Couscous Salad with Chicken is simple, nutritious, and so easy to make! Featuring a homemade tahini dressing, loads of fresh veggies, and fluffy couscous, it’s a delicious recipe the whole family will enjoy! Plant-Based Option.
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What Is Couscous?
Often thought of as being a grain like quinoa or rice, couscous is actually a type of pasta! Sometimes referred to as pastina which means small pasta in Italian, it is made out of durum wheat semolina flour. The flour is rolled with water to create very small balls of pasta. You can also find couscous made out of sorghum, millet, or bulgur. However, they always have the same shape.
The taste of couscous is similar to other pasta varieties in that it is mild and tends to take on the flavor of whatever it is paired with. As a result, it’s a perfect base for this salad and also tastes great in recipes like One Pot Greek Couscous and soups!
Couscous Salad Ingredients
Made with simple ingredients, this salad is bright, refreshing, and budget-friendly! Here’s what you’ll need:
For the Salad:
- Veggies – A combination of tomatoes, bell peppers, and scallions is used for flavor, texture, and nutrients.
- Chicken – To save time, we use pre-made rotisserie chicken and slice it into pieces. To keep this recipe plant-based, you could easily swap it out for chickpeas instead!
- Couscous – This adds bulks to the dish, making it extra filling and delicious.
For the Dressing:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Used to thin out the tahini and enhance the rich taste.
- Lime Juice – Just a splash helps lighten up the heaviness of the fats.
- White Vinegar – Like the lime juice, the acidity of the vinegar helps balance out the heavy fats and bitter taste of tahini.
- Tahini – A paste made out of sesame seeds, it is nutty, delicious, and super good for you, too!
- Seasonings – Oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper help create a bold dressing tastier than anything you’ll find in the store.
How to Cook Couscous
If you’ve never made couscous before, don’t be intimidated! It’s super similar to making quinoa. Of course, follow the package instructions, but we’ll walk you through what we do, too.
- Boil your water in a large saucepan.
- Remove the pan from the heat immediately, and stir in your couscous and a pinch of salt.
- Cover the pot, and let it rest for 5-10 minutes to absorb the liquid.
- Finally, fluff it with a fork, and it’s ready to use!
Pro-Tip: For an even easier version, we simply boil water in the microwave, stir in the couscous and salt, cover the bowl with foil, and set it aside!
How to Make the Best Couscous Salad Recipe
Once you’ve got your couscous ready, this salad is a complete breeze to make!
- Create the Dressing. Add all of the dressing ingredients to a mixing bowl or mason jar, and mix or shake until they are well combined and smooth.
- Assemble the Salad. Add the veggies and chicken to a large bowl. Pour the dressing on top, and toss until the ingredients are completely coated. Then, add the couscous, and toss again. Garnish with fresh parsley, and enjoy!
Feel free to incorporate any extra ingredients you want! For instance, some of our favorite add-ins include:
- Fresh herbs like mint, basil, dill, and cilantro.
- Nuts and seeds such as slivered almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, peanuts, or even cashews.
- Cotija, feta, or goat cheese.
- More veggies like cucumber and red onions.
Thanks to the inclusion of protein, this couscous salad is a complete meal all on its own. However, it pairs wonderfully with sides like:
- Olive Cheese Bread
- Moroccan Spicy Tomato Soup
- Spanakopita Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Feta Board with Marinated Olives
Couscous Salad Common Questions
Either! We love to serve this couscous salad recipe while it’s still warm, but it also tastes great when chilled in the fridge.
Although still a starch, couscous is often considered to be a healthier alternative to pasta since it is made from whole wheat flour and is less refined than most pasta.
This recipe is best served right away. However, if you want to prepare it in advance, it will stay fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 day. For the best results, we recommend leaving off the dressing until just before serving.
Quick Couscous Salad
For the Couscous Salad
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper chopped
- 1/2 cup orange bell pepper chopped
- 1/2 cup green bell pepper chopped
- 2 scallions chopped
- 2 cups rotisserie chicken cubed (feel free to omit or sub with chickpeas for a plant-based recipe)
- 16 ounces couscous uncooked + 3 cups boiling water
- Kosher salt to taste
For the Tahini Dressing
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons tahini
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- In a large, heat-safe bowl, add the couscous. Pour the boiling water on top, and add a pinch of salt. Cover the bowl tightly with aluminum foil, and set it aside for 10 minutes.
- Add all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl or mason jar. Mix or shake until they are well combined and smooth.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the chopped veggies and chicken. Drizzle the dressing on top, and toss to combine.
- Using a fork, fluff the couscous, and add it to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Toss again.
- Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired. Enjoy!
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 day.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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