Griddled Polenta Cakes with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese, and Honey

December 4, 2009

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite tapas: fried goat cheese with onion jam and honey. It's a sweet little bite of deliciousness.arielleclementine

Food52 Review: As we tasted this polenta, crisped in a pan and topped with caramelized onions, goat cheese and a sprinkling of honey, we thought aloud that it would make a great first course. No, a small lunch! Or how about breakfast! We’d happily eat it all day long, and we think you would, too. You can make arielleclementine’s polenta and onions ahead of time, then just crisp the polenta and assemble the dish when you’re ready. - A&MThe Editors

Serves: 8
Cook time: 45 min


For the polenta

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the toppings

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and sliced in 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 splash Honey, to drizzle
In This Recipe


  1. Bring the water, milk, and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta. Turn heat to low, and continue whisking for 5 minutes, or until polenta is smooth and creamy. Spread the polenta in a 9- by 9-inch baking dish, and set aside to cool.
  2. While the polenta is setting up, add the butter and olive oil to a heavy-bottomed skillet set to medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions and a sprinkle of kosher salt, and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, golden, and caramelized, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil into another skillet, set over medium heat. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles of the firm polenta, and place in the heated skillet. Cook until slightly browned and crusty on one side, about 2 minutes, then flip and cook the other sides another two minutes.
  4. To assemble the polenta cakes, place on a plate, add one tablespoon of caramelized onions to each cake, top each with about a teaspoon of crumbled goat cheese, and drizzle with honey. Enjoy!

More Great Recipes:
Cake|Tex-Mex|Goat Cheese|Grains|Milk/Cream|Onion|Polenta|Honey|Cheese|Serves a Crowd|Fall|Weeknight Cooking

Reviews (93) Questions (6)

