How To Make a Quick Bowl of Polenta in the Microwave

updated Jun 30, 2023
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Credit: Faith Durand

Polenta is one of my very favorite breakfasts. I love the creamy, nutty taste of golden cornmeal in my bowl; it makes a lovely alternative to oatmeal or cold cereal. And it is even easier to whip up a bowl for breakfast than I realized, too. I used to just eat dinner leftovers for breakfast, but then I discovered that I can make a bowl of polenta in the microwave in five minutes.

Quick Overview

How to Make Microwave Polenta

Combine water, cornmeal, and salt in a bowl, and put it in the microwave for five minutes on high. In about two minutes and 30 seconds, take the polenta out of the microwave, stir and add milk, if desired. Put the bowl back in the microwave and finish the cooking time.

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This will make one bowl of polenta, plenty for one person. It will be smooth and thick, but probably not entirely free of lumps. Personally I don’t mind them at all, but this isn’t the ultra-smooth polenta you’ll find in restaurants.

Where to Buy Polenta

You can find the cornmeal called for here in the bulk section at the grocery, or bagged and sold as polenta or coarse ground cornmeal. Bob’s Red Mill makes a nice version.

Recipe for Microwave Polenta


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coarse ground cornmeal
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, optional
  • Milk, optional


  • Microwave
  • Bowl


1. Mix the water, cornmeal, salt, and olive oil, if using. Put the bowl, uncovered, in the microwave, and set the microwave for 5 minutes on HIGH.

2. Halfway through cooking, take the polenta out of the microwave and stir thoroughly. Add a drizzle of milk, if desired. Put the bowl back in the microwave and finish the cooking time. Check at 5 minutes; it should be getting rather thick. (It will thicken even more as it cools.)

3. Eat with a little more milk, plus brown sugar and walnuts — or topped with a poached egg

Additional Notes

Microwaves range in power, of course. My polenta was perfectly done after 5 minutes, but check it halfway through cooking. If it is already thickening rapidly you may want to only cook it for a minute more.

Do you ever eat polenta for breakfast? What do you like to add to it?

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