Polenta Fries Recipe {Air Fryer Method + More}

I will try to turn just about anything into a French fry if given a chance, and these polenta fries are one of my better experiments.

These crispy, golden-brown polenta fries are made from pre-cooked polenta, seasoned with garlic, onion, and oregano, and air-fried to perfection. They’re topped with Parmesan cheese and chopped basil and served with a spicy marinara sauce infused with garlic, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of smoked paprika. They’re the perfect combination of crunchy, creamy, and zesty.

What Are Polenta Fries?

Polenta fries are a deliciously fun alternative to regular potato fries. They are made from cooked polenta that is chilled, sliced, and then fried or baked until crispy. But in this case, I used pre-made organic polenta. If you prefer to make it from scratch, you are more than welcome to do so. Either method works great.

A hand holds a polenta fry that has been dipped in marinara sauce.

FAQs For Garlic Parmesan Polenta Fries With Marinara Sauce

Can I Bake Polenta Fries Instead Of Using An Air Fryer?

Yes, you can bake the polenta fries in a preheated oven at 400°F for about 20-25 minutes (or more as needed), flipping at least once during the baking process. See more instructions below.

Can I Make Polenta Fries Ahead Of Time And Reheat Them Later?

While these polenta fries are best enjoyed fresh out of the air fryer, you can make them ahead of time and reheat them in the air fryer or oven to crisp them up again. However, the texture may not be as crispy as when they are freshly cooked.

As for the dipping sauce, it can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Simply reheat it gently on the stovetop when ready to serve.

Are Polenta Fries Gluten-Free?

Polenta fries are naturally gluten-free as long as the ingredients you add to the polenta are gluten-free. Polenta is simply corn, which is naturally gluten-free unless there is cross-contamination during milling or packing.

A closeup of polenta fries garnished with grated parmesan cheese.

How To Make Polenta

If you want to make polenta from scratch, here is the process.

Cook your polenta on the stovetop to package directions. Boil water or broth and slowly whisk in the polenta until it thickens.

Once cooked, spread the polenta out over a baking sheet with edges or into a shallow dish to chill and set in the fridge.

Once the polenta has cooled enough to be firm, cut it into thick french fry shapes. They need to be on the thicker side so they don’t fall apart when you move them.

What If I Don’t Have An Air Fryer?

I got your back! If you don’t have an air fryer, you can make them in one of two ways:

Fried Polenta Fries – You can fry the polenta fries in oil until they are golden brown and crispy. This is obviously going to be much higher in fat than air frying, but that’s how it’s done.

Baked Polenta Fries – Arrange the fries on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, coat them lightly with oil, and bake at 400 F. until they’re crispy (about 20-25 minutes or more as needed), flipping halfway through the cooking process.

Either way, the finished texture should be a crispy outside and a creamier inside.

A plate filled with polenta fries and also a bowl of marinara sauce for dipping.

Seasoning Options For Polenta Fries

While the recipe below is for garlic parmesan fries, there are loads of ways you can flavor polenta fries. Some are a bit traditional, and some are definitely outside of the box and listed for your experimentation. Here are some suggestions:

  • Cajun Seasoning
  • Old Bay – This is great if you serve a side of grilled shrimp with your fries.
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Ranch Seasoning – No sugar added.
  • Fajita Seasoning
  • Lemon Pepper Seasoning
  • Chipotle Seasoning
  • Jerk Seasoning
  • Tandoori Seasoning
  • Harissa Seasoning
  • Adobo Seasoning
  • Garam Masala
  • Sriracha Seasoning

How To Serve Polenta Fries

  1. As an appetizer or snack with dipping sauces.
  2. With burgers or sandwiches.
  3. On a charcuterie board with various dips for sharing.
  4. As a party snack. Put a bowl of marinara in the center of a platter and spread the fries all around it.
  5. As a garnish or topping for salads, soups, or bowls. They can be chopped into squares for polenta “croutons.”
  6. With toppings like cheese, herbs, bacon, onions, or avocado.
  7. Serve with dips such as marinara sauce, aioli, or pesto.
An overhead view of a round plate holding a small bowl of marinara dip with polenta fries laying around it.

