Polenta Pizza

Pizza is the ultimate comfort food, and this pizza delivers! The herbed polenta crust is topped with easy-to-make sauce, as well as onions, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, and rosemary. Now you can have your pizza and feel good, too!

Polenta Pizza: Vegan, salt- and oil-free. Now you can have your pizza and feel good, too! (StraightUpFood.com)

I hesitate to say that this pizza is “easy,” since you need to prepare three recipes: the crust, the sauce, and the toppings. But I have tried to make each of them as easy as possible. The final result is worth the time it takes to make it.

The crust is made from polenta (coarsely ground cornmeal), resulting in a softer crust than traditional wheat-flour crusts. I love fresh rosemary on pizza, so it is used throughout. The three recipes follow, with instructions on putting everything together at the end (I suggest reading this part first).

Feel free to comment below if you made any variations that were especially good; I may add them to the recipe. Thank you!

Polenta Pizza Crust

This recipe makes enough polenta for an approximately 13 by 9-inch baking sheet or glass casserole dish. However, I like using my 14-inch-diameter pizza pan (found at a local drugstore for under $10. Using a metal pan will result in a firmer crust). Since pan sizes will vary, I’ve made sure there is enough polenta for bigger size dishes/pans. (Chill any leftover polenta, and then add it cubed to vegetables, soup, or salad.)

Note: “Polenta” cornmeal is different than regular cornmeal (which is more finely ground). Look for the words “polenta” or “coarse grain” on the cornmeal package. Here is one brand of polenta cornmeal.

2¼ cups water
½ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon granulated onion
¾ cup coarse-grind (polenta) cornmeal
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

1. Combine the water, non-dairy milk, and granulated onion in a medium saucepan. Bring to just about boiling over medium-high heat. Gradually add in the cornmeal, stirring constantly with a whisk to prevent clumping. As soon as you start adding the cornmeal, turn heat to the lowest setting, and cook covered for 20 minutes, stirring two or three times throughout. Stir in the rosemary at the very end. While the polenta is cooking, you can make the sauce (or you can also make the sauce ahead of time, to allow the flavors time to mingle).

2. Scrape about half of the cooked polenta into your pan (it will be very thick and sticky), adding more as you go to reach a thickness of about a quarter inch, spreading it evenly with your fingers, and pressing it up the sides of the pan for a more deep-dish effect. If it’s too hot to handle, let it cool for a couple minutes; you may also use dish gloves or a large piece of parchment paper to avoid sticky fingers as you are pressing it, or wet your fingers a couple times throughout. For my 14-inch pizza pan, I use about ¾ of the polenta. For a thicker crust or bigger pan, use more. Set aside.

Preparation: 10 minutes (plus 10 minutes to press cooked polenta into pan)
Cooking: 20 minutes (stove-top)
Makes: 1 crust (14-inch diameter round), 6 pieces (or 13×9-inch baking dish/sheet)

Easy Pizza Sauce

I don’t like using half cans of tomato paste, so this may make more than you need; but just use any leftover sauce on a second pizza, as ketchup, in spaghetti sauce, or atop a baked potato. Make the sauce while the polenta is cooking, or make it ahead of time to allow the flavors to more thoroughly mingle.

¾ cup water
2 medjool or 4 deglet dates, pitted and chopped
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

Place the water and dates into a blender and soak for at least 20 minutes (to soften). Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

Preparation: 20 minutes (including soak time)
Makes: about 1 cup (enough for 2 pizzas)

Vegetables for Pizza Topping

The vegetables for the topping are first briefly cooked on the stovetop (otherwise they get dried out in the oven and don’t cook as thoroughly). Any vegetables may be used, really, but I’ve chosen those that are traditional in veggie pizzas. I usually cook the vegetables while the crust/sauce is pre-baking (see below).

½ large yellow onion, chopped (I like sweet yellow onions)
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
6 medium cremini or white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 medium tomato, diced or thinly sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons walnuts, to grate on top, after baking (optional)

1. Prepare and chop all your ingredients before you begin. Heat a large skillet on high. When a water droplet sizzles on its surface, add the onion and cook stirring for about 2 minutes. Add a little water only if needed to prevent sticking; this will make the onions more flavorful.

2. Add the zucchini and mushrooms, and continue cooking and stirring, 2 to 3 minutes, adding water as needed. Stir in the garlic and rosemary just before removing from the heat. Leave the tomatoes out; they will be added just before baking the pizza.

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 5 minutes
Makes: enough toppings for 1 pizza

Putting the Pizza Together

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, and position the cooking rack in the middle. Spread about half the sauce on the polenta crust and bake uncovered for 15 minutes. (This is a good time to cook the topping vegetables).

2. Remove the crust from the oven and spoon the cooked pizza toppings evenly over the top, finishing with the tomatoes. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.

3. Serve after a minute of cooling. If you like, grate a few walnuts on top (using a rotary cheese grater); this makes a nice garnish in place of cheese. Cooked polenta crust is softer than wheat flour crusts, so this pizza is best eaten with a fork.