93 Reviews

Jessica J. January 4, 2019
I make polenta all the time but had never tried it fried in the pan, I followed the recipe exactly, i put the polenta in the fridge to help make it a little firmer, then i cut and put it in the man and it ran to mush again. I also didn't think the cooking time you recommended for making the polenta was nearly long enough. Good creamy polenta takes 45 minutes.
Valerie January 4, 2019
I have to agree with you on the cooking time. I have never made polenta or grits in 5 minutes. Tonight I used a pressure cooker. Even that was set for 9 minutes. I have never had polenta turn back into mush either. Make your regular polenta and then let it set up. Try frying it after that.
Valerie September 22, 2018
Been eating fried cornmeal or fried grits for years. Also, polenta. I have found that if you let the polenta dry out in the refrigerator while wrapped in some paper towels that will help it keep its shape. Also, if using cast iron, the pan should be heated to temp before adding oil. Now....can anyone tell me how to stop the spitting?
Samantha F. September 6, 2018
Hello Love, <br />I bought the pre-made polenta roll in a garlic and herb. I am hoping it will still work with this recipe. (I needed a quick side to some fish fillets I am making.) How thick should the slices be? I bought the polenta before I found your wonderful recipe. I am also going to use some riccota to stretch my goat cheese. and I only have red onions on hand. (again found this wonderful recipe after my weekly shopping trip, lol, but I am still going for it!
Zenqi August 18, 2018
This didn't work for me at all. I followed the instructions exactly. I used a cast iron skillet with plenty of olive oil in hopes that it wouldn't stick. It stuck, AND the polenta was like mush once it began to warm again. I was pretty bummed.
Author Comment
arielleclementine August 22, 2018
I’m really sorry this happened to you, Zenqi. A couple of ideas/observations: I think it’s pretty important to use polenta (versus grits or cornmeal or another ground corn product here) as they hold their texture when reheated. This article is helpful for understanding the difference:<br /><br />Additionally- if your polenta turns back into a soft oozy pile, I can assure you that it will be just as delicious topped with caramelized onions, goat cheese, and honey. Hell, if you don’t want to bother with the polenta again, just spread that stuff on slices of toasted bread for a great crostini.
Zenqi August 22, 2018
Hi, arielleclementine. Yep, I used polenta (Bob's Red Mill), as opposed to the other products you mentioned. I've made polenta many times, both creamy polenta and the firm, "set" type. The only thing I can think of that I did differently was that my cookie cutter I used was about 1/2 an inch smaller, so my cakes were perhaps taller than if I used the correct size. <br />
chris August 7, 2018
This is a seriously delicious recipe. I wish I'd doubled it, so we didn't have to fight over the nine rounds! My only observation is that, if you're not using "instant" polenta grain, you should get psyched for some long haul stirring. My medium-ground cornmeal took 45 minutes till it was ready: "the polenta should be able to hold its own shape, and begin pulling away from the sides of the pot." Apparently, it's (almost) impossible to overcook polenta, as long as you keep stirring. It just gets creamier and creamier.
Ms.M October 21, 2015
Hi there.<br />Can you tell me what polenta is? Also I've seen it in a tube. <br />What is the best polenta to use? I like to prepare foods from scratch instead of buying ready made prodcts. <br />Thank you. <br />thank you so much
Author Comment
arielleclementine October 21, 2015
Hi! Polenta is a coarsely ground cornmeal- it should be near the cornmeal in your grocery store. You can use the stuff in a tube if you want to take a shortcut (just slice it in rings and griddle it) but if you're into scratch cooking the ground cornmeal is what you should look for. Thanks and good luck!
pestopasta February 3, 2015
Hi. I had similar problems as some of the other commenters. Even though mine sat in the fridge for over 24 hours, it was still too loose to brown in the pan. As it warmed it got runny and oozed all over. I used a medium-grind cornmeal rather than the coarse-grind traditionally used for polenta. Could this have been the problem?
Squidaline December 2, 2014
My grandmother made this with grits or cornmeal mush. Minus the goat cheese..
Kathie S. October 24, 2014
As delicious as it gets! Great recipe, thank you! I used goat gouda, diced into small cubes, and sheep's milk feta, because that's what I had on hand.
Gay S. June 22, 2014
Made this tonight and it was awesome!! Kicking myself because I got in a hurry to plate it and forgot the honey! Next time! It went beautifully with the roasted quail and the salad with red wine vinaigrette!
Gay S. June 22, 2014
Should add that I used carmelized leeks in place of the onions because I had them all sliced in the freezer.
Molly N. May 15, 2014
These were delicious, but I had a problem with the browning of the polenta. I let it sit for a while and it was plenty cool and thick and wonderful, but as soon as I got it on the skillet it started to turn more liquidy again and part of it would stick to the skillet. I used whole milk, I had plenty of butter on the pan... not sure what to do because I love the recipe. After a few, I just gave up and served the cooled, constituted polenta with the toppings (adding mushrooms that I cooked with the onions which was amazing). I am definitely going to try again though because the flavors were amazing.
Author Comment
arielleclementine May 15, 2014
oh Molly, I'm sorry to hear that! so i think what happened was the extra butter in the pan- in step 3 I crisped up the polenta with olive oil. maybe butter, and lots of it, served to re-hydrate your polenta. next time a bit of olive oil in a very hot pan should help them to crisp up quickly without softening. thank you so much for trying my recipe!
Chrissy April 14, 2014
This may be a silly question, but I am also a polenta novice. When we whisk it into the milk mixture, is it already-made polenta or is it just cornmeal? I feel like polenta is already smooth and creamy once it is made, so is it supposed to become more creamy when added to the milk? Thanks!
