Turmeric Pearl Couscous Recipe

Turmeric couscous with golden raisins and pine nuts.

Looking for tasty, healthy couscous recipes that the whole family will enjoy? This turmeric couscous is one of our favorites. Scented with a cinnamon stick and of course, turmeric seasoning, this pearl couscous recipe comes together quickly in one pan and the flavors and textures are outstanding. We add golden raisins and toasted pine nuts for sweetness and crunch. Trust me, you’ll love it alongside your weeknight rotisserie chicken.

Is couscous pasta or a whole grain?

Traditional couscous may resemble tiny whole grains, but it’s actually semolina flour with a bit of water that’s rubbed together with hands until it resembles fine grains. That style of couscous is usually steamed with aromatics and served with other vegetables and proteins.

Pearl couscous is actually wheat flour pasta that’s formed into tiny balls, then toasted. It’s a kissing cousin of Israeli couscous and quite delicious. At my market it’s sold in large plastic cannisters labeled Pearl Couscous and parenthetically sub-labled Israeli-Style Couscous. Read more about the misunderstanding in the history of couscous here.


  • Olive Oil
  • Shallots
  • Pearl Couscous
  • Turmeric
  • Cinnamon Stick
  • Homemade Vegetable Broth
  • Golden Raisins
  • Parsley
  • Mint
  • Toasted Pine Nuts
Sauteing the couscous with the onions.

This healthy couscous recipe is one of my favorites because the flavors are such a delicious departure from the usual buttered pasta side dish. With healthy golden turmeric, a back note of cinnamon, fresh herbs and pops of sweetness and crunch, it’s healthier than those packaged couscous sides with the “flavor packets” and there’s nothing artificial.

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Making turmeric couscous

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet and add shallots, stirring until shallots are softened and translucent.
  2. Add pearl couscous and stir, cooking for a few minutes to toast the the pearls.
Adding Turmeric to the couscous.

3. Season the pearl couscous recipe with turmeric and stir until the pasta has taken on a golden hue.

See how the turmeric seasoning gives the pearl couscous and shallots a beautiful marigold color? There’s also a subtle aroma that’s noticeable as the turmeric is warmed through. It’s infinitely better than a boxed mix.

Adding golden raisins to the couscous.

Seasoning the couscous

4. Add the vegetable broth and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. I know cinnamon might sound like an unusual seasoning addition, but because it’s a whole cinnamon stick and not ground cinnamon, the spice adds a warm aroma and subtle flavor.

5. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid, stirring occasionally so the pearl couscous doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. The couscous will start to absorb the broth and plump.

Add-ins for pearl couscous

6. About two-thirds way through cooking, stir in the golden raisins and continue to cook until the raisins are plumped and pearl couscous has absorbed most of the liquid and becomes tender.

7. Move the from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick

8. Stir in the fresh parsley, mint and toasted pine nuts and serve.

Serving the golden couscous on a serving dish.

Is couscous healthy?

Compared to what? It’s not a protein-packed grain like quinoa and because it’s actually pasta, it’s mostly refined carbohydrates, so if you’re adhering to a low-carb plan, this turmeric couscous probably isn’t for you. However, this dish isn’t nearly as fat and calorie-laden as many pasta dishes, so I wouldn’t categorize it as a bad food, either. You can read more about couscous’ health benefits here.

Try serving this golden couscous with:

More simple side dishes to try:

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Serving turmeric couscous on a white dish.
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4.66 from 20 votes

Pearl Couscous

Lightly seasoned with turmeric cinnamon and mint, this quick and easy couscous recipe has pops of sweet golden raisins and crunchy toasted pine nuts. A super easy side dish.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword couscous, pasta, pine nuts, turmeric
Dietary Restrictions Dairy-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large shallot finely diced
  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cups homemade vegetable broth (can use chicken broth)
  • cup golden raisins
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh mint chopped
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts


  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and diced shallot to the pan, stirring occasionally until the shallot is fragrant and softened, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the couscous and stir, coating it with the olive oil and slightly browning the pasta. Add the turmeric and stir until the couscous is completely coated with the spice, about 1 minute.
  • Add the cinnamon stick and vegetable broth to the couscous, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the skillet. Add the golden raisins at the 5-6 minute mark (while there’s still liquid in the pan, but its being absorbed more rapidly) and continue to simmer for the remaining 2-3 minutes of cooking time until the pasta is tender.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and remove the cinnamon stick. Stir in the chopped parsley, mint and toasted pine nuts. Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy.


