Oven Baked Cheddar Bacon Polenta {Gluten Free} - The Helpful GF Skip to Content

Oven Baked Cheddar Bacon Polenta {Gluten Free}

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This recipe for Oven Baked Cheddar Bacon Polenta is a delicious gluten-free recipe that’s perfect for breakfast or brunch (and who am I kidding? I’ve now also made this for dinner twice!)

Often, polenta recipes keep you over a stove top stirring, and stirring, and stirring…. And even using a double broiler.

We’re not doing any of that.

This is an oven baked polenta leaving you with oven baked polenta squares, and only stirring twice! The oven does most of the work for you.

Jump to the recipe or keep reading for the full post with step-by-step directions, pictures, brand recommendations, and troubleshooting tips! (honestly, for this recipe, the more detailed step by step is important to glance over.)


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Is polenta gluten-free?

Polenta is made of corn and is naturally gluten-free.  That said, many brands come into cross contact with gluten during processing, so it’s still necessary to read the label.

For this recipe, I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Corn Grits.  It worked perfectly and is batch tested and verified to be gluten-free.

See these Corn Grits on Amazon here.

Equipment for Oven Baked Polenta

To make the polenta, you will need quite a few pieces of equipment.

  • A skillet to cook the bacon
  • A large mixing bowl.
  • A kettle to boil water (trust me. This is likely the safest way to do it!)
  • A 13×9” casserole dish
  • A whisk
  • A spatula

Ingredients for Gluten Free Cheddar Bacon Polenta

To make this easy polenta, you can probably find most of the ingredients at your local grocery store.  However, it may be difficult to find gluten-free medium grind polenta (or corn grits).   I got this gluten-free polenta.

However, you may find that as well as good bacon and gluten-free spices at Thrive Market.   

If you’ve never tried Thrive Market you can get 25% off your order AND a free gift by clicking here!

bacon, cheddar, eggs, milk, salt, pepper, gluten free corn grits

To make this gluten free oven baked cheddar bacon polenta you’ll need:

  • Diced bacon. USDA labeling is not the same as FDA labeling requirements for disclosing allergens.  Due to this, I stick to brands like Hormel or Applegate that label their bacon gluten-free.
  • Eggs.
  • Whole milk. I’ve never made this with a lower fat milk or a milk substitute.  I think the fat is important for keeping your polenta a bit creamy and for flavor.
  • Gluten free corn grits.  As mentioned, I used Bob’s Red Mill for this recipe.  You can find it on Amazon here.  There is quite a bit of variation in the grinding of corn (coarseness and size of grain), so I can’t guarantee this will turn out the same with other grinds.
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese.  I used sharp cheddar for this recipe.
  • Salt & Pepper to taste.
  • Boiling water.

How do you make this baked polenta with cheddar cheese and bacon?

First, you will want to preheat and prepare your oven and gather your equipment & ingredients.

Due to having to stir your polenta while it cooks (and it being in a casserole dish), I found it easier to have only ONE rack in my oven in the lower-middle.  This gave me space to reach into a hot oven to add water and stir when it’s time without having to maneuver around the rack or pull the polenta in and out of the oven risking spilling the hot contents.

Once your oven is prepared and preheating, you’ll want to boil your water in the kettle and dice the bacon and shred the cheese (if not using pre-shredded).

Step 1: Cook your bacon

Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy.  Put on a paper towel lined plate to drain off some of the fat. 

diced bacon cooking in pan

Step 2: Mix your polenta

While bacon is cooking, beat the eggs in a large bowl, and whisk in the milk and grits until well combined. (The grits won’t be absorbing the liquid at this point, just try to mix as well as possible)

Once whisked well, fold in the bacon, half of the cheese, and salt and pepper to taste and then pour into your casserole dish.

How much is “to taste” this will depend on factors like your own preference and how salty your bacon is.  I would start with maybe ½ a tsp of salt and ¼ tsp of ground black pepper.

Step 3: Add your boiling water

BE VERY CAREFUL ON THIS STEP!

I found the easiest way to do this was to boil your water on the stovetop in a kettle for easy pouring.

Then I placed my casserole dish with polenta mixture into the preheated oven.  I slowly poured the boiling water into the casserole dish and whisked to combine while the polenta was on the middle oven rack!

