One of the most impactful events to grip my tiny college town was the opening of Chipotle. Every bite of this homemade chicken Burrito Bowl recipe takes me back to those glorious moments in a strip mall four miles from campus. This easy homemade version is even better (and better for you!).
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Why You’ll Love This Burrito Bowl Recipe
- It’s Better than a Burrito. Only a person with a mouth wide enough to swallow a bowling ball could bite all the way through a Chipotle burrito. That leaves most of us nibbling separate bites of cold sour cream and hot beans—womp womp. A burrito bowl, on the other hand, lets you get a little bit of everything in each bite.
- You Can Have It Your Way. Chipotle has a lot of burrito bowl options, but you have way more when you DIY it. Want to add black olives? Use leftover Instant Pot Pulled Pork instead of chicken? Swap in vegan cheese? The world is your oyster, friends.
- Ideal for Making in Advance. As an additional bonus, this recipe is excellent for healthy meal prep, whether it’s for an effortless weeknight dinner or satisfying work week lunch. See below for tips.
- Homemade Burrito Bowls Are a Healthy Fast Food Alternative. While Chipotle is one of the better fast food options out there, to call a burrito bowl from Chipotle “healthy” can be a stretch, especially when you factor in toppings (and we know Taco Bell burrito bowls are not typically associated with health). This homemade burrito bowl, however, delivers a total nutritional package that’s slimmer on calories without sacrificing an ounce of flavor.
- Cost Effective. A burrito bowl from a restaurant costs between $8 and $10, depending upon the protein you choose. Factor in extra toppings and multiply if you are feeding a family, and it adds up quickly. Making your burrito bowl at home offers a far more friendly price point per serving.
5 Star Review
“I am seriously obsessedddddd with these bowls! These could easily put Chipotle outta business. Awesome!”
How to Make a Burrito Bowl
- Quinoa. The base of our wholesome chicken burrito bowl is my healthy spin on Chipotle’s signature cilantro lime rice. Quinoa offers far more fiber and protein than white rice.
- Chicken Breast. A delicious lean protein choice for this burrito bowl. It’s seasoned and grilled to perfection.
- Lime. Lime juice adds flavor and acidity to both the quinoa and the chicken. I also used the lime zest on the chicken breasts.
- Red Onion. Crisp and lively for a burrito bowl.
- Cilantro. Added to our quinoa to mimic the beloved Chipotle cilantro lime rice.
- Black Beans. Black beans help make this bowl ultra satisfying and give it a distinct southwest flair. If pinto beans are your go-to at Chipotle, feel free to use those instead.
- Corn. Sweet, juicy corn is a must-have in our burrito bowls. Either canned, fresh, or frozen corn will work great.
- Cherry Tomatoes. Add a burst of sweetness to every bite.
- Jalapeño. For a touch of heat.
- The Dressing. A mixture of olive oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper, the dressing for these bowls is bright, light, and full of warm spices.
- Avocado. Because at home, we do not get charged extra. Pile it on for the perfect burrito bowl. (Or add Homemade Guacamole instead!)
- Prepare. Pound the chicken breasts.
- Season. Rub the oil, spices, lime zest, and juice on the chicken. Let it rest in the marinade.
- Make the Quinoa. Cook the quinoa, then fluff it with a fork.
- Mix the Dressing. Whisk the dressing ingredients together.
- Finish the Quinoa. Toss the dressing with the quinoa and cilantro.
- Cook the Chicken. Grill the chicken over medium-high heat.
- Cut the Chicken. Dice the chicken, then add it to the quinoa with the red onion.
- Combine. Stir the beans, corn, tomatoes, and jalapeño into the mixture. Serve with desired toppings. ENJOY!
- Chicken and Rice Burrito Bowl. If you prefer using rice in your burrito bowl, swap in either long grain white or brown rice for the quinoa in this recipe.
- Chipotle Steak Burrito Bowl. Swap the chicken for diced pieces of cooked steak. (Grilled Flank Steak would be excellent here!)
- Chipotle Vegetarian Bowl. Omit the chicken, or add in pieces of cooked and crumbled tofu, or my Air Fryer Tofu.
- Low Carb Burrito Bowl. Swap the quinoa for cauliflower rice (cilantro-lime cauliflower rice would be scrumptious) or romaine lettuce.
- Taco-Style Burrito Bowl. Love old-school tacos? Use ground beef or ground turkey to make seasoned taco meat and add this to your burrito bowls instead of grilled chicken.
