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Couscous Substitutes

Do you have the urge to know about the best couscous substitutes? Well, you’ve come to a perfect article to read. Today, our article will share the best alternatives you can use instead of couscous.

Our conversation will be pretty diverse. But, as a starting point, we’ll provide you with some basic facts about couscous. Then, when we’re done, we’ll give details on eight couscous substitutes, two of which will be low-carb.

Finally, we’ll answer some questions about couscous and other things. Having read this article, you will be well-versed in couscous substitutes and have no unresolved questions.

Next, we’ll have a preliminary discussion on couscous.

What is Couscous?

Couscous is pasta made mainly from tiny granules of wheat flour (semolina). But, we can make couscous with other flour types, such as barley.

When we cook the small parts of the wheat flour, they get steamed and attain a fluffy texture. That is when we can consume couscous. The taste of couscous is perfect for use with vegetables, meats, and other food items.

However, our primary purpose is to discuss couscous substitutes and their details today. So, read the following sections and learn about different alternatives to couscous.

Couscous Substitutes

Best Couscous Substitutes

  • Quinoa
  • Short-grain Rice
  • Sorghum
  • Millet
  • Cooked Rice
  • Cooked Lentils
  • Roast Cauliflower
  • Nuts

At first, we’ll share six gluten-free substitutes for couscous. Then, we’ll proceed with two other replacements, which are low-carb. So, read about each alternative and find which one is best for you.

Number one on our list is the Quinoa.


It’s a substitute that has a high protein amount. So, quinoa is a suitable replacement if we consider health as a factor. Moreover, fiber, iron, and magnesium are widely available in quinoa.

Note that quinoa’s cooking time is a bit more than the couscous. Also, quinoa absorbs a lot of water while cooking. So, minimize the amount of water while steaming quinoa.

It’s better to stop cooking as soon as you gain a fluffy texture of the granules.

Short-grain Rice

Short-grain rice is a suitable replacement if you look for a similar cooking result. However, short-grain brown rice is more compatible to replace couscous. 

Many nations and cuisines utilize short-grain rice as a traditional side dish because of its unique shape or texture.

You may use the replacement for couscous in classical Middle Eastern and North African meals and achieve the same outcome.

Sorghum is another option to replace couscous in many meals, which we’ll discuss next.


Sorghum is similar to millet (another substitute for couscous). They’re small in size yet round in shape. The color of the sorghum is a bit yellowish from the outside.

However, they’re not a standard option to replace couscous. It’s because sorghum isn’t available very much in the stores.

Only a few stores in different areas sell sorghum. But, there’s no need for worrying as we’ve got a famous replacement called millet on the list.


The tiny yet round-shaped granules called millet are the best replacement option to consider. The reason for it to be the best replacement is due to its appearance and taste.

Apart from being whole grain and gluten-free, it has iron and magnesium. So, millet is a good substitute for couscous in more than one way.

Did you know that cooked rice and lentils can be two great replacements for couscous? Well, we’ll discuss these two items in the following sections.

Cooked Rice

It’s the easiest option to replace couscous. But, first, you need to take some rice granules and cook them until they gain a fluffy texture.

It’s worth noting that cooked rice will gain more liquid than couscous. So, you might well need to maintain the liquid level while cooking.

Whatever recipe you’re considering, rice cooking will take some extra time. So, please cook the rice beforehand or start earlier.

Then, it’s good to go for the rest of the recipe. Next up are the cooked lentils.

Cooked Lentils

Cooked lentils are another great option if you want to avoid couscous and have a gluten-free substitute.

Lentils will come with a strong flavor yet perfect texture similar to couscous. But, many people don’t prefer the intense flavor. In that case, soft and red lentils can be the best option to consider.

So, we’ve given six different gluten-free substitutes for couscous in the previous sections. We’ve got two more replacements which are low-carb. So, keep reading to have more options to replace couscous.

Low-Carb Couscous Substitutes

Many of us have problems with high carbohydrates in food items. But, food items like rice, couscous, and millet have a high amount of carbs. So, how can we replace couscous with options that have a low-carb amount?

Well, it seems like there’re two options with low-carb. One is the roast cauliflower, and the other is nuts. So, let’s gain some information on these two substitutes.