This way, it’s not necessary to maneuver a very hot and sloshy casserole dish into the oven and risk it sloshing in your hands (or spilling out into the oven).  This casserole dish will be VERY full.

Next, gently whisk to combine in the dish.

whisking the boiling water in the pan of polenta in oven
yes, I made two pans at a time.

Step 4: Bake and stir, bake and stir, bake!

Bake your polenta uncovered for about 20 minutes.

At 20 minutes, open the oven and whisk your polenta.  Whisk it well to ensure even baking.

Continue baking another 15 minutes and stir again. At this point, I found it easier to use a spatula as it allowed me to scrape the bottom of the pan more easily as the mixture is getting thick.

polenta being stirred in the oven

Let bake another 10-20 minutes or until set and golden brown (an inserted knife comes out clean).

Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining cheddar.

casserole dish of cheddar bacon polenta squares with one square plated

Cut polenta into 12 even squares for serving.

How to serve baked polenta

Polenta can be served as a side dish, but due to the bacon this makes a really great main course! 

For breakfast it can be eaten as is, or paired with fresh fruit.  You can even serve a sunny side up egg on top! That would be really delicious.

For brunch or dinner, pair this cheesy polenta with a side salad or steamed veggies.

Why is my polenta not setting?

You may have used too much liquid OR your oven isn’t hot enough, continue cooking for longer to evaporate it off, and possibly stirring an additional time or two.

Can you freeze polenta?

Yes!  As you can see in the photos, I made two pans (each one slightly different… the one with more bacon was definitely tastier!  I froze the squares by letting them cool completely, wrapping them in freezer paper, and then putting into a freezer bag.  To reheat I found it better to thaw them, and then heat them in the oven rather than heating in the microwave.  It retained the texture better.

However, if you made a batch in a freezer safe pan, it would probably be better to freeze the whole pan and then reheat in the oven until heated through.

Can you make polenta the day before you serve it?

If you want to make this ahead, I would combine all the ingredients except the boiling water and refrigerate them.  When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven, boil the water, and finish the recipe!

What did you think of this oven baked polenta recipe?

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casserole dish of cheddar bacon polenta squares with one square plated

Oven Baked Cheddar Bacon Polenta {Gluten Free}

This recipe for Oven Baked Cheddar Bacon Polenta is a delicious gluten-free recipe that’s perfect for breakfast or brunch.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Breakfast, Brunch, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12 servings
Calories 150 kcal

Equipment

  • skillet
  • mixing bowl
  • Kettle
  • 13×9" Casserole dish
  • whisk
  • spatula

Ingredients
  

  • 12 ounces bacon diced
  • 4 eggs large
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups corn grits/polenta (see post for suggestions)
  • 2/3 cup cheddar cheese shredded
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 cups boiling water

Instructions
 

  • Adjust your oven racks so there is only 1 rack and it is in the lower middle of your oven
  • Preheat the oven to 350F and set the water in the kettle to boil
  • Cook the bacon in the skillet until crispy around the edges. Remove from pan and let sit on paper towel lined plate to soak up the grease.
  • Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl and whisk in the milk, grits, 1/3 cup of the cheese, and salt & pepper to taste. Fold in the bacon. Pour into a greased 9×13" casserole dish.
  • Once the oven is preheated and water is boiling, you will need to carefully add all the water into the casserole dish and whisk to distribute. (I found the easiest way to do this was to add the water with the casserole dish already in the oven–which is why you should adjust your oven racks to give you space). The casserole dish will be very full and it is important to use boiling water. I included pictures and more safety tips in the post above.
  • Once combined, bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
  • Whisk thoroughly again (I did this step in the oven as well) being sure to move the polenta around the pan for even baking.
  • Bake for another 15 minutes and stir it again (this time, use a spatula to ensure you're scraping the bottom.)
  • Let bake another 10-20 minutes until set and golden brown (an inserted knife comes out clean).
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining cheddar. Cut into 12 even squares and serve.

Notes

see the full blog post above post for:
  • ingredient and equipment suggestions + substitutions,
  • safety & trouble shooting tips
  • what to serve with cheddar bacon polenta
Keyword bacon, Cheddar, Cheddar Bacon, Cheddar Bacon Polenta, Gluten Free Polenta, Oven Baked Polenta
cheddar bacon polenta in pan and on serving dish

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