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Time to add a little pizzazz to your grain game! This 15-minute Moroccan Couscous recipe is easy, versatile, and absolutely scrumptious.

Moroccan couscous recipe with raisins, spices, pine nuts, and fresh herbs

Why You’ll Love This Easy Side Dish

  • Versatile. You can serve this recipe with so many of your favorite dishes. This couscous recipe pairs well with anything from Roasted Broccolini to Grilled Cod or Chicken Kabobs. It’s the ideal back-pocket recipe for a healthy, delicious side dish!
  • Fast. This classic Moroccan-style couscous recipe is fast! There’s only 5 minutes of prep time and 10 minutes of cook time, meaning this couscous can be on your table in just 15 minutes. Once you know how to make couscous from scratch, it’ll be your busy weeknight go-to!
  • Simple Yet Special. The couscous ingredients are uncomplicated, but this recipe makes them extraordinary (just like my Roasted Vegetable Salad)! A few simple touches, like subtle spices, golden raisins, and pine nuts, make it taste special enough to serve at a holiday meal.
Easy Moroccan couscous recipe with raisins and pine nuts on a plate

5 Star Review

“Just made this tonight. The meal was as good as anything found in a restaurant.”

— Peg —

What Is Couscous?

Couscous is a staple dish in many North African countries including Morocco, a country I dream of visiting one day.

  • While it resembles a tiny grain of rice or quinoa, couscous is pasta.
  • It’s made from semolina flour (semolina is a flour made from durum wheat and is used in most traditional kinds of pasta) and water.

Because couscous is so small, couscous recipes cook in a matter of minutes, making it a fabulous choice for a last-minute side.

Since it cooks on the stovetop, it keeps your oven free for other endeavors.

A skillet full of fluffy couscous, pine nuts, golden raisins, and spices

How to Make a Moroccan Couscous Recipe

The Ingredients

  • Couscous. Quick-cooking and tasty! I like to purchase whole wheat couscous when I can find it. Like other whole-grain options, it’s higher in protein and fiber than its white counterparts. (Try this Avocado Couscous Grapefruit Salad next.)
  • Shallot. Starting the recipe by sautéing a shallot gives the entire dish a more robust, complete flavor.
  • Golden Raisins. A popular ingredient in Moroccan cooking, golden raisins (also in this Moroccan Chickpea Salad) give the couscous recipe bits of sweetness and make it more texturally interesting.
  • Pine Nuts. Another classic ingredient in Moroccan cuisine, pine nuts add pops of nutty intensity and crunch. (I also love pine nuts in this Slow Cooker Wild Rice Pilaf.)

Substitution Tip

While you only need a small amount for this recipe, pine nuts are pricey. Feel free to swap them for another nut like pistachios or almonds that you may have in your pantry.

  • Lemon and Parsley. Fresh lemon juice and herbs are what you can add to couscous for flavor! These two traditional Moroccan ingredients give this easy couscous recipe freshness, color, and life.
  • Cumin. Moroccan cuisine is especially renowned for its spices. This recipe keeps the spices fairly mild so that the couscous pairs well with a variety of dishes. A touch of cumin is all you need.

The Directions

  1. Toast the Pine Nuts. Watch them carefully!
  2. Cook the Shallots, Spices, and Broth. Bring the pot to a boil before removing it from the heat.
  3. Steam the Couscous. Fluff, add mix-ins, and ENJOY!

Dietary Note

Because couscous is derived from wheat, it is not considered a gluten-free food product and should be avoided by those with gluten sensitivities.

A skillet with fluffy pasta, golden raisins, fresh herbs, and toasted pine nuts

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Place leftover couscous in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a large skillet on the stove over medium-low heat. Adding a squeeze of lemon juice is how you revive couscous. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Let the couscous cool completely, then store it in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Meal Prep Tip

Up to 2 days ahead of time, prepare this couscous recipe as directed, cover, and refrigerate it. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

A plate of easy Moroccan couscous with raisins, fresh Parsley, and pine nuts

Leftover Ideas

I generally serve this couscous warm, but I’ve also been known to dig into leftovers cold from the fridge. Serve a scoop over a bed of greens with leftover sliced Grilled Chicken Breast or Baked Salmon.

