What is couscous?

Consisting of many tiny granules made from steamed and dried durum wheat, couscous has become a popular alternative to rice and pasta. It has a light fluffy texture and is a little mild in flavour but readily soaks up the flavours of other ingredients.

Couscous originates from North Africa and is the staple ingredient in the North African diet. The term couscous also refers to dishes made with combinations of meat, vegetables and spices, and combined with the semolina.

How to prepare couscous

Pour 1½ cups of lightly salted boiling water or stock over 1 cup couscous. Cover with a plate or reusable lid, and allow the couscous to swell for 5 minutes. Fluff up couscous with a fork and add butter and spices if desired.

How to cook couscous

Recipe suggestions:

For a simple buttery couscous, warm cooked couscous dotted with butter in the oven so the butter melts into the grains. Try jewelled couscous for a simple summer dish dish, great for a BBQ. Try pomegranate chicken with almond couscous for a 20-minute midweek meal. If you're looking to pair couscous with fish, check out our Mediterranean fish couscous dish. Or for a showstopping all-in-one main, try our chicken and couscous one-pot.

Watch how to cook couscous with our video guide:

How to store couscous

Can be kept for up to a year in a cool, dark place.

Choose the best couscous

Precooked couscous – where you only have to add boiling water to create light fluffy grains – is readily available from supermarkets and is very quick and convenient.

Alternatives to couscous

Try semolina or polenta.