Uncooked couscous in black bowl isolated on white background with clipping path
Food - Drink
Couscous Vs. Israeli Couscous: What's The Difference?
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes a plethora of vegetables, fruits, proteins, healthy fats, and starches like North African couscous. If you’ve ever seen standard couscous sharing shelf space with the similarly named but radically different "Israeli couscous," you've probably wondered what the real differences are.
Couscous is made like pasta, using semolina flour sprinkled with water that is rolled between the palms to make small, irregular granules. This "pasta" is cooked more like rice, often steamed when fresh or sold in partially pre-cooked form, meaning you can have nutty and mildly sweet couscous in under five minutes.
Israeli couscous (also called pearl couscous, giant couscous, and ptitim) isn't really couscous at all — it’s made from mostly the same ingredients (swapping wheat flour for semolina), but is entirely machine-produced. It’s larger than plain couscous, has less of a yellow hue, and a more toasted-wheat flavor and a chewier texture.
Both types of starch have a neutral backdrop that plays well with strong flavors, so swapping one couscous for the other won’t dramatically change the taste of your dish. If you do have a choice between the two, use finely-ground couscous to stuff vegetables, and save Israeli couscous for creamy risotto dishes or hearty stews.