Served as a light and fluffy bed for both sweet and savory dishes, or used as a filling for stuffed vegetables, couscous is the perfect addition to any side or main dish. If you’re like me, you’re always looking to switch things up in the kitchen by trying different types of delicious ingredients.

As many home chefs may not be very familiar with how to prepare it, I believe couscous doesn’t often get the proper recognition it deserves. I’d like to change that by offering some of my favorite couscous recipe ideas and tips!

No matter what ingredients you have in the pantry, couscous can make any dish outstanding. In this guide, we’ll explore everything from classic pasta salads to international favorites.

Couscous: Grain or Pasta?

While it might be mistakenly considered a grain, as it’s seemingly similar to rice or quinoa, couscous is actually pasta. Like another favorite of mine, orzo pasta, couscous is made from durum wheat semolina.

Traditional “couscous” most often refers to Moroccan couscous, which is a pasta resembling small balls that are made with 100% enriched durum semolina wheat. However, this is not to be confused with pearl couscous, or Israeli couscous. Though it is also made of semolina, its unique spherical shape is larger than Moroccan couscous. Moreover, it’s toasted which allows the pasta to absorb liquid without falling apart and distinguishes it from regular couscous and other pastas!

If you’re curious and want to learn more about how to cook couscous, explore my guide including everything you need to know about couscous.

Now, let’s serve up a bit of spontaneous brilliance with some incredible recipe ideas.

Which Couscous Should I Use?

The choice to use either smaller Moroccan couscous or larger Pearl Couscous is entirely up to you! Get creative with your recipes by changing it up. You’ll find that I use a combination of both of these types, however it all comes down to preference when cooking. I always recommend using quality ingredients, and for that reason I exclusively use RiceSelect® couscous products.

Couscous Recipe Ideas

Whether you’re looking for something with fresh ingredients inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, wanting to explore delicious Maghreb dishes from North Africa or looking for a hearty fruit-filled breakfast bowl, I’ve got plenty of incredible meal ideas that you can prepare at home.

North African-inspired

Traditionally, couscous originated in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa which includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Mauritania. Trying one or all of these incredible dishes, is the perfect place to begin your couscous journey.

Start by using one of my favorite varieties — RiceSelect Tri-Color Couscous. Infused with tomato and spinach, it serves as the perfect bed for perfectly marinated Beef Skewers.

Tip: While couscous brings its own flavor to meals, I love to add even more! I do this by first sautéeing a bit of onion in butter before adding the couscous. Instead of water, opt for your favorite broth for a burst of flavor!

If you’re craving something tangy, try these Lamb Shanks served over a bed of couscous flavored with bright citrus lemon, fresh mint and butter that complements the tender lamb, stewed in ginger, garlic, harissa, tomatoes and stock.

Tip: To get the most flavor possible out of your fresh mint, cut in chiffonade.

Try more options such as tagine, roasted vegetables and stews: these three are my favorites!

Moroccan Spiced Roast Chicken with Pearl Couscous and Chickpea Stew

Perfect for entertaining or Sunday dinners, this Moroccan-inspired feast with will make your taste buds sing with delight.

Chicken, Cracked Olive and Couscous Tagine Recipe

Create your own flavorful Moroccan-inspired tagine using marinated chicken, seasonings, cracked olives and RiceSelect® Pearl Couscous.

Roasted Seven Vegetable Couscous Recipe

This fresh take on a classic Moroccan vegetable dish is roasted instead of stewed for loads of rich and yummy flavor. Serve over a bed of light and fluffy RiceSelect®...

Mediterranean-Inspired Meals

Let’s head north for more meal options as couscous is also a wonderful complement to many Mediterranean dishes.

Indulge in Italian-inspired dishes by preparing a classic Cacio e Pepe Couscous with roasted cauliflower or a light and refreshing Shrimp Scampi made with RiceSelect Pearl Couscous. If you have any leftover shrimp you can make this Shrimp and Rice bowl.

For more flavorful options, explore any – or all – of these three fantastic meals:

Couscous and Swiss Chard Tabbouleh Recipe

Packed with nutrient-dense Swiss chard and lots of herbs, this zesty couscous tabbouleh salad is light and refreshing. It makes a great side dish for barbecues and potlucks.

Tri-Color Pearl Couscous with Langoustines Recipe

With fresh Greek flavors, langoustines and RiceSelect® Tri-Color Pearl Couscous, this seafood dish is perfect for an impressive dinner.

Chicken Shawarma and Turmeric Couscous Salad

Layered with incredible Middle Eastern flavors, this satisfying chicken and turmeric couscous salad can be served as a main course for dinner. Plate with halloumi cheese, fresh vegetables and hummus...

Other Incredible Couscous Recipes

The wonderful thing about this tiny pasta is that it can be used for meals – using both sweet and savory food items – throughout the day. These are some of my favorite off-the-beaten-path meals.

Couscous Breakfast Bowl

Couscous offers a hearty base for this sweet blend in this bright Breakfast Bowl infused with fruit, spices, and Medjool dates. From the orange segments complemented with pomegranate seeds to the spices, dates and honey butter dressing, everything is tossed together for an elegant and bright combination of flavors!

This bowl also incorporates a touch of orange flower water – or orange blossom water – which is made from the petals or blossoms of bitter orange trees. It is often incorporated into sweet Mediterranean dishes like couscous or even cakes.

Soup with Couscous

This filling red lentil and Turmeric Pearl Couscous Soup is incredibly flavorful and versatile. Starting with a base of vegetables like onions, carrot and garlic, this soup uses another of my favorite RiceSelect varieties: Turmeric Infused Pearl Couscous. A wonderful comfort food, it’s exactly what you’re looking for when the weather cools off and you’re looking for something soothing to warm you up – from the inside out.

Couscous Salads

As couscous perfectly absorbs every drop of flavor, it’s a great base in rice bowls and an unlikely yet delicious touch to salad recipes! It’s a wonderful solution when you’re looking to mix things up by trying something other than rice or quinoa:

Holiday Couscous Salad Recipe

This Festive Couscous Salad with nuts, Brussels sprouts and savory bacon all tossed with a homemade vinaigrette makes a great side dish for any holiday table.

Green Goddess Pearl Couscous Salad Recipe

Tossed with a yogurt green goddess dressing that’s bursting with zesty herbs, this fresh and hearty couscous salad is loaded with flavor.

Turmeric Couscous Glow Bowl Recipe

Packed with delicious flavors and vibrant colors, this vegetarian couscous glow bowl with a base of turmeric pearl couscous is a satisfying meal.

When you continue to explore in the kitchen, you’re bound to create something unforgettable! Find more tips for home chefs and recipe inspiration using RiceSelect.