How to Cook Couscous in Microwave

Couscous is undeniably one of the finest culinary delights of the Mediterranean and North Africa. It has a distinct nutty, somewhat sweet flavor that makes it a versatile substrate for stews to salads.

In more recent times, it has gained popularity as a quick-cooking alternative to rice and pasta.

How to Cook Couscous in Microwave

Despite its widespread use in contemporary cuisine, many individuals are still unfamiliar with how to cook it properly.

Fortunately, making couscous requires little more than a microwave and some patience.

Here’s how to cook Couscous in microwave.

Measure an equal amount of water and couscous and pour each into a separate bowl. Next, nuke your water in a microwave-safe bowl for 3-5minutes or until it boils. Remove from the microwave, pour over the couscous, and then season with salt and olive oil (optional).

Cover snugly with plastic wrap or a microwavable lid and set aside for 5 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap/lid, fluff with a fork, and serve immediately as is or with additional toppings.

In today’s post, we’ll explore each of these steps in greater detail and share some tips. We’ll also address a few common questions about microwaving couscous.

So, let’s get started.

Can You Cook Couscous in Microwave

How to Cook Couscous in MicrowaveCooking couscous in the microwave is not only possible but also easy and quick. You don’t need any special equipment or ingredients; just your favorite flavor of couscous, some water, and a microwave-safe bowl. This technique works best with precooked couscous.

So, what are the subtleties of cooking the couscous in the microwave? Do you need to stir it or not? How long does it take, and how do you know when cooked? Let’s find out.

A quick search on Google reveals numerous recipes and techniques for cooking couscous in the microwave. But a closer look at these results shows that many of them are just regurgitating each other, with little or no additional insight into cooking couscous in the microwave.

Couscous is basically pasta made from semolina flour; thus, you can cook it the same way as regular pasta. However, it has a few characteristics that set it apart from pasta.

For one thing, the water-to-couscous ratio for cooking couscous differs from that of pasta. Too much water will result in soggy and sticky couscous, while too little water will leave it hard and dry. It’s recommended that you use 1 cup of water per cup of couscous.

Couscous is also more delicate and can break easily. So, you’ll need to separately boil some water, add your couscous and let it sit for a few minutes. Your couscous will cook by absorbing the hot water, so no stirring or mixing is required.

When cooked, it should be light and fluffy, with each grain separate from one other.

How Long Does It Take To Cook Couscous in the Microwave

It only takes 5 minutes to cook a cup of couscous in the microwave. However, this time is exclusive to water boiling time, which varies depending on your microwave’s wattage.

Cooking couscous in a microwave can be divided into two steps: boiling water and cooking couscous.

Boiling time depends on your microwave’s wattage but is usually between 3 and 5 minutes. For instance, it takes about 3 minutes for 1 cup of water to boil in a 700-watt microwave.

On the other hand, cooking couscous is as simple as adding it to boiled water and letting it sit for about 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

Each step takes a significant amount of time to ensure your couscous cooks thoroughly and is safe to eat. Trying to rush either of these processes will negatively impact your food, rendering it undercooked or unappetizingly mushy.

Tips for Cooking Couscous in Microwave

Cooking couscous in the microwave is extremely easy and can save you hours of kitchen time. There are, however, some things to consider. So, here are some tips for cooking couscous in the microwave.


  • Choose fine-grained couscous over coarse-grained as it will cook faster. Moroccan couscous is the preferred variety for cooking in a microwave because of its small size and uniform shape. However, with minor adjustments, you can cook any kind in the microwave.


  • Take note of the amount of water you use when cooking couscous in the microwave. The ratio of couscous to water should be equal by volume. For example, if you are using 1 cup of uncooked couscous, you’ll need 1 cup of water as well.


  • Use only microwave-designated containers for boiling water. Avoid plastic and Styrofoam because they can melt or crack under high temperatures. Instead, use glass, ceramic, or any other heat-resistant material labeled as safe for microwaving.


  • Do not rinse or soak your couscous before cooking it. Rinsing and soaking will remove its natural starch, essential for thickening your dish. It will also make the texture of your couscous soggy and mushy.


  • In the absence of water, you can cook your couscous with stock or broth. This will not only aid in the cooking of your dish but will also add flavor and taste. However, don’t overdo it, as too much liquid can result in mushy couscous.


