Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad

$5.37 recipe / $0.90 serving

THIS is the salad of the summer.

It’s so fast, so easy, and SO refreshing! I just love it! Bring it to a potluck, eat it as a cold refreshing lunch, or serve it along side some grilled goodies for dinner. It’s a total winner.

If you’re unfamiliar with couscous, its basically little pasta pellets. It cooks really fast, is a fun texture, and is a great way to bulk up salads. I used large Israeli couscous for this salad, but you could certainly use regular couscous or even orzo instead. Regular couscous cooks a little differently, so take a look at this couscous salad (made with regular-sized couscous) for cooking instructions and size reference.

I buy my couscous from the bulk bins at the grocery store because it’s super cheap and I can buy exactly the amount I need without having a half package leftover. I used about 1.5 cups for this recipe, but you could go up to to two cups if needed (it really doesn’t need to be exact). Also, if you want to bulk it out a little more, a can of chickpeas would be great!

Lemony Cucumber & Couscous Salad

Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad

4.9 from 23 reviews
Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $5.37
Cost Per Serving: $0.90
Serves: 6
  • 1½ to 2 cups Israeli couscous $1.47
  • 2 medium cucumbers $1.50
  • ¼ bunch parsley $0.20
  • 1 medium lemon $0.49
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • ¼ tsp salt $0.02
  • freshly cracked pepper to taste $0.05
  • 3 oz. crumbled feta cheese $1.30
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the couscous and continue to let it boil for 5-7 minutes, or until the couscous is tender. Drain the couscous in a colander or wire mesh sieve (if the holes in the colander are too big). Rinse briefly with cool water to cool off the couscous, then allow to drain while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  2. Cut the cucumber into quarter rounds and place them in a large bowl. Take a big handful (or about ¼ bunch) of parsley and pull the leaves from the stems. Roughly chop the parsley and then add it to the bowl with the cucumber. Use a fine holed cheese grater or a zester to remove the thin layer of yellow zest from the lemon and add it the bowl with the other ingredients.
  3. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a small bowl (you should get 2-3 tablespoons of juice). Add the olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. Stir to combine and then pour the dressing over the cucumber, parsley, and lemon zest. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the cooled and drained couscous and crumbled feta to the bowl. Gently stir to combine all of the ingredients. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately or chill until ready to eat.
If you are substituting regular couscous for Israeli couscous, be aware that the cooking instructions are different. You can find instructions and step by step photos in this recipe post. You can substitute orzo for the couscous without any adjustments.

Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad

Step by Step Photos

Israeli CouscousThis is what the Israeli couscous looks like when it’s dry. It cooks exactly like pasta. Again, if you want to see what regular couscous looks like, check out this other post.

Boil CouscousCook couscous just like you would pasta – bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, add the couscous, and then continue to boil until the couscous is tender. Since it’s small, it cooks fairly quickly. 5 min or so.

Drain CouscousDrain the couscous and then rinse briefly with cool water to bring the temperature down. You may want to use a mesh wire sieve to drain the couscous because, as you can see, even with the large Israeli couscous I lost a few through the holes :(

chop cucumberSo while the couscous is cooking and cooling, you can prepare the rest of the salad. Cut your cucumbers into quarter rounds, roughly chop the parsley, and remove the zest from the lemon. Place them all in a bowl.

Lemon DressingTo make the lemony dressing, I squeezed the juice from the lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons) and added 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/4 tsp of garlic powder, 1/4 tsp of salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. Stir to combine. If you’re a garlic lover, you could certainly mince up a clove of fresh garlic instead of the garlic powder. I decided that I wanted the salad to have just a hint of garlic flavor, so I added a touch of powdered garlic instead of fresh.

pepper grinderIf I haven’t told you yet, this is one of my favorite weapons in the kitchen. These little disposable grinders are usually around $3 and last me at least 6 months with heavy use. There are different varieties and you can adjust the size of the grind. They’re awesome. 

Add DressingAdd the dressing to the ingredients in the bowl and then toss to coat.

Couscous and FetaNow you can add the cooled and drained couscous and the crumbled feta. Stir to combine once more.

Adjust Salt PepperGive it a taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed (I added a touch more of both).

Lemony Cucumber Couscous SaladAnd now you’re ready to eat! Or, you can chill it until it’s time for dinner. This salad is SO good cold. 

Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad

So fresh and so clean, clean! That’s the lyric that runs through my head when I taste this. 20 points if you can tell me the song/artist. Okay, maybe 5 points because it’s too easy.


  1. Tom S says:

    I made this for my wife on Monday night and it was excellent. I added fresh chopped cilantro and it was really delicious and filling. It’s going to be a weekly side dish to our meal. Thanks again for another great recipe.

    BTW…I made the no knead pizza recipe Sunday night and last night the nacho baked potatoes. You can say i’m addicted to this site and my wife loves that. :>)

  2. Andrew says:

    I’ve made this a couple times already and love it! I’m going to try using cilantro instead of parsley for a little extra kick tonight!

