Tasty, moist and soft with the sweetness of the tomato, a hint of chilli and lots of sharp mature cheddar, our Cheesy Polenta Muffins are a perfect sidekick to soups, stews or as a snack on their own! These Gourmet Savoury Muffins are moreish and filling, so perfect to pack in your lunch boxes or picnics!
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The Underrated Polenta
I haven’t used polenta all that much for a very long while. As a matter of fact, I remember buying my first bag of polenta. I read somewhere that a good way to make your sweet potato fries crispy is to sprinkle them with a bit of polenta. And I specifically remember not being able to find a small bag of it and having to buy 1.5kg of polenta. But that’s how my love for it started, really! I was here with a massive bag of it and had to make something delicious.
No offence to anyone, but I always found cornbread a bit flat, in texture and in taste, to be honest. Unless it is flavoured with all things nice, like our Savoury Polenta Muffins. We use a bunch of things to make sure the flavour of these is through the roof: cheddar, sundried tomatoes, chilli and spring onions. All the different flavours complement each other in the most wonderful way.
We make our polenta muffins using either yoghurt, sour cream or creme fraiche. This ensures they stay nice and moist. Nonetheless, they are best served whilst still slightly warm, as they become a bit denser the next day (still amazing with some butter though).
What Is Polenta?
A staple food of Italian peasants, polenta is made from yellow maize. It is sometimes known as cornmeal and can be ground fine or coarse. Polenta itself does not contain any cholesterol and is often a healthier substitute for creamy mashed potato or deep-fried potato chips. However, to taste better, polenta is normally flavoured with butter and cheese, which makes it a lot less innocent.
Soft polenta is often served as a side dish (it’s like a soft porridge), typically flavoured with butter, herbs and cheese. However, it can also be made thicker, then set firm and cut into chips (our polenta chips recipe, here). Another great use for polenta is to make tart/pizza bases or to make cornbread and cakes. This is a great choice for people who avoid gluten.
Ingredients and Substitutes
- butter: salted or unsalted – you choose! This savoury muffin recipe uses melted butter, but make sure to cool it down slightly before adding to other ingredients.
- polenta: we use instant (easy-cook) polenta, it can also be substituted with medium cornmeal.
- plain flour: also known as all-purpose flour. Use gluten-free flour if required.
- baking powder: not to be confused with baking soda (bicarbonate of soda).
- egg: medium in the UK, large in the US.
- natural yoghurt: or Greek yoghurt, sour cream or creme fraiche.
- Cheddar: sharp and mature.
- sundried tomatoes: in oil, drained and chopped.
- red chilli: substitute with green chilli, or chilli flakes.
- spring onions: substitute with chives.
Method: How To Make The Best Savoury Corn Muffins?
Preheat the oven to 180°C Fan.
If you’re using a 12-hole muffin tin, grease it very well with butter. I personally prefer to use silicone cupcake moulds, as these muffins can really stick.
Mix polenta, flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Mix in the grated cheddar (reserve a small handful for the top), finely sliced spring onions and chilli.
In a separate large bowl lightly beat the egg. Add melted butter and natural yoghurt and whisk together.
Pour into the dry ingredients and fold them together. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
Divide between the muffin moulds (I get 8 muffins out of the mixture), then top with the remaining cheddar.
Bake the savoury polenta muffins for 20-25 mins. They will not puff up too much but should be crispy on top and very moist inside!
Leave the muffins in their moulds for a few minutes before turning them out! These cheesy polenta muffins are best served slightly warm!
Yes, this particular recipe does contain gluten. If you want a gluten-free polenta muffin, substitute plain flour with gluten-free flour.
Some claim that cornmeal is the ingredient that is used to make polenta (the final dish), but this isn’t always correct. What is known as cornmeal in the US is normally labelled as polenta in the UK (and most of Europe). What you need in this gourmet savoury muffins recipe is either easy-cook polenta or medium cornmeal for this recipe – they both look like yellow coarse (ish) flour.
Other Flavours for Savoury Corn Muffins
If the combination of cheese, sundried tomatoes and spring onions doesn’t float your boat, here are some of our other ideas for brilliant Savoury Muffins:
- Small pieces of crispy bacon and spring onion.
- Sweetcorn, lime zest and fresh coriander.
- Parmesan and lavender (yes, that’s right!)
What To Serve Polenta Muffins with?
- First of all, they are absolutely amazing on their own. The next day, I cut them in half, spread some butter and wrap them in foil for Seb to take to work as a snack.
- Absolutely delicious with soups that aren’t too exciting in flavour. We love them with something simple, like leek and potato soup, carrot or simple pea soup.
- For an ultimate ‘corn feast’, serve our Polenta Muffins with our Vegan Sweetcorn Chowder.
Recipes Using Polenta
Do you have some polenta left and are not sure what to do with it? We have you covered! Here are some of our favourite things to make:
- Polenta Pizza with Mushrooms and Rocket
- Baked Polenta Chips With Smoky BBQ Dip
- Gluten-Free Zucchini Pancakes with Bacon and Eggs
- Ottolenghi’s Lemon, Polenta & Pistachio Cakes
Other Savoury Bakes
Have a look at various other ideas for bread and savoury bakes below:
Savoury Polenta Muffins
- 40 g butter melted, plus extra for greasing
- 60 g polenta
- 50 g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg
- 190 ml natural yoghurt or Greek Yoghurt
- 70 g mature Cheddar coarsely grated
- 60 g sundried tomatoes in oil drained and chopped
- 1 red chilli finely chopped
- 2 spring onions thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 180°C Fan.
- If you're using a 12-hole muffin tin, grease it very well with butter. I personally prefer to use silicone cupcake moulds, as these muffins can really stick.
- Mix polenta, flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Mix in the grated cheddar (reserve a small handful for the top), finely sliced spring onions and chilli.
- In a separate large bowl lightly beat the egg. Add melted butter and natural yoghurt and whisk together.
- Pour into the dry ingredients and fold them together. Add the sun-dried tomatoes.
- Divide between the holes of the muffin tin (I get 8 muffins out of the mixture), then top with the remaining cheddar.
- Bake for 20-25 mins. They will not puff up too much but should be crispy on top and moist inside.