Perfect Couscous

4.5 stars based on 47 votes
Tested & Perfected Recipes

Couscous is made from tiny steamed balls of semolina flour. Though we think of it as a grain, it’s actually a type of pasta.


Couscous is a North African dish made from tiny steamed balls of semolina flour. Though we think of it and cook it as a grain, couscous is actually a type of pasta. It’s one of the easiest, fastest, most versatile side dishes you can make. And it’s especially wonderful with stews or saucy main dishes. Depending on which brand you buy, you’ll find that there’s some variation on the suggested proportions of liquid to couscous.

What you’ll need to make couscous


How to make couscous

To start, bring the cooking liquid (preferably a flavorful chicken or vegetable broth) to a boil in a medium pot. Add a drizzle of olive oil, a pad of butter, and a little salt.


Next, add the couscous. (I use 1-3/4 cups liquid to 1-1/2 cups couscous.)


Take the pan off the heat, cover, and let the couscous steam for 5 minutes.


When you lift the lid, the grains will appear flat in an even layer. Use a fork to fluff it up and break up the clumps for light and fluffy couscous. For a traditional Moroccan feast, try pairing this couscous with my Moroccan chicken tagine.


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Perfect Couscous

Couscous is made from tiny steamed balls of semolina flour. Though we think of it as a grain, it’s actually a type of pasta.

Servings: 4 - 6
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 10 Minutes


  • 1-3/4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups (10 oz) couscous


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water (or broth), salt, butter, and oil to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover tightly with a lid, and remove from heat. Let the couscous steam for 5 minutes. Use a fork to fluff the couscous and break up any clumps. Serve warm.
  2. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The couscous can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, reheat it in the microwave until hot.

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 226
  • Fat: 5g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Carbohydrates: 37g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 7g
  • Sodium: 220mg
  • Cholesterol: 5mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • I can’t even believe how fast this was! And it tasted GREAT! This will be my go to dinner fix when I’m in a hurry! : )

    • — ChefBrianna on May 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • The weight equivalents are very wrong.
    If one follows them, the result will be way too dry.

    400mL might be close enough to 1¾ cups of water, but 1½ cups of couscous is actually about 247g (8¾oz), not the 283g (10oz) you suggest.


    • — Ray Butterworth on May 27, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Ray, Sorry you had a problem with this! The conversion for couscous will vary a bit by brand. I just weighed it on my scale and have updated the number to 270 grams.

      • — Jenn on May 31, 2021
      • Reply
  • This one was a winner for my fussy son – amazing!
    My only thought is that I might leave out the 1/2 teaspoon of salt next time as the chicken stock I use made it salty enough already. We all loved it though – thank you!

    • — Miriam Rich on May 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • Finally my couscous is not all clumpy! Thank you!x

    • — Lara on May 3, 2021
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  • In an effort to make couscous more healthy, I never added butter or olive oil to it and always thought it came out dry and brick-like. Adding both of those makes all the difference and I will never do couscous another way. Thanks Jenn!

    • — Jan on April 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • This did not work. I ended up with a bowl of wasted couscous. It sat at the bottom of the pan and because it was way too much water, the couscous stayed hard.

    • — Stacy Edwards on April 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, making this tomorrow to serve with the honey mustard panko crust salmon
    Have both regular and Israeli couscous. I think that the Israeli is larger. Which do you use.Thanks, carol

    • — Carol Winkelman on March 19, 2021
    • Reply
    • Regular couscous (the smaller grain). Hope you enjoy the meal!

      • — Jenn on March 19, 2021
      • Reply
  • OK, I have always found couscous boring, bland, so I don’t cook it. BUT…..
    I made this recipe last night (because my younger sons love couscous)
    I have to say, THE BEST EVER COUSCOUS I’ve tasted (and I’ve been to Morocco too!)
    I did add plenty of cumin seeds while heating the olive oil, that’s the only change I made.
    I roasted plenty of whole garlic in their skins, onions, red and green peppers and whole large mushrooms in olive oil, black pepper, and salt, then mixed in with the couscous, MAGIC.
    1000% I will be making couscous as per your recipe, thank you.

    • — Martin on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is now my go-to couscous method. Excellent!

    • — Kate on January 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • Great recipe for couscous, my husband and I loved it. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

    • — Nura on December 23, 2020
    • Reply
    • I followed the written recipe exactly. I have a saucepan full of soupy couscous. I put it back on the burner and now, bonus, I have burned soupy couscous. This is about as simple as a recipe gets and it didn’t turn out.

