Learn how to cook couscous perfectly every time! It takes just 15 minutes and a handful of ingredients. This quick couscous recipe is a great side next to your favorite protein, or use it as a bed to a tasty stew (lots of ideas below).
Grab my 5 important tips and watch the video for this recipe!
What is Couscous? Is couscous a grain or a pasta?
Couscous is one of the most convenient Mediterranean pantry staples, and it makes a great side dish in a snap!
But people often wonder which family couscous belongs to. Is it another grain like farro, bulgur, or rice? Or is it a pasta?
As much as couscous looks and acts like a grain, this North African ingredient is actually more of a pasta made with semolina flour from crushed durum wheat.
There are a few types of couscous, including pearl couscous (also known as Israeli couscous), which I use in this awesome couscous salad or serve as a side with a little lemon zest. But today, we're talking about Moroccan instant couscous. It's the smallest size couscous made of fine granules. And because it's been already steamed and dried for us, this couscous requires very little effort to prepare and can be ready in the blink of an eye.
In 15 minutes or so, you can whip up a side of Moroccan couscous to go with anything you like from chicken to lamb, fish, and even vegetarian dishes like this eggplant and chickpea stew.
I like my couscous extra fluffy and packed with flavor, so let me share some tips with you.
5 Important tips for perfectly cooked couscous
- Follow 1:1 Liquid to Couscous Ratio. If you plan to cook 1 cup of couscous, you'll need 1 cup of boiling broth or water (but look at the couscous package as some may require a different ratio). Use too much liquid and your couscous will be a bit on the sticky side. And if you use too little liquid, your couscous will be drier (this may work well, if you're tossing couscous in a salad where salad dressing will add more moisture).
- Use broth for your cooking liquid. You can use water or broth, but if you want to infuse couscous with flavor right off the bat, use broth (I tend to use vegetable or chicken broth).
- Toast your couscous before you cook it! This step is optional but can add great depth of flavor and a subtle nuttiness that I really enjoy. Before you add the couscous to the boiling liquid, give it a quick toast in the skillet with a bit of extra virgin olive oil. Toss the couscous around the hot skillet until the tiny granules turn a nice golden brown (don't over-brown the couscous, you're just looking for a beautiful golden hue).
- Do not disturb the couscous, let it fully absorb the hot liquid. Stir your couscous in the boiling liquid and remove from heat immediately. Quickly cover the saucepan with a lid and let the couscous sit for about 10 minutes undisturbed until it has fully absorbed the liquid.
- Fluff the couscous and jazz it up with flavor! When the couscous is ready, fluff it up with a clean fork. If you like, add a little spice or some fresh herbs to infuse more flavor.
How to cook couscous
Time needed: 15 minutes.
How to cook couscous: Step-by-step (print-friendly recipe and video below)
- Boil broth or water
Put 1 cup of broth (or water) in a sauce pan. Add a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt. Bring water to a boil.
- Toast the couscous in extra virgin olive oil
This is an optional step but can really make a difference in imparting flavor. Heat a little bit of extra virgin olive oil (about 1 to 2 tablespoon) in a non-stick skillet. Add the uncooked couscous and toss around, constantly, using a wooden spoon. You're looking for the couscous to gain a beautiful golden brown color (watch the couscous carefully, this will be quick).
- Add couscous to boiling water
Stir the toasted couscous in the boiling water. Cover the sauce pan and remove from heat or turn the heat off immediately. Let the couscous sit undisturbed for about 10 minutes until it has absorbed all the water. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Taste and adjust salt to your liking.
- Optional. Add some spices and herbs for flavor.
You can absolutely serve your couscous plain at this point. Or, feel free to add a little seasoning of your choice and some fresh herbs. I added a pinch of ground cumin, chopped parsley, dill, and green onions. I also added a couple of garlic cloves that have been minced and sauteed in extra virgin olive oil.
Once you add the flavor makers of your choice, give the couscous another toss to combine, and transfer to a serving platter. Enjoy!
How much does 1 cup dry Moroccan couscous yield?
1 cup of dry couscous will give you about 2 to 2 ½ cups of cooked couscous, which should generously feed 4 people (you should budget ⅓ cup to ½ cup per person).
