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Shrimp Couscous Paella is a quick and easy one-pot meal that's perfect for a busy weeknight and is fancy enough to serve guests.
This flavorful dish originated in Spain. But, unlike the classic, this version cooks up in less than 30 minutes because it calls for couscous instead of rice!
It's perfect for entertaining larger groups, just like the original! And it would be perfect with Copycat 1905 Salad for a Spanish-inspired dinner.
Serve it with a stack of bowls, forks, and a little bread on the side. That's it.
It's a complete meal, just like warm Mediterranean orzo salad with scallops.
You'll love this recipe because:
- There's only one pan to clean.
- It's ready in about 20 minutes, from start to finish.
- It's easy to customize using your favorite seafood and vegetables.
Paella has evolved from its origins in Valencia. Depending on the recipe, you'll find different kinds of rice, spices, and proteins. Here's our take on some of the staples to make a fantastic Shrimp and Couscous Paella:
- Couscous - Certainly the most controversial choice to replace rice! Traditional paellas, like Shrimp and Chorizo Paella, use bomba or Arborio rice.
Note: We used Moroccan couscous, which cooks very quickly and is easily found in the grocery store. Couscous is made from semolina. It's actually pasta, although it looks and has the texture of a fine grain. Wow!!!
You could use pearled couscous instead. But, the cooking process is different, and it would need to be cooked separately.
- Turmeric - gives this dish a yellow tint (and a bit of a kick too.) You'll usually find saffron used to color the rice. It's a little pricey, but it may be worth it if you're going for an authentic experience.
Note: Turmeric is often used in Indian curries and is known for its health benefits. However, you don't have to use this spice to make this tasty dish. I've made it without this spice and it's still delicious!
- Shrimp - We singled out shrimp for this recipe because it cooks FAST! And we like fast shrimp recipes!
Note: Other proteins often used in paella include Spanish chorizo, beans, or an array of seafood, including mussels and scallops. Really, anything goes!
- Vegetables - Onions, bell peppers, garlic, and peas are commonly used in a traditional Paella dish. We used those.
Note: Other vegetables, such as artichokes, green beans, and tomatoes, are on point too. I say add whatever you like so you have a complete meal!
- Red Pepper Flakes - are totally optional!
Best Pan for Couscous Paella
This couscous paella recipe doesn't call for the hallmark "paella pan." But it does use just one pan. You read that right. Clean-up is a breeze!
Use a large skillet, preferably with a 1 to 2-inch rim. You'll need a lid or way to cover it as the couscous cooks. Cover the pan with aluminum foil if you don't have a top.
Here's how to make couscous paella with shrimp:
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, peppers, and garlic to the pan and saute for about 5-8 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- Stir in broth, water, spices, shrimp, and peas. Everything except for the couscous.
- Raise heat and bring mixture to a very low boil. Then, reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until shrimp turn pink, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in uncooked couscous. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and let stand for 5 minutes.
Like magic, the couscous absorbs the liquid and just needs to be fluffed with a fork.
How to Double or Triple the Recipe
Are you convinced you need to make shrimp couscous paella for your next large gathering? If so, you will probably need to increase the recipe.
Depending upon the size of your skillet, you may need to adapt the cooking method. Here are some things we've done:
- Use a large pot instead of a skillet to handle the amount of added liquid. Carefully check the shrimp to ensure they are cooked through. It will take a little longer.
- Make two batches!
- Soften the vegetables, cook the shrimp, and prepare the couscous separately, adding all of the spices to the liquid. Combine all the ingredients at the end.
Storage and Make Ahead
- Refrigerator. Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. We don't recommend freezing because the couscous will become mushy.
- Reheat. Warm leftover shrimp couscous on the stovetop over medium heat or in the microwave on 50% power so the shrimp doesn't become rubbery.
- Make Ahead. Chop vegetables and peel shrimp ahead of time to make dinner preparation even more effortless.
More Easy Shrimp Recipes
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Shrimp Couscous Paella
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 cup Onion diced (about 1 medium onion)
- 1 Sweet Red Pepper diced
- 1 Sweet Yellow Pepper diced
- 3 Garlic Cloves minced
- 1 cup Chicken Broth
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
- ½ teaspoon Dried Thyme
- ½ teaspoon Ground Turmeric
- ½ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes if you want some extra heat!
- 10 ounces peas frozen
- 1 ½ pounds Shrimp peeled and deveined
- 7 ounces Moroccan couscous uncooked
- Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, peppers, and garlic to a large skillet and saute for about 5-8 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- Stir in remaining ingredients, except for couscous. Raise heat and bring mixture to a very low boil.
- Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until shrimp turn pink, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and stir in uncooked couscous. Cover with lid or aluminum foil and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Remove lid and fluff with a fork.