What’s The Difference Between Couscous and Quinoa?

If you’ve ever been to the grocery store for grains, you might have been slightly overwhelmed by all of the options. Amidst all of these choices are two that seem almost identical, couscous and quinoa.

Couscous and quinoa are all things we’ve heard of before. In fact, some of us have probably substituted one for the other in a recipe, when we didn’t have the one the recipe calls for in our pantries.

Whats The Difference Between Couscous and Quinoa

So are they similar enough to be substituted for each other? What are the differences between them? Well, if these are the questions you would like answered, you have come to the right place.

We are going to look at the differences between couscous and quinoa, so you can decide which one is the right one for you.

What Is Couscous?

Couscous is a small grain from North Africa. It’s usually made with semolina flour or durum wheat flour. When cooked, it has a light texture and a chewy consistency.

The word couscous is of Berber origin meaning ‘little ball’ or ‘well-rounded’. This is because the grains are shaped into little balls during cooking.

The most common type of couscous is called Moroccan couscous. It’s often used as an ingredient in salads and stews. You will also find it in soups and tagines.

What Is Quinoa?

Quinoa is actually not a grain but a seed. It comes from South America and was originally cultivated there as a food source. Today, people use quinoa as a whole grain.

It’s high in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, and vitamin B6. It’s also gluten-free.

You may see quinoa referred to as a pseudo-grain. This means that it looks like grain on the outside, but inside it’s much more different than a true grain.

How Do They Compare To Each Other?

Well, now you know quinoa and couscous are, let us look at some of the differences between the two.


Both couscous and quinoa are smaller than rice. Being able to tell the difference between them by size is difficult as they are relatively similar.

Also, it depends on what type of quinoa or couscous. The difference is that quinoa is a small seed, whereas couscous is a small pasta-like ball. Both are great ingredients to add to your diet.


When you cook couscous, it becomes soft and has a pasta-like texture. This makes it easy to eat and digest. On the other hand, quinoa is harder. It doesn’t become mushy or sticky as couscous does. Instead, it stays firm and crunchy.


One thing that sets couscous apart from quinoa is its flavor. While both are delicious, couscous tends to taste like pasta without anything added to it. Quinoa, on the other hand, has a mild nutty flavor and can be a bit bitter.


When it comes to the cost of the two, they are basically the same price. There may be slight variations when it comes to buying flavored quinoa or flavored couscous.


If you buy couscous you can keep it for up to 6 months after its best before date. However uncooked Quinoa should only be stored in the pantry and last for around 2-3 years.

Cooking Method

As couscous needs to be steamed or boiled, it takes longer to prepare than quinoa. Couscous takes between 10 to 15 minutes to cook by boiling it.

Because quinoa cooks faster, it can be prepared in just 5 minutes. Quinoa just needs hot water added to it. Then it can be cooked for between 5 to 10 minutes.


Couscous usually has fewer calories in it. In 100 grams of couscous, there are 112 calories compared to the 120 calories in quinoa.

Couscous is higher in carbs as in 100 grams of couscous there were 23.2 grams of carbs but quinoa only had 21.3 grams. There are 1.4 grams of fiber in couscous and 2.8 grams of fiber in quinoa.

Quinoa has 4.4 grams of protein, whereas couscous has 3.8 grams of protein. In terms of fat, couscous has 0.16 and couscous has 1.92 grams of fat.

So Which One Should I Use?

That really depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re trying to lose weight, then quinoa might be a good choice. It has more fiber than couscous which will keep you feeling fuller for longer.

On the other hand, if you prefer to eat a lighter dish then couscous might be a better choice. It contains fewer calories and fat compared to quinoa.

Whats The Difference Between Couscous and Quinoa

Benefits Of Couscous

There are a lot of benefits to eating couscous, here are some of them:

  • It is a good source of plant-based protein.
  • It is a healthier option than eating white rice.
  • It is a great source of fiber.
  • It is a good source of selenium.
  • It is a healthy, quick food option.

Benefits Of Quinoa

Quinoa is also a very nutritious grain. Here are some of the benefits of quinoa:

  • It is high in protein.
  • It can help to keep blood sugar balanced.
  • It is gluten-free.
  • It can help with overall gut health and digestion.
  • It is a great food to consume if you are trying to lose weight.
  • It is high in anti-inflammatory nutrients.

Final Thoughts

Both couscous and quinoa have their own unique qualities. They are both excellent sources of nutrition and can be used in many different ways.

Both grains are versatile and can be eaten alone or combined together. So whichever one you choose, you’ll always find something new about each of these amazing foods!

Most people confuse couscous and quinoa as the same thing, but we know that they aren’t.

Now you know the differences between couscous and quinoa so you can make the right choice for which one you need, the next time you plan on making something to eat.

Hopefully, this article has helped you to understand the differences between couscous and Quinoa! Please share this article with those who you think will benefit from it!

Brett White
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