Polenta Pizza: Vegan, salt- and oil-free. Now you can have your pizza and feel good, too! (StraightUpFood.com)

Above: I made this pizza in my 14-inch pizza pan with a thinner crust (also pictured in the photo at the top of this post).

Polenta Pizza: Vegan, salt- and oil-free. Now you can have your pizza and feel good, too! (StraightUpFood.com)

Above: The unbaked polenta crust, and topped with sauce, ready for the oven. This time I made the crust a little thicker, more deep-dish.

Polenta Pizza: Vegan, salt- and oil-free. Now you can have your pizza and feel good, too! (StraightUpFood.com)

Above: The baked, thicker-crust pizza. For more ideas on plant-based, oil-free pizza-making, see Mark Sutton’s book, Heart Healthy Pizza.

Polenta Pizza: Vegan, salt- and oil-free. Now you can have your pizza and feel good, too! (StraightUpFood.com)

Above: This pizza can also be made in a 9 by 13-inch, glass casserole dish, which results in a softer crust. For the pizza in this photo, I added more veggies on top, which resulted in more of a pizza casserole.

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  1. Aaron says

    How thick should the crust be when its done cooking in the pan? Mine was almost a porridge like consistency, so I added a little more cornmeal, it was still very soft as you said it would be, but I feel like if I hadn’t added more it would have been incredibly soft.

  2. Tom Campbell says

    Hi Cathy. Many thanks for sharing your recipes. Regarding the polenta pizza crust, should it be crisp like flour pizza crust? Also should you use some non-stick spray or something else to prevent the crust from sticking? Finally have you tried this recipe with quinoa polenta?

    • says

      Hi Tom, no it will not be crisp. The only part that may have a bit of crispness to it is the upper rim of the crust. I’ve not needed any spray. I have not tried it with quinoa polenta, but I bet it would work fine. :)

  3. says

    that looks so delicious I will make. here is my tip for tomato paste. I open a new can and using a measuring tablespoon, that I put a little spritz of cooking spray on, I measure all the paste out on a piece of wax paper, in one tablespoon size portions. I then freeze them. After the paste is frozen I place them in a freezer bag. Then when a recipe calls for one or two tablespoons of tomato paste, I just get what I need from the freezer. No more half cans of tomato paste going moldy in my fridge. (Marge Evans)

  4. Rica says

    I am so happy I came across your website.I work on a boat and my boss is a vegan,no oil and no salt type of guy. Thank you for your great recepies;)
    In the recepie it calls for 1/2 cup unsweetend non dairy milk.will almond milk,coconut milk work?

    • says

      Hi Rica, yes almond milk would work; not sure I’d like coconut milk, but try it. :) How fun you get to work on a boat! Good for your boss, that’s great.

  5. Sofie says

    Thank You Cathy for the great Polenta Pizza recipe just got through baking everything went great & taste great, also to my surprise it was really lite can’t wait to share. Again Thanks!

  6. Sierra says

    Hi Cathy. In the pizza sauce, is there any other substitute for dates you would recommend for your recipe? Thank you.

  7. rachel says

    Hi…i’ve made this and the toppings were v tasty…this is the second time I’ve attempted to make a ‘base’ using polenta but both times its remained soft and runny, despite (this time) ensuring I had coarse polenta and following your recipe exactly. Have you got any ideas why it’s not setting? Should I use less water /mylk? Any ideas would be gratefully received because I can’t do a third involved recipe like this and end up eating pizza or something else on a porridge base! Thanks

    • says

      Hi Rachel, sorry to hear that. :( Not sure why that is happening. Mine is usually so thick by the end of cooking, it can be a challenge to spread in the pan. Maybe less liquid. You could try refrigerating it overnight after cooking/pouring into pizza/pan. As cooked polenta cools, it usually really stiffens up, like rubber. You could Google “polenta pizza crusts” and see how others do it; maybe there will be some insight there. Sorry can’t be more help.

  8. Sophie says

    My fiance and I LOVED this recipe! He was actually scraping the crumbs. I used 8 teaspoons of raisins instead of dates. Used artichoke hearts, corn, and scallions for the toppings and then sprinkled oregano and red pepper flakes on top. AMAZING! Did not miss the salt at all!!

  9. Rayanne says

    Made this last night for friends, it was a huge hit! I wanted to make the fruit cobbler too but I ran out of time. I add fennel seeds to the pizza to give it a sausage-y flavor for the non-vegans. You’re right that it’s a bit more time-consuming than most dishes but it’s so worth it! I love your recipes!

  10. Kathleen says

    Hi Cathy! I absolutely love your recipes! And this one is no exception! My husband and I think this is one of the best pizzas we’ve ever had. We love the polenta crust which did set up for me but didn’t get crusty (as you mentioned) to the very yummy (and easy!) pizza sauce to the toppings…it was great! My husband asked if I could put this on a rotation! ;)) I’m so very appreciative of your sharing recipes and the way you cook is some of my favorite food ever. Thank you very much for all you do to help us, support us, and share your recipes. Much appreciated!

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