Smoky Shrimp & Couscous

A weeknight dinner that takes 30 minutes to make and only requires one pot? It’s not too good to be true, I promise! This Smoky Shrimp & Couscous is one of my favorite weeknight dinners, and it really couldn’t be easier. The vegetables, aromatics, couscous, and shrimp are all added to the same pan in stages, a process I find relaxing and satisfying after a long day. The whole thing is ready within half an hour, the perfect time for a glass of white wine ( the recipe calls for 1/3 cup so you’ll have plenty leftover to drink.)

This recipe is a mashup of Mediterranean influences- smoky Spanish paprika, garlic, and roasted red peppers, briny shrimp (you can tell yourself they were plucked from the sea this morning, even if they came straight from the freezer aisle)  and Israeli or “pearl” couscous, which adds great texture and really makes this a meal. Smoky, spicy, and totally comforting, this is the perfect dish when that autumn chill starts to creep in.

The list of ingredients isn’t the shortest, but the beauty of this recipe is that nearly all of them are pantry ingredients that are great to keep on hand. I’ve found that having a well-stocked pantry gets me to cook more, because it saves time and (at least in my head) saves money. If I have a bunch of staples in the pantry, I only have to pick up a few ingredients to make dinner, and I don’t feel like I’m spending a fortune every time I cook. If you’d be interested in a few pointers for stocking your pantry, or are curious to know what I keep on hand, let me know in the comments below!

Let’s talk anchovies. I am not the first to person to say this, and I will not the be the last. Anchovies are a flavor BOMB. They add salty/umami/savory depth to dishes, and in this case, are an excellent complement to the shrimp. You don’t have to use them, but if you are anchovy-hesitant, this might be a great starter recipe for you. You won’t know the anchovies are in there, you’ll just know your dinner is delicious and the anchovies helped!

Finally, You can make this recipe gluten-free by using rice  in place of the couscous, but I would recommend cooking it separately and then adding it to the pan, because rice takes much longer to cook than couscous. Just let the liquid reduce for about 10 minutes before you add the shrimp, so you still end up with a rich, flavorful sauce.

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4.20 from 31 votes

Smoky Shrimp & Couscous

Servings: 4


  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 medium yellow onion, very thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 2 anchovy fillets, minced
  • tablespoons minced garlic (3 large cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • cup dry white wine
  • cups chicken broth, preferably low-sodium
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • ¾ cup pearl or Israeli Couscous
  • 1 pound raw large (16-20 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails on)
  • 2 teaspoons sherry or red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley, for serving


  • In a large (12-inch) sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook, tossing occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the roasted red peppers, anchovies, garlic, paprika, and cayenne pepper, and cook for 1 more minute, until the garlic is fragrant. Careful not to let the garlic burn! Add the wine and stir, scraping up any brown bits from the pan. When the liquid in the pan has almost entirely evaporated, add the chicken stock, tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper, and bring to a boil.
  • Add the couscous, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan occasionally, until the couscous is al dente, about 6 minutes. Meanwhile, pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
  • Add the shrimp to the pan, stirring to submerge them in the sauce, and simmer for 3 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Off the heat, stir in the sherry vinegar.
  • Serve hot in shallow bowls. Garnish each serving with parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.
    Copyright 2019, Lidey Heuck, All Rights Reserved
  1. Just stumbled upon this recipe and am eager to try it out. Two quick questions. Is smoked spanish paprika the same as just regular smoked paprika which I have in my pantry. Second, cook or uncooked shrimp? TIA!

    1. Hi Kevin!
      Yes, Spanish smoked paprika is the same as regular smoked paprika. And the shrimp should be raw, I will change the recipe to reflect that! I hope you love this dish, it’s one of my weeknight favorites!!

  2. 5 stars
    Love this!
    Question- what is the reason for leaving the tails on the shrimp? Aesthetics??? Or a cooking issue?
    Thanks for making dinners better!!!

  3. 5 stars
    SO DELICIOUS! made as written and we loved it. Reluctantly included the anchovies and glad we did. I will make again and again and again!

    1. Hi Sandy! So glad you liked this recipe – and glad you added the anchovies- you really don’t taste them but they add so much depth of flavor!

  4. 5 stars
    I made this recipe for a casual dinner with friends and it was a hit. I wasn’t sure if it would be great having sat for a while so I whipped it up with friends looking on and of course it was delicious hot off the stove but it was also amazing as everyone went back for seconds and thirds. While not exactly a make ahead I think I would serve this again no problem knowing that the timing isn’t going to be something I need to worry about. Great flavors and easy to make with things I always have!

  5. 5 stars
    Wow I can’t stop thinking about this dish! The recipe was so easy to follow, and it left me and my guests full and happy! Move over shrimp and grits 🦐🦐!!

  6. Hi, Lidey! I made this for dinner tonight, and I think it’s just so delish! Thanks for a tasty and easy recipe.

  7. This recipe was low effort and cost for a very big reward! Loved it and will definitely make it again. Came together SO FAST, great for a weeknight dinner! Excited to eat the leftovers!

  8. Made this last night. It was delicious and I passed the recipe on to several family members. Will definitely be making this again.

    Also interested in pantry staples.

  9. This was beyond good. Seriously, I’m already looking forward to making it again. I might also make it with chicken instead of shrimp because that base of tomato, roasted red pepper, and couscous would just go with anything.

  10. Dear Lidey,

    As this is October and my beloved LA Dodgers are in the playoffs, I can only say that this recipe is a HOME RUN! My husband was a little hesitant when I showed it to him, but, as usual, I proved him wrong! It was really delicious and will be a go-to flavorful din din from here on out. Play ball!

    (Would also love to compare your pantry staples to what I normally have on hand.)

    Thank you again for another winning recipe!

    1. Hi Patti! Apologies for my late reply! I am so happy to hear your husband liked this recipe even though he was skeptical – that’s so great to hear!! Happy Thanksgiving to you and you family ! xox

  11. This dish is wonderful! I made it last night for a family dinner with my parents and everyone raved about how good it was. Even my young kids liked it. We’ll be making this again!

  12. This was easy to make and excellent. I used whole wheat couscous. I tend not to make too many recipes twice but my husband said this was a keeper.

  13. I made this tonight and my husband and son loved it! I doubled the couscous (son ran 7 miles after school) and added an extra cup of broth to compensate. Super successful! Thank you!

  14. This sounds great. Will be on my menu for next week. Have everything but the anchovies but will get them!
    Would like to hear your pantry essentials.

  15. Would Orzo work with this recipe and would the preparation and cooking time be the same as you noted for the Israeli Couscous? Is there a substitute spice for the smoked Spanish paprika, hoping it’s easily available.
    Can’t wait to try this!

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