Author Comment
arielleclementine April 14, 2014
not silly at all! it is just dry cornmeal when you whisk it in- a coarse ground cornmeal that is often labeled "polenta" on the package because it's the kind you use to make creamy polenta. the ground cornmeal will get soft and creamy when cooked in milk.
Erin.Quinn March 19, 2014
Made this before and it was great, made it again tonight and the polenta kept sticking to the pan so it never browned because the brown part would stick and pull apart from the rest of the polenta cake. Do you think it could be because I used 2% milk instead of whole?
rob W. March 27, 2014
pan too dry, bit more butter?
Author Comment
arielleclementine March 27, 2014
Sorry about that, Erin! I'm with Robweeve on this- the pan probably needed a bit more fat. This is the first recipe I ever wrote, and if I were to write it again today I'd likely griddle the cakes in a mixture of butter and oil, and more like 2-3 tablespoons, not the one I listed here. Also, a good stiff metal spatula will help. Thanks so much for cooking this recipe!
Ruta December 31, 2013
We made this for Christmas dinner. It was so delicious, so easy and so elegant. We also added a rosemary fig confit which we found on Epicurious. I think I might be able to eat this every night.<br />Adapted from:<br />
Lynda October 23, 2013
This is very good. I left off the onions and it was still delicious.
Tessiewoo December 19, 2012
Check out this polenta recipe...<br /><br />
Laurelb December 4, 2012
Couldn't find polenta today so had to use the premade roll. It was ok. It not great. Used blue cheese instead of goat cheese which was a nice compliment to the beef dish I was serving. I served it as part of a meal rather than an appetizer
This was the best, the best, appetizer! Each aspect of it was delicious and my place smelled great. I definitely need a polenta crisping lesson, but that aside, it was easy and delicious. Got to try making this again, maybe make a few as before and a few with a little chicken chorizo and a dash of smoked paprika.
culture_connoisseur January 29, 2012
This is fabulous! I made it with ricotta instead of goat cheese. There was nothing left on the plate!
Author Comment
arielleclementine January 30, 2012
oh thank you!! love the ricotta twist! i'm making some of Jennie's homemade ricotta this week, so maybe i'll be able to try your variation! thanks for your comment :)
ohioeric December 11, 2011
Outstanding! Made these for a dinner party last night and they were a hit! <br />I used store bought polenta (labeled in the grocery store as "mush") and it couldn't have been easier!
Author Comment
arielleclementine December 12, 2011
oh yay! thanks ohioeric!! i've gone the store bought polentra route too and it worked beautifully. so happy you liked it :)
Brenzo December 10, 2011
Awesome...I didn't have goat cheese, so in keeping with the tapas theme, I substituted spicy chorizo sausage. The sweet honey and onions went great with the spicy sausage. Great texture contrast too. <br />Phenomenal recipe -- thanks so much!!
Author Comment
arielleclementine December 12, 2011
brilliant! i'm a huge chorizo fan- in fact- i just topped some latkes with chorizo! love your idea, and will definitely try it the next time i make these. i'm thrilled you liked the recipe :)
Drake F. August 26, 2011
how long is the total cooking process?
Author Comment
arielleclementine August 26, 2011
Hmm- about an hour if you multitask and caramelize the onions while the polenta is cooking and firming up.
Drake F. August 27, 2011
how long would you say it takes for the polenta to firm up?
Author Comment
arielleclementine August 27, 2011
I'd say about 10-20 minutes
elisa July 2, 2011
I made this as an appetizer for a intimate dinner party and everyone loved it. I thought that it was perfect. The crispiness of the polenta with the caramelized onions and goat cheese was fabulous, but adding the honey as the finishing touch, is genius! It's the element of surprise that brings it over the top! So delicious.
Author Comment
arielleclementine July 2, 2011
yay elisa! thank you so much- i'm so pleased that you liked it!
enbe October 24, 2010
Made this for an appetizer "showcase" party last night and it was a hit! I cut the polenta so I could make it into bite-sized squares. It was definitely not as nice looking as cookie cutters but it did the trick! It was quite easy, too, except for waiting for the polenta to set when I was already running late. I loved the tang of goat cheese paired with the sweet honey on top of the deliciously creamy polenta. <br />Thanks so much for this recipe!
Author Comment
arielleclementine October 24, 2010
thanks, enbe! what a lovely compliment! your party sounds super awesome too :)
deepsilver June 23, 2010
made this last week........ OMG! so delicious and so easy. thanks for recipe. <br />btw- so excited I found your site... love love LOVE it!
Author Comment
arielleclementine June 23, 2010
oh wow! thank you! i'm so happy you liked it! i'll be making a variation of this recipe this weekend, with fried green tomatoes taking the place of the polenta cakes.
nannydeb May 21, 2010
I made this for my breakfast this morning and it was wonderful! What a treat!
Author Comment
arielleclementine June 23, 2010
hooray! thanks, nannydeb!
Lucia F. May 19, 2010
Finally made this recipe. Wow it was very good. It was the first time I used honey like that. <br />
Author Comment
arielleclementine June 23, 2010
this is so fun! thank you for making and blogging about my recipe!
lbn May 13, 2010
I liked the flavor of this a lot, but my polenta totally did not set up. I wonder what I did wrong? The instructions weren't that complicated. Anyway, I kind of just fried it up anyway even as it melted into the pan. :)
Author Comment
arielleclementine May 16, 2010
hi lbn :) so glad you liked it! sorry your polenta didn't set up- i guess i would recommend following the directions on your polenta packaging, since there are so many varieties. some may need to cook for 20-25 minutes before they get thicker and porridge-y. mine was done after 5, so that's what i wrote in the recipe.