  3. WOW yumminess! I added spinach to mine just to get the greens in. Definitely a keeper! Thanks much :)

  4. Sarah says:

    Made this tonight, used regular cous cous instead of Israeli as that’s all my grocery store had. I found it a little bland, not much lemon flavor at all. Maybe the smaller cous cous sucked up the dressing faster than larger pieces. If I make it again, I’ll double the dressing.

  5. Does anyone know how many calories in a cup of this?

  6. YUM!! Trying this tonight with quinoa instead since my dumb grocery store didn’t have couscous and I was too lazy to go to a second one. grr.

    And since nobody is answering… the song is from Outkast!! haha :) Love it!


  7. This is the perfect lunch! So refreshing, so simple, so satisfying. Thank you thank you.

  8. Christine says:

    I’ve now made this recipe some dozen times (at least!), and it’s one of the few that I never deviate from. It’s perfect, my husband asks for it every second week, and I have yet to meet anyone that didn’t love it.

    And now that we have cucumbers growing in our garden, it’s even easier to make!

  9. Elizabeth B says:

    Oh wow, this is so good! It’s been hot here lately and this was the perfect cool side to accompany the Greek chicken dish (which was also outstanding).

  10. Ava Perls says:

    This recipe is absolutely fantastic! I discovered it while googling for recipes involving both Israeli pearl couscous and feta cheese, since I was trying to use up those ingredients that I already had, and I’m so very glad I found the recipe for this wonderful dish! We didn’t end up with as much parsley as we supposed to have, but even so, it was great, especially with a little extra zing from using a Trader Joe’s lemon pepper grinder as well as plain salt and fresh-ground pepper. Yum! It was so good we ate the leftovers 10 hours after we ate the meal for the first time.

  11. Barbara says:

    Had this tonight with the Greek marinated chicken, and my husband (of Greek and Italian ancestry) and I both loved it. I substituted dill for the parsley which worked very nicely. I might try it with orzo instead of the couscous, which I just happened to have on hand. I read in another cookbook that toasting the orzo in butter until golden before cooking it gives it a richer taste. How could that not be good?

  12. Laura says:

    Oh my goodness, since I found this recipe I’ve probably made it at least four times. It’s so wonderful and refreshing. The last time I did it with whole wheat pearled couscous which I toasted in the pan with a little olive oil and minced garlic before cooking it. I also tossed in some diced red onion, tomato, and I substituted cilantro from the parsley. It was amazing! What a wonderful recipe, Beth.

  13. I just made this the other day and it was delicious! I used herbed goat cheese, and that made it creamy. After a couple of days, the lemony-ness of the dressing faded a little, and it got a little bit dry in the fridge, so I put about a tablespoon of balsamic dressing on it and it was just as delicious!

  14. Yum! I did this with regular couscous that I cooked in a veggie stock! I actually totally fudged up the dressing because I wasn’t reading the directions and just threw everything together once the couscous was done instead of mixing the dressing first! Oh well, it still turned out really tasty!

  15. Nicole says:

    Hi Beth! Love Love Love this couscous – I am obsessed.

    Can this go in the freezer?

    • Hmm, I’m not sure. I haven’t tried freezing a dish like this. Pasta usually freezes pretty good, although it can sometimes be a bit dry upon reheating.

  16. Jenny C. says:

    This looks great! We’re going to have it with your Greek chicken for supper this week.
    As a side note, I’m having issues using the “Pin It” button on your recipes. When I click it, it comes up with a blank picture. Maybe it’s just me, though…

  17. Reena G says:

    Hi, this recipe looks great. I’m wondering if you can substitute the couscous with quinoa?

  18. Adrienne says:

    1st timer to your site…i love it!!! Anyone tried it with goat cheese? Hubby doesn’t really like feta…

  19. Katie says:

    How long does this keep? Do you recommend not mixing it all until you are going to serve it?

    • About 4-5 days. It’s definitely prettiest right after it’s mixed, but the flavors get very nice after refrigerating for a while, so it’s up to you! :)

  20. Maggie says:

    my husband’s comment was that ‘these balls taste good.’ for reals.

  21. Shana Ulrich says:

    I made this for dinner last night but I made one (kinda big) substitution. I used quinoa and it was amazing! It made a great lunch today as well!

  22. Sarah says:

    I made this for myself for dinner tonight. I skipped the feta since I can’t have cheese and since I didn’t have parsley, I used chopped cilantro. I really liked it. I’m going to try some of those other suggestions posted in the comments.

  23. hintowe says:

    I found this on Pinterest and made it for the first time today. I’m not a fan of parsley so I used fresh dill instead and wow, it’s yum! I’ll definitely be making this again.

  24. Allison says:

    I made this twice in two weeks! The first time I followed the original recipe and the second I used whole wheat Israeli couscous and cilantro instead of parsley – it is delicious both ways!