Yes, you can cook couscous using your microwave. All you do is heat the broth or water in a large bowl in the microwave (about 5 minutes or so).
When the liquid is ready, stir in a little olive oil, salt, and your instant Moroccan couscous. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes until the couscous has fully absorbed the liquid.
What to serve it with?
This couscous recipe is versatile and can be the perfect addition to your dinner. Here are a few favorites that go well with it:
Lemon Garlic Salmon or Moroccan Fish Stew
How to Cook Couscous
- 1 cup low-sodium broth or water
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher Salt
- 1 cup dry instant couscous I used this couscous
- To Flavor optional
- Pinch of cumin or spice of your choice
- 1 to 2 garlic clove minced and sauteed in extra virgin olive oil
- 2 green onions chopped
- Fresh herbs to your liking I used parsley and dill
- In a saucepan, add broth or water. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a boil.
- Now, toast the couscous. In a non-stick skillet or pan, heat about 1 to 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Add the couscous and toss around with a wooden spoon until golden brown. This is an optional step but can really adds a great nutty flavor.
- Stir couscous in the boiled liquid quickly and immediately turn the heat off. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes or until couscous has completely absorbed the broth or water.
- Uncover and fluff with a fork.
- You can serve couscous plain, or mix in spices and herbs to give it more flavor. If you like, add in a pinch of cumin, sautéed garlic, chopped green onions, and fresh herbs or your choice. Enjoy!
- Cook’s Tip: For best flavor, do use broth for your cooking liquid. It also helps to toast the couscous in extra virgin olive oil, adding a subtle nutty flavor.
- Recommended for this recipe: our instant couscous and Greek extra virgin olive oil. Add spice of your choice, you can find all our all-natural and organic spices here.
- Visit our online shop for more quality Mediterranean ingredients.
Great recipe! It worked great! Very easy. Toasting the couscous in a tablespoon, extra virgin olive oil, and then adding it to 1 cup of broth with finely cut vegtables in the saucepan was a great trip!
Glad you enjoyed it!
After I cover the couscous do I take it off the heat
Your recipe is simple and excellent! I like to saute one diced onion, 2 cloves of minced or pressed garlic (roasted is best), and about a half cup or so each of diced zucchini and yellow squash to the mix, with cumin, coriander, parsley, black pepper, paprika, and chicken broth or chicken base/bouillon. Add the sauteed onion and the squash to the broth and spices, bring to boil, and add the cous cous.... stir, cover, wait... Its so good!LCAZ
Sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing!
My husband was suspicious at the sound of couscous...but he LOVED it...said I'm actually not a bad cook:-)
Thank you for sharing the recipe. First time making cooking couscous today ever. Followed your recipe and it is a success. I'm looking forward to lunch. Serving it with lamb tagine. By the way, you look amazing.
Yay! So glad it turned out well for you!!
I made this couscous with the Greek eggplant casserole. It was delicious.
Thanks for a great recipe, was just right in my toubboli
Awesome! Thanks, Jo-anne!
I just made this couscous recipe and it turned out more beautifully than I expected. Thank you so much for sharing your tips!!
Awesome! Glad to hear it, Lori!
I didn't like couscous for years and then decided on my own to do what you have suggested. Sometimes I'll swap out some chicken base for the broth and a bit of dehydrated onion, parsley, or some chilis I might have around. Roasted red bell pepper is another great choice. Or some browned sausage and minced pineapple. Top with a bit of asiago or parm as you're serving it up and it's off the hook.
Wonderful! Thanks for sharing, Steve!
I have tried twice to get free e book meal plan
And have not been successful. Would like to
See what it is like.
Hi, Marylou! I forwarded this message to a team member who can help you out. Please keep an eye on your spam/junk email folders just in case the email goes there by accident.
Hi Suzy, thanks soooo much, this recipe is spot-on. I used 3 cups of couscous and 3 cups of broth. Best I've ever made, no hard clumps, no oiliness, no sticking, absolutely dreamy! Smooch!!
Yay! Thanks, April!
Thank you for finally helping me make couscous properly! We added parsley, lemon, garlic and pepper. Yum!