These vegan baked polenta fries get cheesy flavors from nutritional yeast and brightness from your favorite fresh herbs. Dipped in savory homemade marinara sauce, they won't last long!
How to make polenta
The key to making crispy oven-baked polenta fries is starting with polenta that's nice and thick. Usually, you'd cook polenta with plenty of liquid. Classic polenta recipes often call for adding more liquid while you cook, as the grains absorb it.
For these polenta fries, however, you don't need to keep adding liquid. That's what makes these polenta fries so easy. They're largely hands-off.
You do, however, need to stir every so often as you cook, as the polenta on the bottom could burn if left untouched for too long.
The goal is to achieve a thick polenta. After cooking for about 30 minutes, the grains will be soft and tender. Then you'll pour it all into a parchment lined baking dish to set up before slicing fries.
Once your polenta is in the baking dish, it takes at least 2 hours to solidify. You can leave it in the fridge up to overnight. That's why this dish is a great make-ahead option for a dinner party!
You can take care of all the hands-on cooking the day before, pop it into the fridge, and bake them up the next day. So easy and the perfect crowd-pleasing appetizer!
Love polenta? Try this creamy polenta with roasted mushrooms for dinner.
Polenta has such a delicious corn flavor on its own. However, to spice up these crispy polenta fries, we added a few more flavor enhancers.
First, you'll stir in vegan butter. This gives the delicious buttery taste to your fries. Vegan butter also helps your fries stay nice and creamy on the inside when they get crispy on the outside.
We also pumped up our polenta with nutritional yeast. It provides that umami-rich cheesy flavor everyone loves. Some might ask, "polenta fries or cheese sticks?" And you'll have the joy of shocking them with the news that, yep, they're vegan!
We added more flavor depth to these crispy beauties with garlic and fresh oregano. Either garlic powder or fresh minced garlic will work well in this polenta. And if you're out of fresh oregano, feel free to try another fresh herb, or the dried stuff.
The great thing about these homemade vegan polenta fries is that you can really play with whatever flavorings you like. Polenta makes such a great blank canvas!
After your polenta rests for at least two hours in the baking dish, it's time to slice and bake. Since the polenta is so thick, it should slice very easily into fry shapes. Then just transfer them to a baking sheet.
The final step before baking is to brush each fry with a layer of olive oil. This will help the vegan fries get really nice and crispy, while staying creamy and soft on the inside.
The final step to this delicious appetizer or side dish is, of course, a dip. Rich, dense marinara sauce is the perfect match to these baked vegan polenta fries. The acidity of tomato with the creamy polenta fries is a delightful surprise.
This homemade marinara sauce really couldn't be easier. Everything comes together in one pot, and you're likely to already have the ingredients on hand. If you don't have fresh tomatoes, feel free to used canned whole or chopped tomatoes. Of course, store bought marinara is fine, too!
We recommend really letting your marinara dipping sauce simmer for a while. The longer it simmers, the more it will reduce and the more concentrated the flavors will be.
If you happen to have any leftover after serving your polenta fries, it makes a delicious dip or sauce on all kinds of other recipes.
You could add it to this roasted eggplant pasta with caramelized onions. Serve it alongside super crispy oven fries or sweet potato fries. Or it would be bomb alongside these vegan mozzarella sticks from Sweet Simple Vegan. YUM!
More vegan appetizers you'll love:
If you make these vegan polenta fries, we’d love for you to leave a comment and rating below! We also love to see your creations on Instagram – tag us at @crowded_kitchen so we can see what you’ve been cooking.Print
Vegan Polenta Fries with Marinara Dipping Sauce
- Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
These vegan polenta fries get cheesy flavors from nutritional yeast and brightness fresh herbs. Dipped in savory homemade marinara sauce, they won't last long!
For the polenta fries:
- 2 cups veggie broth
- 1 ½ cups plant-based milk (we used almond)
- 1 ½ cups dry polenta
- 3 tbsp vegan butter
- 1 tsp garlic powder or 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup minced fresh oregano, packed (or 2 tsp dried)
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- Olive oil for brushing
For the marinara dipping sauce:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup chopped onion, about a quarter onion
- 4 medium tomatoes, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh basil, minced
- 4 springs fresh oregano, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼-½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, depending on desired spice level
- 1 tablespoon + 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- To make the polenta fries, bring broth and milk to a boil and whisk in polenta. Continue to cook, stirring, until smooth, about 30 minutes. Add butter, nutritional yeast, garlic or garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper.
