How to Make Couscous in an Instant Pot

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Here is everything you need to know to make perfect Instant Pot Couscous, including the different types of couscous, how much water to use, and the right cooking time. 

A horizontal image made up of two different photos. On the left is a photo of Israeli pearl couscous in a white bowl, garnished with fresh parsley. In the right image is golden yellow Moroccan couscous in a white bowl garnished with parsley.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

These two methods are foolproof ways to cook tender, fluffy couscous every time using your Instant Pot.

We’ve tested all kinds of ways to cook couscous in a pressure cooker, including various brands and even flavored couscous. We finally landed on these two super simple and lightning-fast ways to cook both Moroccan and Israeli/Pearl couscous. 

Couscous is a go-to side dish when we’re having Braised Chicken with Capers and Parsley, Instant Pot Braised Paprika Chicken, or even Beef Stew. It soaks up all of the delicious saucy flavors for a hearty, comforting meal. 

INGREDIENTS YOU NEED

Here’s what you need to make Instant Pot couscous:

  • Butter. We use unsalted to better control the seasoning of your couscous. 
  • Couscous. You can use pearl/Israeli or Moroccan couscous. See below for more specific cooking instructions. 
  • Broth. You can also use water, but we prefer the added flavor from low-sodium chicken broth. 

How to Make Couscous in an Instant Pot

The specific steps for making Instant Pot couscous depend on the type of couscous you’re using:

What’s the difference between Israeli and Moroccan couscous?

The difference between the two varieties of couscous that you’ll find at the grocery store really comes down to size. Israeli or pearl couscous have large, round, grains, that look like little pearls. They’re chewy and bouncy.

Moroccan couscous has tiny almost sand-like grains that have a fluffier texture after cooking. 
The different sizes mean that the two varieties cook differently, so you’ll need a few extra minutes to soften up the pea-sized Israeli couscous. 

Overhead picture of Israeli couscous cooked in an Instant Pot and being stirred with a wooden spoon.

Israeli Style Couscous

For Israeli-style couscous, we like to toast the grains before pressure cooking. To do so, preheat the pressure cooking pot using Sauté and melt the butter in the pot. Add the couscous and cook it, stirring constantly, until the grains are toasty-smelling. This goes pretty fast and takes a minute or two.

Next, add your broth and salt, if you’d like, and stir everything together. Lock on the lid and cook the couscous on high for 4 minutes. 

When the cooking time ends, release the pressure manually, then carefully remove the lid. Give your couscous a little fluff and serve it up!

Overhead picture of moroccan couscous cooked in an Instant Pot and being stirred with a wooden spoon.

Moroccan Couscous

If you’re cooking Moroccan Couscous in the Instant Pot, you can skip the toasting step. Simply combine the broth, salt, butter, and couscous in the pressure cooking pot without stirring. 

Then lock the lid on the pot and cook on high pressure for 0 minutes (yes, this will still take some time because the pressure cooker needs to come up to pressure). When the cooking time ends, release the pressure with a quick pressure release, then remove the lid. 

Fluff your couscous and remove the pot from the Instant Pot housing to prevent burning. The grains will continue to absorb water and thicken up as they cool. Enjoy!

Close up of Instant Pot Israeli couscous topped with fresh parsley and cheese, with a spring of fresh parleys and uncooked pearl couscous in the background.

Important Tips for Making Instant Pot Couscous

  • You may find a little liquid left in the pot after pressure cooking but don’t worry, the couscous will thicken up and absorb that liquid as it cools. 
  • Note that this recipe is not for par-cooked couscous. 
  • When making Moroccan couscous, if your pressure cooker doesn’t allow you to set a 0-minute cook time, set it for 1 minute and stay near the pressure cooker. Once the pot has indicated that it has reached the ideal cooking pressure, use a quick pressure release. 
  • It’s important not to let Moroccan couscous sit in the pressure cooking pot in the Instant Pot housing for too long after cooking, as the grains will dry pretty quickly and become stuck to your pot, and no one wants to have to scrub that off!
  • It’s up to you whether you want to salt the cooking liquid for your couscous. You can always add an extra pinch of salt after cooking if you’re worried about it getting too salty, particularly if you use salted chicken broth. 
Close up picture of Moroccan couscous topped with fresh parsley and green onions.

