Pearl Couscous with Mushrooms

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Super simple, super flavorful, this vegan pearl couscous with mushrooms will be your new favorite easy vegan side dish recipe.

I’ve been on a pearl couscous kick like with my one-pot cod and pearl couscous recipe. In that post, I wrote about the differences between pearl couscous and the smaller, traditional couscous, but I’ll give you a refresher below.

What is pearl couscous?

It’s a type of pasta made from semolina flour and water. It’s an extruded pasta, similar to the Italian orzo. In short, unlike traditional couscous, which is small and traditionally hand-rolled, Israeli couscous balls are much larger, made by a machine, and then toasted.

In some instances, you can swap the pearl couscous for traditional couscous. However, be mindful of the difference in cooking time. Hand-rolled, small couscous only takes 5 minutes to steep. On the other hand, pearl couscous takes about 12–15 minutes to cook.

I recommend not replacing the pearl couscous with regular couscous for this recipe. Instead, use an Italian fregola or orzo. If using orzo, you’ll likely need to add an extra cup of water and increase the cooking time to 18–20 minutes over low heat.

vegan side dish recipe

How to make this vegan pearl couscous with mushrooms:

For this vegan side dish recipe, you only need a handful of ingredients, including:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Mushrooms, freshly sliced
  • Shallot
  • Vegan butter
  • Pearl couscous
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh parsley
  • Lemon juice

I recommend buying whole mushrooms and slicing them up. Fresh mushrooms fry up better than older mushrooms!

Step 1: Start by browning the mushrooms. You want to ensure they get extra golden brown, so cook them in batches and do not overcrowd the pan. Once all the mushrooms are golden brown, transfer them all to a bowl.

Step 2: Then, cook up the shallot and add your vegan butter. From there, simply throw in the couscous and toast it up for a couple of minutes.

Step 3: Return the mushrooms to the pot with the fresh thyme sprigs and add the water. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the couscous is tender.

Step 4: Once the couscous is finished cooking, stir in the lemon juice and parsley to give the finished dish a nice brightness.

This goes great with plant-based sausage links, or you could even add a can of chickpeas for a perfect one-pot meal!

vegan side dish recipe

Pearl Couscous with Mushrooms

Super simple, super flavorful, this vegan pearl couscous with mushrooms will be your new favorite easy vegan side dish recipe.
3.87 from 36 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Inactive time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 as a side
Calories: 271kcal


  • Medium pot


  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 12 ounces baby Bella mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 1 shallot, peeled and diced
  • 3 tablespoons plant-based butter
  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • cups water or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons freshly minced parsley
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Brown the mushrooms:

  • Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms in batches if needed, and cook, occasionally stirring, for 8-10 minutes until the mushrooms release liquid and that liquid evaporates. Don’t remove them from the pot until they’re nice and golden brown! Season all over with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl.

Sauté the shallot:

  • Add another teaspoon of oil to the pot if needed. Add the shallot and cook for 1-2 minutes. Melt the butter into the shallot and sauté for 5 minutes.

Toast the couscous:

  • Add the pearl couscous and toast for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Simmer the couscous:

  • Return the mushrooms to the pot along with the thyme. Add the water and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until couscous is tender.

To serve:

  • Stir in the lemon juice and fresh parsley. Taste and season once more. Enjoy with your favorite plant-based protein.


Calories: 271kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 9g | Sodium: 79mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin C: 16mg
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    1. Hi – this may be a regional thing, but ptitim goes by several names in US grocery stores including pearl couscous and Israeli couscous. I use both names in the post so readers know what to look out for at their local grocery store. Some stores will sell brands that go by pearl couscous and some will sell brands that go by Israeli couscous.

  1. 5 stars
    Google Osem couscous. The name is ‘Israeli (pearl) Couscous. This isn’t political, just a fact.

    And, delicious recipe.

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