These southwest couscous bowls are an excellent make-ahead meal for lunch or dinner! They are served with a chili lime dressing that is extra flavorful too. Super easy and delicious!

New lunch idea, coming right up!

southwest couscous bowls

It’s no secret that I am always on the hunt for excellent lunch recipes that can be prepared ahead of time. And here I am today with a super delicious one for you. These couscous bowls have tons of flavor and are simple, satisfying and customizable. 

That’s what I love to hear. 

Much like my baja grain bowls, you can put these together the night before! Whether you toss it all or keep it segmented, it’s one of those recipes that works for make-ahead prep and may even taste better the longer that it sits. Music to my ears, thank you very much. 

southwest couscous bowls

We’re in back-to-school mode over here and that really means back to routines. Dinner meal planning comes fairly easy to me given this job, but it’s lunch that I find to be a struggle. It’s better for me during the week to have a few ideas in mind – sometimes that means cooking something ahead of time, using my 10 minute meal prep theory or just generally having an idea of what I can grab.

Anything to make me have less decision fatigue, especially on big work days at home.

So let me introduce my new favorite lunch! And how it comes together.

First, the couscous. I sauté some bell peppers and onions in with the grain before adding liquid, then cook it all together. This is SO wonderful. It really adds an extra depth of flavor that you don’t get with raw diced onion and peppers on top. This is my new favorite way to cook a grain and a method I’ll use with rice and quinoa too. 

I almost always have a cooked grain on hand during the week. It is such a simple part of meal prep that can be done on the weekend without much thought. And grains are incredibly versatile. So if you know you want to make this, prep it ahead of time and it makes things that much easier. 

Here’s what we have in our bowl:

The couscous – pearl couscous to be exact. It’s my favorite. I use this one and get it at my local grocery store.

Beans! I like black beans here. But any beans work.

Corn, for which you have many options. You can use frozen or fresh corn, right from the cob. You can use leftover grilled corn. For this, I love to use that roasted corn from Trader Joe’s that comes frozen. Really whatever corn you have and enjoy. 

Tomatoes, green onions and fresh herbs (like cilantro) round everything out.

If you’re looking for more, this is also a fantastic base to use for chicken (I’d just grab a rotisserie one!), shrimp or even steak. 

One of my favorite parts about this bowl is the dressing! You know what a huge fan I am of homemade vinaigrettes and this one does not disappoint. It’s a chili lime dressing, originally found in Everyday Dinners, that adds so much flavor to any bowl or salad. I love the weeks when I have this one in the fridge because it’s delish on all the things. 

This bowl can be served warm or cold, it’s entirely up to you. You can make this into smaller or larger portions, depending on what you’re looking for. You can also toss the entire thing together as a side dish. And of course, you can easily multiply it to feed a ton of people, because grain bowls are easy like that. 

I couldn’t ask for more!

Southwest Couscous Bowls

Southwest Couscous Bowls

These southwest couscous bowls are an excellent make-ahead meal for lunch or dinner! They are served with a chili lime dressing that is extra flavorful too. Super easy and delicious!
5 from 14 votes
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chili lime dressing


  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onions, peppers and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the dry couscous. Add in the stock, then bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Fluff the mixture with a fork.
  • Divide the couscous into two bowls (or even four bowls for a smaller side-like portion). Top with the black beans, tomatoes, corn, green onions and cilantro. Drizzle with the chili lime dressing.
  • Serve with lime wedges for spritzing.
  • Note: you can make this entire thing ahead of time, including tossing with dressing, about 24 hours ahead of time.

chili lime dressing

  • In a bowl, whisk together the lime juice, honey, garlic, chili powder, cilantro and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stream in the olive oil while whisking until the dressing is emulsified. This dressing stays great in the fridge for a few days!

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Plus it’s so colorful!