How to Cook Couscous on the Stove or in the Microwave

updated Oct 2, 2022
How to Cook Couscous

This grain-like pasta cooks in the blink of an eye and is absolutely foolproof. If you can boil water, I guarantee you can make couscous.

Serves4 to 6

MakesAbout 4 cups

Prep5 minutes

Cook10 minutes to 15 minutes

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It’s not for nothing that couscous is one of our biggest staples for quick weeknight dinners. This grain-like pasta cooks in the blink of an eye and is absolutely foolproof. If you can boil water, I guarantee you can make couscous.

What Is Couscous?

Couscous is made from semolina wheat and tastes nutty and sweet when cooked. The couscous that most of us pick up at the local grocery store is actually instant couscous, which is couscous that has already been steamed and dried for us. It only needs to be mixed with boiling water and allowed to sit undisturbed for a few minutes before being ready to eat. This is the kind we’re cooking with here.

Israeli 

What’s the Ratio of Water to Couscous?

The proportions for cooking couscous are generally 1:1. A little less water makes drier couscous, good for salads or serving with sauces. A little more water makes softer and slightly sticky couscous. One cup of dried couscous makes about four cups of cooked couscous.

Do You Rinse Couscous Before Cooking?

No, you do not need to rinse couscous before cooking.

How Can You Tell When Couscous Is Done?

Generally, you can tell when couscous is done when the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is tender. If the couscous hasn’t absorbed the water or still tastes crunchy after your timer goes off, cover and let it sit for a few more minutes.

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Here's how to make couscous on the stovetop.

How to Cook Couscous

This grain-like pasta cooks in the blink of an eye and is absolutely foolproof. If you can boil water, I guarantee you can make couscous.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 15 minutes

Makes About 4 cups

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 cup

    water or broth

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons

    butter or olive oil (optional)

  • 1 cup

    couscous (not pearl or Israeli)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Equipment

  • Small saucepan with lid

  • Fork

  • Measuring cups and spoons

Instructions

  1. Bring the liquid to a boil. Place 1 cup water or broth and 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil (if using) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat.

  2. Stir in the couscous and salt. Remove the pan from heat. Pour in 1 cup couscous and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to evenly moisten the couscous.

  3. Cover and let sit 10 minutes. Cover the pan and let it sit for 10 minutes. If the couscous hasn't absorbed the water or still tastes crunchy after this time, cover and let it sit for a few more minutes.

  4. Fluff with a fork. Gently break apart and fluff the cooked couscous with a fork before serving. If the rest of dinner isn't quite done, re-cover the pan after fluffing to keep the couscous warm.

Recipe Notes

Microwave version: Pour the couscous into a heat-proof bowl. Bring the water to a boil in the microwave and then pour over the couscous. Stir to moisten, cover the bowl with a dinner plate or plastic wrap, and wait 10 minutes. Fluff and serve.

Toasted couscous: Toasting gives the couscous more flavor. Melt the butter or olive oil in the saucepan. Stir in the couscous until it smells fragrant and toasty. Boil the water separately, pour over the couscous, and proceed as normal.

Spiced couscous: Try adding spices along with the couscous for a more flavorful dish. Start with 1/2 teaspoon total spices and adjust from there.