This 30-minute Vegan Polenta Recipe gets its unique flavor from an umami-packed Miso Paste. Served with quick vegan sautéed mushrooms, this dairy-free polenta is SO creamy and perfect for busy days. It's healthy, comforting, and easy to make.
This Vegan Polenta Recipe with Mushrooms is literally made for chilly days. Buttery yellow cornmeal is cooked with plant-based milk, nutritional yeast, and a touch of Miso paste for a flavor. Topped with quick-fried onions and mushrooms and served creamy and hot.
Growing up, I didn't eat Polenta very often. In Ukraine, we call it Banosh and it's usually made with sour cream and salty cheese resembling Feta.
I made Banosh a few times but it's too heavy and I actually prefer Polenta. It's a very basic porridge but the possible savory topping options are endless.
💭 Here's Why This Recipe Works
- simple ingredients. This vegan polenta recipe is made with pantry ingredients.
- quick. The savory recipe comes together in just 30 minutes and is perfect for busy weeknights. You can even sauté the mushrooms ahead of time and then all you'll have to do is quickly make the polenta, reheat the mushrooms and dinner is ready;
- versatile. Polenta is a simple porridge. It acts as a base for more complex toppings. Fried mushrooms are my go-to. You can use whatever you have in the fridge to pile on top of polenta: pickled veggies, crispy tofu, sautéed Swiss Chard, or kale. It's really a wonderful and versatile dish;
Here's an overview of the specific ingredients for this recipe. For the exact ingredients and measurements, please scroll to the recipe card below.
- cornmeal. I used yellow cornmeal. It is stone-ground meaning that its grains have an irregular texture, some of them might be smaller and some - bigger. If you buy a product that specifically says Polenta, it is usually made with a consistent grind. Unlike cornmeal, the polenta grains are smaller and uniform. If you like your polenta porridge to have a smoother texture but you only have cornmeal, you can grind it for a few seconds using a coffee grinder;
- plant-based milk. I prefer using milk with a neutral flavor like Almond, Soy, or Oat Milk. Coconut milk, even the one from the carton still has some coconut flavor and in my opinion, it doesn't pair well with polenta. Whichever plant-based milk you choose, make sure it doesn't have any additions like oils or sugar. See my Vegan Grocery List post for brands recommendations;
- mushrooms. This vegan polenta recipe will taste great with any mushrooms. I used Portobello mushrooms because they are the easiest to find. Chanterelles, Shiitakes, or other wild mushrooms would be the next choice;
- Miso Paste. There are many Miso paste varieties out there, but in this recipe, I specifically use white Miso paste. It's my literally go-to ingredient for every recipe. It has a bold umami flavor and works perfectly in vegan recipes. I usually buy Organic Miso by Hikari Miso on Amazon. However, Kroger sells it too. If you don't have miso paste, you can use the same amount of soy sauce.
🔪How to Make This Vegan Polenta Recipe
- Prepare vegan polenta. In a medium saucepan combine water and plant-based milk and bring it to a boil over medium heat. When the liquid starts to boil, whisk in polenta making sure there are no clumps. Reduce the heat to low and simmer polenta for 15 minutes until all liquid evaporates and polenta is cooked through.
- Cook the onion. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté stirring occasionally until the onion is soft about 7-10 minutes.
- Fry the mushrooms. Add mushrooms and sauté stirring occasionally until all liquid evaporates and mushrooms are slightly brown on the sides. Season the mushrooms with some salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
4. Finish the polenta. When the polenta is fully cooked, stir in 2 teaspoons Miso paste, nutritional yeast, and vegan butter. Mix with a hand whisk or spoon until combined.
- Serve. Divide the vegan polenta among the serving bowls, top with the sautéed mushrooms, and sprinkle with some fresh parsley leaves. For some heat - add a few sprinkling of red pepper flakes.
👩🏻🍳 Chef's Tip
For this vegan polenta recipe, cooking time may vary depending on if it's a course or stone grind. That's why I recommend keeping an eye on it at the 10-minute mark. Polenta is done when its texture is creamy and the individual grains are tender.
Make sure to whisk often. As the polenta thickens, it can stick to the bottom of the pot very easily.
💬 Frequently Asked Questions
Typically polenta is made with cornmeal. Grits are a type of cornmeal but it has a courser grind. Nevertheless, grits make a perfect substitute for cornmeal.
Too little liquid reduces the cooking time hence causing the polenta to be undercooked and lacking creaminess. In this vegan polenta recipe, using enough liquid is key to making the best polenta.
The best way to fix runny polenta is to cook it for a few more minutes until the liquid evaporates and the polenta thickens.
Cornmeal is naturally gluten-free but it can be cross-contaminated with other grains containing gluten. If you follow a GF diet, I recommend checking the label for the cornmeal. It should have a gluten-free badge on it.
If you have any leftover polenta, you can make polenta fries. Simply cut your cold polenta into the desired shape, then spray with oil, and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy. You can also fry it with a little bit of olive oil in a pan.
🍮 Recipe Variations
This Vegan Polenta Recipe is quite simple and basic. If you have a bit of extra time, you customize it by adding more ingredients you have in your refrigerator.
- Sauté the mushrooms with other vegetables such as carrots, bell peppers, fennel, and tomatoes. You can also add a dash of garlic powder for more flavor.
- Add red wine to the mushrooms. Just a splash of wine will give so much depth of flavor. Make sure to cook the mushrooms until the liquid evaporates and the alcohol is cooked off.
- For the cozy fall flavors, you can also prepare Polenta with butternut squash or canned pumpkin puree. Just cut a small squash into the small 1-inch size pieces and stir into polenta about 5 minutes into cooking. Cook until the squash is tender and polenta is cooked through.
- Another option is to add vegan cheese to your polenta. You can either do it by stirring a vegan cashew cheese into a hot Polenta (I love Miyoko's brand) or sprinkling the cooked dish with some vegan Parmesan cheese.
🌡️ Storing and Reheating
Cooked polenta should be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking. This vegan polenta recipe can last for up to 4 days if stored in an air-tight container in the fridge.
To freeze - add cooked polenta to a freezer-friendly bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat - add frozen polenta to a small pot or pan along with a few tablespoons of vegetable broth or plant-based milk. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer stirring occasionally until the polenta is heated through and creamy.
🥄 Serving Suggestions
This Vegan Polenta Recipe is a humble dish that can be enjoyed on its own. To round out the experience I recommend pairing it up with a simple side dish like my Creamy Shaved Brussels Sprouts or Roasted Balsamic Green Beans.
Similar Cornmeal Recipes
If you make this recipe, please leave me a comment below and rate it. I always appreciate the feedback. Also, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.
For a quick overview of the recipe, please check out my Vegan Polenta Recipe web story.
Vegan Polenta Recipe with Mushrooms
For the creamy vegan polenta
Prepare vegan polenta
- In a medium saucepan combine water and plant-based milk and bring it to a boil over medium heat. When the liquid starts to boil, whisk in polenta making sure there are no lumps. Reduce the heat to low and simmer polenta for 15 minutes until all liquid evaporates and polenta is cooked through.
Cook the onion
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the onion and sauté stirring occasionally until the onion is soft, about 7-10 minutes.
Cook the mushrooms
- Add mushrooms and sauté stirring occasionally until all liquid evaporates and mushrooms are slightly brown on the sides. Season the mushrooms with some salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
Finish the polenta
- When polenta is fully cooked, stir in white Miso paste, nutritional yeast and vegan butter. Mix with a hand whisk or spoon until combined.
- Divide the creamy polenta among the serving bowls, top with the sautéed mushrooms and sprinkle with some fresh parsley leaves.