What Are the Different Types of Couscous?

By: Bob's Red Mill | March 11 2022

Couscous is a common dish that can be found in thousands of restaurants worldwide. It is also an effortless dish to make at home. So if you're interested in adding couscous to your weekly menu and wondering what the different types of couscous are and when to use them, you're in the right spot. Read on as we discuss what couscous is, how it's made, and the many types of couscous available.

What Is Couscous Made Of?

While the ingredients list may vary from company to company, most traditional couscous is made from durum wheat. To create couscous, durum wheat is ground into semolina flour, a common ingredient in pasta making, and mixed with water. Though couscous is thought to have first originated in Africa and the Middle East, it is now a dish enjoyed globally and cooked in many ways.

Couscous Uses

Healthy salad with couscous, tomato, avocado, red onion, pomegranate and olive oil

Wondering how you can incorporate couscous into your meals? Couscous can be combined with several other ingredients, ranging from sweet to savory, to create mouthwatering side dishes, salads and entrees. Its subtle nutty flavor and fluffy texture make it easy to pair with meats, legumes, vegetables and fruit.

Different Types of Couscous

Though most couscous comes from the same ingredient—wheat—it's not all the same. There are several types of couscous available for purchase, the most common being: Moroccan couscous, Golden Couscous, Pearl Couscous and Lebanese couscous.

Moroccan Couscous

Moroccan couscous is the smallest type of couscous. Its tiny size means it can be cooked in just minutes, making it an excellent healthy option for days when you don't have time to make an extravagant meal.

Golden Couscous

Our Bob's Red Mill Golden Couscous is a par-cooked, coarsely ground durum wheat. It is excellent as a side dish or mellow-tasting breakfast cereal, it has a slightly nutty flavor and hearty texture. Just one serving of our Golden Couscous has 9 grams of protein and can be used as a tasty alternative to traditional pasta and white rice. Enjoy it just as you would Moroccan couscous by using it as a bed for homemade stew, meat, or vegetables. 

Pearl Couscous a.k.a Israeli Couscous

Pearl couscous is slightly larger than Moroccan and Golden Couscous and readily absorbs the flavors of the herbs, spices and liquid that you are cooking it with. At Bob's Red Mill, we offer three types of pearl couscous.

Whole Wheat Pearl Couscous

A whole wheat version of traditional pearl couscous, this variety is a delicious way to bring the nutrition of whole grains to your dinner table. Plus, this couscous's light, fluffy texture and nutty flavor make it easy to enjoy with just about everything. Whole Wheat Pearl Couscous cooks in fifteen minutes and is the ideal food when you're in a rush for time and want to enjoy a healthy meal.

Tri-Color Pearl Couscous

Like traditional pearl couscous, Tri-Color Pearl Couscous can be used to replace pasta in your favorite dishes. This ingredient's beautiful red and green colors come from real spinach and tomato, upgrading its look and nutritional profile.

Traditional Pearl Couscous

Traditional Pearl Couscous, also known as Israeli couscous, is made from small balls of toasted semolina flour. It rose to popularity during 1949-1959 when Israel went through a period when their food and other resources were rationed. Rice, the dietary staple of that period, was becoming more scarce, so Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, reached out to a local food company asking to create a wheat-based substitute for rice. The result? A tiny, toasted pasta that was made from wheat flour. Today this rice substitute is primarily referred to as Israeli couscous and remains a staple food in Jerusalem. 

Lebanese Couscous

Lebanese couscous, a.k.a Moghrabieh couscous, is the largest couscous of the three and takes the longest to cook. Though it's still made from semolina flour, it's formed into pea-sized balls offering a richer, more nutty flavor.

Benefits of Couscous

homemade couscous with vegetables on gray table

Being that couscous is a whole grain, there are several nutritional benefits. Continue reading to learn more about how adding couscous to your diet can help ensure that you're meeting all of your daily health requirements.

