Instant Pot Couscous

A bowl of Israeli pearl couscous with mushrooms and zucchini.

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5 from 3 reviews

This is a recipe for Instant Pot Israeli (pearl) couscous. Pearl couscous has a round shape and is slightly smaller than a pea.

If you're cooking Moroccan couscous, which looks like tiny grains of sand, I don't recommend cooking it in your Instant Pot.

Most Moroccan couscous sold in U.S. grocery stores is actually instant couscous. It has been steamed and dried and does not need to be cooked or boiled. It just needs to be reconstituted with water. See the section "How to Cook Moroccan Couscous" in the blog post above for detailed cooking instructions. 

Total Instant Pot Cooking Time for pearl couscous: 8 minutes to reach pressure + 4 minute cooking time + quick release

This recipe was updated on 11-9-23 to improve the cooking time and water ratio.


Units Scale
  • 2 cups Israeli (pearl) couscous
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Combine pearl couscous, water and salt in the Instant Pot.
  2. Cook for 4 minutes on high pressure.
  3. When the cooking time is complete, instantly release the pressure. 
  4. Gently stir and fluff the couscous with a fork. If any water remains in the pot, set the lid loosely on top and let the couscous sit for another minute or two. 
  5. The cooked couscous can be served warm or chilled in the refrigerator to make a cold salad. 


After making many batches of Instant Pot pearl couscous, I have found that the best water ratio is 1 1/2 cups water for every 1 cup of dried pearl couscous.  I like this ratio for several reasons: 

  1. The pearl couscous doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.
  2. The pearls stay separate and don't clump together.
  3. The texture is tender but chewy, not mushy or hard.

Many recipes suggest using 1 1/4 cups water for every 1 cup of pearl couscous, and this works too. However, I find that it makes the texture starchier and the pearls clump together more. 

Cooking Time: I tested this recipe at 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes and 5 minutes and found that cooking Instant Pot pearl couscous for 4 minutes was the ideal cooking time. When cooked for 2 minutes the couscous was still slightly hard and undercooked. At 5 minutes, it was slightly too soft. That being said, the ideal cooking time can vary from brand to brand. 

Recipe for Pearl Couscous Seasoned with Spices

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil 
1/3 cup finely chopped onion or shallot
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 cups water
2 cups pearl couscous
3/4 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Press the saute button and add the oil or butter. 
  2. Add the onion. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes, until the onion is soft. 
  3. Add the garlic and saute 30 seconds more. 
  4. Add the water, pearl couscous, salt, smoked paprika and cinnamon.
  5. Secure the lid and cook for 4 minutes on high pressure. When the cooking time is complete, do a quick release of the pressure. 
  6. Stir the couscous then put the lid back on the pot for 5 minutes so that couscous completely absorbs any remaining liquid. 
  7. Serve warm. You can add fresh herbs like dill and parsley, if desired. 

This recipe was tested in a 6-quart Instant Pot