What to Serve with This Couscous Recipe

Simple and healthy Moroccan couscous recipe with raisins on a plate
  • Baking Sheets. These sizes are ideal for spreading out and toasting the nuts.
  • Versatile Saucepan. This one is a very useful size for cooking grains and with proper care can last a lifetime.
  • Citrus Juicer. The BEST way to juice any citrus fruit. You’ll be amazed at how much juice it can squeeze from every lemon.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Toast the Nuts. Be sure to toast your nuts first for maximum flavor and a superior texture. It’s worth it.
  • Don’t Get Burned! When you’re toasting the pine nuts, keep a very close eye on them. Nuts LOVE to burn and will go from toasted to scorched in no time.
  • Use the Good Stuff. When it comes to simple recipes like this Moroccan couscous, quality matters. Use good-quality olive oil, fresh herbs, and freshly squeeze lemon juice. You’ll be glad you did!
  • Liquid Matters. Don’t be tempted to mess with the water and couscous ratio. If you use too much liquid, you’ll end up with soggy couscous. With too little liquid, the couscous will be hard. Measure the liquid and couscous to ensure you’re using the correct amount of each.

Moroccan Couscous

4.73 from 90 votes
This easy Moroccan couscous recipe with raisins and pinenuts is a fast, flavorful, versatile side dish to serve with chicken or lamb.

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes

Servings: 6 servings


  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or swap pistachios or slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter use coconut oil or vegan butter to make vegan
  • 1 small shallot chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil use the good stuff here!


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the pine nuts in a single layer on an ungreased, rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven until fragrant and lightly golden, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Keep an eye on them and DO NOT WALK AWAY during the last few minutes to make sure those precious pine nuts do not burn. Immediately transfer them to a bowl to stop their cooking and to make sure the hot pan doesn't burn them once they are out of the oven.
  • In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 3 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the salt, pepper, and cumin and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Pour in the broth. Increase the heat to high and bring it to a boil. As soon as the liquid begins to boil, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the couscous, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • With a fork, fluff up the couscous. Add the raisins, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, and toasted pine nuts to the pot, then stir the ingredients together to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Enjoy hot.


  • TO STORE: Place leftover couscous in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in a large skillet on the stove over medium-low heat. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavors. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave.
  • TO FREEZE: Let the couscous cool completely, then store it in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.


Serving: 1(of 6)Calories: 272kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 7gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 10mgPotassium: 130mgFiber: 5gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 331IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 27mgIron: 2mg

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Make this Couscous Recipe With Pearl Couscous?

Typically, pearl couscous needs to simmer and be cooked more like regular pasta noodles, (rather than removing it from the heat and leaving covered to steam). For best results, consult the package direction of your pearl couscous and adapt the cooking time and method accordingly. For more guidance, see this Israeli Couscous Salad recipe.

Could I Make This Recipe as Moroccan Quinoa?

Sure! While I have not tried this personally, I imagine it would be a delicious adaptation. Note the cooking time and method will need to be adjusted based on the cooking directions for your quinoa (you can reference my How to Cook Quinoa post for tips).

Is Couscous Healthier Than Brown Rice?

As far as calories go, couscous and most varieties of brown rice are fairly comparable. Both contain similar amounts of protein and fiber too. However, if you’re looking for a healthy change of pace from your usual side of brown rice, couscous is a great alternative to try (as is farro).

Can Couscous Be Served Cold?

Absolutely! Try it in a Mediterranean couscous salad by cooking it and letting it completely cool. Toss in fresh herbs like basil, mint, or cilantro, fresh veggies like tomatoes, red bell peppers, or cucumbers, and chickpeas, olives, and garlic. Add cheese like feta if you please. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and lemon zest for the finishing touch.

How Do You Know When Couscous Is Done?

You’ll know your couscous is done when it is tender and the liquid is absorbed. If you follow the steps for how to cook couscous in this recipe, it should turn out perfectly.