Roast Cauliflower

Cauliflower pieces, when baked, are known as roasted cauliflower. It’s because it’s a vegetable item with little carbohydrates and has a fluffy texture. Hence, we can easily consider roast cauliflower as a substitute for couscous.

So, if we summarize, cauliflowers have low carb amounts with gluten-free factors. If you want, replace the couscous in your recipe with the appropriate amount.

But note that, for a better replacement, you need to put the cauliflower pieces into a food processor. Then, when the cauliflower turns into tiny granules like couscous, it’s good to go for replacing couscous.


Nuts of different types can be perfect for replacing couscous in recipes. Nuts usually are small in size. The couscous type texture and shape will be attained if we process them in a food processor. 

Note that some nuts are raw originally. So, we might need to roast them accordingly. Some nuts like almonds and walnuts are perfect for adding to any recipe that requires couscous.

Moreover, cashew and pine nuts are also good examples.

How to Cook Couscous

We’ll learn how to cook couscous with minimal effort in this part.

A few items will be necessary before we start cooking. A pack of couscous, butter or olive oil and some boiling water is required.

  1. Put the couscous from the packet into a cooking bowl. (Heatproof bowl)
  2. Add butter or olive oil according to your preferences.
  3. Then, wait till around five to ten minutes. In the meantime, use a fork to stir through the bowl.

And, after ten minutes, your couscous should be ready to eat.

So, it’s pretty easy to cook couscous with some edible oil.

Couscous Substitutes

Couscous Substitutes

Do you have the urge to know about the best couscous substitutes? Well, you’ve come to a perfect article to read. Today, our article will share the best alternatives you can use instead of couscous.


  • Quinoa
  • Short-grain Rice
  • Sorghum
  • Millet
  • Cooked Rice
  • Cooked Lentils

Low-Carb Couscous Substitutes

  • Roast Cauliflower
  • Nuts


  • Choose your preferred replacement from the list
  • Add substitute to your recipe
  • Make your own delicious recipe

Tasty Turkish Couscous recipe

Final Words

We’ve given the substitutes for couscous and shown how to cook couscous. So, whether you want to cook or replace couscous, this article will help you in both ways.

We suggest using couscous substitutes according to different factors. For example, those having problems with gluten and high carbohydrates should go for cauliflowers.

Again, miller, lentils, and quinoa should suit those who want the best shape and texture. Finally, we suggest readers do more research according to their recipe requirements and choose the best substitute.

Next, we’ve got some questions and answers based on couscous substitutes. After that, the topic should be clear to everyone.

Maybe you’d like to read:


So we’re here with four different questions regarding couscous and substitutes. 

What Grains are similar to Couscous?

Millet, Quinoa, and Sorghum are some grains similar to couscous.

Also, some vegetable alternatives can have a similar shape and texture to couscous if we can process them accordingly.

For example, when shredded in a food processor, cauliflowers will have similarities to couscous.
Also, note that rice grains, especially brown rice, are similar to couscous. Therefore, if we have to choose the best alternative to couscous, it would be millet without any doubt.

Can you Substitute Rice for Couscous?

Yes, different rice types are compatible with replacing couscous. However, brown rice has a similar texture, shape, and flavour to couscous.

White rice grains are also good to go. But, rice grains have a longer cooking time and more water absorption than couscous.

Hence, it’s essential to substitute rice when they’re fluffy enough to have a similar shape to couscous.

What Pasta is similar to Couscous?

There’re different types of pasta available throughout the world. However, Ditalini and Rigatoni are two kinds of pasta that have similarities with couscous.

Ditalini pasta is usually in the shape of couscous. But, rigatoni needs to be shredded to the size of small granules. In that way, they can have sizes like couscous.

Also, macaroni or tubular pasta is pretty similar to couscous.

Can I Substitute Couscous for Quinoa?

You can replace couscous with quinoa. We’ve mentioned quinoa as one of the best options to replace couscous.

Also, the nutrients in the quinoa are high with the presence of iron, magnesium, and protein. So, health-wise, quinoa is an excellent substitute for couscous.

So, we now finish our discussion on the best couscous substitutes.

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