  25. Terri says:

    I made this with fresh dill instead of parsley and added some canned salmon for protein. It was awesome!

  26. Marisa says:

    Made this tonight using farro instead of couscous because that was all I had. Fantastic! Thank you :-)

  27. Rose Field says:

    This is a great recipe for me because I’ve had a ginormous box of couscous in my cupboard for months and every time I try to use it up I end up making boring, tasteless, almost plain couscous with some chicken broth. This will be so much better. Thanks!

  28. Lauren says:

    Yummy! And so refreshing. At the last minute I decided to add some black beans for protein and man am I enjoying this for lunch today. This seems like it would go well with so many things on top of it, in it or on the side. I’m envisioning some shrimp or grilled chicken…

    I also liked it better slightly warmed, so I popped it in the microwave for about a minute. Perfect.

  29. Megan says:

    I made this for a party this past weekend. It was great! However, I found the parsley to be a bit too much…maybe I’m just not a fan and haven’t realized it until now! I got rave reviews from others. I think I enjoyed it more at room temperature/slightly warm than chilled.

  30. Claire says:

    I just made this with pearl barley instead of couscous to up the nutritional value. It’s amazing! So light and refreashing, but satisfying with the chewy barley!

  31. Sarah says:

    I just made this to take to a 4th of July BBQ, with some slight variations: I added a splash of balsamic vinegar, some dried dill (would have preferred fresh, but none on hand,) a couple cloves of fresh garlic, a sprinkle of greek herb seasoning (by Opa! seasoning mixes) and amped up the feta a bit because I LOVE feta. It turned out amazing! Thanks for the recipe!

  32. Emily says:

    I had this for dinner tonight. It was really great chilled! Perfect summer salad.

  33. Stephanie says:

    I made this last night and it was tasty and refreshing! I’ll definitely bring it as a side to some potlucks this summer. Thanks for sharing!

  34. Khrys says:

    Made this last night, but had to use orzo as I don’t care for regular couscous and was unable to find the Israeli version. I used 1 cup uncooked orzo, 1 cucumber and 4 oz pre-crumbled feta and kept the EVOO, lemon, garlic, parsley and salt as written. Very yummy and very versatile. I just ate it again for breakfast! Thank you!

  35. Made this the other night. Hubby really liked it, but we both think this dish would be better with cilantro or mint rather than parsley. I think it’ll brighten it up and bring it another layer of freshness.

  36. Keri says:

    This absolutely AMAZING! I’m eating it over a bed of romaine with a bit of salmon on top, and it is to die for!

  37. Marisa says:

    Delicious! I have a feeling I’ll be making this every week this summer and bringing it to every potluck picnic! Oh, and I added a can of garbanzos for protein and it works perfectly.

  38. Katie says:

    I didn’t have as much couscous as this called for, so I bulked it up with some lentils and red onions, and for lunch I’m having this with some of the greek marinated chicken on top. A really great refreshing and with a tweak really filling!

  39. Cari says:

    Thanks Beth! You rock! Your recipes are fantastic!!!!

  40. Cari says:

    Hi Beth!
    This may be a silly question, is it 1/2-2 cups couscous dry or cooked? I’m thinking of making this for a potluck tomorrow. :-). Thanks!

  41. This recipe looks delicious – very light and refreshing for the warm months ahead! Israeli couscous is one of my very favorite starches. I can’t wait to try this!

  42. Gaiti says:

    Yum! I make something close-ish. I chop up tomatoes, cucumbers and green chilies, toss it in with warm coucous, spritz lemon juice and a pinch of salt on top! Love tossing in some baked chicken and there’s lunch or dinner, one of my faves for summer!

  43. I’m always using those peppercorn grinders on my food! This salad looks delicious.

  44. Well, I’m definitely going to have to make some of this! I actually find my Israeli couscous at our local Persian market. I only wish it were in more bulk bins!

  45. Cynthia A. says:

    This looks lovely, but I may try it out with quinoa instead (no wheat for me…). Thanks so much for the recipe!

  46. yoli says:

    Outcast! That song went through my head too! The salad looks awesome, I’m gonna try it for dinner tomorrow!

  47. Hmkyle says:

    I had a box of couscous I was waiting to use, this seems like the perfect opportunity!

  48. India says:

    Long time lurker. This looks so good! Can’t wait to try.

    Outkast! So fresh and so clean and so clean clean!

  49. Amanda Mananda says:

    Aaaa~h, the awesome World Market bowl again.

    I was combing my brain and trying to think of what the Israeli couscous looked like, then I realized: it looks exactly like the filling from a bean bag chair. Willing to bet it tastes a bit better, though. -:P I love salads that you can make ahead of time and chuck into the fridge to chill. Dat flavor blending; love it. -:)

  50. Oooh, that does look good. I have not had much experience with couscous save for a french friend bringing it over for potluck one day but I will try this! Pinning!

  51. This salad is my kind of salad! Perfect for summer! :)

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