Related Recipes

Try one of these other fast, healthy, and simple grain-based salads and side dishes to complete any weeknight dinner:

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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4.73 from 90 votes (78 ratings without comment)

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  1. Just made this tonight.  I used pearl couscous – what I had in the house – and I had to cook it by putting it on simmer (instead of removing from the heat and covering) but it turned out absolutely delicious!  I served it with a simple garden salad and a piece of simple baked chicken (just cooked a breast with olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper in 450 degree oven for 15 minutes).  The meal was as good as anything found in a restaurant.  Thank you for the recipe!5 stars

    1. Hi Diana! I’ve only tested the recipe as written, so you’d be experimenting. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  2. Really loved this – cheers! The flavour balance is perfect. Craisins also work really well as an alternate to raisins.5 stars

  3. Can you use Pearl Cous Cous for this recipe… goes…if it hasn’t been tested out Ill try it now….

    1. Hi Cass! While I have only tested the recipe as written, another reader has used pearl couscous with success. She left a comment with the changes she made to the recipe. I hope this helps and that you enjoy it!

  4. This was an excellent flavoured couscous and will definitely do it again this way. It turned out perfect. I omitted the oil and lemon at the end. My guests raved about it.5 stars

  5. I’d only made plain couscous in the past; this was wonderful! I always have dried Montmorency tart cherries, so those instead of raisins, and onion instead of shallot. I’d made Thai fish cakes and forgot a sauce for them, so mixed the cakes and couscous together on my plate. It was out of this world! Definitely a keeper for rotation. Thank you!!!5 stars

    1. Hi Mary, I’m so confused because I see it on my end. It’s in the recipe card right above where you commented. You can even hit the “jump to recipe” button at the top of the page to get there faster. Could you please check again?

  6. It would be helpful if your recipe for Moroccan couscous gave some measurements or at least proportions of ingredients to each other.

    1. Hi Jane, I’m so confused. The recipe card with directions and ingredients is listed right above the area where you commented. There is even a “jump to recipe” button at the top of the screen to help you get there faster. Could you please check again?

    1. Hi Jane, I’m so confused because I see it on my end. It’s located in the recipe card above the area where you commented. You can even click the “jump to recipe” button at the top of the screen to get you there. Could you please check again?

  7. So simple!
    My partner can’t abide raisins so I subbed in chopped dried apricots. Also added a half tsp of lemon zest.5 stars

  8. Hi, I am Moroccan and although your recipe looks delicious, usually this is not what we refer to as Moroccan couscous. Moroccan couscous is a meal, or a type of meal that implies:
    – couscous
    – A veggie stew (I Use zucchini, carrots, green cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes and onions + spices)
    – Lamb or chicken meat (optional, you can replace with chickpeas)
    I like to top it with onion and raisins slowly cooked together with a pinch of cinnamon and ginger.

    There is another version of couscous preparation that is sweet and it is usually made of plain couscous with cinnamon and confectionner sugar and you eat it with milk (like rice pudding) it is called “couscous tfaya) but this is not what we usually refer to as “Moroccan Couscous”.

  9. Please put the ingredients list and recipe at the top of the page! That would be most helpful for those of us who don’t need to read the novel.

    1. Hi Jeffrey, for those who do not want to read the blog post there is a convenient “jump to recipe” button at the top of the screen to get you there faster. And a print button. Hope this helps!

  10. Thought you’d think this is interesting haha:

    so a year ago, I prepared a bunch of dried, non-perishable meals to ship to myself while I backpacked for 2 straight months through California’s backcountry. This recipe was one of them :) I’ve been making (and loving) your recipe for my family for years now, so I made this rendition of it to eat after hiking:
    – crystallized lemon packets instead of fresh
    – freeze-dried parsley instead of fresh
    – chicken bouillon cube instead of broth
    I still used all of the seasonings, I even hiked hundreds of miles with a small bottle of ev olive oil hahaha

    Now you can say that one of your recipes has made it to one of the highest points in the US. Can’t thank you enough :)5 stars

  11. This is delightful. I served it as part of a Moroccan buffet. The favours are so well balanced and it is so light and lovely. I had some left over so the next day added fresh herbs and some crumbled feta to it for a snack lunch5 stars

  12. For authentic North African cous cous…add water to a double boiler pot place the cous cous on top with all the seasonings and steam away till flaky fluffy:) married to a libyan and honestly the real method shuts down any other methods:) fyi5 stars