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Cheese-stuffed Polenta Balls

Who doesn't love something stuffed with melted cheese? I certainy love it! These polenta balls are crispy on the outside, cheesy on the inside and should be served hot and covered in tomato sauce!

Have you ever had polenta? It's a Northern Italian dish made of coarsely ground corn, which we love in my family! We used to eat it quite a lot when on holiday in Italy as kids and I still enjoy it a lot. It's basically like cornmeal so I always assumed it's kind of like grits? If any of you have had both grits and polenta, please enlighten me if my assumption is true!

In Italy, you can get polenta in the dried coarse version which still needs to be cooked. But you also (very practical!) get it in the precooked version that is in the shape of a block. We love using that version on vacation since you can just cut it into pieces and fry it. So good. But for this recipe we're using the dried coarse version!

When you cook it by simmering it in broth, or broth and milk, it results in a very creamy soft texture. Kind of like mashed potatoes. But when it cools down, it gets more firm and you can shape it or even slice it when it's completely cooled off. We will be shaping it in this recipe so it shouldn't be totally cold, more luke-warm.

There are different versions of polenta that still needs to be cooked. I've seen everything from instant polenta that is done in 5 minutes to one that needs to cook for 45 minutes! The one I used needed to cook / soak for 15 minutes so I boiled it for 5 minutes and then let it stand for 10 more minutes. It was perfect. I also cooked it in broth and milk for a creamier and more flavorful texture AND added grated cheese at the end. So it's basically cheese in the middle and cheese in the „dough“ and grated cheese on top. Too cheesy? NEVER! As a true lover of cheese, I can just say these balls are delightful!

It takes a little bit of practice to make these but it's really not difficult. You will be totally fine! You take a bit of the polenta "dough", flatten it in your hand, put a mozzarella ball in the middle and shape the "dough" around it. Repeat with the rest of the "dough". Then fry in hot olive oil until cripsy and top with tomato sauce and grated cheese. Done!

Will you make this for dinner soon? Or how about my Roasted Butternut & Ricotta Lasagna?

Cooking Method
Difficulty Intermediate
Prep Time: 5 mins Cook Time: 15 mins Rest Time: 60 mins Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins
Servings 2

Who doesn't love something stuffed with melted cheese? I certainy love it! These polenta balls are crispy on the outside, cheesy on the inside and should be served hot and covered in tomato sauce!

  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup polenta (cornmeal, see notes)
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (see notes)
  • 15 mini mozzarella (125g package)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (see notes)
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. Bring broth and milk to a boil.

  2. Add garlic powder and polenta (cornmeal). Stir well and let simmer for 5 minutes while stirring every now and then. Take off the heat and let stand for 10 more minutes with the lid on. 

  3. Add the grated cheese, stir well and then let cool off for at least 20 minutes. 

  4. Take heaped 1/8 cup of the polenta and flatten it in your palm. Add one mini mozzarella ball in the middle and shape the polenta around it. Repeat with all the polenta and mini mozzarella. 

  5. Place the balls in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

  6. Heat up olive oil in a no-stick pan at medium heat. Fry the balls in the oil for 10 minutes while turning them around gently every now and then. They should be crispy. 

    In the meantime, heat up some tomato sauce. 

    Serve topped with tomato sauce and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

  • Polenta: if you're not familiar with it, it's basically Italian cornmeal that you need to cook / simmer according to the package. Some packages only require a few minutes of cooking time (instant polenta), some require 30 minutes. Mine is in between.
  • Cheese: I used a mix cheddar and gouda here. It shouldn't be too mild a cheese since the mozzarella is already mild. 
  • Tomato sauce: you can use any kind of tomato sauce or canned seasoned tomatoes as a sauce. I used canned tomatoes with garlic and herbs. 
  • Serving size: this serves 2 people but it will be a small main course. You could serve this with a salad on the side or grilled chicken.
Andrea Epstein in her kitchen
Andrea Epstein

Hi, I'm Andrea, a full-time food blogger, mother of 1 wonderful son, 2 equally wonderful stepsons and wife to a darling husband. I live in Munich, Germany with my family. I loves traveling, sharing new recipes, and spending time with my family.