Recipe Tips

  1. Use Firm Polenta – Whether you purchase a log of cooked polenta or make it from scratch, use firm, chilled polenta. It’s easier to cut and holds its shape better during cooking.
  2. Cut Evenly – Try to cut the fries into evenly sized pieces so they all cook at the same time, and all end up with the same level of crispiness.
  3. Preheat the Air Fryer – Preheating cooks the fries evenly and makes them equally crispy. Even if your air fryer doesn’t have a preheat option, preheat for about 10 minutes before adding the fries to the basket.
  4. Don’t Overcrowd – Arrange the polenta fries in a single layer in the air fryer basket so they don’t touch. Overcrowding prevents the air from circulating, which means you’ll end up with less crispy fries. Cook them in batches if you need to.
  5. Don’t Skip The Oil – While one of the benefits of using an air fryer is that it needs less oil, a light coating of oil is still necessary for making your fries crispy.
  6. Flip Halfway – For the best results, flip the fries halfway through the cooking time.
  7. Serve Immediately – Polenta fries are best eaten immediately after cooking while they are still hot and crispy.
An overhead view of two plates filled with polenta fries.

About The Ingredients

The Sauce

Marinara sauce – No sugar added.

Garlic cloves

Red pepper flakes 

Smoked paprika

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

The Fries

Precooked polenta log – Or polenta made from scratch.

Potato starch – Or other starch, such as cornstarch, tapioca, or arrowroot.

Grated Parmesan cheese

Garlic powder – Or garlic granules.

Onion powder – Or onion granules.

Dried oregano

Salt and pepper

Fresh basil

Olive oil – Or any oil you prefer to use.

How To Make Polenta Fries With Garlic And Parmesan

Polenta fries ingredients in separate bowls.
Marinara dipping sauce ingredients in individual bowls.

Gather and measure the ingredients.

Olive oil heating in a pot with spices.

The Sauce

Prepare the dipping sauce prior to the fries, as the fries taste best fresh out of the air fryer.  Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.

Heated spices and oil in a pot.

Add minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and smoked paprika and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

Marinara added to the pot of oil and spices.

Stir in the marinara sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Marinara, simmered in a pot with spices.

Simmer the sauce for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through and flavors are well combined.

Polenta fries ingredients in separate bowls.
A polenta log cut into fourths.
A polenta log cut in half lengthwise.
A polenta log sliced into fries.

The Fries

Slice the precooked polenta log into fries of your desired thickness. I like mine to look like potato wedges, so I slice the polenta log in half from end to end. Then, I take each half and cut it in half crosswise. Next, I cut each of the four polenta segments in half lengthwise, again, and cut each of those segments lengthwise into three equal wedges. You should end up with 24 wedges per roll of polenta.

Combining seasoning ingredients for the polenta fries.

In a small bowl, combine the starch with garlic powder, onion powder, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.

Polenta fries lined up on a baking sheet.

Preheat

Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees for about 3-5 minutes.  While the air fryer is preheating, spread the polenta wedges out on a cooking pan and brush them with olive oil. 

Sifting starch over the polenta fries on a baking sheet.

Season The Fries

Sift the starch and seasoning onto the wedges with a flour sifter or a fine-mesh strainer, covering them with a light layer of powder. Do this to both sides of the wedges. Note: The starch may dissolve a little bit into the olive oil. That’s fine.

Spices sprinkled over the polenta fries.

Sprinkle the wedges with the oregano leaves by hand, as they are too large to sift, and pat the oregano leaves into the wedges so that they stick.

Uncooked polenta fries lined up in an air fryer basket.

Air Fry

Arrange the polenta fries in a single layer in the air fryer basket, making sure they are not overcrowded. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to cook them in batches.

Crispy polenta fries still in an air fryer basket.

Air fry for 10 minutes, then flip the wedges (use a fork to flip them, as the wedges will be very hot) and cook for another 8 minutes on the other side until the fries are crispy and golden brown on the outside. 

An overhead view of a platter with polenta fries and a bowl of marinara dip.

Remove from the air fryer and place on a baking sheet or in a rectangular glass/ceramic container, then sprinkle a layer of fresh, shredded parmesan cheese, finely chopped fresh basil, and salt and pepper to taste. 

