The Cooking Time for a Cup of Couscous

Written by sheri lamb
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The Cooking Time for a Cup of Couscous
Couscous is a convenient side dish. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Couscous is one of the quickest and easiest side dishes to make because the grain absorbs hot water quickly and doesn't require you to wait around for long as it cooks with the water. In determining how much boiling water to add to your couscous, bear in mind that the water should just barely cover the top of the grain.

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Water to Couscous

You can boil water first and then add it to couscous in a bowl. By boiling the salted water first and then measuring it, you will avoid an imprecise measurement and possibly dry or soggy couscous. Boil water with salt and oil in it. After placing the cup of couscous in a heat-resistant bowl, take the boiling water off the heat and measure 1.5 cups for your cup of couscous. Pour the water into the bowl. The water should just barely cover the couscous. Stir the contents with olive oil and other ingredients and the couscous will cook in a matter of minutes.

Couscous to Water

Another option is to add your couscous to boiling water and then take it immediately off the heat. The water should already have in it salt and oil. This will bring the flavours together before adding any extra ingredients such as onions or artichoke hearts. This method is a bit more challenging because you will have to add your cup of couscous to 1.5 cups of boiling water, instead of adding the water to the couscous -- evaporation might cause the water level to decrease.


Wait for the couscous to cool down before adding any cool ingredients such as onions or artichoke hearts. Olive oil stored at room temperature doesn't affect the time it takes for the couscous to cook by much and it will absorb into the couscous more effectively if added immediately after the boiling water. Stir the water into the couscous with a fork and let it sit covered for 3 to 5 minutes.


The consistency of your couscous depends on the amount of water you add. You need to consider whether you have added too much or too little. In the case of adding too much, leave the couscous uncovered as it absorbs the moisture. Some of the water will evaporate and you won't have soggy couscous. Adding too little water can easily be fixed by boiling more water and then adding a little at a time while stirring.

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