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Plain Buttered Couscous with Fresh Herbs

Plain buttered couscous with fresh herbs is quick & easy, it also makes a perfect side dish for a host of North African & Persian recipes.

When I say quick and easy, this will go from your cupboard to your plate in around 10 minutes and the only cooking involved is boiling a kettle!

Plain buttered couscous with lots of chopped fresh herbs and a lemon wedge.

Perfect Fluffy Plain Couscous

Just like pasta couscous stuff is a vehicle for flavour! In fact, that is not where the parallels end. It is nothing more than Durum wheat and wheat flour that has been moistened and rolled.

As far as I am concerned it is genius at taking the flavours of a dish and spreading them further in a real pocket-friendly way!

Plain buttered couscous is my usual go-to side dish for North African and Persian-inspired recipes, although bulgur wheat runs a close second.

I love it because it is the perfect canvas to paint flavours on, it never overwhelms other elements on the plate.

It is also a really frugal ingredient, it is really quick to cook and it is comparatively speaking quite nutritious.

Overhead Moroccan influenced garlic harissa prawns served with couscous.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use olive oil instead of butter?

Yes, of course. Just substitute 2 tablespoons of olive oil and follow my instructions… but give the butter a go at least once… just for me!

Is there an ideal ratio between liquid and water when it comes to making couscous?

I always use a 1:1 volume ratio and it results, as you can see in my pictures, perfectly fluffy grains.

Is couscous healthier than rice?

I try to steer away from simplistic conversations around one ingredient being healthy or not and particularly healthier than another ingredient.

Couscous, generally speaking, is more “nutrient” dense than white rice but swapping one for the other in your diet will not make your diet healthier!

How can I serve this warm?

If you want the couscous to be hot/warm when you serve it, replace the cling film with some damp scrunched-up baking parchment. Then transfer to a moderate (150°C or 300°F) oven for 5-10 minutes.

This results in marginally fluffier couscous, but also costs more to do, I only ever do this if I have the oven on already.

Overhead tamarind and honey glazed duck leg with stewed onions and couscous.

Serving Suggestions

You don’t have to stumble far through my North African inspired recipes before you trip over a photograph featuring my buttered couscous.

It is the perfect side for tagines like my unusual spiced rabbit tagine, classic Moroccan lamb tagine, duck tagine, sausage tagine and Moroccan vegetable tagine (pictured below).

I also use it as a side for dishes as diverse as my Duck legs with tamarind and dates (pictured above) and harissa prawns (Picture further up the page).

I am so fond of it, I use it as a base to make a roasted vegetable couscous that I am more than happy to eat it for lunch or supper!

As a side note, I also use plain couscous to coat my deep fried camembert cheese!

Overhead Moroccan influenced vegan vegetable tagine with squash and courgette served with buttered couscous.

Equipment Used

I only mention brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Kettle or pot for boiling water.
  • Mixing bowl.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring jug, cups and spoons.
  • Cling film.
  • Chopping board.
  • Kitchen knife.
Plain buttered couscous with lots fresh herbs and a lemon wedge.
Yield: 2 Servings

Herby Buttered Couscous Recipe

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

The not-so-unsung hero of North African cuisine is plain buttered couscous, the perfect vehicle for delivering flavour and really simple to make too!


  • 150g (¾ Cup) Couscous
  • 175ml (¾ Cup) Boiling Water
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • 30g (2 Tbsp) Butter
  • Lots of Chopped Herbs
  • Lemon Wedges to serve (optional)


  1. Place your couscous in a bowl, then add the salt and give it a bit of a mix.
  2. Cut the butter into a 1cm (½") dice and drop it on top of the couscous then pour over the boiling water and cover with cling film then allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Chop as many fresh herbs as you can lay your hands on and fork them through the couscous after it has done resting.


You could substitute the butter for tow tablespoons of olive oil if you like.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 176Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 155mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 3g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

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