Jalapeño Cheddar Polenta

Cheddar Polenta

Why is dinner always so much work? I think because it happens everyday. When I’m feeling uninspired with the protein, I often like to pick a tasty side dish – enter Jalapeño Cheddar Polenta – my new favorite!

I know I keep complaining about making plans for dinner, but that struggle is REAL! We pretty much only have chicken and ground turkey, so keeping things exciting in any way can get tiresome.

When innovation does come, however, it’s almost always in the form of seasonings and side dishes like this cheesy polenta with pickled jalapeños…

UPDATE: I finally made a list of our favorite side dishes for grilled chicken!

Cheddar Polenta

Jalapeno Cheddar Polenta

When my husband started following the LOWFODMAP diet, we felt suffocated in terms of flavors. Slowly, however, we started realizing (as with any diet), it just takes time to get used to.

Side dishes like rice and quinoa got old quickly, so we had to look for alternatives. The few we found were the Ancient Harvest gluten free pasta (most GF pastas have other no-no ingredients on the diet), millet, and polenta. 

To be honest, I didn’t love polenta. It was always bland and thick and blah! Since adding it to the heavy rotation, however, I’ve realized that polenta can be delicious without much work.

The first addition to our polenta side dishes were butter (obviously), dried herbs, and parmesan cheese. It was great as an Italian dinner base (like this sausage and polenta recipe). But we wanted it other ways too, so the experimenting began…

Cheddar Polenta

The jump from parmesan cheese to cheddar cheese was an obvious one, but boy was it a tasty one. I now can’t imagine the limits of what cheeses we should try in polenta (stay tuned).

And, of course, with cheddar polenta came the idea for jalapeño cheddar polenta – and it is delectable!

Originally I’d thought of using finely chopped fresh jalapeños, but a friend suggested pickled jalapenos. I wasn’t sure at first, but then I remembered how much I love them on nachos and how much less overpowering they are in terms of spice and I was on board!!

And if you’re like me, then you’ll need some extra jalapeños on top for yours!


I’ve found side dishes to be one of the most difficult aspects of cooking for this diet (if we completely ignore dessert). So many dishes have garlic in them or a breading of some kind. And that’s after we eliminate the produce that’s a no-go.

Eating seasonally isn’t alway possible, though I try as much as possible! Hence how I discovered roasted radishes and reworked this French Potato Salad so we could enjoy it! Finding a basic recipe that you can modify so easily is what’s kept me sane.

And finding those few very flavorful items that can really pack a punch of flavor (looking at you wasabi and pickled ginger for sushi!). The pickled jalapenos here are it.

You can lower or add more jalapenos depending on your spice preference too!

Cheddar Polenta

more polenta recipes

If you love polenta, try this sausage & polenta recipe (great for meal prepping) and crispy polenta!


Cheddar Polenta
Print Recipe
5 from 11 votes

Jalapeño Cheddar Polenta

If you love polenta and even if you don't, this cheddar Jalapeño cheesy polenta is a delicious recipe. A basic polenta recipe is filled with flavor from cheesy cheddar and a kick from pickled Jalapeños – just the perfect flavor without any overwhelming heat!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, New American
Keyword: side dish, vegetarian
Servings: 6
Calories: 302kcal
Author: Luci Petlack


  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal or cornmeal grits
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 5 ounces medium cheddar cheese shredded
  • cup diced pickled jalapeños
  • Sliced pickled jalapeños for garnish


  • Place the cornmeal in a large saucepan. Pour in two cups of water and stir well. Turn to low heat. Meanwhile, bring the remaining 4 cups of water to a boil on the stove or in an electric kettle.
  • Continue to stir and pour in the boiling water. Increase the heat slightly to maintain a simmer. Stir often, about 7 to 15 minutes, until the polenta is thick. Stir in the salt and pepper.
  • Reserve ¼ of the cheese for the topping and stir the remaining cheese into the polenta. Stir in the diced jalapenos. Continue stir until all the cheese is melted.
  • Top with the remaining cheese and sliced jalapenos before serving.


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Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 682mg | Potassium: 205mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 366IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 180mg | Iron: 2mg

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  1. 5 stars
    Hi Luci, I can’t stop saying Yum! Yum! I love polenta and this is gonna be great on those cold days next month! Thank you for sharing!

  2. 5 stars
    This looks like the perfect comfort food. I love polenta and can’t wait to add some jalapeno to my next batch! YUM.

  3. 5 stars
    This was delicious. My daughter will only eat Colby Jack, so I substituted that instead of the cheddar. It was delicious!

5 from 11 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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