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polenta cakes on a wooden tray topped with cheese and tomato bacon jam

Polenta Cakes with Tomato Bacon Jam

Polenta cakes with tomato bacon jam are a great entree, side dish, or even appetizer. Creamy polenta is flavored with parmesan, then pan fried in olive oil till slightly crispy on the outside. This dish is then topped off with a sweet and salty tomato bacon jam and extra parmesan cheese!
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Dishes, Side Dishes
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 758 kcal


Polenta Cakes

Tomato Bacon Jam

  • 12 ounces bacon
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 20 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


Polenta Cakes

  • Heat broth in a large pot over medium-high heat on the stovetop and grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with baking spray or olive oil.
  • When the broth starts to boil, slowly pour in the cornmeal while whisking continuously until it is completely combined.
  • Bring the mixture back to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook while whisking until the mixture thickens, approximately 3-5 minutes. 
  • Remove the pot off of the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese, pepper, and salt.
  • Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes and then pour it into the prepared baking dish. Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the polenta and place it in the refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 1 hour while you make the tomato bacon jam.

Tomato Bacon Jam

  • While polenta is chilling, dice bacon and onions into small pieces and mince garlic. 
  • Heat a medium pot or skillet over medium heat on the stovetop and add bacon and onions. Cook onions and bacon, while stirring frequently until the onions are softened and bacon starts to become crispy, approximately 15 minutes.
  • Add in remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Lower the heat and allow the mixture to cook for about 45 minutes until reduced and thickened. While the mixture is cooking, stir it occasionally and mash the tomatoes down as they softened to help them combine with the other ingredients. 
  • When the polenta is completely chilled, using a cookie cutter, glass, or knife, cut into smaller circles or squares. 
  • Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat on the stovetop and add olive oil. Working with 2-3 pieces at a time, cook polenta cakes in the pan for 2-3 minutes on each side till browned and lightly crispy.
  • Serve polenta cakes with extra parmesan cheese and tomato bacon jam.


  • Constantly whisk the polenta as you are pouring it into the broth so that it doesn't clump together.
  • Cook the polenta until it's thickened and creamy, while whisking continuously.
  • Make sure to allow the polenta cakes to chill completely before cutting them out and frying them. A minimum of 1 hour is required, however 4 hours over even overnight will make it easier to cut and fry them without them falling apart.
  • Stir the mixture and mash down the tomatoes occasionally to help the tomatoes break down and incorporate into the tomato bacon jam.
  • Cook the polenta cakes in a non stick pan to ensure they don't stick while frying.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Pre-made Polenta - Pre-made polenta can be bought, cut and fried instead of making polenta from scratch.
  • Vegetarian - Polenta cakes can be made with vegetable broth and without tomato bacon to make this dish vegetarian.
  • Gluten free - Make sure to use cornmeal that is gluten free to ensure this dish is gluten free.
  • Served warm - Instead of chilling the polenta, serve it warm with the tomato bacon jam and shredded parmesan cheese on top.

Make Ahead and Storage Suggestions

  • Polenta - Polenta can be made up to 2 days ahead of time and stored in fridge covered in plastic wrap. When you are ready to serve, cut the polenta in circles or squares and fry in a non-stick pan as instructed above.
  • Tomato Bacon Jam - Tomato bacon jam can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and stored in the fridge in an air tight container. Re-heat the jam in a pot on the stovetop or in the microwave and serve over polenta cakes.


Serving: 2cakesCalories: 758kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 8gFat: 65gSaturated Fat: 24gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gMonounsaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 1338mgPotassium: 512mgFiber: 4gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 534IUVitamin C: 37mgCalcium: 140mgIron: 2mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Mention @SaporitoKitchen or tag #SaporitoKitchen!