Frequently Asked Questions about Couscous

What kind of couscous should I buy?

We love both varieties of couscous! Sometimes you’re in the mood for a more chewy, substantial grain, in which case we love RiceSelect Pearl Couscous
Or, if you want something delicate and fluffy, we go for Moroccan Couscous from the same brand
We’ve also tested this recipe using flavored couscous from Near East and Bob’s Red Mill. Both work great following our pressure cooking recipe. 

What is couscous made of?

Despite looking like a grain, couscous is actually a tiny type of pasta. The grains are made from flour (semolina flour) and are rolled into tiny balls. As a result, like pasta, they have a chewy texture and delicate flavor that’s a great blank canvas for all kinds of other dishes, from meat to veggies. 

What should I serve with couscous?

Couscous is great at soaking up the rich flavors of sauces from braised meat, such as Bone-In Instant Pot Beef Short Ribs or Instant Pot Chicken Marsala
You can also add couscous to any soup that you’d normally add pasta to, such as Pressure Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup. Just add the cooked couscous after the soup is finished cooking to avoid turning it into mush. 

How should I store leftover couscous?

You can refrigerate leftover cooked couscous in an airtight container for up to four days. 

Can I freeze cooked couscous?

Yes, you can freeze leftovers for up to a month. 

More Instant Pot Grain Recipes

We love using our pressure cooker to make big batches of grains to round out lunches and dinners, including:


Do you LOVE this recipe?
Leave us a review below to tell us why!


Overhead picture of Instant Pot Israeli couscous topped with fresh parsley and cheese, with a spring of fresh parleys and uncooked pearl couscous in the background.

Instant Pot Couscous

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Use these two simple methods to make perfect Instant Pot couscous, whether you’re cooking Israeli/pearl or Moroccan couscous. 

Ingredients

Israeli (Pearl) Couscous

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • 1 1/4 cups reduced sodium broth or water (we used chicken broth)
  • Salt and pepper to taste, optional*
  • Dried or fresh parsley for garnish, optional

Moroccan Couscous

  • 2 cups reduced-sodium broth or water (we used chicken broth)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup moroccan couscous

Instructions

Israeli (Pearl) Couscous

  1. Select Saute to preheat the pressure cooking pot. When hot, melt the butter and add the couscous. Saute, stirring frequently, for about a minute. Add the broth and salt, if using, and stir to ensure the couscous is in an even layer under the water.
  2. Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 4 minutes cook time.** 
  3. When the cook time ends, turn off the pressure cooker and use a quick pressure release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid. 
  4. Stir the couscous and serve immediately.

Moroccan Couscous

  1. In the pressure cooking pot, add the broth, salt, and butter. Pour in the couscous so it’s distributed evenly around the pot. Do not stir.
  2. Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 0 minutes cook time.***
  3. When the cook time ends, turn off the pressure cooker and use a quick pressure release. When the valve drops carefully remove the lid. 
  4. Remove the cooking pot from the heat. (This step is important since the couscous will continue to absorb liquid as it cools. In our tests, allowing it to switch to the Keep Warm setting was enough to scorch a thin layer on the bottom.)
  5. Stir the couscous immediately.

Notes

*We found we needed to add extra salt when cooking with water; however, we didn't need any additional salt when we made this recipe with chicken broth.

**

*** If your pressure cooker doesn’t allow you to set a 0-minute cook time, set it for 1 minute and stay near the pressure cooker. Once the pot has indicated that it has reached the ideal cooking pressure, turn off your pressure cooker and use a quick pressure release. 

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 71Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 138mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 3g

Nutrition information is calculated by Nutritionix and may not always be accurate.

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