This Moroccan Couscous Pilaf is one of my favorite side dishes of all time! Loaded with toasted almonds and raisins, it features different textures and flavors, making it a very versatile side dish that is perfect for your holiday meal or for busy weeknights. 

Love couscous? Make sure to also check out our recipe for Corn Couscous with Basil, Feta and Lemon.

A platter of Moroccan Couscous Pilaf.

An easy side dish for your holiday table!

I don’t know why it took me so long to post this recipe! 

It is possibly my favorite side dish of all time and is VERY easy to make. How easy, you ask? Easier than making rice.

And it’s impressive too, don’t you think? Jeweled with nuts, fruit and herbs, it’s a feast for both the eyes and the palate!

I love it so much that I literally eat it by the spoonful before it even makes its way to the table. And while I love it just the way it is, it is easily customizable so you can use whatever you have on hand!

An easy side dish, with almonds and raisins.

What is couscous?

Despite the fact that couscous looks like a type of grain, it is actually a pasta made of drum wheat semolina that is coarsely ground, moistened and tossed until it forms little balls.

It is a staple in North African, Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian cuisines, but it has gained popularity all over the world because of how easy and versatile it is.

There are three most common types of couscous: Moroccan, Israeli (or pearl) and Lebanese (moghrabieh).

The one we are using for this recipe, and my personal favorite, is the Moroccan couscous. It is the smallest in size and it cooks in just a few minutes. You can easily find it in most grocery stores, in both regular or whole wheat varieties.

What can I make with couscous?

There are several uses for couscous.

It can be served as a side dish (usually combined with aromatics, spices, nuts and fruit), it can be made into a salad and added to soups and stews.  

Ingredients to make couscous pilaf.

Ingredients for Moroccan Couscous Pilaf

To make this Moroccan couscous recipe, you will need:

  • Moroccan couscous
  • Red onion
  • Garlic
  • Butter
  • Chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parsley
  • Slivered almonds – you use sliced.
  • Golden raisins
Jeweled couscous.

How to Make Moroccan Couscous Pilaf

Because the couscous cooks so fast (under 10 minutes), this pilaf recipe is very easy to make and can be on the table in less than 15 minutes!

Recommended tools: baking sheet (to toast the almonds in the oven) and large skillet with a lid.

How to make couscous.

Here’s how to make it. As always, you will find the printable (and more complete) recipe at the end of this post!

  1. Start by toasting the almonds. I like to do it in the oven, but you can toast them on the stove, if you prefer.
  2. Sauté the onion and garlic in butter until translucent. 
  3. Pour in the broth and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the couscous. Cover and let it sit for 10 minutes, so the couscous can absorb the liquid. Fluff the couscous with a fork, gently breaking up the grains so you don’t end up with clumpy couscous.
  4. Add the parsley and stir to combine.
  5. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  6. Top with the toasted almonds and the raisins. Give it a good stir. You can garnish with extra parsley if desired.
Holiday side dish

How to serve couscous pilaf

As I mentioned earlier, this is a very versatile side dish! It goes well with beef, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb and even fish. I especially love it with braised dishes and stews!

Here are some entrées that would pair nicely with this couscous pilaf:

Can I make Moroccan couscous pilaf ahead of time?

Yes! This is a great make-ahead dish.

It will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge, stored in an airtight container. When ready to serve, reheat in the microwave or place it in a saucepan and reheat over medium low heat on the stove, stirring occasionally.

If you find that the couscous is too dry, you can add a couple tablespoons of water or broth to loosen it up!

Can I freeze couscous?

Also, yes. Couscous can be frozen and will keep well for several months.

Make sure it has cooled completely before you freeze in an airtight container or freezer bag.

To reheat, thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat gently in the microwave or stove.

Moroccan Couscous Pilaf

Moroccan Couscous Pilaf

Yield: 6 to 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 16 minutes

Loaded with toasted almonds and raisins, this Moroccan Couscous Pilaf features different textures and flavors, making it a versatile side dish that is perfect for your holiday meal or for busy weeknights.


  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups durum wheat couscous
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley, plus more to garnish
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the almonds on a shallow baking pan and bake until lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Reserve.
  3. Heat the butter on a large skillet, over medium high heat. Once melted, add the onion and garlic, and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the broth, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the stove and add the couscous all at once. Cover and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  5. Fluff the couscous with a fork. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Then, add the parsley, almonds and raisins, stirring to combine.
  6. Garnish with more parsley, if desired, and serve!



  • Almonds - You can use walnuts, pine nuts or omit if nuts are an issue.
  • Raisins - Not a fan of raisins? Use dried cranberries, figs, cherries or whatever dried fruit you prefer!
  • Red onion - Shallots or yellow onion can be used instead.

Storing leftovers:

Leftover couscous pilaf can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Reheating leftovers:

Reheat the couscous in the microwave or over medium-low heat on the stove, adding a few tablespoons of water if the couscous is too clumpy.


Once completely cool, couscous can be frozen for up to several months.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 222Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 51mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 7g

Nutritional values are approximate, please use your own calculations if you require a special diet.

More side dishes for the holidays: