How to Cook Couscous

How to Cook Couscous

Emma Christensen
Feb 14, 2012

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.

The couscous that most of us pick up at the local grocery store is actually instant couscous. This 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.

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.

What You Need


1 cup instant couscous
1-2 tablespoons butter or olive oil (optional)
1 cup water or broth
1/2 teaspoon salt


sauce pan with lid


1. Bring the Water to a Boil - Pour the water and butter (if using) into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over high heat.

2. Stir in the Couscous - Remove the pan from heat and pour in the couscous and salt. Stir to evenly moisten the couscous.

3. Wait 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.

Additional 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.

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Related: Couscous Salad with Winter Squash and Cranberries

(Images: Emma Christensen)

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