- Line a 13-inch baking dish with parchment paper, pour polenta in and press into the pan until smooth. Cover with plastic or reusable wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
- Remove polenta from the baking dish and slice into fries about ¼ inch thick.
- Preheat the oven to 450 F.
- To make the marinara dipping sauce, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened.
- Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt, red pepper flakes and tomato paste, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce reduces significantly, up to an hour. Stir in vinegar.
- Use an immersion blender or regular blender to purée into a smooth dipping sauce.
- Add fries to a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving space between each fry. Brush the fries with olive oil and bake 10 min. Remove from oven, flip the fries and brush the other side. Return to oven and bake for 15-20 minutes longer, until golden brown.
- Prep Time: 3 hours
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Baked
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 215
- Sugar: 3 g
- Sodium: 1670.2 mg
- Fat: 16.9 g
- Saturated Fat: 7.1 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 15.4 g
- Fiber: 3.6 g
- Protein: 4.2 g
- Cholesterol: 1.5 mg
Keywords: vegan polenta fries
Finally made these fries tonight. Wow, they are amazing!!! So delicious and easy to make. Great job developing this one, ladies!!
Aw thank you!! I love these, too!
I am stuggling with the polenta. It thickened up really quickly. I don’t think I could cook it for more than 5 minutes without burning.
Should I add more water and milk?
Hi! I would try reducing the temperature and whisking for the first few minutes while it starts to thicken to prevent burning. You can also add a bit more liquid. As a quick note, quick cooking polenta will thicken up very quickly, but it still takes about 20 mins or more to get tender (even if it looks like it's done). Let me know if you have any more questions!
Oh my goodness - delicious! So much better than so many vegan polenta chip recipes out there. Tasty, easy, crisp and soft in the middle (unlike all the other rubbery versions). Winner. Bless you.
Thanks so much, Keira! So glad you enjoyed!
trying to make these but i think im using the wrong kind of polenta - and the recipe itself doesnt clarify if its dried in a bag or the kind in a roll. pictures of the ingredients would be really helpful (even if measured out without the brand) so i can see im doing this right. im pretty sure i just wasted a bunch of ingredients so that sucks
Hi Bri, appreciate your honest comment but if you read through the blog post and the instructions, it's very clear that the recipe calls for dry polenta (hence why it needs to be cooked in the liquid). There is also a full 60 second video in the post that shows exactly how to make these, ingredient by ingredient & step by step. I'm sorry that it didn't work out for you - nothing worse than wasting ingredients. I'll try to make the instructions even more clear so nobody else has the same issue but we try to make our posts super informative so that doesn't happen
What if you don't have parchment paper? Will tin foil or a greased pan work ok?
Yes, either should work! I would say tin foil would be the best alternative.
Amanda M Mason
You have a lot of amazing ingredients in this recipe! Loving that these are also vegan!! Can't wait to try!
Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness
I have never tried polenta. Maybe it's not big in Canada?? I would love to give it a go!
I love polenta, but I haven't been able to master polenta fries and mine always fall apart. I appreciate your tips for not adding more water and also letting it set long enough in the fridge. I'll definitely be giving these a try
Wow wow wow!! This is such a fantastic idea! Your polenta fries look so beautiful- golden and crispy...I wish I could reach in and grab one right now 😀
Yum! These look like something my mom used to make when I was a child. We didn't call them "fries" but we probably should have. 🙂 Anyway, I had almost forgotten about that childhood treat and am anxious to make these and see how they compare. Thanks for the recipe and the trip down memory lane!
Your marinara dipping sauce looks so fresh and full of flavor. These vegan polenta fries will make a great appetizer for my next get together.
I am a big fan of polenta and this recipe is such an innovative way to use leftover polenta. Thanks for sharing.
I've had polenta fries at a restaurant, but never thought about making them at home! I especially love the nutritional yeast in these!
They're surprisingly easy to make at home! Hope you give them a try 🙂
Oh, my gosh. I never would never have thought to make fries out of polenta! That's brilliant! These look easy and delicious and I can't wait to make it!
Thank you so much, Elaine! Hope you give it a try!
I love polenta, but I never thought to make them into fries. What a brilliant idea! I'll definitely make these over and over again. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks so much, Amanda - polenta fries are the best and so easy!