Wondering is couscous is gluten-free? Great question! This article will give you all of the information you need to know about couscous and a how it relates to a gluten-free diet.

close up shot of couscous

Couscous is a side dish that is commonly used in Moroccan dishes and African cuisine. It is similar to rice as it can take on any flavor of what it is served with and it is a versatile food. But if you have celiac disease, a gluten sensitivity, or a gluten intolerance, you may wonder: Is couscous gluten-free?

No, couscous is not gluten-free. It is actually a type of pasta rather than a rice or a seed. Its main ingredient is semolina flour, so it not safe for those who do not or cannot eat gluten.

Couscous is an international food that is used in many dishes, but is common when you order a Moroccan or African dish. It is also tasty in a summer salad or paired with your favorite vegetables.

Check out the rest of this post to learn more about couscous and some gluten-free options to replace it!

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Quick Answer: Is Couscous Gluten-Free?

No, couscous is not gluten-free. Even though it looks like it would be a type of rice, it is actually a pasta. It is made up of durum wheat semolina flour.

Traditional couscous is known for being in a tiny ball shape. This makes it confusing for those who cannot eat gluten because it has a similar shape to rice. This Middle Eastern side dish is a grain product as its main ingredient is semolina wheat.

There are gluten-free couscous products you can buy at pretty much any grocery store chain, but you will want to make sure you check the ingredient label before buying and eating. Make sure to look out for “gluten-free” on the label to ensure that you can eat it. The FDA has specific requirements for companies to follow so their product can be labeled as gluten-free.

For more articles check out is buckwheat gluten-free, are snickers gluten-free, is oat milk gluten-free and are marshmallows gluten-free.

You also might like these articles on are egg noodles gluten-free, are rice noodles gluten-free, is naan gluten-free and are french fries gluten-free!

What is a Gluten-Free Couscous Alternative?

There are plenty of great options for gluten-free substitutes for couscous. Some of these options include cauliflower rice, brown rice couscous, potatoes, short grain rice, or quinoa. You can really use whatever you prefer.

Also, there are a ton of gluten-free couscous brands so you can still have couscous if you want. Gluten-free Israeli couscous is a great gluten-free version of couscous. There is also Gefen Gluten-free couscous and Lieber’s TriColor Gluten-free couscous.

What is the Difference Between Couscous and Quinoa?

The main difference is that quinoa is gluten-free, whereas couscous is not. Another difference is that quinoa can actually help improve blood sugar levels. Because couscous is higher in carbs, it can cause a blood sugar spike.

Both foods are carbs and contain a lot of protein, but quinoa has about twice as much fiber than couscous does, keeping you fuller longer. Couscous and quinoa are used as replacements for pasta and rice and they have a similar texture, so people easily mix them up. It is important to know the difference, especially if you have a dietary restriction.

Quinoa is the seed of the quinoa plant that is from South America. There are a bunch of different types of quinoa and it is sometimes ground into flour for baking and cooking. Quinoa is loaded with essential nutrients, making it a very healthy option.

For more articles about gluten-free ingredients, check out is farro gluten-free, is quinoa gluten-free, is brown rice gluten-freeis yeast gluten-free and is buckwheat gluten-free.

Is Couscous Gluten-Free? FAQs

What grains are gluten-free?

There are plenty of grains that are gluten-free. Buckwheat is gluten-free (I have a whole post about buckwheat if you are curious), flax is gluten-free, and corn! There are also gluten-free flours (oat flour, almond flour, rice flour, etc) that are used often.

What does couscous taste like?

It has a similar texture to rice, but has a nutty flavor. When cooked, couscous gets a light, fluffy texture, but still has a firm shape to it. There is not a whole lot of flavor to couscous, but it will take on any flavor you pair it with. That is why it is such a great side dish!

Can Celiacs eat couscous?

No, those with celiac disease cannot eat couscous. They can have gluten-free couscous, but not regular couscous, as it contains gluten. If someone with celiac eats couscous, it could cause a severe allergic reaction and could be quite dangerous depending on the severity of their allergy.


So, is couscous gluten-free?

It is not. Couscous is a type of pasta that is made from semolina flour, making it not gluten-free. Even though it looks like a type of rice or quinoa, it is not safe for those with a gluten allergy, sensitivity, or celiac disease.

There are plenty of gluten-free alternatives to couscous, such as rice, quinoa, and potatoes. You can also find gluten-free couscous at your local grocery store.


Hi, I’m Erin!

BS Food Science,

MS Nutrition

I believe you can make amazing, gluten-free food with everyday ingredients that everyone will enjoy. I’m here to share my tried-and-true recipes with you!

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  1. I just came across your blog post about whether couscous is gluten-free and I found it really helpful. As someone who follows a gluten-free diet, I’ve often wondered about the gluten content of couscous. It’s great to have a clear and informative resource like your blog to turn to for information on gluten-free foods. I appreciated that you provided information on both traditional couscous made from wheat and gluten-free couscous made from alternative grains like quinoa or millet. It’s always important to check labels and ingredient lists to be sure that a food is safe to eat, and your blog post provided valuable information on this topic. Thank you for sharing such a useful resource!

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