How to Cook Perfectly Fluffy Couscous

Everything you need to know to cook perfect, fluffy couscous every time, from the ideal amount of water to the easiest cooking method, with a bonus trick for speedy cooling. Don’t try to make couscous any other way.

tray of freshly cooked cooked couscous

Couscous, yum. Those deliciously fluffy little bits soak up the flavours of whatever they’re in the company of, whether served hot or cold.

A mainstay of North African cuisine, couscous is most traditionally served with warm spiced stews or vegetables. In North America we more commonly eat it as a salad. Either way, couscous is a wonderfully simple, almost-instant, easy weeknight staple.

The Perfect Couscous-to-Water Ratio

For perfectly fluffy couscous every time, you will need to use a 1:1.5 couscous to water ratio – that is, 1 cup of dry couscous will require 1.5 cups of liquid – you can choose to use either water or a chicken or vegetable stock for more flavour.

The important trick with couscous is to avoid adding too much liquid, as you’ll end up with a soggy lump of just about inedible mush.

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dry couscous in a measuring cup

How to Cook Raw Couscous

Starting with dry couscous, here’s how to cook it up fluffy and delicious:

  1. To start, measure out your dry couscous. This is typically ½ cup of dry couscous per person. Couscous more than doubles in volume when cooked, so ½ cup uncooked couscous will yield just over 1 cup of cooked couscous.
  2. Boil water in the 1 to 1.5 ratio.
  3. Add dry couscous to boiled water and turn off heat.
  4. Cover the pot with a lid or plate and allow the couscous to steam for 5 minutes.
  5. When the water has been absorbed, lift the lid and toss the couscous with a fork until fluffy.
  6. Serve, or add to other ingredients to create delicious meals.

How long does it take to cook couscous?

Because couscous is such a tiny pasta, it’s super quick to prepare. From start to finish, it takes about 12 minutes to cook couscous; 3-7 minutes to bring your water to a boil, then about 5 additional minutes for the couscous to soak up the water and cook.

To cool couscous quickly for a salad, spread it out in a thin layer over a large, rimmed baking sheet and let stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. Stir it a few times to expedite the cooling process.

Try these Couscous Recipes

Grilled Chicken Couscous with Peaches & Mint

Classic Couscous Salad with Dried Cranberries

9+ Genius Israeli Couscous Recipes You Have to Try

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raw couscous in measuring cup a pan with cooked couscous

Last Updated on August 24, 2019 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

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