Pour the warm dipping sauce into a small bowl and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving. 

Storage

Store leftovers in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Freezing

Freezing is not recommended for this recipe.

Reheating

Reheat these in an air fryer at 375 F. until warmed through.

More French Fry Recipes

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Three polenta fries sitting in a bowl filled with marinara sauce.

Polenta Fries {Air Fryer Method + More}

A delicious snack, appetizer, or side dish that's delicious and made in your air fryer.
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Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Vegetarian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 38 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 469kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Air Fryer

Ingredients

The Fries

  • 18 oz. precooked polenta log
  • cup potato starch (or any starch)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp. fresh basil (finely chopped)
  • ½ cup olive oil

The Marinara Sauce

  • 1 cup marinara (no sugar added)
  • 2 large garlic cloves (minced or pressed)
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 pinch smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

The Sauce

  • Prepare the dipping sauce prior to the fries, as the fries taste best fresh out of the air fryer. Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and smoked paprika and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
    ½ cup olive oil, 2 large garlic cloves, ½ tsp. red pepper flakes, 1 pinch smoked paprika
    Olive oil heating in a pot with spices.
  • Stir in the marinara sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    1 cup marinara
    Marinara added to the pot of oil and spices.
  • Simmer the sauce for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through and flavors are well combined.
    Marinara, simmered in a pot with spices.

The Polenta

  • Slice the precooked polenta log into fries of your desired thickness. I like mine to look like potato wedges, so I slice the polenta log in half from end to end. Then, I take each half and cut it in half crosswise. Next, I cut each of the four polenta segments in half lengthwise, again, and cut each of those segments lengthwise into three equal wedges. You should end up with 24 wedges per roll of polenta.
    18 oz. precooked polenta log
    A polenta log sliced into fries.
  • In a small bowl, combine the starch with garlic powder, onion powder, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.
    ⅓ cup potato starch, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. onion powder, salt and pepper
    Combining seasoning ingredients for the polenta fries.

Preheat

  • Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees for about 3-5 minutes. While the air fryer is preheating, spread the polenta wedges out on a cooking pan and brush them with olive oil. 
    1 tbsp. olive oil
    Polenta fries lined up on a baking sheet.

Seasoning

  • Sift the starch onto the wedges with a flour sifter or a fine-mesh strainer, covering them with a light layer of powder. Do this to both sides of the wedges. Note: The starch may dissolve a little bit into the olive oil. That’s fine.
    ⅓ cup potato starch
    Sifting starch over the polenta fries on a baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle the wedges with the oregano leaves by hand, as they are too large to sift, and pat the oregano leaves into the wedges so that they stick.
    1 tsp. dried oregano
    Spices sprinkled over the polenta fries.

Air Fry

  • Arrange the polenta fries in a single layer in the air fryer basket, making sure they are not overcrowded. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to cook them in batches.
    Uncooked polenta fries lined up in an air fryer basket.
  • Air fry for 10 minutes, then flip the wedges (use a fork to flip them, as the wedges will be very hot) and cook for another 8 minutes on the other side until the fries are crispy and golden brown on the outside. 
    Crispy polenta fries still in an air fryer basket.
  • Remove from the air fryer and place on a baking sheet or in a rectangular glass/ceramic container, then sprinkle a layer of fresh, shredded parmesan cheese, finely chopped fresh basil, and salt and pepper to taste. 
    Pour the warm dipping sauce into a small bowl and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving. 
    ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, 3 tbsp. fresh basil
    An overhead view of a platter with polenta fries and a bowl of marinara dip.

Notes

<em>Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible. This data includes the sauce.</em>

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25the recipe | Calories: 469kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 23g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 525mg | Potassium: 407mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 698IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 149mg | Iron: 2mg

Author: Tiffany McCauley

Title: Journalist

Expertise: Food, cooking, travel

Bio:

Tiffany McCauley is a nationally syndicated journalist and an award-winning cookbook author. She is also a food blogger. She has been featured on MSN, Huffington Post, Country Living Magazine, HealthLine, Redbook, and many more. She has helped thousands of people learn to cook simple, clean, and healthy foods in their own home kitchens. She lives in Maine and loves Elvis, sunflowers, and a good seafood chowder, as well as travel writing.

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