Braised Beef Polenta Is So Much Easier in an Instant Pot

Juicy braised beef tops a creamy bed of polenta in this Italian comfort food classic!

  • By Taylor Isaac
  • March 28, 2018

Polenta is essentially a creamy mush, or porridge, made from boiled cornmeal. It’s similar to grits, although, polenta is typically coarser and uses yellow corn, not white. A classic (and delicious!) way to serve polenta is with a healthy portion of braised meat on top. With our Instant Pot Braised Beef and Creamy Polenta recipe, that’s just what you get!

For this dish, we use the Instant Pot to turn a relatively inexpensive cut of meat into tender braised beef. Then, we place the beef on a bed of creamy polenta and ladle cooking liquid over it — it’s quintessential Italian comfort food!

“This dish was freaking amazing. I’ve since fallen in love with polenta; who knew corn grits could be so amazing. I double this recipe and then just eat it for days. I’ve yet to get tired of it.”

— Matt W.

We first introduced our Braised Beef and Creamy Polenta recipe in April 2016 as part of our meal plan service and our members loved it! So with the help of the member-run Cook Smarts Instant Pot community, we converted it for use in the Instant Pot. Now, you can get the same flavorful braised beef and creamy polenta without the hours of slow cooking.

This recipe below serves 8, but any leftovers make a delicious breakfast the next morning. You can even repurpose braised beef into new dishes to turn leftovers into something interesting, like a hearty breakfast omelet or Braised Beef Tacos for dinner the next night. Transform leftover polenta into a creamy Parmesan polenta by stirring in grated Parmesan and topping with a fresh Chimichurri Shrimp Saute.

Of course, you can also freeze the leftover braised beef for quick meals in the future when life gets a little too busy and you don’t have time to make dinner!

Want more Instant Pot recipes? We’ve converted some of our most popular meals for the Instant Pot! Get all 10 of our delicious Instant Pot recipes in our brand new guide here:

Instant Pot Tip: Browning meat using the Sauté function before you pressure cook it draws out its natural sugars and caramel flavors, locks in moisture, and enhances the overall flavor of the dish.

(For more Instant Pot tips, check out our article here.)

Prepping Smarts

  • To reduce the prep time for this recipe, prep onions, carrots, and garlic up to 5 days in advance. You can also store all of these ingredients in the same container to reduce the number of dishes you clean later. Watch how to prep these veggies with our videos:

How to Slice an Onion

Learn the most efficient way to slice, dice, and chop onions so that your prep always goes smoothly.


How to Chop Carrots

Watch this video to learn our tips on how to best peel, chop, and dice carrots easily.


How to Mince or Crush Garlic

Garlic adds great flavor and aroma to any dish. Learn how to impart the flavors of garlic to any dish with this short video.

Equipment Smarts

  • Instant Pot – a multicooker that  browns the beef and cooks it under high pressure quickly and for extra tender meat
  • Saucepan – used to cook creamy polenta
  • Whisk – for stirring the polenta to reduce clumping

For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools

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Instant Pot Braised Beef with Polenta Recipe

Juicy braised beef tops a creamy bed of polenta in this Italian comfort food classic.

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 1 hr

Total time: 1 hr 15 min

Serves: 8


  • Braised Beef:
  • Onions - 1, chopped
  • Carrots, large - 2, chopped
  • Garlic - 3 cloves, chopped
  • Beef, boneless chuck, shoulder or round roast - 3 lbs
  • Oil, cooking - 2 Tbsp
  • Tomatoes, diced (14 oz) - 1 can
  • Tomato paste - 3 Tbsp
  • Oregano, dried - 1 tsp
  • Creamy Polenta:
  • Water - 8 cups
  • Milk (sub water) - 2 cups
  • Salt - 1 tsp
  • Polenta, uncooked (sub grits) - 2 cups
  • Butter - 4 Tbsp



  1. Onions / Carrots / Garlic – Prep as directed and combine in one bowl. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Beef – Season beef on all sides with salt and pepper. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)


  1. Heat Instant Pot on Sauté function and add oil. Brown beef on all sides.
  2. In the Instant Pot, combine beef, onions, carrots, garlic, diced tomatoes (including liquid), tomato paste, and oregano. Set Instant Pot to Meat / Stew function for 45 minutes. Do a natural release.
  3. Remove beef from Instant Pot and roughly chop or shred it using a fork and sharp knife and discard bone. Return beef to Instant Pot and toss with cooking liquid.
  4. While beef is cooking, heat a saucepan over medium-high heat, and combine water, milk, and salt. Bring to a boil, keeping a close eye on it because milk can easily spill over. Add polenta, stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until polenta becomes thick and creamy, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in butter until fully melted. Season with additional salt, if needed.
  5. Spoon polenta into shallow bowls and top with beef and cooking liquid (tailor the amount of liquid to your liking). Enjoy!

A little note: Some of the above links are Amazon affiliate links, which means we earn a small percentage from those sales. We use this affiliate revenue to support the continued growth of Cook Smarts. Thank you!

If you love this recipe and want more ways to use your Instant Pot, get our Instant Pot Cheat Sheet eBook for all the IP cooking times, as well as how to convert your favorite recipes for the Instant Pot – all for just $9.99. Also, consider joining our meal plan members who love getting exciting, healthy, and smart menus delivered to their inbox every week!

Instant Pot Braised Beef and Creamy Polenta Recipe | Cook SmartsInstant Pot Braised Beef and Creamy Polenta Recipe | Cook SmartsInstant Pot Braised Beef and Creamy Polenta Recipe | Cook SmartsInstant Pot Braised Beef and Creamy Polenta Recipe | Cook SmartsInstant Pot Braised Beef and Creamy Polenta Recipe | Cook Smarts

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