I google the ingredients list and one says 100% durum wheat the other says 100% whole wheat. I still don't see any difference? Does anyone else?

If they are the same then couscous is just pasta?

  • Thank you Max and Onyz. I will use the couscous as a pasta replacement when I can't get pasta on the shelf.
    – Sedumjoy
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 19:57
  • I am a bit confused: What I know as couscous is just cooked or steamed wheat semolina. By definition it cannot be whole wheat, as part of the grains, namely the the bran and germ, are removed during production. - You can produce pasta from whole wheat flour, though. Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 12:49
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    @Monica ...I believe you are half right. Pasta can be made from whole grain wheat the germ and bran included but couscous cannot from what I can see. However pasta can also be made of the exact material that couscous is made of namely duram wheat semolina. I cannot find any couscous made of the whole grain wheat but I can find couscous made of whole grain semlina. There appears to be a difference. Here are the links I found. amazon.com/RiceSelect-Organic-Whole-Wheat-Couscous/dp/… link 2 nutritionovereasy.com/2018/11/…
    – Sedumjoy
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 14:24

2 Answers 2


Other than the shape, obviously, not that much in the grand scheme of life.

the couscous grain is coarse wheat semolina; when wanting to eat it, it is usually boiled (boiling water added to couscous) or steamed (using a couscoussière)

Pasta is a dough made from finer semolina, it is made with water or eggs.

From the pasta dough, you can make many different type of pasta.

Some small pasta shape can look like couscous, for example Kushku or Fregola (larger than normal couscous) ...

As to know which came first, I would venture to say Couscous as it is easier to prepare.

  • A quick trip to Wikipedia suggests that you are correct. Couscous originates some time in the 11th to 13th century, and pasta in a form we would recognise as pasta no earlier than the 13th.
    – user141592
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 19:08

Couscous is a type of pasta. As you say, there are many different types and shapes of pasta. Couscous is simply a form that pasta can take.

According to Wikipedia, Couscous was first introduced to Europe around the thirteenth century. While creating pasta that is many small ball shapes is not something you may consider to be revolutionary or new, the method of preparation was, I believe, novel.

Edit: It is worth mentioning that there are other distinguishing characteristics, such as a lack of dough during preparation of Couscous, and the difference in boiling vs. steaming.

Personally, this seems like an insufficient difference to warrant an entirely new categorization of food, but that gets into opinion-based territory, so I'll simply leave the differences to speak for themselves.

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    Also according to that wikipedia page, "Pearl or Israeli couscous, properly known as ptitim, is a type of pasta.", which implies that other couscous isn't a pasta.
    – Jasper
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 9:19
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    @Jasper interesting! Further down the page it mentions Couscous is distinct from pasta, even pasta such as orzo and risoni of similar size, in that it is made from crushed durum wheat semolina, while pasta is made from ground wheat. Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 10:59
  • Calling Couscous pasta is like calling malt liquor a beer. Lots of similarities but no, not the same.
    – eps
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 19:27
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    @anotherdave, Wikipedia has a lot of bad information. The statement "[couscous] is made form crushed durum wheat semolina, while pasta is made from ground wheat" doesn't make a lot of sense, and is probably wrong. Semolina is ground wheat. It's a specific kind of wheat and a specific grid, but A is semolina, while B is ground wheat makes as much sense as A is an apple, while B is a fruit. It might make sense if it means "...while B is any other type of fruit/ground wheat." But in the case of pasta, this would be false. Pasta is often made from semolina.
    – Juhasz
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 20:36
  • @eps "Malt liquor, in North America, is beer with high alcohol content." from Wikipedia, which admittedly may not be the best source, but maybe not the best counter-example one could use, either way. Personally, I think that is a good example of what I mean when I say that at a certain point it's just opinion, depending on where and how you draw your own personal lines of definition.
    – Onyz
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 10:50

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