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Israeli couscous...I bought it, now how do I cook it?

And do I serve it hot? Can it be used in place of rice or other grains? Or is it better cool as a salad?

any ideas/tips/advice welcome!

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  1. I use israeli couscous in place of other grains. If there is a recipe that calls for regular couscous, I'll use israeli instead. I like the size and texture of the larger grains.

    I often use this as a base recipe.


    I'll sub in various ingredients depending on what I have on hand. I also like to throw in leftover roasted shredded chicken as well.

    My preference is to eat couscous hot or warm. Although, in the summer months, I've been known to snack on it cold as well.

    1. jfood finally found israeli cous-cous in the local produce store and now keeps on hand all the time. Unlike itty-bitty cous-cous in which your boil some water/stock and then add the cous-cous and let it sit for 5 minutes, israeli cous-cous need to actually cook, similar to pasta (he knows).

      Instead of boiling in water, jfood uses stock, whether beef, chicken or vegetable. It brings a nice flavor to the CC. then he looks in the frindge for the add-ins. He has used scallions, mushrooms, shallots, red peppers, etc. in the CC. It all depends what he is in the mood for and what it is being served with. Think of it as pasta (he knows) and how many different ways you serve that as a side.

      1. Saute some chopped onions in oil in a small saute pan or smallish pot, add the couscous and stir around to toast a bit. Add stock and/or water, cover and cook. Chopped parsley on top is nice. It's a nice sub for rice or grains as a side dish. Serve warm. It complements highly seasoned main dishes very nicely.

        3 Replies
        1. re: NYchowcook

          Thanks all...Approx what proportion of liquid do you use? Do you aim for a "dryish" cc or something a bit wetter? Also, does the concept "al dente" apply?

          1. re: fauchon

            Add a fair amount of liquid (you can always drain afterwards) -- at least twice the amount of couscous -- cover by an inch? I prefer chicken stock or chicken stock diluted w/ water.
            Al dente does not apply. You want soft.

            1. re: fauchon

              jfood is still working through the ratio as well. last time was 2:1 and he needed to drain like pasta (he knows). May try 1.5:1 next time.

          2. The water trick for Israeli couscous:
            Put measured amount of dry couscous in dry pot. Pour enough boiling water over it to cover. Now measure the exact same amount of boiling water as dry couscous and add that. Bring to a boil, then lowest possible simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed.
            Other add -ins if you like, boullion, garlic powder, turmeric, slivered almonds, parsley.

            1. It is not a grain. It is pasta. So it can be cooked as such - either in lots of water, or just enough to cook it. And if you go the 'just enough' route, you can add water along the way.

              It can be eaten hot. It can also be used in a salad.

                1. As Paulj noted, Israeli couscous is actually a pasta product. You can use it in soups and salads. You can also use it in the same way as you'd use orzo. My favorite way to use Israeli couscous is when I make curried chicken, I toss it into the pot for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

                  1. Another recipe I like ... in fact, I made it yesterday. It's sort of a new comfort food for me.

                    Can easily be made without the fresh herbs (though I do not recommend substituting dry herbs, just omit). Use your best quality olive oil and may I suggest using either oil cured black olives (my favorite) or some spiced olives (I have often spotted olives in chili paste at my local olive bar).

                    Also note: I have frequently roasted grape tomatoes ahead of time then stuck them in the refrigerator, then prepared the dressing a day or two later (no more than two-to-three days in the refrigerator for those roasted tomatoes, though).

                    Patience will be rewarded here ... doing things like spreading the couscous out on the baking sheet to rest/dry makes a big difference though I hate waiting.

                    Best warm and served as an entree or accompaniment, this can also be served as a cold sala the next day.

                    1. After cooking the couscous, I dress with veg oil, rice wine vinegar, scallions, dried cranberries, toasted pine nuts, S+P. Cool in fridge, serve cold. Kind of copied this from Whole Foods.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: DMW

                        Saute and onion, add in a can of (drained) chickpeas, add in Israeli couscous and toast until some pieces get dark. Cook as usual with salt and pepper. I usually eat it with a little bit of Greek yogurt on top.

                        1. re: DMW

                          I do that with wild rice, but now will try with the couscous.

                        2. This reminds me of the first time I've ever encountered Israeli couscous. I was 18, and only had the tiny couscous. I cooked it for hours and it still didn't look like the couscous I knew. Silly me, I thought that I had to cook it until it "exploded" into tiny balls. Well, after hours of cooking, the Israeli couscous tasted like garbage.

                          In addition to all of the suggestions here, you can eat it in a brothy soup.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Miss Needle

                            Cute story--thanks for the smile you brought to my face. And I never thought about the brothy soup idea. I'll have to try that in my next veggie soup. I still have some Israeli couscous around.

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              Its excellent brothy, right about it being comfort food!