  • Before steaming, evenly distribute your couscous in your container. This will ensure even cooking and prevent clumping or burning. It will also accelerate the cooking time of your couscous by increasing its surface area.


  • Do not stir your couscous at any time. Stirring can damage its granules and prevent it from cooking evenly. Instead, fluff your couscous with a fork after steaming. This will also allow you to get rid of any lumps that may have formed during cooking.

How to Cook Couscous in Microwave: Step By Step Process

Cooking couscous in the microwave is fast and easy. Here we’ll explain each step so you can get perfect results every time.

Step 1: Measure out Your Couscous and water

For every cup of dry couscous, you’ll need equal measures of water. In our case, measure out one cup of dry couscous in a measuring cup, then in a microwave-safe bowl, add an equal amount of water.


Step 2: Bring Your Water to a Boil in the Microwave

Set your microwave to high and bring your water to a boil. Depending on how powerful your microwave is, this should take about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the microwave once it has reached a boil.


Step 3: Add Your Couscous and Cover

Add your couscous, salt, and olive oil (if desired) to your boiling water the stir until moistened. Cover well with a plastic wrap or a microwavable lid and let it sit for 5 minutes. This will trap steam inside, allowing your couscous to cook evenly.


Step 4: Remove Plastic Wrap or Lid and Fluff Couscous

After 5 minutes, your couscous should have absorbed most of the water. Gently remove your plastic wrap or microwavable lid and fluff with a fork. Serve immediately or within 2 hours to avoid bacteria growth.


Faqs On How to Cook Couscous in Microwave

1. How do you cook couscous fast?

A microwave provides the fastest way to cook couscous. Start by microwaving 1 cup of water on high for 5 minutes until boiling, then add 1 cup of couscous, salt, and olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.


2. How much water do I need for 1 cup of couscous?

On average, 1 cup of couscous requires about 1 cup of water or broth. Too much liquid will result in soggy couscous, whereas not enough liquid will cause it to stick together and burn during cooking.

However, different brands of couscous may require different amounts of liquid, so check the package for specific instructions.


3. Can pearl couscous be cooked in the microwave?

Yes, it’s easy and fast to cook pearl couscous in a microwave. Pearl couscous, sometimes referred to as Israeli couscous, is larger than regular couscous and therefore requires more time to cook. The key to cooking couscous in the microwave is to use the correct water-to-grain ratio.


4. Do you rinse couscous after cooking?

How to Cook Couscous in MicrowaveRinsing your couscous after cooking is not necessary. Rinsing can lead to over-soaking, resulting in mushy and soggy couscous.

Rather than rinsing, fluff your couscous with a fork or spoon to separate any clumps formed during cooking. This will keep it from becoming soggy.



5. Can you reheat couscous?

Yes, you can reheat couscous using various methods, including in a microwave, a saucepan on top of your stove, or an oven.

In all cases, cook on low heat and frequently stir to avoid burning. However, reheating couscous only works if it is properly cooked and stored in the first place.


6. What are the health benefits of couscous?

Couscous has a plethora of health benefits. First, it’s high in fiber, beneficial to your digestive system, and helps prevent constipation. It is also high in plant-based protein, which lowers the risk of heart disease and cholesterol levels.


Importantly, couscous contains selenium, an antioxidant that aids in regulating thyroid function and boosts immunity.


7. Is couscous healthier than rice?

Couscous, compared with rice, is higher in protein and fiber. It also contains more minerals and vitamins than white rice.

However, the calorie difference between these two grains is negligible. It is, therefore, preferable to conclude that couscous is marginally healthier than rice.


8. How to store couscous

Store couscous leftover within 2 hours in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Leaving it out on a countertop for more than 2 hours may cause moisture to form and mold growth.

On the other hand, uncooked couscous can last for months if stored properly. Ensure it’s dry before storing, and keep it away from moisture, heat, and light.


Final Thoughts

Cooking couscous is an excellent way to increase fiber and nutrients in your diet. It is also quick and easy, making it a go-to option for busy weeknights.

The key to a fluffy, light couscous dish is balancing the water-to-couscous ratio. If you add too much water, your couscous will be mushy and bland. In contrast, not enough water will result in hard, crunchy grains nearly impossible to chew.

The recommended amount of water is one cup of liquid for every cup of couscous to get it right. Remember to fluff up your cooked couscous to keep it from becoming gummy. When ready to serve, sprinkle on some fresh herbs and squeeze lemon juice.

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