- To Store. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm burrito bowls in a large skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Grill the chicken, cook the quinoa, chop the jalapeño, tomatoes, and red onion, and whisk the dressing ingredients together up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate each component in a separate container until you’re ready to combine.
Turn leftovers into a true burrito by wrapping them in a tortilla. This burrito bowl recipe would also be tasty served over a bed of lettuce for a hearty salad (Taco Salad-style), or you can scoop up leftovers with tortilla chips.
What to Serve with Burrito Bowls
- Fresh Fruit. With veggies, grains, and protein, a burrito bowl is a complete meal on its own, but you can round things out with Fruit Salad or Watermelon Salad.
- Grilled Veggies. Since you’re already grilling the chicken, it’s easy to make some Grilled Corn or Grilled Zucchini for some extra smoky, charred flavor.
- Homemade Salsa. Black Bean Corn Salad would be excellent additions to your burrito bowls!
- Cocktails. This burrito bowl is made for serving with a Spicy Margarita or Skinny Blackberry Margarita. Can’t get those at Chipotle!
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Grill Pan. Perfect for grilling chicken breasts indoors.
- Instant Read Thermometer. No more guessing when your chicken is done.
- Citrus Juicer. My go-to tool for juicing lemons and limes.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Make Sure the Quinoa Is Dry. If it’s wet, it won’t be fluffy—and all the flavors you add to it will be watered down. You can continue cooking the quinoa uncovered until the liquid cooks off if you need to.
- Rinse the Beans Well. The liquid in the can has a distinctive smell and flavor that can distract from everything else going on in the recipe. Place the beans in a sieve and rinse them until the water runs clear and they’re no longer foamy.
- Use Gloves With the Jalapeño. Jalapeños are relatively mild compared to other hot peppers, but every once in a while, you get one that’s extra spicy and your hands will burn for a day or two afterwards. Don’t risk it! Wear a pair of disposable latex gloves to be safe.
For the Burrito Bowls:
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts about 1 pound
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 lime zest and juice
- 1 small red onion diced
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus additional for serving
- 1 (14-ounce) can black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 (14-ounce) can corn drained, or 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn (thawed if frozen)
- 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes about 1 pint
- 1 jalapeño seeded and diced
For the Dressing:
For Serving (optional):
- Diced avocado or Best Guacamole Recipe
- Shredded cheese
- Non-fat plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
- Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board with some space between and cover with a large piece of plastic wrap. With a mallet, lightly pound the meat to an even thickness so. Place in a shallow dish.
- Top the chicken with the olive oil, salt, pepper, lime zest, and lime juice. Rub and turn to coat. Let rest at least 15 minutes while you prep the other ingredients or refrigerate for up to 8 hours (let stand at room temperature at least 10 minutes prior to cooking). Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium high (about 425 to 450°F).
- Place the red onion in a small bowl and cover with water (this takes off some of the red onion's bite while preserving its flavor. You can skip if you like raw red onion just as it is). Set aside.
- Prepare the quinoa according to package directions. Once cooked, fluff with a fork, then transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- To make the dressing, in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, salt, cayenne, and black pepper.
- Drizzle over the warm quinoa, then add cilantro, and toss to combine.
- Lightly oil the grill. Grill the chicken until completely cooked through and the temperature on an instant read thermometer reads 160 to 165℉, about 8 to 12 minutes total, flipping once or twice throughout. The amount of time you need will vary based on the size and thickness of each breast. Remove to a plate, cover, and let rest 5 minutes.
- Cut into bite-sized pieces and add to the bowl with the quinoa.
- Drain the red onion, then add to the bowl with the quinoa.
- Gently stir in the black beans, corn, tomato, and jalapeno. Serve warm with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and any desired toppings.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm burrito bowls in a large skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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Frequently Asked Questions
We love topping our burrito bowl recipe with pico de gallo, shredded cheese, avocado, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), salsa, or tortilla strips. If you like things spicy, a little hot sauce is great too!
I’ve only made this recipe with chicken breasts, but you could swap chicken thighs if that’s what you have on hand. Since the cook time may differ a little, I suggest using an instant read thermometer to know when they’re cooked through.
While cheese is an optional addition to this recipe, you can certainly pile it on as desired. You can use shredded Monterey Jack, cheddar cheese, pepper jack, or queso blanco. I think Vegan Queso would also be a tasty option.
A burrito bowl is healthier simply by virtue of eliminating the tortilla. Not only are big burrito tortillas high in calories, they’re also made with white flour, which is low in fiber and nutrients.
If you have leftovers, you can totally eat them cold like a salad.