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Fried Cornmeal Mush Recipe (Fried Polenta)

This fried cornmeal mush recipe is the perfect Midwest breakfast. Delicious firm cornmeal (or you might call it polenta) is lightly fried in butter and drizzled with maple syrup. It’s so incredibly simple and totally delicious. 

sliced fried cornmeal mush with maple syrup.

Have you ever heard of mush?

Or what about polenta?

It’s the same thing but where it’s different is in the way it’s prepared and the way it’s eaten.

Growing up in Ohio we always gently fried it in butter and served it with maple syrup for dipping or drizzling.

It was the perfect side dish for dinner, breakfast for dinner, or even a fast and easy dinner for one.

I have always loved it because it’s the perfect pairing of sweet and savory and can be ready in just 20 minutes.

fried cornmeal mush drizzled with fresh maple syrup.

What is fried cornmeal mush?

Fried cornmeal mush is cornmeal made into a thick porridge, set up and cooled, sliced, and then lightly pan-fried in butter.

If you don’t like butter you can use bacon fat or your oil of choice.

It’s a very southern and midwest dish that takes me right back home with every single bite!

Looking for a different but similar Southern dish? Try these easy grit cakes!

How is mush different than polenta?

Polenta and cornmeal mush are the same thing but typically served in very different ways.

Oftentimes polenta is made into a thick porridge and then mixed with savory items like herbs, spices, and cheese. Then it’s usually served with roasted tomatoes or topped with cooked meats.

Mush is typically eaten in the fried sliced format and served with a sweet dipping sauce like maple syrup.

It is also common to fry up polenta like mush but instead of serving it with maple syrup, it is instead served with warmed marinara sauce.

fried cornmeal mush on a white plate with maple syrup and a fork.

Where can I find prepared polenta or mush?

If you’re looking for the preformed logs of polenta you can typically find them in 2 different areas of the grocery store.

The first area is over by the pasta, rice, and gnocchi aisle. It is typically shelf stable so you’ll find it in a plastic roll on the shelf.

If you don’t see it on the shelf it can also sometimes be found over by where you find fresh pasta or egg roll wrappers.

What do I serve with fried cornmeal?

Fried cornmeal mush can be served alone with maple syrup or as a piece to a full breakfast.

Growing up, we would often eat it served alongside sausage or bacon and a few fried eggs.

It’s a great substitute for potatoes, pancakes, French toast, or waffles.

I love serving it with sausage because I love that sweet and savory combination.

fried cornmeal mush on a plate with maple syrup.

What does fried cornmeal taste like?

It tastes very mildly of corn as it’s just dried corn kernels that have been ground into a fine powder.

It’s slightly sweet (naturally from the corn) but overall very mild in flavor.

How do I store fried cornmeal mush?

If you don’t eat all your mush in one sitting it can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

I usually just reheat it in the microwave for about 30 seconds to warm it back up.

fried cornmeal mush on a white plate.

Love this fried cornmeal mush recipe?

Why not try a few of my other tasty breakfast recipes?

Fried Cornmeal Mush

Author: Brandy O’Neill – Nutmeg Nanny
This fried cornmeal mush recipe is the perfect Midwest breakfast. Delicious firm cornmeal (or you might call it polenta) is lightly fried in butter and drizzled with maple syrup. So incredibly simple and totally delicious. 
4.91 from 10 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 roll of firm polenta or cornmeal sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Maple syrup for serving


  • Set sliced polenta to the side.
  • Set a large skillet over medium-high heat and add butter.
  • Once the butter is melted add in the cornmeal slices.
  • Cook until brown, flip, and cook on the other side until brown, about 5 minutes per side.
  • Serve warm with maple syrup for drizzling.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 496kcal | Carbohydrates: 88g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 243mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 51g
Course Breakfast
Keyword breakfast recipe, cornmeal, cornmeal cakes, fried cornmeal, fried mush, midwest breakfast, mush cornmeal
Did you try this recipe?Leave a comment and 5 star review!
fried cornmeal mush long pin.

About Brandy!

I am a food lover and recipe developer bringing you delicious recipes that taste great and are easy to make! My food is inspired by travels around the world and my love of flavorful food. A list of things that make me happy: cats, Coke Zero, houseplants, and travel. Read more...

Recipe Rating


Monday 27th of November 2023

I had never heard of Mush, and especially not made with maple syrup. A new friend from Ohio was craving it so I had to look it up. Now I can make it for her, and a new adventure for me! In Chicago I always made the savory version Italian style.


Thursday 14th of December 2023

Hi Cheryl - Yes It's definitely a real midwest treat!


Sunday 27th of August 2023

Thank you for this! I grew up in the midwest savouring a rustic weekend breakfast that included fried Ralson (a wheat porridge)cooked in bacon fat and served with maple syrup. Any porridge can be fried; I dredge the slices in whatever the porridge was made of, which makes for a nice crunchy crust. Did it with polenta when I lived in Italy. It works with oatmeal and the and the super fine corn meal in South Africa called mealie meal. I mix up the sweet and savoury; serve some with salt and pepper, others with honey. Yum.


Thursday 24th of August 2023

Is not just a Midwest breakfast. I am 78 years old, was raised in Pennsylvania Dutch area near Lancaster. My great grandmother told me how they made breakfast on the farm, and for the workers and fried cornmeal mush was one of them. My mom used to make us mush for dinner and put the leftovers in the bread pan and in the morning we had fried mush with syrup for breakfast.


Monday 21st of February 2022

This is so easy to make from scratch, too. Have to make it the night before, but all it takes is corn meal, water, and salt. Have been eating fried mush all my life—in Ohio.

Kenneth barker

Monday 4th of January 2021

Fried mush is excellent WITH eggs over easy. Polenta us not as good. Need recipe how to mix corn meal when you cannot find it in rolls.


as seen on promo graphic


as seen on promo graphic