Extra crispy and heavy on the parmesan, these Garlic Parmesan Herb Butter Polenta Fries with Lemon Aioli make for the best simple summer appetizer! A quick batch of instant polenta is easily turned into crispy oven-baked polenta fries that are beyond delicious. Toss these crispy fries with garlic parmesan herb butter and serve with creamy lemon aioli…plus a side of ketchup. The best, slightly addicting summer appetizer, afternoon snack, or side dish to accompany just about any meal!

overhead photo of Garlic Parmesan Herb Butter Polenta Fries with Lemon Aioli

I didn’t think there could be a way to make polenta (or french fries for that matter) any better, but this recipe does just that. Oh my gosh, these polenta fries are GOOD. Plus fun and easy too!

You guys, I am in love with this recipe. There is just something so good about these fries. They’re garlicky (but in a non-overpowering way), cheesy, and heavy on all the summer garden herbs.

They’re crispy on the outside, but somewhat soft and creamy inside. Best of both worlds and just beyond delicious. Yes, I’m being dramatic, but I promise, I’m telling it like it is.

prep photo of polenta slab before cutting into fries

The story.

I’ve actually been wanting to make polenta fries for years. They’ve been on my never-ending list of “recipes to test” for what seems like forever.

A few weekends ago I was reminded of polenta fries once again by none other than my sister in law, Lyndsie. She said she’s been craving polenta fries. The second she brought up the idea I knew I was making them. But oven-baked, and with lots and lots of herbs.

When I set out to make these fries I knew they needed to include a few things before I could share the recipe. First, extra crispy was a must. I love a crispy french fry, so the crisp factor had to be GOOD. That said, I wanted the inside to be creamy and soft, more polenta like.

And second? These fries also needed to be a little garlicky, slightly cheesy, and extra herby.

With an overflowing herb garden, every last recipe has to be heavy on the herbs right now. I’m loving it.

polenta fries before baking

The (simple and easy) process.

I wasn’t sure how hard these fries would be. I know making polenta is easy, but what about polenta fries? Well, turns out they are just as easy. I actually had a lot of fun making these cute little fries!

Here’s how this works. Start out by making a fast batch of quick-cooking polenta. I like to use Bob’s Red Mill quick-cooking polenta. They take just minutes to make and are super easy. To that creamy polenta, add garlic, some parmesan, and fresh herbs too. Once the polenta is cooked, simply spread it out in a square baking dish and freeze until the polenta stiffens up. This takes only fifteen minutes or so, it’s quick.

Garlic Parmesan Herb Butter Polenta Fries on baking sheet after baking

Now, pull the polenta out of the pan and cut it into fries. Yes, it’s that easy. Once the polenta is firm, it’s so simple to work with, you’ll be shocked…which for some reason makes the process even more fun and exciting.

Once the polenta is cut into fries, gently toss the fries with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then bake until crispy.

close up photo of Lemon Aioli

Now, the herb butter and that lemon mayo.

While the fries bake, mix up some melted salted butter, garlic, and plenty of fresh herbs. I like to use a mix of fresh basil and oregano, but you can use whatever you love most. Rosemary would be great with these!

Tossing the fries in garlicky herb butter takes them from really good to really amazing and gives the fries an extra special touch.

For the mayo, I made a “cheaters” mayo. I just used my favorite avocado oil mayo, lots of fresh lemon, and a good pinch of cayenne pepper for some added heat. I kept this mayo simple. I just wanted a creamy dip for the fries that wouldn’t actually outshine the fries themselves. The mayo dip just makes them better.

close up photo of Garlic Parmesan Herb Butter Polenta Fries with Lemon Aioli

Finish it up.

Once the fries come out of the oven, toss them with the herb butter while still hot. Then serve immediately with aioli and a side of ketchup too…I can’t do fries without ketchup.

Oh. So. Very. Good!

I’m warning you now, these fries are a little addicting. My recommendation…make a double batch…these fries disappear fast. Oh, and add extra flaky sea salt on top too.

Excited to serve these all summer long and even into the fall for game-day. They’re going to make the perfect appetizer, snack, and or dinner accompaniment to just about any meal…see tomorrow’s recipe for more on that!

close up photo of Garlic Parmesan Herb Butter Polenta Fries with Lemon Aioli\

Looking for other fun side dish and appetizer recipes? Here are a few ideas: 

Marinated Goat Cheese Strawberry Crostini

Mac and Cheese Stuffed Oven Fried Zucchini Bites

Parmesan Popovers with Crispy Sage Garlic Butter

Sweet Potato Parmesan Tater Tots

Lastly, if you make these garlic parmesan herb butter polenta fries with lemon aioli, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Watch the How To Video:

Garlic Parmesan Herb Butter Polenta Fries with Lemon Aioli | halfbakedharvest.com
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The Recipe

Garlic Parmesan Herb Butter Polenta Fries with Lemon Aioli

Extra crispy, heavy on the parmesan, these Polenta Fries make for the best easy summer appetizer.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6
Calories 378 kcal

Ingredients

Lemon Aioli

Instructions

  1. 1. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta, 1 clove garlic, the thyme, sage, 1/4 cup parmesan, and season with salt. Stir until the polenta is soft and thick, about 3-5 minutes. Turn the heat off, cover the pot, and let the polenta sit 5 minutes.

    2. Line an 8x8 square baking dish with parchment paper. Spread the polenta in an even layer in the baking dish. Freeze 15-20 minutes, until set, or 1 hour in the fridge.

    3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lift the polenta out of the baking dish and cut into 1/4 inch thick "fries". Place the fries on a baking sheet and gently toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the fries in an even layer. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, then carefully flip. Bake for 15-20 minutes more, until extra crispy.

    4. Meanwhile, mix together the melted butter, 1 clove garlic, parmesan, basil, and oregano. Remove the fries from the oven and gently toss with the butter.

    5. To make the aioli. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Season with salt. Serve the fries with lemon aioli and ketchup. ENJOY!

overhead horizontal photo of Garlic Parmesan Herb Butter Polenta Fries with Lemon Aioli