Does Couscous Have Gluten?

Discover gluten-free couscous brands such as Gefen, Streit’s, and Lieber’s. Find out the delicious recipie for couscous and alternatives to gluten free options like quinoa and rice. Get your FAQs answered.


Couscous is a popular grain-like food often found in Middle Eastern, North African, and Mediterranean cuisines. While it is enjoyed for its versatility and light, fluffy texture, many people wonder about its gluten content, especially those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. So, does couscous have gluten? The short answer is yes, couscous does contain gluten.

What is Couscous?

Couscous is made from semolina, which is coarsely ground durum wheat. Semolina is a type of wheat, and like all wheat products, it contains gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye that gives dough its elasticity and helps it rise. For people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, consuming gluten can lead to various health issues, making it crucial to avoid gluten-containing foods like traditional couscous.

Gluten Content in Couscous

Since couscous is made from wheat, it inherently contains gluten. This makes it unsuitable for anyone on a gluten-free diet. Even though it might resemble other gluten-free grains like quinoa or rice in appearance, couscous should not be confused with these alternatives.

Gluten-Free Alternatives to Couscous

For those who need to avoid gluten, there are several alternatives to traditional couscous that offer similar textures and can be used in the same types of dishes:

  1. Quinoa: This seed is naturally gluten-free and cooks up fluffy and light, similar to couscous. It is also high in protein and nutrients, making it a healthy substitute.

  2. Rice: Both white and brown rice can be used as a base for dishes that typically use couscous. Rice is widely available and naturally gluten-free.

  3. Cauliflower Couscous: Made from finely chopped cauliflower, this is a low-carb, gluten-free alternative that can be used in various recipes. It’s a great option for those looking to increase their vegetable intake.

  4. Millet: Another gluten-free grain, millet has a mild flavor and can be used in place of couscous in many recipes. It cooks quickly and is versatile in both sweet and savory dishes.

  5. Buckwheat Groats: Despite its name, buckwheat is gluten-free and not related to wheat. Buckwheat groats can be used as a couscous substitute and offer a unique, nutty flavor.

Cooking with Gluten-Free Alternatives

When using gluten-free alternatives, it’s important to follow cooking instructions specific to each grain or substitute to achieve the best results. For example, quinoa should be rinsed before cooking to remove its natural coating, which can be bitter. Similarly, cauliflower couscous requires a quick sauté rather than boiling to maintain its texture.


To answer the question, does couscous have gluten? Yes, traditional couscous contains gluten since it is made from wheat. However, for those on a gluten-free diet, numerous delicious and nutritious alternatives can be used in place of couscous. By exploring these options, you can continue to enjoy a wide variety of dishes without compromising your dietary needs.