Instant Pot Cranberry Spice Couscous, a fluffy and light side dish with fruity flavors of fall such as orange, cinnamon, allspice and cardamom.
Instant Pot Cranberry Spice Couscous is a delicious side dish, which is enjoyed all year long. Couscous is light and fluffy and replaces rice or potatoes as a side dish. It is wonderful paired with all kinds of main courses like Instant Pot Classic Pot Roast, Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip and Instant Pot Pesto Chicken, just to name a few.
It is also delicious as a main course with some type of meat with a sauce right on top. Pressure Cooker Balsamic Ginger Chicken would be wonderful served on top of the Cranberry Spice Couscous.
I love when recipes are versatile and I can take a basic recipe and change up the seasonings and liquid for a whole new flavor experience. This Instant Pot Cranberry Spice Couscous recipe is the only couscous recipe you will ever need.
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Ingredients for Cranberry Spice Couscous
- Butter (or Margarine to make it Parve)
- North African Style Couscous or Israeli/Pearl Couscous
- Red Pepper and Onions
- Allspice, Cardamom and Cinnamon
- Dried Cranberries and Golden Raisins
- Orange Juice
This is such a wonderfully fragrant and satisfying recipe and no one will guess it is just a dump and push start recipe. So little work for such a delicious side dish. Super, duper simple and eat!
What I love about this Instant Pot Cranberry Spice Couscous recipe is that it is perfect for gatherings, parties and potlucks. As it is a vegetarian dish, those who don’t eat meat will have something delicious to eat
Pressure Cooker Baingan Bharta [Indian Eggplant], which is vegetarian, would also be a great side dish for a potluck. Both recipes are perfect for those who are Kosher or Jews who follow the dietary rules of Kashrut.
Pro Tip: Dice the onions a bit smaller than the red pepper, so that the red pepper adds a bit of texture.
Many of the ingredients can be switched to a totally different flavor. Currents can be used in place of cranberries. Only raisins can be used. Any combination of fruit with the orange juice is delicious.
For a more savory flavor, try adding a dollop of Better than Bouillon Chicken Base or Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base to the orange juice or even instead of orange juice and just use a flavored broth.
Make it Parve
For my fellow tribesmen (Jewish peeps), I created this vegetarian recipe with the option to use margarine instead of butter so that it can be enjoyed regardless or whether the main course is dairy or meat.
For non-Jews, parve is a neutral recipe/dish, so it can pair with meat recipes, like my Instant Pot Jewish Brisket and my Instant Pot Rojo Fiesta Chicken, as well as any dairy recipes like Instant Pot Broccoli Cheddar Soup or along side Instant Pot Colcannon.
Therefore, Instant Pot Cranberry Spice Couscous is perfect to bring to Chanukkah parties, Christmas parties and any parties throughout the year. So, if you are kosher and following the rules of Kashrut , you are all set!
Fresh whole spices can really add a beautiful fragrance to your couscous. As they are not pleasant to bite on while eating, I suggest only using them in this recipe if you are with people who are used to eating around whole spices. Most people who enjoy Indian food love to use whole spices. My Instant Pot Chicken Biryani recipe is a great example of using and toasting whole spices.
How To Use Whole Spices Instead of Ground Spices
You will toast the spices by heating up your pressure cooker until hot and then adding in a drop of oil and butter.
Add the whole cinnamon stick and whole allspice. You will need to give the cardamon a quick smash. Toast them for a couple of minutes and then follow the rest of the recipe, eliminating the ground spices.
Make sure your guests know to watch out for the whole spices as they won’t be happy if they bite one. 🙂
Orange juice gives the Cranberry Spice Couscous a really nice and subtly sweet flavor. Another recipe which uses cranberries and orange juice together is my Instant Pot Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce. It’s fab. Pineapple juice would be quite nice as well.
What Kind of Orange Juice To Use
- Freshly squeezed orange juice
- Frozen orange juice – prepare according to packaging
- Refrigerated orange juice
There are many ways to change up the recipe to match your main course. Instant Pot Cranberry Spice Couscous can be made to be savory simply by changing up the liquid. Nuts add a nice crunch.
How to Make Savory Cranberry Spice Couscous
- In place of the orange juice, use chicken broth, beef broth or vegetable broth.
- A few cloves of fresh minced garlic is nice to add.
What is Couscous?
- Simply put, it is crushed durum wheat semolina. The same stuff used in making pasta, but couscous is cut into very small pieces.
- Very popular in North African cuisine, as well as in Israeli cuisine. Israeli couscous, also called pearl couscous are cut into little balls and cook in the same manner. Couscous is a very popular dish to serve for Shabbos.
- It is very light and fluffy and not at all gummy.
Couscous has become popular all over the world and frequently enjoyed with some type of meat or chicken piled on top.
Which Couscous to Use?
- North African Style Couscous is cut very fine.
- Israeli/Pearl Couscous are very small balls and very pretty.
Use whatever type of couscous you like. I like to use tri-colored couscous and either style.
Use a fork to fluff the cranberry spice couscous.
What is Chiffonade?
