By Jackie Freeman
March 22, 2018

Couscous is a popular, versatile, and easy-to-make North African staple that is just as tasty in a side salad or soup as it is served as the main course. Here's how to cook couscous (rhymes loosely with goose goose) and use it in top-rated recipes.

Cooked Couscous | Photo via Bigstock

How to Cook Couscous

One of the best features about couscous is how quick and easy it is to prepare. Traditionally, couscous was hand-rolled and steamed. Nowadays, store-bought dried couscous is simply rehydrated or cooked in boiling water. For even more flavor, use your favorite stock or broth instead of water and add a pinch of salt. Serve couscous with your favorite stews, sauces, or use in salads in place of pasta, rice, orzo or other grains. Discover much more about couscous.

Cooking Couscous | Photo by Meredith

How to Cook Regular Couscous

  1. In a saucepan, bring 2 cups water or stock to a boil. Add a pinch of salt.
  2. Add 1 cup couscous, stir, and remove from the heat. Let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
  3. Fluff the couscous with a fork, and let sit, covered, for another 5 minutes.

How to Cook Pearl or Israeli Couscous

  1. In a saucepan, bring 1 ½ cups water or stock to a boil. Add a pinch of salt.
  2. Add 1 cup Israeli couscous, stir, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and fluff with a fork. Let sit, covered, for 5 minutes to finish steaming.

Cooking Couscous in an Instant Pot

  1. Press the "sauté" button and add 1 tablespoon butter. Let melt, and then add 1 cup couscous.
  2. Add 1 ½ cups water or broth and a pinch of salt.
  3. Lock the lid in place and cook for 5 minutes on manual high pressure. When it beeps, do a quick release for regular couscous and 10 minutes natural pressure release for Israeli couscous. Fluff with a fork and serve.

How to Use Couscous in Recipes

Couscous salad: Pearl (Israeli) couscous, almonds, celery, onion, tomato, and herbs are tossed with lemon zest and olive oil for a refreshing summer salad.

Almond Citrus Couscous | Photo by lutzflcat

Couscous as a supporting player: The traditional way to serve couscous is with savory tagines and stews. In this recipe, couscous cooked in broth and scented with cilantro is topped with chicken breasts glazed with a sweet and savory sauce for a super-quick dinner. Watch the video below to see how to make it.

Couscous instead of bread crumbs: Ground turkey and a couple of surprise vegetables get rolled up with couscous in the mix to hold everything together in these popular meatballs. You're going to want to use small couscous instead of large pearl couscous.

Turkey Veggie Meatloaf Cups | Photo by Bren

Couscous instead of pasta: Well, actually it IS pasta, so why not use it for mac and cheese? Watch the video below to see how Chef John makes these cheesy, comforting dish in just minutes with pearl couscous.

Couscous goes sweet and savory: Pearl couscous is mixed with mango, dried fruits, nuts, and just enough onion and garlic to give this sweet side dish a savory edge.

Couscous Fruit Salad | Photo by lutzflcat

Explore our entire collection of Couscous Recipes.