Lemon Couscous Recipe

Lemon Couscous is a light and tangy side dish cuisine with a burst of lemon flavor in each bite. It only takes about 20 minutes to prepare, and it goes with just about anything. You can even add some meat and veggies to make it a meal. This easy lemon couscous recipe works as a salad cuisine as well with some lettuce and tomatoes. You can make all sorts of delicious food with this incredibly versatile dish. If you like simple side dishes like this, also try this Sauteed Spinach that goes well with any type of meat.

overhead shot of a bowl of fluffy lemon couscous

Lemon couscous is low in saturated fat, high in vitamin C and calcium as well as a good source of fiber, iron, and protein. It was the African Berbers who invented this dish, but they called it seksu or sekrou. It was first noted in the 1600s, but some say it has been a source of nourishment for humans for thousands of years.

This is the perfect side dish to serve along with any meal, especially during busy weekdays. For more easy side dishes, you can also try these Crispy Air Fryer Broccoli or Parmesan Brussel Sprouts.  

a spoonful of fluffy lemon couscous


  • Couscous: This starchy pasta is most often found in the rice and grain section of grocery stores because many think that it is a grain. 
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Lemon juice: Use fresh lemon juice if you have it. You can use bottled lemon juice, but it will not be as fresh.
  • Low-sodium chicken broth: The chicken adds a nice flavor to the couscous, but you could also use beef or vegetable broth. Water would be fine too.
  • Freshly chopped parsley or mint: For an extra burst of flavor.
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

How to make the best lemon couscous recipe?

  1. Rinse and drain: First, rinse the couscous in a rice colander under cold water. Drain well, using a spatula or spoon to press it down.
  2. Add broth: Then, pour broth into a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. 
  3. Cook couscous: Add couscous and stir. Then, cover and remove it from the heat. Let it sit for 10 minutes before fluffing it up with a fork. 
  4. Stir in the herbs: Last, stir in the fresh parsley or mint, lemon juice, and olive oil. 
  5. Season and serve: Finally, season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Recipe variations:

  • Sprinkle on some cheese: Sprinkle on some crumbled feta cheese or parmesan cheese just before serving to give it a rich and cheesy flavor.
  • Add veggies: Make this a heartier dish by adding your favorite vegetables like tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, olives, bell peppers, and whatever else you like. 
  • Add fruit: Similarly, you can also add fruit like chopped strawberries, mandarin oranges, diced apples, or dried fruit like cranberries or raisins. 
  • Main dish: Or you can make it a main dish by adding chopped grilled chicken, turkey, or pork.
  • Couscous salad: This would be the perfect base for a delicious salad. For a flavorful salad, add some lemon dressing or a simple lemon vinaigrette made with red wine vinegar. 
  • Crunchy couscous: Make your lemon couscous crunchy by adding slivered almonds, pine nuts, or chopped pecans. 
  • Spicy couscous: For a bit of spiciness, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to your cooked couscous.

homemade lemon couscous in a bowl topped with a lemon wedge

Frequently Asked Questions

What is couscous?

Couscous is a type of pasta made from semolina flour although many people think it is a type of grain. When it is cooked correctly, it has a chewy texture and a sort of nutty taste but there are other ways to prepare it to make it different. For example, you can bake it to make a type of pudding-like rice pudding, or fry it for a crispier texture. 

Are there different kinds?

There are different types of couscous including regular, instant, and pearl couscous, also known as Israeli couscous. Lebanese couscous is the largest kind, slightly larger than pearl couscous. Sometimes Israeli couscous is referred to as giant couscous even though the Lebanese style is larger. They also have whole wheat couscous and Moroccan couscous, which is the smallest kind. 

Can I boil it in water?

Yes, you can use boiling water instead of broth. Just bring water to a boil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Then, add couscous and stir before removing it from the heat. Cover and let it soak for 10 minutes. After, fluff it up with a fork before adding the lemon juice, oil, and seasonings. 

overhead shot of a bowl with homemade lemon couscous

How to store leftovers:

  • Store: Your leftover couscous can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container or ziplock baggie for up to four days. 
  • Freeze: You could also freeze your leftover lemon couscous. Just put it in a freezer bag and it will stay fresh for three or four months. 
  • Thaw: For the best results, thaw your frozen couscous in the fridge overnight.
  • Reheat: You can reheat couscous in the microwave for 30 to 90 seconds. 

close shot of a wooden spoon with lemon couscous

Recipe tips:

  • Lemon couscous is perfect for meal prep. Just put it in meal prep containers and freeze it until you are ready to use it.
  • You can make a large bowl of summer salad with lemon couscous for an easy meal you can make without the oven. 
  • Lemon lovers will enjoy having lemon zest mixed in for extra lemon flavor. 
  • Add whatever fresh herbs you like to this recipe to make it your own. Some ideas that would be good are smoked paprika, thyme, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Fresh garlic would also be delicious.
  • If you are worried about nutrition, calories, and fat, check out our nutrition info at the bottom of the page. 
  • Are you looking for other side dish recipes? We have lots of delicious recipes on our food blog.
5 from 5 votes
overhead shot of a bowl of fluffy lemon couscous
Lemon Couscous
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
10 mins

Lemon Couscous is a fast and healthy side dish ready in less than 20 minutes with a hint of lemon that adds a burst of citrusy freshness

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Lemon Couscous
Servings: 4 serv
Calories: 239 kcal
Author: Catalina Castravet
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth water, or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley or mint - optional
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a rice colander rinse the couscous under cold, and drain well.

  2. After that, add the broth to a medium saucepan over medium heat, and bring it to a boil.

  3. Next, once the liquid is boiling, add the couscous, stir, cover with a lid, and remove it from heat.

  4. Let it sit covered for 10 minutes. After that, uncover it and use a fork to fluff it up.

  5. Finally, stir in the olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh herbs if using. Season with salt, and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Facts
Lemon Couscous
Amount Per Serving
Calories 239 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Sodium 31mg1%
Potassium 152mg4%
Carbohydrates 35g12%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 0.2g0%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 0.2IU0%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 14mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

easy lemon couscous pin


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