Spinach polenta

Are you having trouble finding a polenta recipe that can deliver on the promise of bold flavors? Well look no further – there is a new polenta recipe in town! This recipe for spinach polenta is packed with flavor, easy to make, and allergen friendly! This recipe for spinach polenta is gluten free, vegetarian, egg free, and nut free.

This recipe includes two sets of instructions. The instructions in the recipe card assume that you are starting with a tube of pre-cooked polenta. If you want to cook your own polenta using dried polenta we also include instructions for how to cook polenta from scratch. 

Spinach and cheese polenta with red onions in a gray bowl.

What is in this spinach polenta?

What is in this spinach polenta? Here are the ingredients in this spinach polenta. 

  • Spinach. No surprise here – there is lots of spinach added to this spinach polenta recipe. All of the other ingredients were chosen to compliment the spinach. 
  • Red onions. Red onions are cooked until they start to brown then added to this spinach polenta. The cooked onions contribute a little bit of sweetness to the dish. We prefer to use red onions because the purple speckles of the red onion look beautiful alongside the bright green spinach leaves. However, if you do not have red onions you could also use white onions or shallots. 
  • Garlic. You can’t have spinach without a little bit of garlic! Well, you can, but why would you want to? Adding a little garlic is one of the best ways to add a little extra flavor to freshly cooked spinach. 
  • Bouillon cubes. Adding a little bouillon is the best way to add some flavor to any polenta dish! It is important that you use a bouillon that has lots of flavor so that the polenta will be nice and flavorful. 
  • Sharp cheddar. Sharp cheddar is used in this recipe to give the polenta a nice, cheesy flavor. We recommend using a sharp, flavorful cheese whenever you make polenta. Polenta has a way of muting even the boldest of flavors so you have to go all in with all of your strongest fighters.
  • Cream cheese. Cream cheese is a great way to add a nice, creamy flavor without adding a bunch of liquid to a dish. That is exactly how we use cream cheese in this polenta recipe!
  • Lemon juice. If you have been following the ingredients list so far you will notice that we haven’t added much acidity to the dish yet. Well here it is! A little bit of lemon juice is added to this recipe to balance out the flavors.

Spinach and red onions for spinach polenta

How to make this spinach polenta

How do you make this spinach polenta? Here are the steps you need to take to make this easy polenta dish!

  • Chop the veggies. The first step in this recipe for spinach polenta is to chop the veggies. The red onion, spinach, and garlic all need to be chopped. The onion and garlic should be chopped into fine pieces but the spinach leaves only need to be cut in half or quarters. We recommend using a high quality chef’s knife (this is the one we use) to chop the onions quickly and evenly.
  • Sauté the onions. The next step is to sauté the red onions. The onions should be cooked in the olive oil over medium heat for roughly 15 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and spinach. After the onions have been cooked for 15 minutes it is time to add the garlic and the spinach. The garlic and spinach should be cooked for 3 – 5 minutes before the rest of the ingredients are added.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients. Now it is time to add the rest of the ingredients. The polenta should be added first. If you are using a tube of polenta then you should squish the polenta with your fingers to break it apart. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Next add as much water as necessary to give the polenta a creamy texture. The amount of water you will need will vary depending on what brand of polenta you buy. You might even need to add any water.
  • Cook until the cheese melts. Put a lid on the pot and cook the polenta on low until the cheese melts. This should only take 2 – 4 minutes.

Spinach and cheese polenta in a pot

How to cook polenta from scratch

Do you want to cook dried polenta rather than using a tube of pre-cooked polenta? Here is how to cook dried polenta. 

  • Add water or stock to the polenta. You should use  around 4 cups of water per cup of dried polenta that you use. The exact amount of water you will need depends on the brand of polenta you use. Refer to the package your polenta came in for instructions on how much water needs to be added. 
  • Cook the polenta on high until it boils. Heat the polenta up over high heat until the polenta starts to boil. This should only take a few minutes. 
  • Lower the heat and cook the polenta for 40 – 50 minutes. After the polenta starts to boil, you can lower the heat and put a cover on the polenta to let it simmer. You should stir the polenta a few times while it cooks to prevent clumps from forming. Make sure the polenta maintains a gentle simmer. The polenta should be nice and smooth when it is done cooking. If it is still gritty then it is not done cooking. 

How much dried polenta to make

Are you using dried polenta to make this recipe? Here are a few figures you can use to help you decide how much dried polenta you need to make.

  • One cup of dried polenta will make around 4 cups of cooked polenta. If you use a ratio of one cup of dried polenta to 4 cups of water then you should end up with around 4 cups of cooked polenta for each cup of dried polenta you used.
  • A tube of polenta contains around 2.5 – 3 cups of cooked polenta. A standard 16 oz tube of cooked polenta contains around 2.5 – 3 cups of cooked polenta. That means that you should make around 2/3 cups of dried polenta and use around 2 2/3 cups of water to make the equivalent of one tube of cooked polenta. 

Spinach and cheese polenta with red onions in a gray bowl.

How to make polenta taste good

So how do you make polenta taste good? Polenta is one of those dishes that is absolutely amazing if it is seasoned properly! But it can also be underwhelming if it is not. Here are some of our best tips for making polenta taste good.  

  • Use a liberal amount of salt. This is probably the number one reason that polenta dishes come out bland – there was not enough salt used. The exact amount of salt you need to use will vary based on the brand of polenta you are using and the other ingredients you are using in your polenta. For example, if you are making your polenta with a salty broth or stock then you will not need to add as much salt.
  • Cook the polenta in broth rather than water. Aside from adding salt, this is the easiest way to add flavor to polenta. Cook your polenta in your favorite broth or stock rather than water. If you are using precooked polenta, then you can add some bullion cube crumbles when you add the rest of your ingredients. That is what we do in this recipe!
  • Add some dairy. Butter, cream cheese, cheese, milk, heavy cream – throw it all in there! There is a reason that most polenta is made with dairy products. 

Spinach polenta

This cheesy spinach polenta is gluten free, egg free, nut free, and vegetarian friendly.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Keyword: egg free, gluten free, nut free, vegetarian
Servings: 4 people


  • 1 tube pre-cooked polenta (see instructions above if you are using dried polenta)
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups lightly packed spinach
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vegetarian friendly bouillon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • Chop the onions and garlic into small pieces. Chop the spinach leaves roughly in half or quarters.
  • Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Salt the onions and cook them for 15 minutes then add the garlic and spinach. Cook the spinach and garlic for 3 - 5 minutes.
  • Squish the polenta between your fingers to break it up then add the polenta to the pot with the vegetables. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot then add enough water so that the polenta forms a nice, creamy texture.
    Depending on the brand of polenta you use, you may or may not need to add water.

Tools & ingredients for making polenta

Here are some of the tools and ingredients we use when we make polenta. We included a link to the chef’s knife that we use to dice our garlic and onions. The way it cuts through veggies like butter is absolutely dreamy – can a knife be dreamy? We also highly recommend using Edwards & Sons Not Chik’n Bouillon Cubes. We refuse to use anything else when it comes to bouillon.


Substitutions for spinach polenta

  • Red onions. We love to use red onions when we make this dish. The contrast between the purple of the red onions and the bright green of the spinach makes this polenta absolutely beautiful.
  • Lemon juice. If you do not have lemon juice you can also use lime juice. Lime juice is a little more bitter than lemon juice but there is only a small amount of lemon juice used in this recipe so you shouldn’t taste much of a difference.

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