A burrito bowl starts with a base of rice and adds in your favorite burrito-esque flavors. This is a fun take on a traditional rice bowl, and can be made in a few different ways, depending on your favorite Mexican flavors.
Many burrito bowls start with a base of cilantro lime rice, tex mex rice, or similar pre-flavored rice. If cilantro tastes like soap to you, feel free to omit it from your recipes and work with a basic lime rice, or my favorite cumin and cinnamon rice. Same with hot spices and peppers, if you don’t enjoy high heat, omit the chipotle or jalapeno peppers and use sweet bell pepper or sweet banana peppers instead for the pepper flavor. Obviously, if you have an allergy to an ingredient, omit it, and substitute an ingredient you’re not allergic to.
I like rice bowls because you can make them completely gluten free, and tweak them for whatever flavors you want. If you’re concerned about diets, you can also tweak and adjust them to fit your macro goals very easily. It’s also an awesome way to make one meal fit two different people’s personal nutritional goals. Don’t be afraid to adjust the proportions of the burrito bowl to fit your needs, macros, or just taste preferences.
The last reason I love rice bowls, and especially this Mexican style burrito bowl is because I love the spice, cumin, and how tied into this flavor profile it can be. It is a delicious spice that adds complex flavors without really increase heat, unlike black pepper, and hot peppers. I’ve found with hot peppers that adding enough to impact flavor often adds too much heat for my taste buds enjoyment. But cumin can help add that desired flavor profile, with some hot peppers for warmth, without being over powering.
Ingredients To Make Ahead for your Burrito Bowl:
For ease of assembly, meal prep, or just convenience, there are several parts of your burrito bowl that can be made in advance.
Rice: Whether you’re making cilantro lime rice, tex mex rice, or just plain rice, the rice can be made in advance. For cilantro lime rice, add 1 teaspoon of fresh chopped cilantro and the juice of two limes to your rice while cooking, or simply add lime juice. For tex mex rice, add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or cayenne or jalapenos to taste, or use chili powder). Make sure to make the rice on the dry side, by keeping it on the heat while cooking and letting the steam evaporate, without scorching.
Black Beans: While you can just open a can of black beans, you can also make your own black beans from scratch. Simply cook one cup of black beans in two cups of water until tender, and strain and rinse. Then, warm the beans with some butter and a bit of cumin or your favorite spices and tex mex style herbs.
Guacamole: I like freezing guacamole for later use, it keeps it from browning. Simply mash an avocado with salt and lemon juice for a basic guacamole, freeze any excess in an ice-cube tray and then transfer them into a zipploc bag or similar freezer proof container. Thaw one or two cubes, depending on how much you want at a time.
Taco meat: Brown up hamburger with one onion, a teaspoon of cumin, two garlic cloves, and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and cinnamon. Add chopped jalapenos if desired to the meat near the end of cooking. Once cooked, divide into meal portions and freeze what you won’t use immediately.
Make this a chicken burrito bowl recipe by preparing chicken meat, either ground, chicken breasts, chicken thighs, or your favorite cut, with taco seasoning, smoked chipotle peppers, and diced tomatoes.
Fresh Ingredients: These can be washed and chopped before assembly, or pre-washed and prepared for quick assembly. These include lettuce or your prefered greens, sweet corn, green onions, chopped jalapenos, other veggies, and shredded cheese. Don’t forget your olive oil, or other dressing.
Assembling Your Burrito Bowl:
Any bowl can be assembled with simple instructions, and the basics are the same for every type of rice bowl you can imagine.
If working from made-ahead ingredients, put these components, the rice, beans, and taco meat that you’ll need, into a tray. Cover the tray with aluminum foil, and heat in the oven at 325 for 15 minutes, or until warmed through. You can also reheat these parts in the microwave. I like foil reheating in the oven, as it’s a more even heat.
If thawing frozen guacamole, place container or bag on a metal pan. If the container has around a quarter cup in it, it should thaw within fifteen to twenty minutes.
Chose a large bowl for assembling your burrito bowl, so you have space to have ingredients side by side. If appearance doesn’t matter, you can also use a large plate.
Start with rice as your base, either spread around the plate or bowl, or in a clump. Add beans on top, or alongside.
Add hot or cold sweet corn, and hot taco meat.
Add your cheese over the top of the hot ingredients.
Around the edges of your burrito bowl, add the remaining cold ingredients like shredded lettuce, chopped jalapenos, sour cream, guacamole, sprouts, red pepper flakes, hot sauce, salsa, pico de gallo, and whatever else will fit your favorite flavors.
Enjoy while hot.
Substitutions and Additions:
Switch out ingredients to get different flavors. A simple switch is to use refried beans in place of whole black beans. This changes some of the textures and flavors. You can also switch out black beans for kidney, garbanzo, pinto beans, mung, or any other bean or dried pea type that you’d prefer or have on hand.
Increase the spice of the meat with additional hot peppers, onions, or garlic. I still like cumin as my main tex-mex spice, but other variations can also work. If you want a non-saucy, but tomato-y taco meat, add 1 – 2 tablespoons of dehydrated and powdered tomatoes to the meat while cooking. Sweet and hot pepper powders can also be added for more flavor. I find that powders often have sweeter flavors than fresh versions, especially with garlic, sweet peppers, and tomatoes.
Switch out ground beef taco meat for chicken breast, steak, ground turkey, or another good tex mex meat flavor. Using taco seasoning on nearly any meat can give you a fun bowl variation.
Vegetables, you can switch out the corn for a different side if you prefer. Bean, extra avocado, lime, cilantro, and other ingredients can all be subbed in in larger quantities if desired. Use salad as a base with romaine lettuce for more of a salad style burrito bowl recipe.
Rice wise, you can always vary your rice flavors from plain, to cilantro and lime, to just lime, to lemon, or to hot pepper and cumin for tex-mex style. Cinnamon can also be a warming flavor for a burrito bowl. You can also vary the rice by using short grain white rice instead of long grain, or subbing in brown rice.
If you prefer, you can make a burrito bowl without rice, and use salad and tortilla chips. If taking this variation to work, use separate containers for the salad, chips, and meat so that the chips don’t get soggy and the salad greens don’t get hot.
Make Ahead Meal Prep Ideas:
Making a base of plain rice, and a variety of meat options, can make varied and interesting rice bowls a useful meal prep option. You can even set up the bowls with rice and steamed or barely cooked vegetables and your protein option before hand, and freeze them that way. Then you just need to grab the container, plus your favorite additional add ons, like cheese, toasted nuts, sprouts, greens, and sauces, and throw them into your lunch kit.
Another option is making a few day’s worth of rice bowls, about 4, and using frozen or canned meats to give each rice bowl its own individual flavor profile. You can get quite a bit of variation with different sauces, vegetables, sprouts, and meats.
Burrito Bowl Back to You!
What is your favorite healthy bowl recipe? What are your favorite variations on the burrito bowl recipe? Do you add garlic powder, onion powder, green chiles, a lime wedge, oregano, corn salsa, cheddar cheese, or adobo sauce to your bowl? How do you make something like a basic burrito bowl your own? Leave a comment!