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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How to Cook Raw Couscous
Starting with dry couscous, here’s how to cook it up fluffy and delicious:
- 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.
- Boil water in the 1 to 1.5 ratio.
- Add dry couscous to boiled water and turn off heat.
- Cover the pot with a lid or plate and allow the couscous to steam for 5 minutes.
- When the water has been absorbed, lift the lid and toss the couscous with a fork until fluffy.
- 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
Last Updated on August 24, 2019 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD