How to Cook Couscous

Jump to Recipe

Learn how to cook couscous with simple techniques for making it on the stovetop or microwave. These tiny semolina granules absorb hot water and quickly transform into light and tender product. It takes under 20 minutes to prepare and effortlessly infuses flavors to spruce up any dish.

How to Cook Couscous

Couscous is a versatile crushed durum wheat semolina ingredient that can add elegance to any dish. You can find the staple pasta-like product in various Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and North African cuisines. What you might not know is there three common types of couscous, ranging in size and texture.

It can be served as a simple side dish to soak up the flavor from soups and stews, mixed with exotic spices, or combined warm or chilled in salads or with savory sauces. Learn how to prepare Moroccan, Israeli, and Lebanese couscous with ease using stovetop or microwave methods.

How to cook couscous

Cooking instant couscous is similar to preparing pasta, in that is uses the boiling method. However, the water is only heated briefly and then turned off to allow the water to absorb into the wheat. Israeli pearl and Lebanese (Moghrabieh) simmers until tender.

Make sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions in case any of the liquid ratios are different, it can range based on the product. Here are the keys steps to making couscous on the stovetop and microwave for a light and tender dish.

Stovetop Instant Moroccan Couscous

Stovetop Instant Moroccan Couscous

Instant Moroccan Couscous cooking on the stovetop

  • Bring water, olive oil (if using) and salt to a boil.
  • Turn off heat and stir in couscous.
  • Cover pot and allow to completely absorb water, about 5 minutes.
  • Fluff couscous with a fork.

Microwave Instant Moroccan Couscous

Microwave Instant Moroccan Couscous

Instant Moroccan Couscous inside a glass measuring cup

  • Heat water in a microwave-safe cup or bowl until boiling, 5 minutes.
  • Add salt, olive oil, and couscous to the water, stir and cover with foil or a plate.
  • Allow couscous to absorb the water, about 5 minutes.
  • Use a fork to fluff the couscous.

Stovetop Israeli (Pearl) Couscous

Stovetop Israeli (Pearl) Couscous

Israeli Couscous cooking on the stovetop

  • Bring water and salt to a boil.
  • Add couscous, cover and turn down to simmer.
  • Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and allow to sit for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Mix with a fork to separate couscous.

Stovetop Lebanese (Moghrabieh) Couscous

Stovetop Lebanese (Moghrabieh) Couscous

Lebanese Couscous cooking on the stovetop

  • Bring water and salt to a boil.
  • Add couscous, reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Cook until al dente, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Drain water.

Recipes with couscous

How do you make couscous more flavorful?

Now that you have the basic couscous recipe, you add in stocks, broths, garlic, onions, tomatoes or other seasonings like cumin, saffron, turmeric, or curry powder to make it even tastier. The couscous can also be toasted in some butter or oil before adding in the water for a nuttier flavor. I like to make pearl or Lebanese couscous, and then toss it with marinara sauce or pesto.

Pin this recipe to save for later

Pin This

How to Cook Couscous

Learn how to cook couscous on the stovetop and microwave. These tiny semolina granules absorb hot water and quickly transform into light and tender pasta.
Pin Print Review
4.28 from 11 votes
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Servings 5 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Mediterranean

Ingredients

Moroccan (Instant) Couscous- Stovetop & Microwave

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup couscous, instant

Israeli (Pearl) Couscous- Stovetop

  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup Israeli pearl couscous

Lebanese (Moghrabieh) Couscous- Stovetop

  • 4 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup Lebanese couscous

Instructions 

Moroccan (Instant) Couscous- Stovetop

  • Bring water, salt, and olive oil to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  • Add couscous and quickly stir. Turn off the heat and cover.
  • Let couscous stand until water is absorbed and tender, 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork before serving.

Moroccan (Instant) Couscous- Microwave

  • Microwave the water in a large 2-quart glass cup or large bowl until boiling, 5 minutes.
  • Add the salt, olive oil, and couscous, stir to combine. Tightly cover the cup or bowl with foil or a plate.
  • Let the couscous sit and absorb the water until tender, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Israeli (Pearl) Couscous- Stovetop

  • Bring water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  • Add couscous and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the water is absorbed, 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and let the couscous sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Lebanese (Moghrabieh) Couscous - Stovetop

  • Bring water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  • Add Lebanese couscous and reduce to medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Drain and use as needed.

Notes

  • Moroccan Couscous: 1 cup dried yields 2 1/2 cup cooked 
  • Israeli Couscous: 1 cup dried yields 2 cups cooked
  • Lebanese Couscous: 1 cup dried yields 2 1/2 cups cooked
  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup

Want to save this recipe?

Create an account easily save your favorite content, so you never forget a recipe again.

Register now

Nutrition Facts
How to Cook Couscous
Amount Per Serving
Calories 179 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Sodium 238mg10%
Potassium 57mg2%
Carbohydrates 26g9%
Fiber 1g4%
Protein 4g8%
Calcium 8mg1%
Iron 0.4mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Tried this recipe?

Tag @jessica_gavin on Instagram. I'd love to see how it turns out!

Tag @jessica_gavin

Filed under:

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

Jessica's Secrets: Cooking Made Easy!
Get my essential cooking techniques that I learned in culinary school.
Jessica Gavin standing in the kitchen

You May Also Like

Reader Interactions

1 Comment Leave a comment or review

Leave A Reply

Recipe Rating