      • — Laurie Sublett on April 8, 2021
      • Reply
  • Thanks for sharing your cous cous recipe I definitely need to find one that works, and plan to try your recipe soon. I wanted to ask which kind of cous cous is best to buy for flavour and freshness, whether it be boxed, bagged or vaccum sealed etc. When I go to the grocery store I only saw boxed versions of cous cous. With those the pasta is plain and the seasonings are in a separate package away from pasta itself, but it just seems like if you go with a boxed pasta, automatically you’re in for a less than delicious cous cous. If there is a recommended type of packaging to look out for when shopping then I would much rather use that cous cous than standard boxed versions. Thank you!

    • — Johnny Garcia on November 24, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Johnny, I like the RiceSelect brand. Hope you enjoy the couscous if you make it!

      • — Jenn on November 24, 2020
      • Reply
  • Simple and just as I like it

    • — Caroline Millar on November 10, 2020
    • Reply
  • Oh my god, wonderful! I’m an American living in France and my husband is used to having couscous royale. I have not been able to get the semoule to not be gummy or clumpy, and this recipe is just top! Thank you so much 🙂

    • — Amanda on October 28, 2020
    • Reply
  • AMAZING!!!
    I will never use another recipe to cook couscous. I don’t use regular couscous I use Israeli couscous always. This recipe will work for Israeli couscous and regular couscous the same.
    I bought a tagine at Williams Sonoma about 7 yrs ago and it came with two recipes; Moroccon Short Ribs and Red Wine Braised Short Ribs.
    I make the Moroccan short ribs often and it has a recipe for couscous. I make the couscous as Jens recipe instructs and then add the ingredients from the Morrocan Short Rib recipe( two cups cooked couscous, two tablespoons olive oil, half teaspoon tumeric, one teaspoon grated orange zest, two tablespoons lemon juice, quarter cup dried currants and half teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste). I do add more currants and orange zest and salt to taste.
    Thank you for this incredible recipe I will be sharing it with others.

    • — Eileen on October 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • Came out perfectly! Will definitely keep this on hand anytime I make couscous.

    • — Tara on October 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • The best ratio of water, thus far! It was light, fluffy, and broke up just fine after steaming.

    • — Shakiyla on October 12, 2020
    • Reply
  • I was skeptical that it’d be dry since the couscous sucks up all the liquid at once, but it turned out super fluffy and moist!

    • — Jet on October 9, 2020
    • Reply
    • Loved this recipe. Hubby complimented the couscous twice!

      • — Maria Ibrahim on November 27, 2020
      • Reply
  • This recipe has revolutionised the way I cook couscous.

    • — Greg on October 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • My couscous turned out perfect, thank you!

    • — Renata on September 10, 2020
    • Reply
  • Fantastic and easy.

    • — Christina on August 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • Omg!!! It is so good!!!
    Thank you 😊

    • — Sofia Pineda on August 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • I did not think it was possible for couscous to taste this damn good!

    • — Gloria on August 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • Thank you!! I have a history of ‘fluffing’ the making of couscous. Usually ends up as a glutinous glump.
    Two things of importance is the use of stock (chicken), and the addition of the oil and butter to that boiling stock.
    I have tried boiling water and adding the butter at the end, in the fluffing stage but… so many ways….it is a failure.
    Made a fabulously tasty couscous this evening, with sliced apricots, pistachios, pan fried chickpeas in paprika, coriander and parsley. Yumm!!!

    • — Peta on August 14, 2020
    • Reply
  • Great recipe. Loved the result. Thankyou. I served it with a slow cook beef stew.

    • — Annie dekoff on June 17, 2020
    • Reply
  • This is really interesting! Couscous (or ‘cuscuz’ in Northeast Brazil) is a breakfast main dish eaten with some sort of protein such as butter, cheese, fried eggs or jerked beef in its salty version, or coconut and coconut milk in its sweet version. It’s a strong breakfast made to keep farmers and workers full until lunchtime. We first hydrate it and let it sit for a few minutes and then steam in boiling water in a special kind of pot (a cuscuzeira, such as this It’s nice to see how the recipe changes!

    • — Stefany Daltro on May 13, 2020
    • Reply
  • I have always ended up with clumpy, bland couscous and this was a life changer. So good I could have eaten it on its own, however, I served with apricot chicken and it was so awesome. Thank you!

    • — TGherk on May 5, 2020
    • Reply
  • Came out perfectly! Much better than the instructions on the back of the bag (which was a mushy mess).

    • — Kelly on May 3, 2020
    • Reply
  • Terrible. Left uncooked sloppy result

    • — Dissapointed on April 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • Gonna try the steaming method today 🙂

    • — Hladini on April 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • Yesterday I needed to prepare a quick meal and I tried this recipe. It came out tops

    • — Richard Nzuza on April 6, 2020
    • Reply
  • Came out great. Also, thanks for not adding a whole bunch of BS before the recipe! Short intro paragraph , bam RECIPE. You know why I’m here. Thanks!

