Easy Asian Rice Bowls that are quick to make, versatile, and can be made with any rice or grain, fresh or frozen vegetables, ground meat, and the best pantry sweet and spicy Asian sauce. Jump to Recipe
These simple build your own rice bowls use any combination of rice, veggies, and protein with a deliciously addictive sauce to make an easy meal. They are even freezer friendly!
Do you remember those build your own adventure books? They were my absolute favorite as a kid and these easy rice bowls remind me of those. You choose the grain, the veggies, the protein, and I will help you make the most delicious Asian sauce to drizzle on top. Easy, delicious, and healthy.
The other great thing about this recipe is that you can make them with basically anything you have in your fridge, pantry, and freezer. This Asian rice bowl recipe is versatile and perfect for times like now when many of us have limited ingredients or are cooking from our pantry and freezer. The options here are endless.
One last reason this recipe needs to become part of your weekly menu is that it makes a fun, easy, and versatile family dinner. Set out the cooked rice, the protein, the vegetables, and the sauce and let everyone build their own.
Giving kids choice can help make mealtime easier and it also helps ensure you are making multiple meals if people like different things. Everyone builds their own to suit their tastes. Pro tip: In our house the only rule is that everyone has to include at least one vegetable. After that, it's up to them!
Build Your Own Asian Rice Bowls
1. Start Your Grains: Although I called these rice bowls, they can be made with any grain or base you like. You could make Instant Pot Brown Rice as your base, grab some frozen white rice, use cauliflower rice for something lighter, or make quinoa, barley, farro, couscous, or rice noodles. Since most grains take the longest to cook (unless you are using shelf-stable, freezer, or instant options), I usually get this started first.
2. Cook Your Veggies: Next you will want to get your vegetables started. You can cook your veggies any way you like, use fresh or frozen veggies, and could even use raw veggies if you like. Since my favorite way to cook veggies is roasting, I almost always just toss together whatever veggies are in the fridge tossed with sesame oil, garlic powder, and ground ginger. Roast them at 425 degrees for 15-25 minutes and you are ready.
You could also saute your veggies with the same combination of sesame oil, garlic powder, and ginger powder or use leftover cooked veggies if you have them. Again - anything goes here! You just want some veggies. For a really easy option, grab a bag of frozen vegetables and quickly cook them in the sesame oil and even just defrost some edamame. Again - be flexible and use what you have!
3. Make the Sauce: The sauce is the essential ingredient to make a really good Asian rice bowl. We love the sweet and spicy Asian sauce that I shared in the recipe. It's made with soy sauce, water, rice vinegar, honey, and Asian garlic chili paste. It's savory and sweet and spicy. We love it. For a homemade sauce, you could also make this Homemade Teriyaki Sauce.
If you don't want to go the homemade route, you could also use a store bought sauce. Look for a thicker sauce like hoisin, a thick teriyaki sauce, sweet chili sauce, or any other Asian style sauce that tastes good. Remember the sauce is key to bring flavor to the whole dish so make sure to choose something that tastes good.
4. Brown Your Protein: Now that we have taken care of the grains, veggies, and sauce - it's time to make the protein. Usually, I use ground turkey, chicken, pork, or beef in this recipe since it cooks quickly and is affordable. However, you could use any protein you like. You could also use a plant-based protein like tofu, tempeh, vegetarian ground beef, edamame, or black soybeans.
Since the sauce is where you will get the flavor in the dish and has quite a bit of salt from the soy sauce, I don't recommend adding too much to the meat. You can flavor it with some fresh or powdered garlic, onions, or ginger. If it needs flavor after you can always add a splash of soy sauce.
5. Assemble: Now you are ready to assemble the Asian rice bowls. Start with the rice and then pile on the veggies and protein. Drizzle with the sauce and then mix everything together so the sauce gives flavor to the whole dish. Top with sesame seeds, extra hot sauce, fresh cilantro or basil, avocado, or anything else you like.
How to Meal Prep and Store Rice Bowls
These are great for meal prep and really easy to prep and store for a quick meal or weeknight meal. If I am prepping these for lunches, I will simply assemble the bowls in individual portions and then store them in the fridge for 3-4 days. Then I just reheat them in the microwave or in a pan for a few minutes. If I am using fresh vegetables, I pack the veggies separately.
If I am prepping these as a family meal, I store all the ingredients separately so that I can reheat each dish on its own. Then I set everything out and everyone can build their own rice bowls.
Easy Variations for Bulk Cooking
While this recipe is great for meal prep, you may not want to eat Asian Rice Bowls every night. Here are some super easy ways to completely change the flavor of this recipe but use all the same base ingredients.
And since these are actually freezer friendly - see below! I recommend making up a bunch and storing them for when you don't feel like cooking. Just add one of the toppings below (or the Asian sauce from this recipe) and you have so many meal options.
- Pesto: Top with a scoop of homemade or store bought pesto and melt some mozzarella cheese on top.
- Pizza style: Top with marinara sauce (or diced tomatoes), turkey pepperoni, and melted mozzarella cheese.
- Italian: Drizzle with your favorite store bought or homemade Italian dressing, chopped black olives, and some fresh veggies.
- Buffalo ranch: Drizzle with buffalo sauce, ranch dressing, and some crumbled blue cheese.
- Mediterranean: Add a scoop of hummus, some olives, roasted red peppers, and cucumbers.
- Build your own: Take a quick look at whatever condiments, cheese, and dressing you have in the fridge and build your own.
Can I Freeze Asian Rice Bowls?
These rice bowls are freezer friendly. Let everything cool completely and place in individual containers. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months and reheat in the microwave or a skillet with a touch of oil. These can be frozen with or without the sauce, but if you think you may want to make different types of rice bowls (like what is listed above), then freeze them without sauce.
More Easy Rice Recipes
Asian Rice Bowls (Build Your Own)
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- 2 cups cooked brown rice (or any grain)
- 1 lb 99% lean ground turkey (or any ground meat)
- 4 cups vegetables (fresh, frozen, any mix)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp cornstarch
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Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss your vegetables with sesame oil, garlic powder, and ground ginger. Spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer and cook for 12-25 minutes, depending on the vegetables. For quick cooking vegetables like zucchini, asparagus, green beans, or sugar snap peas - you only need to cook for about 10-12 minutes. For heartier vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, or onion, you will need 20-25 minutes. If you are using a mix, just check them starting at 15 minutes until they are cooked to your liking. You can also saute the vegetables in the sesame oil if you prefer.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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