is a fantastic source of whole grains that contain a heat-protective starch called beta-glucan that can help lower high cholesterol and potentially reduce the risk of certain cancers.

So if you have glucan intolerance, oatmeal is your survivor.  Just replace it with 1 cup of oatmeal over 1 cup of polenta. Also, you want to cook it much longer so it would be as soft and creamy as polenta.

Add some milk for extra creaminess and some dried or fresh fruits on top to add a hint of crunch to your breakfast.

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2. Mashed Potatoes

Polenta, when paired with savory meats and vegetables, makes the perfect lunch or dinner.

However, if you crave something else other than polenta for your savory dishes, mashed potatoes will definitely do the trick.

And since potatoes are selling like hot cakes in the market, I’m pretty sure most home kitchens never miss out on them. But try and get the organic ones when you can.

Moreover, there are powdered mashed potatoes that are readily available in the market at your convenience to save time.

3 pieces of medium-sized potatoes can make a heaping bowl of mashed potatoes. And that can substitute a cup of polenta for almost any meal.

You can top it with beef stew, steaks, or any kind of vegetables for an additional yummy taste.

3. Sweet Mashed Potatoes

While regular potatoes will do justice to replacing polenta, sweet potatoes are the healthier option. Higher in fiber; lesser in carbs.

If you ask me, they’re more preferable. Not only can you use them for savory, but also sweetened dishes. So you’re literally killing two birds with one stone.

You can have it for a healthy breakfast – topping it with some dried fruit and nuts. Or have it as a lunch with cream and crispy fried bacon – any way will do.

Besides, they’re always available in the groceries in all seasons. However, packaged sweet-mashed potatoes can be rare, unlike regular potatoes.

Use 2 large sweet potatoes boiled and mashed to substitute a cup of polenta.

4. Cream of Wheat

Use cream of wheat now, and you can thank me later.

I highly! highly!! highly recommend the cream of wheat all day, every day.

They are one of my biggest discoveries with instant food along my kitchen journey.

It’s more like oatmeal, but kind of the powdered version and are way more creamy and tasty.

It’s a brand of farina, a type of breakfast porridge mix made from wheat semolina –simply good food that warms and nourishes both body and soul.

A cup of cream of wheat will substitute 1 cup of polenta. It’s easy to prepare, like oatmeal. All you need is boiling water and some toppings like some varieties of nuts and even extra cream to make it creamier.

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5. Couscous

Couscous is often considered a healthy alternative to polenta.

When boiled for long, its thick consistency looks as smooth as polenta.

They don’t have much difference. Aside from the couscous doesn’t have that distinct cornmeal flavor that polenta provides. 

They both fall under the heading of cornmeal, which is essentially a coarse flour or “meal” made from dried corn. Only that, Couscous has a little more iron, protein, and vitamin B3, and about twice as much fiber.

However, for those on a gluten-free diet, you might want to give it a second thought.

6. Rice Porridge

Whenever you’re craving polenta, rice is another carb substitute that is always within your grasp. You can either cook it for savory or desserts.

Well, most people would love to get the powdered rice or rice flour, but I’d instead go for the actual rice and make porridge with it whenever I feel up to eating polenta.

They are one of the most accessible carbs you can get in any grocery store. Above all, they’re a cheaper alternative.

Rice porridge is nice for a meal, especially if you’re ill and can’t eat any solid food. You can just add some honey, cocoa, and milk. However, for savory, try sautéing chicken, ginger, garlic, and rice, then boil until it turns into a porridge.

Lastly, note that rice is good at swollen pretty quickly when they absorb more water. So when substituting, consider using half a cup of rice over a cup of polenta.

However, if you opt for a type of rice that’s stubborn to rise, feel free to add more content to the porridge to increase the portion.

7. Grits

Polenta and grits are only slightly different from each other. First, they are made of different kinds of corn. The corn that polenta is made of is yellow, whereas grits are hominy or white corn.

We recommend using yellow grits when making this swap, as polenta is traditionally a yellow corn product.

So if you don’t have polenta on hand or can’t find them at your nearby grocery store, Grits is an excellent substitute for Polenta –depending on the dish you are trying to make, though.

Both meals are cooked the same way. Put in boiled water and seasoning to taste.

But grits will always yield a different result so take note. They become mushy. Lastly, if the recipe calls for something more solid, then you can’t go for grits.

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8. Pureed Cauliflower

While carbs are essential to a healthy diet, they can be harmful in excess. So whenever I’m watching my carb intake, cauliflower is my run to.

Pureed cauliflower is a popular low-carb substitute for polenta amongst diets such as vegetarian, vegan, and paleo. I’m not surprised because they are packed with nutrients, low calories, and unhealthy fats.

Also, I’ve noticed most grocery stores NEVER fail to display cauliflowers at the veggie aisle, and it’s almost impossible to run out of stock.

Well, if you’re going for cauliflower, cut it into small pieces and boil until soft. Then process in the food processor to puree the cauliflower.

It resembles hummus when pureed because of its creaminess. You can have it with savory stews and grilled meats.

9. Mashed Pumpkin

Pumpkin is keto-friendly winter squash. Pumpkins are also lower in carbs than other similar fruits and vegetables – making them an excellent pick for a low carb diet.

And when substituted for polenta, it resembles sweet mashed potatoes –only they are creamier. They are also extremely high in nutrients, which is why we included them among our top picks.

During the fall season, pumpkins are abundant and come in all sizes and shapes. Take advantage of a good harvest and try using it over your polenta recipes. 

Substitute 1-2 cups of pureed pumpkin over 1 cup of polenta. It’s best to make porridge for breakfast or lunch, then mix it with a bit of rice and meat. 

I’d also recommend it for savory pairing for other meats and vegetables.

Although, unlike polenta, pumpkins are lighter, so double the serving to strike a balance. You can add chunks of pumpkin instead of pureeing it all to make a filling.


So now you’ve got a list of the perfect substitutes for polenta, you can now satisfy those cravings. You just have to try one of the items on the list.

However, you should know that the texture, taste, and consistency may not be a hundred percent spot-on for some people, but it will do for a tasty substitute for any polenta recipe.

So which one will it be?

I’m so curious to know!

Will it be the oatmeal, of wheat, or the pureed cauliflower? Endeavor to let us know in the comment section below.

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