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Fried Polenta Cakes With Mushrooms and Prosciutto

This fried polenta cake recipe can be an amazing side dish or the star of the plate.  Fried until crispy brown and adorned with a rich topping of sauteed  mushrooms, onions and prosciutto with a touch of Marsala wine.

Fried polenta cake on a plate with mushrooms.

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Honestly polenta, where have you been all of my life?

I’ve heard your name thrown around here and there but never actually had the pleasure of meeting you until recently.  You are amazing, I love you.

Has this ever happened to you?  You finally try a dish you’ve only heard about only to find that it is incredible and you privately scold yourself for not discovering this sooner.  Whatever.

Recently I wrote about how to make an easy, basic polenta.  I really enjoyed this dish so I delved a little deeper.  The mushroom and prosciutto versions of this dish is an Italian classic.

You do need to fry the polenta first before adorning your beloved polenta cakes with this earthy topping.  Let me warn you now, frying polenta in hot oil is quite the experience.  It has a high moisture content so be ready.  You are going to need a splash screen and an apron.  In fact, just take off your favorite shirt right now and put on your torn t-shirt from high school, seriously.

This recipe is best suited for leftover polenta.  You can make this same day, it would turn into a sub recipe/two part process kind of thing.  If you make creamy polenta and have leftovers, simply pour the leftovers into such a dish that will give you 1/4 – 1/2 inch sized polenta cakes.  When you refrigerate leftover creamy polenta, it becomes a dense polenta cake, perfect for frying.  If you have a lot, you may simply cut them into smaller squares.

This recipe is adapted from Biba’s Taste of Italy: Recipes from the Homes, Trattorie and Restaurants of Emilia-Romagna.  Biba uses dried porcini mushrooms.  I don’t have any near me so I used simple, white button mushrooms.  She always has some on hand so that she can cook with mushrooms whenever she wants, she simply re-hydrates them.  My eyes are peeled for these mushrooms because if Biba uses them, they must be good, right?

I am crazy in love with polenta right now so if you have a favorite recipe for leftover polenta, please share in the comments below.  Grazie mille!

Vegetables and herbs.
Mushrooms, herbs, onions and prosciutto in a cast iron skillet.
A polenta cake in a pan.
Polenta frying in a pan.
Fried polenta draining on paper towels.
Fried polenta cake on a plate with mushrooms.

Fried Polenta Cakes With Mushrooms and Prosciutto

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This fried polenta cake recipe can be an amazing side dish or the star of the plate.  Fried until crispy brown and adorned with a rich topping of sauteed  mushrooms, onions and prosciutto with a touch of Marsala wine.


  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cups shallots, diced
  • 2 Tbs fresh parsley or 1/2 Tbs dried
  • 2 oz prosciutto, chopped
  • 3 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • Basic Polenta Recipe 
  • Oil for frying


Mushroom and Prosciutto Topping

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add oil and shallots.  Cook, stirring occasionally until soft.
  2. Add parsley, prosciutto, mushrooms, salt & pepper, cook until mushrooms are soft.
  3. Add butter and Marsala, stir and cook until liquid is reduced by half.
  4. Serve over fried polenta squares.

Fried Polenta Squares

  1. Make one Basic Polenta Recipe. 
  2. Pour Polenta into a shallow baking pan.  You want the polenta to be 1/4 inch - 1/2 inch deep.  Cool in the refrigerator until firm, at least two hours.  Remove, cut into 3 inch squares.
  3. In a large dutch oven or frying pan, add 1/4 inch of cooking oil (corn, canola, sunflower).  Heat pan over medium-high heat until oil reaches 360F or until a small piece of polenta instantly bubbles when dropped into the oil.  You may also place a wooden chopstick in and see if tiny bubbles instantly form.
  4. Fry polenta squares for at least 3 minutes.  When the polenta is ready to turn, it will come away easily from the pan.  If you turn them too early, the polenta will fall apart.  The polenta will splash so have a splash screen ready and wear an apron.  After both sides are golden brown, remove and drain on paper towels.  Cook the remaining polenta squares.
  5. Pour topping over polenta squares.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 2 polenta cakes
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 285Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 850mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 4gSugar: 5gProtein: 8g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest


Tuesday 4th of September 2018

This looks and sounds SO tasty! I love the idea of bringing earthy mushrooms and salty prosciutto to a crisped up polenta cake. This is a total treat, and it has my name ALL over it.

Tracy Koslicki

Monday 3rd of September 2018

Forgot to add!

Tracy Koslicki

Monday 3rd of September 2018

Oh my gosh YES. I discover things that I regret not having discovered ages ago! Mine recently was zoodles! And I even had the equipment to make them for YEARS but didn't realize it until last summer! I was so sad I missed out on all of the zoodles! I LOVE polenta but I don't make it nearly enough and my daughter has never had it so I DEFINITELY need to get it into her life now!! Thanks for the reminder!

Marisa Franca

Monday 3rd of September 2018

We've been making fried polenta for years and it is delicious. Mamma would make it and put all sorts of toppings over it. My papa's favorite was cacciatore but our family likes the mushrooms. It is so good. Your recipe I know will be delicious.


Sunday 2nd of September 2018

I love your wear an old high school t-shirt suggestion. I totally do that when I cook messy things. :) I've never tried fried polenta. I think I need to give it a go (after your basic polenta, of course)!


Sunday 2nd of September 2018

Oh that's awesome you do that too!

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