This 20-Minute Easy Pearl Couscous (also called Israeli Couscous here in the U.S.) comes together with just one pot and minimal ingredients. Prep it ahead of time and eat it up for lunch, dinner, or as a side dish.
There's really no bad time to make this Pearled Israeli couscous recipe. I've even tried this couscous recipe at altitude on the camp stove. It just always hits the spot for me!
Whether I'm inside or outside, I always appreciate a simple (but still hearty and flavorful) meal that doesn't require a ton of ingredients, time, or specialized equipment.
This pearl couscous recipe is, thankfully, all of those things.
What is Pearl Couscous/Israeli Couscous?
Israeli couscous is also called pearl couscous here in the United States. It's not the same thing as traditional couscous, which originated in Northwest Africa.
Pearl "couscous" is actually a round, ball-shaped pasta made from flour and water. I learned it's a relatively recent invention, created to help alleviate food scarcity in post-war Israel. This pasta is called pearl couscous or Israeli couscous in the United States, but in Israel, it's known as Ptitim and is a popular children's food.
I like pearl couscous for this recipe because you can cook it easily and quickly, which is nice for beginners (and for camping trips when you need to get a warm meal in your belly ASAP).
What You'll Need to Make Israeli Couscous
- Pearled/Israeli couscous (sometimes sold with a flavor packet, which you can discard or save for another use)
- Vegetable broth (you could also use water)
- Chickpeas (canned, or cook dry chickpeas in advance)
- Spices: coriander, garlic powder, and za'atar (optional)
- Herbs and greens: basil, baby arugula/spinach
- Golden raisins (other types of dried fruit work, too)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Lemon juice
- 4-quart (or similar size) saucepan
How to Make Pearl/Israeli Couscous
Add the couscous and vegetable broth or water to a 4-quart (or similar size) saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, uncover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the couscous is tender and the liquid is absorbed.
Once fully cooked, drain any excess liquid from the saucepan (if needed). If the couscous isn’t fully cooked by the time the liquid is absorbed, add a little more water and cook for a few more minutes.
After the couscous is cooked, remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients: chickpeas (drain and rinse canned chickpeas first), ground coriander, za’atar (see below), garlic powder, arugula/spinach, basil, golden raisins, extra virgin olive oil, and lemon juice.
To serve, transfer the cooked Israeli couscous to a serving dish and (optionally) garnish with parsley, edible flowers, additional golden raisins, additional extra virgin olive oil, and more salt and pepper to taste if needed.
What is Za'atar?
Za’atar is a seasoning blend that typically contains sumac and sesame seeds. (Often, blends have oregano, thyme, marjoram, and salt, too.) Look for small jars of pre-mixed za’atar in the spice aisle.
It’s also okay to omit the za’atar seasoning or sub in a mix of any the above herbs if you’re not able to find it.
Can you substitute something else in place of the golden raisins?
If you can’t find golden raisins, substitute regular raisins, chopped dry apricots, or chopped pitted dates.
You can also leave out the dried fruit altogether, but just know the pop of sweetness from the raisins really is my favorite part.
Can you make Israeli Couscous ahead of time? What's the best way to store it?
This is a great recipe for meal prepping ahead of time. Store the prepared couscous in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week.
If the couscous seems dry after storage, stir in a little olive oil and/or lemon juice before serving.
Easy Israeli Couscous
- 4-quart saucepan, stovetop
- 1 cup dry Israeli couscous (also called pearl couscous), see note
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth or water
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon za’atar (see note)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ cup baby arugula or spinach
- ¼ cup fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins (see note)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Optional for serving:
- Edible flowers
- Golden raisins
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Add Israeli couscous and vegetable broth or water to a 4-quart saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, uncover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the couscous is tender and the liquid is absorbed. (Once fully cooked, drain any excess liquid from the saucepan if needed. If the couscous isn’t fully cooked by the time the liquid is absorbed, add ¼ cup of water and continue cooking.)
- After the couscous is cooked, remove the saucepan from heat and stir in chickpeas, coriander, za’atar, garlic powder, arugula or spinach, basil, golden raisins, extra virgin olive oil, and lemon juice. Transfer couscous to a serving dish and garnish with parsley, edible flowers, additional golden raisins, additional extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper if desired.
- Store Israeli couscous in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week. If the couscous seems dry after storage, stir in more olive oil before serving.