Traditional Pearl Couscous Nutritional Information

Serving size: 1/3 cup (50g)

Calories 190

Total Fat 0.5g

Saturated Fat 0g

Trans Fat 0g

Cholesterol 0mg

Sodium 0mg

Total Carbohydrate 39g

Dietary Fiber 2g

Total Sugars 1g

Protein 8g

Vitamin D 0mcg

Calcium 10mg

Iron 1mg 

Potassium 71mg 

Couscous Is a Source of Plant Based Protein

Protein is an essential part of remaining healthy and strong. When consumed, protein helps your body create new cells and repair current ones. While couscous is not a complete protein (one that contains all nine essential amino acids), our Traditional Pearl Couscous does contain 8 grams per serving. And because it has just one ingredient—wheat flour—it's entirely plant based and an excellent option for vegan and vegetarian cooking.

Couscous Provides Fiber

Incorporate more couscous into your diet, and you're bound to consume more fiber. Vital to a healthy and regular digestive system, fiber helps add bulk to stools preventing unwanted digestive problems like constipation and diarrhea. When consumed, fiber also regulates the breakdown of sugar into the bloodstream, making it a long-lasting and stable energy source. Because couscous can be enjoyed any time of the day, it's an effortless way to work more fiber into your meals. Additionally, couscous can be combined with savory and sweet fiber-packed ingredients like broccoli or berries to optimize your daily fiber intake and meet your individual fiber needs.

Couscous Is an Excellent Alternative to White Rice

Whether you're not a fan of white rice or simply want to switch your recipes up, couscous is an excellent alternative. Though it's technically pasta, couscous tastes and looks similar to rice and can be used in many of the same recipes. Nutritionally, couscous and white rice contain about the same amount of calories. However, couscous typically contains more protein than white rice.

Couscous Is Simple to Make

When you're running short on time, the thought of heading home to make a homemade meal might seem a bit overwhelming. And while running through a quick fast food restaurant might be the easier option, it's not the healthier one. One of the great things about couscous is that it cooks very quickly, with some varieties like our Traditional Pearl Couscous cooking in fifteen minutes, and others like Golden Couscous cooking in just five. The next time you are searching for a meal that won't take long to make, reach for a bag of couscous and whip up a recipe like this Moroccan couscous.

How to Cook Couscous

Boiled chickpeas with couscous

Though the step-by-step couscous cooking instructions may vary per recipe, it's important to know the basics when cooking couscous. Review the information below to ensure that your next batch is a success.


Traditionally couscous is a dish that's cooked through a steaming method. However, the process has changed slightly over the years, making boiling the most common way to cook couscous. When boiling couscous, you'll want to make sure that the liquid is boiling before the couscous is added. Couscous can be boiled in several types of liquid, the two most popular being water and broth.

Salt and Olive Oil

When adding dried couscous to boiling water, we recommend adding a dash of salt and olive oil. Not only will this keep the couscous granules from sticking to each other, but it will also infuse the couscous with flavor from the start. After the liquid has returned to a boil, turn the flame's heat down a bit, allowing the couscous to simmer.

Cover and Set

Once simmering, cover the pot of couscous with a lid and allow it to sit until it's fully cooked. Refrain from mixing the couscous during this process, as this can cause unwanted clumps.


Arguably the most essential part of couscous making, once the dish is fully cooked, fluff the couscous with a fork to break up the pasta beads and create a light and airy dish.

Featured Couscous Recipe: Lemony Pearl Couscous With Brocolli and Salmon

Fish salad with salmon, couscous, salad mix, green beans, broccoli, tomatoes, quail eggs and sauce

Often, the best-tasting recipes use just a few ingredients and this Lemony Pearl Couscous With Brocolli and Salmon is the perfect example of that. Made with just seven ingredients, this couscous recipe combines the zesty flavor of lemon with savory salmon and broccoli florets to create a simple dish that's bursting with flavor. The epitome of clean eating, our Traditional Pearl Couscous is used to create a grain-based dish that's love at first bite.

We hope that this guide outlining the different types of couscous has helped you better understand the incredible benefits of this ingredient and how you can begin using it in your everyday recipes. From everyone at Bob's Red Mill, have a healthy and happy day!

Do you have a preferred type of couscous? We'd love to hear why you enjoy one kind of couscous over another. Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. 


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    Carolyn m hessami
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      Elisabeth Allie
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