    • — B H on February 28, 2020
    • Reply
    • Turned out perfect! Light, delicate texture and we added curry, garlic, seasoning salt and Montreal chicken seasoning. It was paired with steamed broccoli and baked halibut for a completely delicious experience!

      • — Rae on March 24, 2020
      • Reply
    • Amen. I’m looking for a recipe, not storytime.

      • — Cookie on June 28, 2020
      • Reply
  • Fantastic and easy recipe, came out perfect on my first try

    • — Faidat on December 1, 2019
    • Reply
  • I have made this a few times…give it a 10..fantastic thanks

    • — Winston on November 19, 2019
    • Reply
  • Made this on 2 successive nights. First night, used substandard (old) couscous. Consistency was perfect, flavor sucked. I mean, wasn’t very good…
    Made it again tonight, fresh couscous. Perfect, both consistency and flavor.
    Paired with Moroccan chicken with preserved Meyer lemons. Not your recipe, Jenn (blush!).

    Will become the basis of lots of variations in the future: roasted garlic, sauteed onions, etc.

    Many thanks for this recipe. So simple, so right.


    • — JoeW on September 29, 2019
    • Reply
    • How would I adapt this recipe if using Israeli couscous?

      • — Lynda on April 6, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi Lynda, As I’m not sure about the water to couscous ratio and timing for Israeli couscous, I’d recommend following the instructions on the box. 🙂

        • — Jenn on April 7, 2020
        • Reply
  • The first time I made couscous was from a Hello Fresh meal kit. It was awful. Slimy little pellets of awfulness. So, being forever the one to keep trying something new, I bought the Hello Fresh kit again and ditched their recipe and used yours instead. My result wasn’t perfect. But the chicken broth was a great improvement, as was the butter. This was something I would actually eat. I don’t know if that counts as a testimonial.

    • — KimC on September 21, 2019
    • Reply
    • As a suggestion. You should make some couscous without that Hello Fresh Meal Kit. That’s probably your problem & why you are ending up with something you wouldn’t eat. Especially if it’s the larger Israeli couscous, where this recipe needs modification or it doesn’t come out right.

      Instead, you should get some regular CousCous from the bulk foods section of your grocery store & cook it from scratch. It literally only takes 10 minutes to make & the last 5 minutes is just letting it sit. It’s also very inexpensive to buy.

      • — Justin on September 23, 2019
      • Reply
  • Recently, I purchased both traditional couscous and Israeli couscous from the bulk dry food bins at the grocery store. But I realized I no longer had a recipe available at home, so I went online and your site was the first one I found, at the top of the search results, and it looked simple & straightforward. For my first batch I decided on the traditional couscous, and to use this recipe, but with some modifications, based on what I have available.

    I have a bunch of turkey broth available, so I decided I would use it & instead of butter (unsalted) I used original Smart Balance, which is not unsalted. Upon completion, it didn’t look exactly like your picture, but once I used a fork to fluff it up, it looked & tasted absolutely wonderful. I haven’t had any great couscous since many years ago when I served in the military and spent time on more than one occasion in the Mediterranean. This recipe, turned out perfect, bringing back many wonderful memories of the food.

    I will be using this recipe, many, many more times with many different meals.

    • — Justin Taylor on September 10, 2019
    • Reply
  • Super easy and delicious!!! Thank you 🙂

    • — Cristal on September 9, 2019
    • Reply
  • We usually buy the packaged couscous where you add water. This was so much better! The chicken broth combined with the butter and olive oil gave the couscous an added dimension. We could have made a meal out of it! Thank you for the recipe.

    • — Carolyn on August 20, 2019
    • Reply
  • Was delish and EASY. Exactly what I was looking for. 🙂

  • Worked out great!

  • This worked well… I used this couscous in place of the barley in the Egyptian salad, and it upstaged the main dish!

  • I’ve been dealing with clumpy couscous when the solution was so simple. Thank you so much.

    • — Madonna Gorriaran
    • Reply
  • Worked a treat!

    Delicious chicken parsley couscous using your method was delicious.

  • excellent, accurate recipe,
    thank you

  • Really loved this recipe

  • Thanks for the recipe!

  • I loved this recipe. I did a second time with a little switch to it, I added some butter and herbs, and it come out super delicious. Thanks for the amazing recipes.

    • — Rosanna Borbon
    • Reply
    • Delicious. Easy. So flavorful! My new staple.

      • — Patti on May 26, 2020
      • Reply
  • Perfect little addition of taste and so easy! We throw into our salads to bulk up a bit besides using as a side with bbq dinners. Sometimes I”ll roast vegies and then toss them together! YUM!!

    • I’d never cooked couscous before but it worked out perfect. Was great with my lamb stew.

  • I love this recipe. I cook it olive oil till it becomes a little golden and add just water. This way, I can use the couscous as a salad or instead of rice and sometimes in desserts with fruits.

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