                            2. Any new suggestions for add-ins or methods for cooking Israeli couscous? I bought some awhile back but have never made it. Am thinking of cooking it tonight. I'd like to serve it warm, not as a salad.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: masha

                                I use in place of rice it when I make curried chicken. I add it to the pot for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

                                1. I prefer this to all other couscous, its a texture thing. There are many options, and one being that it takes on marscapone beautifully. It works well with just any vegetable, the only thing I suggest is to grill the vegetables. I alwasy roast or grill garlic and onions. They really make the dish. I also love to use pecorino cheese with it. Of course, scallions and all the squash family, eggplant, and tomatoes. But throw them on the grill or your light oiled cast iron pan first. Always use a stock, or broth. I once used a chard broth, omg, with chard and onions, pecorino, it was delcious!

                                  As a room temperature salad it can be just wonderful. Just dress the pasta with the oil and dressing choice while its hot. Add the veggies and herbs once its cooled.
                                  I find that if the broth is perfect you will need very little salt. Marscapone is divine in it, making the couscous nice and rich. Pepper, red pepper flakes, mint and basil, all friends of couscous. Have fun!

                                  1. How can I recover this Israeli couscous? I prepared it in broth for about 10 minutes and removed it, thinking it was tender, but subsequent to adding salad ingredients, it was still chewy. Any suggestions to improve the texture at this point?

                                    1. On the back of the Osem brand bag of isreali couscous there was a good basic recipe that my friend had me follow when we made dinner one night. I have been unable to find this though, and she does not remember the recipe. Does anyone happen to know the recipe?

                                      I think it included chicken broth, onions, turmeric, cumin, and bell pepper, as well as additional spices and vegetables. (She may have improvised a little). We used the toasting method and slowly added stock. I have searched online but no luck. I would love to re-create this dish if anyone happens to have the recipe! Thanks!!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: silverlainy

                                        This is what I found on container of "Osem". Grate 1 small onion in olive oil until slightly brown. Add 1 cup of Israeli couscous. Stir until browned.Add salt and pepper,chopped parsley and other spices according to taste. Add boiling water or soup and simmer for 8-10 minues.

                                        1. re: classylady

                                          hmm I guess she must have improvised more than I thought. Thanks for sharing :)

                                        2. re: silverlainy

                                          I have the recipe..... It reads... Saute one small chopped onion in olive oil until golden brown. Add 1 cup of CC and stir until browned. Add salt, pepper chopped parsely and other spices to taste. Add 2 cups of boiling water or soup.cover pot and simmer for 8-10 min, stirring occasionally.

                                        3. I love Israeli cous cous, and I just made some Friday night. Inpired from a recipe on a market flyer! They had suggested the regular cous cous, and I use my preferred. I sauteed some wild shrimp, set them aside. Made the cous cous, and at the same time lightly sauteed zucchini, onions, scallions and tiny tomatoes, just to get the raw taste but not thoroughly cook them. Add then to the garlic infused cous cous, and the shrimp last. Served and took fresh lime and drizzled over the finish with chives. OMG. I think I have a new favorite dinner.

                                          1. I like steaming it, then mixing it with finely chopped yummy things (olives, sundried tomatoes, capers, artichoke hearts, grilled peppers etc., plus of course garlic and onion), then rolling it up in grape leaves and steaming to make fancy dolmades. Very yummy, although do try to make the mix relatively sticky, so that the dolmades don't fall apart when bitten.

                                            1. Always enjoy it but rarely remember to make it. I have had it in restaurants mostly as a side with lamb and fish dishes to soak up broth/sauce of main entree. Yesterday I was in Whole Foods (rare adventure for me) and saw a "Harissa Couscous Salad with Preserved Lemon & Pistachio" in prepared foods case (never delved into their pre-made salads and I'm not usually fan of cold salads until dog days of summer). Looked good and tasted better - not as spicy as the Harissa in title would suggest, more lemony. Hoping I can deconstruct it at home. I notice everyone says to boil isreali couscous. I remember reading a while back that most N.African cooks steam their couscous but think this applied to smaller sized variety, wonder what difference using this method would be? I have a bag of Osem brand in my cupboard so I'll have to give it a try. Also I noticed Trader Joe's is carrying Isreali Couscous these days.

                                              Ingredient label for WF's Harissa reads (leaving out most sub-ingredients): Couscous, Dressing (lemon juice, canola oil, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, black pepper), Preserved Lemons, Pistachios, Lemon Juice, Canola Oil, Harissa, Salt, Pepper

                                              Will probably try to swap olive oil for canola. Would either boost harissa or possibly add cumin, or sumac or zatar seasoning as future variation.

                                              1. In Mario Battali's book Babbo, there is a recipe called Sicilian Lifeguard calamari. It's tomato sauce, capers and currents w/ calamari quick cooked in the sauce and cooked israeli couscous added. i love it!