How to Cook Gluten-Free Couscous

how to cook gluten-free couscous

How to Cook Gluten-Free Couscous

If you are celiac, you know that couscous is off-limits. But did you know that there is a gluten-free variety?

If you’re looking for a hearty, gluten-free side dish to serve up at your next dinner party, couscous is a quick, easy and tasteful option!

This Mediterranean classic is simple to prepare and can be made with a variety of different seasonings to suit your taste. Plus, couscous is packed full of fiber and protein, making it the perfect mealtime solution for those on a gluten-free diet.

Almost all couscous is prepared the same way. In a pot add some kind of fat, usually olive oil or butter, stir fry some onion, garlic, and spices, add the dried couscous, salt, and liquid. What changes from recipe to recipe is the liquid and the amount you use, the spices you add, the order in which you do things, and the quantity of the ingredients.

I will give you all the details you need to know. I will share how to cook the different types of gluten-free couscous out there depending on what they are made of or the size of the pearls.

So get ready to put some flavor into your menu with this delicious and healthy couscous cooking guide!

Instructions to cook Pearl or Israeli Gluten-free Couscous

Gluten-free pearl couscous with herbs and meat
  1. In a medium-sized pot, add 1 teaspoon each of oil and salt to about 4 cups (1 liter) of boiling water
  2. Gradually add 1 cup of pearl couscous, to avoid the water from stopping boiling. (Use chicken or vegetable broth for extra taste)
  3. Cook uncovered over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. The time will change depending on the brand of couscous that you use.
  4. VERY IMPORTANT: Rinse under cold water until the water runs clear and the couscous doesn’t feel too slimy. This will give you the perfect texture and avoid the extra gewyness that is typical of most gluten-free pasta.
  5. Place the pot back over medium heat. Add oil or butter, friy some onion, garlic, salt, spices, or your favorite sauce
  6. Mix in the couscous
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Pro Tips:

Gluten-free pearl couscous is way better after chilling for a while. It helps with the stickiness and chewiness that’s typical of gluten-free pasta.

Cold fine with me anyway as I often use couscous in cold room temp dishes like salads. If you like it hot, microwave it or heat it in a pan. Just make sure you add a bit of water to avoid drying too much.

Instructions to cook Gluten-Free Morrocan or Mediterranean Style Couscous

Couscous cooked with butter
  1. In a medium-sized pot, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil or butter
  2. Add spices, onion and garlic and stir fry for about a minute or two
  3. Add 1 cup of couscous to the pot and fry the mixture for about 3 minutes
  4. Add a cup of water (Use chicken or vegetable broth for extra taste)
  5. Stir and bring to a boil
  6. Bring heat down to low and occacionally stir for 5 to 10 minutes – after 5 minutes try the couscous and remove once you like the texture. The longer you cook your couscous, the stickier and mushier it will get. The couscous will continue to cook after you turn it off. Take this into account for pefect texture.
  7. Turn of the stove, serve and enjoy!

Instructions to cook Fonio Gluten-Free Couscous

Butter and Herbs Fonio Couscous with Lemon
  1. In a medium-sized pot, combine 2/3 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of olive oil or butter (Use chicken or vegetable broth for extra taste)
  2. Bring water to a boil
  3. Slowly add 1/3 cup of gluten-free fonio couscous and stir
  4. Turn off the heat and cover for 5-7 minutes. Time will depend on your preferred texture.
  5. On a sparate pot set to medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil or butter
  6. Add chopped onions, garlic and spices of your choice
  7. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes
  8. Add the fonio couscous and gently mix adding salt to taste
  9. Serve and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Homemade Cornmeal Couscous Recipe

Brazilian cornmeal couscous

This recipe comes from South America, where wheat semolina was scarce. South American immigrants instead opted for cornmeal to recreate traditional couscous. I specifically tried it on my last trip to Costa Rica.

The great part about this recipe is that it allows those on a gluten-free diet to enjoy a couscous-like dish that is absolutely delicious!


  • 1 cup of cornmeal (boiled cornmeal)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of oil
  • Salt
  • 1.5 cups of water


  1. Coat 1 cup of polenta (which is boiled cornmeal) with 2-3 tablespoons of oil and stir
  2. Add a few pinches of salt along with 1.5 cups of water to your mixture.
  3. Cook on the stovetop (or microwave) until the grains have absorbed all of the liquid and are dry to the touch
  4. Let everything rest for 15-30 minutes to ensure the starches are set.
  5. Aerate the cooked grain mass using either an electric food processor or a special couscous sieve (which can be purchased online).

PRO TIP: be sure not to skip the first step (coating the polenta with oil). This is crucial in order to get the fluffy texture couscous is known for.

Gluten-free Couscous Recipes

You can browse my other gluten-free couscous recipes here:

The Celiac Diva

I am Betty Lewis, the Celiac Diva. I've been living a healthy Gluten-free life since 2000. I am happy wife and loving mother to two beautiful children, and yes we all live a gluten-free lifestyle. I love writing, fashion, cooking and eating healthy.

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