- Chiffonade is a French slicing technique and means “little ribbons.”
If you enjoy this recipe, I know you will enjoy my Pressure Cooker Seasoned Vegetable Ghee Rice recipe, as it is very fragrant too and so delicious.
Garnish the Instant Pot Couscous with ribbons of fresh mint leaves. The aroma is intoxicating!
How To Chiffonade Mint
- Stack up the mint leaves with the vein of the leaves horizontal.
- Tightly roll up the leaves.
- Slice the leaves perpendicular to the roll. About four cuts will do.
Pistachio nuts or pine nuts are a delicious option and add a nice crunch.
Can Nuts Be Added
This is a great question and we love to add crushed pistachios to Instant Pot Cranberry Spice Couscous. However, if you are bringing this recipe to a potluck, gathering or a friends house, it is best to leave out the nuts.
Many people have nut allergies and it is better to be safe. This way, everyone can enjoy the couscous.
Don’t forget to check out This Old Gal’s Pressure Cooker Cookbook for delicious recipes.
Oh my gosh, the flavor. Yes, the flavor. A bit sweet, a bit savory a bit minty. Each bite has such a huge pop of flavor.
Watch the video below as I walk you through every step and detail of this recipe. I’ve given you a ton of information above, but sometimes a live visual of the process helps so you can follow along. I have my own cooking show on my YouTube Channel, so be sure to check it out and subscribe!
Watch my video and then scroll to the bottom for the printable recipe card.
Tips and Tricks for Instant Pot Cranberry Spice Couscous
- Nothing really, just dump everything into the pot and push start!
- Fluff with a fork after removing the lid.
- Only use nuts if you are sure no one has any nut allergies.
Make Instant Pot Cranberry Spice Couscous part of your holiday meal. It is a dish that everyone will love and it pairs with just about every recipe you can find! It certainly will add gorgeous color to your table and will cause all kinds of conversation.
More Instant Pot Side Dishes to Make:
- Pressure Cooker Seasoned Vegetable Ghee Rice
- Low Carb Brussels Sprouts Alfredo Sauce + Video
- Pressure Cooker Southern Style Green Beans
- Instant Pot Sweet Potato Medallions
So, nuts or no nuts? What’s your preference?
Kitchen Equipment and Essentials
- Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi or Pressure Cooker
- J.A. Henckels Classic 8 inch Chef’s Knife
- Amco Advanced Performance 18/10 Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons
- Simply Gourmet (Dry) Stainless Steel Measuring Cups
- Anchor Hocking Glass (Liquid) Measuring Cups
- di Oro Living Silicone Spatulas Set
- Alton Brown Salt Box
- My FANTASTIC Teak Cutting & Charcuterie Board & Compartments
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Here is the handy printable recipe:
Instant Pot Cranberry Spice CouscousPrint Pin SaveSaved! Rate
- 3/4 cup Yellow/Brown Onion finely diced
- 3/4 cup Red Pepper diced
- 3 Tablespoons Butter or Margarine
- 2 teaspoons Sea Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon Ground Allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon Ground Cardamom
- 1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
- 1/4 cup Golden Raisins
- 3 cups Orange Juice
- 2 cups Couscous
- 1 bunch Fresh Mint Leaves Chiffonade (cut into ribbons)
If No Nut Allergies (choose one)
- 1/2 cup Pistachio Nuts crushed
- 1/2 cup Pine Nuts
- 1/2 cup Sliced Almonds
- Dice up onions and red peppers, dicing the onions slightly finer than the red peppers.
- Place onions and peppers into Instant Pot cooking pot.
- Add butter. (Kosher people, if you are making this dish with a meat meal, use margarine instead.)
- Add salt, ground cinnamon, ground allspice and ground cardamom.
- Add in cranberries and raisins.
- Pour in orange juice and mix to combine.
- Sprinkle in couscous and do not mix.
- Lock on lid and close pressure valve. Cook at high pressure (most machines default to high) for 0 minutes. Yes, 0 is correct. The time it takes the pot to come up to pressure and then release, is the perfect time for couscous.
- When beep sounds, wait 15 minutes and then release the rest of the pressure (if any is left).
- Remove lid and fluff with a fork.
- If adding nuts, mix them in after fluffing, otherwise, move on to the mint.
- Stack mint leaves with the veins horizontal to you. Tightly roll up the leaves using the long side. Take a sharp knife and cut vertically (rolled leaves should still be horizontal) 4-5 times to make 4-5 rolls. Unroll and you will have ribbons.
- Plate couscous and garnish with ribbons of mint leaves. If leaving couscous inside the pressure cooker, sprinkle mint ribbons over the top.
Is there a formula for down-sizing your recipes for the 3 qt. mini?
I just made this tonight & I loved it! However, I got the dreaded “burn” notice before it finished reaching pressure. I followed all the steps but I’m not sure what I did wrong. Any suggestions?
Jill Selkowitz says
No, that’s fine as I talk about in the notes regarding reaching pressure. That “dreaded” notice is not always a bad thing. There is such a short cook time, you really don’t want more liquid. Jill