Barbecue Pork Polenta Bowls with Pineapple and Guacamole |

Barbecue Pork Polenta Bowls with Pineapple and Guacamole

This post was originally published here on January 25, 2016. I’ve since adjusted the recipe instructions slightly. And I’ve updated the text and photographs to reflect those changes.

Hello and Happy New Year!

Yes, I realize it’s February. But since I haven’t been here since December, I thought a proper greeting was in order.

I “took January off” last year (translation: worked behind the scenes and was lurking around on social media, but didn’t publish any new blog posts). And it was literally the best thing ever. So I decided to do it again this year. Huzzah.

But now I’m back with some serious cold weather comfort food. These Barbecue Pork Polenta Bowls with Pineapple and Guacamole are a real “stick to your ribs” type of meal. Which I’m very into right now in February. Because it’s freezing and I’m hungry and I’m cranky. But luckily, this recipe helps with those things (at least two of them!).

Barbecue Pork Polenta Bowls with Pineapple and Guacamole |

There are a few different parts to making these Barbecue Pork Polenta Bowls with Pineapple and Guacamole (all very easy!), which I want to break down for you, as well as mention a few quick recipe notes. First and foremost is the barbecue pork. I make this in my slow cooker using my favorite store-bought barbecue sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s). You should use whatever YOUR favorite barbecue sauce happens to be. I try to find the smallest boneless pork loin that I can, which is usually about 2 lbs. If you can’t find something that small, you can use two pork tenderloins which are typically around 1 lb each. A third option would be to use a larger piece of pork and either cut it or cook it all and be prepared for leftovers. These can be used for tacos, nachos, whatever. Yum!

For this recipe, I used instant polenta. Instant polenta cooks in under 5 minutes, which is awesome. If you can’t find instant polenta, just follow the basic stove-top cooking instruction on the package that you have, then stir in the mascarpone cheese, butter and salt at the end. If you can’t find mascarpone cheese, cream cheese works here as a substitute.

If you haven’t used polenta before, be aware that it “spurts” and “splatters” a bit as it cooks. My advice is to use a bigger pot than you think is necessary. It will also start to firm up very quickly as it cools. I highly recommend having all the other parts of these bowls ready to go before you start cooking the polenta.

These Barbecue Pork Polenta Bowls with Pineapple and Guacamole are great for a cozy dinner. But I also think they’d be a fun alternative for the Super Bowl. I hear that’s coming up this weekend. I’ll be in it for the food!



Barbecue Pork Polenta Bowls with Pineapple and Guacamole

Barbecue Pork Polenta Bowls with Pineapple and Guacamole

At a Glance:
Yield: Serves about 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes


For the Pork:

  • Small boneless pork loin (about 2 lbs)
  • Salt
  • About 1 cup barbecue sauce

For the Guacamole:

  • 2 avocados, pitted and flesh scooped out
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

For the Pineapple:

  • 1 1/2 cups cubed fresh pineapple
  • Juice from 1/4 lime
  • 1/8 tsp. chili powder

For the Polenta:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup instant polenta
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

For Serving:

  • Fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Scallions, thinly sliced
  • Lime wedges
  • Barbecue sauce


  1. To make the barbecue pork, season the pork loin on all sides with a few pinches of salt. Place it in your slow cooker and cover with the barbecue sauce. Place the lid on your slow cooker and cook on the “low” setting for about 8 hours or on the “high” setting for about 4 hours. The pork loin is done when it’s extremely tender and easily falls apart. Use two forks to shred the pork loin into smaller pieces. There will initially be excess cooking liquid in your slow cooker, but the shredded pork pieces will absorb most of it within 30 minutes. Keep warm.
  2. To make the guacamole, add the avocado, lime juice and salt to a bowl and gently mash together with a fork. Stir in the cilantro. Set aside.
  3. Add the cubed pineapple to a bowl. Squeeze the lime juice over top and sprinkle with the chili powder. Set aside.
  4. To make the polenta, bring the water to a boil in a large heavy-bottom saucepan. Slowly whisk in the polenta. Once all the polenta has been added, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook, whisking constantly, for 3-4 minutes (or according to your package instructions). Turn off the heat and whisk in the mascarpone cheese, butter and salt. Cover to keep warm. 
  5. To assemble the bowls, divide the still-warm polenta between bowls. Top with the shredded pork, guacamole and pineapple. Add additional cilantro, scallions, lime juice or barbecue sauce, if desired.
  6. This recipe makes more barbecue pork then you’ll likely use for the bowls. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 2-3 days.

30 comments on “Barbecue Pork Polenta Bowls with Pineapple and Guacamole”

  1. I totally agree Liz! I LOVE food in bowls, and this bowl looks incredibly delicious and loaded with flavor! Love the photos too! Always fun to try a different style!

  2. I second that motion all day long, and twice on Sundays, Liz. Food in bowls rocks the dang casbah! These bbq pork polenta bowls look fabulous, my dear! LOVING the bbq, pineapple and guac’ combo! I could eat this for days! And I love your moody shots! I tried playing around with darker photography… let’s just say you are MUCH more successful!! 🙂 Cheers, sweets!

  3. Love love love!

  4. Loving the dark and moody photos! I’ve been wanting to play with that style too, so pass along your tips lady genuis 🙂

    • Oh man. I don’t know if I really have any tips yet. It’s going to take me a couple more times to gain any insight that is worthy of passing along. 🙂

  5. Food in bowls always wins over a plate. That creamy polenta with the bbq pork and ALL the toppings is pure comfort food, I love it! I like the change in photos too, but then again I like all your photos! Is that a blue willow plate?

    • Thanks, Danae. Hmmm…I don’t think it’s a blue willow plate, just something very similar. Confession: I had to google that to see what it was after you asked. Ha ha!

  6. Yep, food in bowls rule and this bowl of goodness is perfection! Loving the moody photos, too 🙂

  7. Food in bowls is definitely better! Totally second that! And these bowls sound amazinggg. I like the moody shots! I tried that once … so completely unsuccessful haha

  8. So yum! I love polenta and the pineapple is so fun!

  9. Go for the bowl!!!! All day long! And girllll that bowl looks quite tasty my dear! The colors, textures, flavors – I’m all bug eyed out! I’d like to just mix that bowl all up and start shovelin! And YES please on your dark moody shots. GAH! Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.. ! Round of applause !!

  10. Food in bowls are the win!! And also…I love the photographs. You don’t need help with them…they are beautiful!

  11. I love the photos, they’re absolutely gorgeous! I’m also loving this recipe too, I could seriously devour that entire bowl. And then probably another one 😉

  12. That picture of the pineapple in the snow makes me shiver but it’s so pretty!! And these polenta bowls — so good Liz!

  13. Considering that I’ve eaten my meals out of a bowl for the first 20 years of my life, I DEFF have to agree that food in bowls is waaaay better! And OMG, I’ve been playing around with different styles of photography, too, with mixed success. I definitely think that darker, moodier photos work well for comforting dishes like this. It also fits the season.

    • Thanks, Lisa. Bowl foods FOREVER! And yes, I agree that the darker photos seem to mesh well with comfort foods.

  14. Food in bowls is 110% better!! And this is a jaw dropper!

  15. This sounds soooo good!

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