  • Preheat the oven to 325°. Place the pine nuts on a sheet pan in a single layer and bake for 3-4 minutes. Shake the pan so that the nuts turn and continue to bake until toasted and fragrant, about 2-4 more minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
    Note: You can also toast pine nuts in a clean, dry skillet over medium heat. Place the nuts in the skillet and cook, shaking every 30 seconds or so until the nuts are golden and fragrant.


Calories: 298kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 477mg | Potassium: 232mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 250IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg

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  1. 5 stars
    This is so good! We subbed Turkish apricots to use them up and same with pistachios because we had them around. Served with braised leg of lamb. Looking forward to using more of your recipes!

  2. 5 stars
    This made for a delicious side dish for the pan seared salmon I had for lunch. Substituted crushed roasted pistachios for the pine nuts and used half a cinnamon stick and slightly less turmeric as both of mine are pretty potent. Otherwise made as described and it was perfect. Next time, I might add a little saffron too as it goes nicely with the other ingredients in this dish. Thanks for sharing!

  3. 5 stars
    Delicious! I actually had golden raisins and a cinnamon stick. No pine nuts, though– Covid pantry substitutes meant that I used chopped roasted peanuts! But still great! Thank you. Served with haddock cooked with tumeric, fresh grated ginger, garlic and a squeeze of lime.

    1. So glad you enjoyed it. Other nut substitutes to try: chopped toasted pecans or pistachios.

  4. Trish Bozeman says:

    5 stars
    Oh what a fantastic recipe! Love all the add ins like the raisins and pine nuts. And the mint gives it that extra something special. We like this with roasted veggies and some yogurt!

  5. 5 stars
    Oh man. I absolutely LOVE all of the ingredients in this. Sweet, nutty, aromatic… it all makes for the perfect grain bowl. This is the kind of thing I can eat for lunch for days—or just go to the fridge and snack on it out of the container. Haha.

  6. Jenni LeBaron says:

    5 stars
    I had no idea that there was a difference between traditional or Pearl couscous, so I appreciate the culinary lesson. This recipe for healthy turmeric pearl couscous looks so bright, healthy, and most importantly packed with flavor. This will be a beautiful side dish for so many things. I’m thinking roasted fish or chicken first!

  7. This is beautiful. And I know it’s tasty. I love your add-ins.

  8. 5 stars
    Great combo….the sweet raisins with the fragrant turmeric and the crunch of the nuts. I’m using a lot of turmeric to help fight inflammation….this will be a great addition to our repertoire. Love how quickly this comes together.

    1. That’s the beauty of it — it’s really quick!

  9. 5 stars
    I just bought some turmeric couscous. I love the colour and can’t wait to try it. Printing this out right now….sounds like plan for the weekend.

  10. 5 stars
    I love pearl couscous, and with the turmeric, cinnamon, and raisins too…so good!

  11. 5 stars
    I love pearl couscous, but have mostly enjoyed it plain with simple seasoning. Your recipe sounds amazing!

  12. 5 stars
    Thank you for the suggestions on what to serve with this. The combination of the couscous with tandoori pork is to die for!

  13. 5 stars
    What a gorgeous recipe! I love the color – so fabulous looking. I’m not overly familiar with tumeric – does it have a strong flavor?

    1. No, turmeric is pretty mild, actually, but it gives the couscous a beautiful golden color, don’t you think?

  14. I am always looks for new ways to include tumeric in our diet and this looks delicious.