In this post, you’ll learn how to make couscous that’s perfectly fluffy in a matter of minutes! I’ve also shared its nutritional benefits and some delicious ways to ensure this healthy carbohydrate option becomes a pantry staple and a regular side dish in your home.
Couscous is a popular side item in my family’s favorite meals, as well as the recipes I include in my weekly family meal plans. Its lightning-fast preparation, delicious buttery flavor, and nutritious qualities make it a regular weekly grain you can use to make all sorts of delicious ways.
What is Couscous?
A question I come across often is, “is couscous a grain or pasta?” and while it looks similar to other grains like farro and bulgur, couscous is made from ground durum wheat or semolina- the same stuff used to make pasta.
There are 3 types of couscous: Moroccan, Israeli (pearled), and Lebanese, each having its own nutritional and recipe benefits.
However, to keep things simple, today we will focus on the instant Moroccan couscous, a widely used option you can find at the grocery store in the pasta aisle. Compared to other couscous varieties, it’s smallest in size, looks like tiny, butter-colored granules, and is the fastest option to prepare, hence the 5 minute cooking time!
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Is Couscous Healthy?
Each ½ cup serving of cooked couscous offers 3 grams of protein and 30% of the daily recommended intake for selenium, making this a healthy carbohydrate option.
Although couscous is considered pasta, it’s a less refined form and therefore a healthier alternative to regular white pasta. How you serve it can also boost health benefits.
Compared to spaghetti and shelled pasta varieties, which are often served with cheese, sauce, and meat, couscous is primarily used in salads, tossed with vegetables and homemade vinaigrette served alongside roasted protein and vegetables.
Does Couscous Have Gluten?
Since couscous is made from semolina flour, it is considered a high gluten food. If you or someone in your family has a gluten allergy, you can easily swap cooked couscous for equal parts of cooked quinoa, farro, rice, or cauliflower rice.
What You Need to Make couscous
All you need to make perfect couscous is water, salt, olive oil, and the couscous itself! It’s as simple as that, but if you want to kick the flavor up a notch, swap the water for chicken or vegetable broth, and add seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin to the cooking liquid.
Take a look at the exact measurements and short ingredient list you’ll need to make the perfect batch of couscous:
- 1 cup dry Moroccan couscous
- 1 ¼ cup water or chicken/vegetable broth
- Salt, just a pinch
- 1 teaspoon olive oil or butter
Alright, grab your sauce pans, and let’s get to it!
1.Heat the water
In a medium saucepan, combine the olive oil, water/stock, and salt/seasonings. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
2.Add the couscous
Once the water is boiling, stir in the couscous, turn off the heat and cover it with a lid.
3.Rest a While
Give the couscous about 5 minutes to soak up all the liquid and flavors.
Once the cooking liquid is absorbed, lift the lid, and use a fork to “fluff” the couscous. And just like that, you are ready to serve.
In case you need a visual you can also watch how to make this recipe in the video below:
Ratio of Water to Couscous
Per cup of dried couscous, you will need 1 ¼ cups liquid. Want to double the recipe? Easy! Simply double the amount of couscous and water, which brings us to 2 cups of couscous and 2 ½ cups water.
How much Does Dry Couscous Yield
From 1 cup of dried couscous, you can expect about 2 to 2 ½ cups cooked, which depending on who you are serving can fulfill 2-4 portions. I tend to need about 4 cups of cooked couscous, so I often double this recipe, and whatever is leftover gets tossed with vegetables or used as a base for a power bowl.
How Do You Know if Couscous is Done?
Perfectly cooked couscous is super tender and easy to “fluff” with a fork. All of the water should be absorbed, leaving you with tender grains that are ready to be served alongside grilled chicken or tossed into a salad.
Couscous makes a perfect option for healthy meal prepping. Once it’s cooked, you can refrigerate it for up to 4 days and use to build all sorts of meals and a more nutritional swap for rice or pasta.
How to Serve couscous
As promised, here are a few delicious ways to make couscous a regular part of your weekly meal rotation. Remember you can swap it for rice or most cooked grains in almost any recipe.
- Mediterranean Chicken Bowls– use couscous instead of farro
- Chicken with Dried Plums & Sage
- Pan-Seared Chicken– serve cooked couscous on the side
- Garlic Butter Salmon Bowls– use couscous instead of rice