lbn May 18, 2010
thanks, I'll try that! :) I'm new to polenta.... :)
DAVILCHICK April 18, 2010
I know I'm 6 months late but THIS IS THE BEST APPETIZER EVAH! I make it all the time now for company. It's a fail safe for me. I can carmelize the onions ahead of time so the only time I have to be away from guests is when I heat the polenta. (I buy the ready made and no one cares - much easier for mother). I'm so happy to have found this website. Keep those recipes coming!!
Author Comment
arielleclementine April 18, 2010
oh man!! thank you! i'm so happy you like it! i've also made it with the ready-made log o' polenta and agree that it works out swimmingly. isn't food52 the best? it has been so much fun- i had never made up a recipe before joining it! thanks again for the compliment :)
student E. March 16, 2010
this looks wonderful -- i'm making it tonight! my mom's family is mennonite and for breakfast at our reunions, we always eat fried mush, aka polenta cakes, with tomatoes and maple syrup. i'm excited to try it with the onions, goat cheese, and honey!
Author Comment
arielleclementine March 16, 2010
oh fun! thank you for trying it! wow- fried mush with tomatoes and maple syrup sounds awesome- i will have to try that! (I've never had tomatoes and maple syrup together!). i hope you like this recipe :)
Author Comment
arielleclementine March 14, 2010
oh man! what a wonderful surprise to come home to! i can't believe it! thank you, thank you :)
Muckle March 13, 2010
Made this tonight and it was delicious! Used brie instead of goat cheese since that's what I had on hand, and seasoned the onions with a thyme, lavender sea salt mix I had. The polenta didn't fry very well because it wasn't as firm as it should have been, but I'm a polenta novice so I have a feeling I did something wrong. Even so, this recipe really opened up some great polenta ideas for me!
Author Comment
arielleclementine March 14, 2010
thank you so much for trying it! and what a fantastic-sounding adaptation! i'm sorry your polenta didn't firm up properly. truth be told, when i'm feeling lazy this goat cheese/caramelized onion/honey trio are almost as delicious piled on crostini :)
aaarizpe March 11, 2010
Hey, this is arielleclementine's husband. She's going to be so excited when she's finds out that her recipe was picked as a wildcard winner, but she's actually out of the country with no internet access all week (she and helenthenanny took their grandmother on a cruise). Anyway, she'll be back this weekend, and I'm sure she'll be eager to respond to your comments as soon as she returns. Thanks!
Author Comment
arielleclementine March 14, 2010
thanks, bunny-face!
gluttonforlife March 10, 2010
I ogled this back when you first posted it. So delicious. Do you think I can make the polenta with an alternate milk--like hemp milk?
Author Comment
arielleclementine March 14, 2010
thank you, friend! absolutely! you could even make the polenta entirely with water, and I don't think it would affect the end product too much. will you tell me if you try it with hemp milk? i've never tried that before :)
coffeefoodwrite March 10, 2010
Yummy! What a great recipe!
Author Comment
arielleclementine March 14, 2010
thank you!
Allison C. March 10, 2010
Congrats on the Wildcard Win! Much deserved; it's a lovely recipe.
Author Comment
arielleclementine March 14, 2010
you're so kind :) thank you!
monkeymom March 10, 2010
Congrats! corn and honey...yum.
Author Comment
arielleclementine March 14, 2010
yahoo! thank you!
witloof March 10, 2010
there are no directions for the olive oil in the polenta part of the recipe. do you add it to the pot or use it to grease the pan?
Author Comment
arielleclementine March 14, 2010
hi there! sorry this was confusing- the olive oil at the end of the ingredient list for the polenta is what you use to fry the polenta cakes after you've cut them out with the biscuit cutter. i hope you like it :)
mrslarkin March 10, 2010
Well done, arielleclementine! That is one tasty morsel.
Author Comment
arielleclementine March 14, 2010
thanks, mrslarkin!
melissav March 10, 2010
You had my vote way back when. So glad to see this as a Wildcard Winner - a nice reminder that I haven't gotten around to trying it yet which I must do soon!
Author Comment
arielleclementine March 14, 2010
oh, wow! thank you!
Mike S. December 15, 2009
Those are some yumtastic-sounding griddle cakes.
mrslarkin December 14, 2009
This sounds delicious!!! I love crispy polenta! I bet it would be great with gorgonzola too.
Author Comment
arielleclementine December 15, 2009
thank you! your gorgonzola idea sounds delightful :)
candaceb December 14, 2009
This should be a winner! So easy, with exquisite flavor and texture!
Author Comment
arielleclementine December 14, 2009
yay! thanks, candace :)
DianneV December 14, 2009
Are you using instant polenta or cornmeal?
Author Comment
arielleclementine December 14, 2009
Hi Dianne :) I used Alpina Savoie medium polenta - "corn semolina". I've never used instant polenta, but I would assume that it would work just as well.
Mandolin December 13, 2009
This dish reminds me of my trip to Italy. Thanks!
Author Comment
arielleclementine December 13, 2009
thank you! my husband and i are planning our first trip there in september- i'm beyond excited.
Lucia F. December 12, 2009
This recipe is going in my must try file. It gets my vote!
Author Comment
arielleclementine December 13, 2009
thank you so much! i sure hope you like it :)
Miss K. December 11, 2009
You had me at "carmelized onions, goat cheese, and honey."
Molly B. December 11, 2009
This is an excellent dish! I'd love to see it win!!!
Helenthenanny December 10, 2009
They are sooo delicious!! Yahoo and good luck!!
Author Comment
arielleclementine December 10, 2009
what fun to be a finalist! thank you!
Merrill S. December 10, 2009
You're welcome! It's a great recipe.
aargersi December 10, 2009
Honey, goat cheese and onions ... well, you had me at HONEY! I will be trying this out for sure!
Author Comment
arielleclementine December 10, 2009
haha! thank you! i hope you like it :)
Miss K. December 5, 2009
I cannot wait to try out this recipe! <br />
Author Comment
arielleclementine December 5, 2009
oh, thank you!