There's no need to give up croutons just because you can't eat gluten! These crispy herbed oven-baked polenta croutons make a perfect gluten-free topping for your favourite salads and soups! This recipe takes polenta croutons to a whole new level with Parmesan cheese and fresh rosemary and thyme.
❤️ Why you'll love these gluten-free croutons
No more boring salads! Croutons--those crispy cubes of toasted bread that add flavour and crunch to your salads and soups! We love them for the interest they bring to our meals. But if we're on a gluten-free diet, croutons are out of bounds!
Until now! These gluten-free crispy herbed polenta croutons supply that necessary texture and crunch to salads. But crunch aside, this particular recipe adds our favourite Italian flavours, too: rosemary, thyme, and Parmesan cheese!
Triple tested! I've tested this recipe three times to get it just right. Croutons need to have crisp edges but have slightly soft insides, not like those dried-up little cubes of stale bread you sometimes get in a package. These baked polenta croutons deliver!
The first time I made these, I simply tossed them with olive oil, Kosher salt and pepper. They were, well . . . fine, but nothing to write home about. Polenta is made from corn meal which has a mild flavour. It needs something extra to make it more interesting.
The next time, I added finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano and loved that flavour addition.
However, this last recipe, the one I'm sharing with you today, is my favourite. Adding both Parmesan and herbs was the answer. Finely chopped fresh rosemary and thyme gave these gluten-free croutons the flavour boost they needed!
🛒 Ingredients and substitutions
You'll find a complete list of ingredients with amounts in the recipe card below. But before we get to the full recipe, here are a few notes about the key ingredients.
- polenta: make this a quick and easy recipe by using pre-made cooked polenta. It comes in a tube. Look for it near the specialty cheeses or in the pasta aisle, in the deli section, or even in the international foods aisle of your grocery store.
- olive oil: for tossing with the polenta cubes.
- seasonings and herbs: Kosher salt (or sea salt) freshly ground black pepper, finely chopped fresh rosemary and/or fresh thyme. You can substitute dried thyme if you like.
- Parmesan cheese: optional if you want to keep this recipe dairy-free. Finely grate the cheese and use the "real stuff," Parmigiano Reggiano, if you can.
Here's an overview of what you'll do to make this recipe perfectly. You'll find complete instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Polenta comes in a cylindrical shape in a plastic tube. Slice the polenta in half lengthwise, then again into quarters. This will make triangular wedges. If you want them to be square or rectangular, carefully slice off a thin layer of the outer edges of the cylinder lengthwise to leave a square block. Next, cut this block in half and then into quarters, then slice widthwise into cubes about ½ to ¾ inch in size.
Add to a bowl and toss with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper, herbs and Parmesan cheese.
Arrange on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet so the croutons are not touching. If they're touching, they might cook in their own steam instead of roasting in the oven heat.
Bake the croutons in the oven, flipping them over halfway through the cooking time.
🔁 Possible Variations
These polenta croutons are delicious when tossed with finely chopped fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Adding Parmesan cheese is optional if you're avoiding dairy products. You can also sprinkle them very lightly with powdered garlic if you'd like.
Try them with smoked paprika and Provolone or Cheddar cheese for a change!
👍🏼 Helpful Tips
Polenta croutons are best on the day they're made. Fresh from the oven, they're crispy outside but still tender inside, just like a crouton should be! They do not refrigerate well as they tend to get a little tough.
However, you can reheat leftover croutons on a baking sheet in the oven at 350°F. for 4 - 5 minutes or in your air fryer at 390°F. for 2 - 3 minutes.
❓What is polenta?
Polenta is made from cornmeal, water, salt and butter or olive oil. It's a popular Italian recipe, originally from Northern Italy. While you can make it yourself on the stovetop, it's available pre-made in most grocery stores in North America.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
These oven-baked polenta croutons add interest to your everyday salads. Make a simple Italian salad with mixed greens, cucumber, bell pepper, pepperoncini peppers and red onion. Add a handful of these crispy Italian baked polenta croutons with herbs!
Or toss them on top of Italian Balsamic Bocconcini Cherry Tomato Salad.
They also make an amazing addition to soups! I like them with Creamy Tomato Soup, Butternut Squash Soup and Carrot Ginger Soup.
Enjoy every last crispy bite!
🗒 More side dish recipes you might like
When you make this recipe, please leave a comment and a rating below. I love hearing from you! Thanks in advance. Subscribe to my newsletter and receive new recipes delivered straight to your inbox.
Oven-Baked Herbed Polenta Croutons
- 1 16 oz. tube polenta
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, extra virgin
- 2 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano cheese finely grated
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
- ½ teaspoon each kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Slice the polenta in half lengthwise, then again into quarters. This will make triangular wedges. If you want them to be square or rectangular, carefully slice off the outer edges of the log lengthwise to leave a rectangular block. Next, cut this block in half and then into quarters, then slice widthwise into cubes about ½ to ¾ inch in size.
- Transfer the cubes to a bowl and toss with olive oil and remaining ingredients.
- Spread out on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400°F. for 30 - 35 minutes, turning the croutons over halfway through cooking time.
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