Chicken Quinoa Bowls are a healthy, flavorful dish that combines grilled marinated chicken breasts with steamed quinoa, fresh vegetables, and lots of toppings.
Chicken Quinoa Bowls are a light and nutritious meal perfect for busy weeknights or meal prep. With the most delicious chili lime grilled chicken, fresh greens, juicy corn, tons of veggies, and tender quinoa, each bowl is full of protein, fiber, and flavor.
This dish is inspired by our love for Mexican and Southwestern flavors, featuring a chili-lime marinade that adds the perfect amount of tang and spice. Grilling the chicken results in a smoky, charred flavor and a crispy exterior the whole family will go crazy for! It can also be made indoors in a skillet or the oven.
Try serving build-your-own chicken quinoa bowls at your next backyard get-together with other lots of tasty vegetable and sauce options like grilled corn, pico de gallo, mango black bean salsa, grilled onions, and fajita veggies.
Or, switch up the flavors by adding different dressings such as creamy chipotle sauce. The options are endless!
Why You'll Love Chicken Quinoa Bowls
- Customizable: Switch up the protein, use a different grain, or load up your favorite toppings to make each bowl your own.
- Easy to prepare: This simple recipe is great for meal prep or a quick weeknight dinner.
- Colorful: The fresh, vibrant ingredients make chicken quinoa bowls a visually appealing, appetizing, and nutrient-dense dish.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here is everything you need to make these tasty chicken bowls.
- Chicken: We prefer boneless skinless breasts for our chicken quinoa bowls. You can also use boneless skinless chicken thighs with adjusted cooking times.
- Lime: Both freshly squeezed lime juice and grated zest impart acidity and tanginess that complements the chicken and helps tenderize it. Lemon juice will work in a pinch.
- Olive oil: Provides heart-healthy fats and helps the marinade coat the chicken evenly, resulting in a better cook. If you don’t have olive oil, swap it with avocado or canola oil.
- Cilantro: Adds a fresh, aromatic, and herbal flavor. You can also use other herbs, like parsley or basil if you’re not a fan of cilantro.
- Spices: We use a blend of chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper to season the chicken with warm, savory, and spicy flavors. Feel free to play around with other herbs and spices, like cayenne, paprika, oregano, thyme, or coriander. Or use fajita seasoning, cajun seasoning, or lemon pepper.
- Honey: Adds a touch of sweetness to balance the tang and spice. If you don’t have honey, try agave or cane sugar.
- Quinoa: We love quinoa since it’s gluten-free and a complete protein. It can be substituted with rice, or even cauliflower rice for a low-carb option.
- Greens: Use your favorite leafy greens, such as kale, lettuce, or spinach.
- Black beans: Add fiber, an earthy flavor, and a creamy texture. Alternatively, swap black beans with pinto beans or chickpeas for a milder taste.
- Corn: For a burst of sweet juiciness in each bite. Use fresh, frozen, or canned corn.
- Cherry tomatoes: Roma tomatoes can also be used, but cherry tomatoes add the most vibrant taste and texture.
- Optional toppings: Some of our favorites include cabbage, red bell pepper, queso fresco, avocado, and mango.
Shortcuts: Need to speed things up? Use a store-bought Southwestern chicken marinade and then use precooked or frozen quinoa, canned corn, store-bought salsa or pico de gallo, and a bag of shredded lettuce.
How to Make Chicken and Quinoa Bowls
Follow these simple steps to make these bowls. They are great for an easy dinner or meal prep.
1. Marinate the chicken
Mix the marinade ingredients and let the chicken sit in it for at least 30 minutes, but ideally for a couple of hours. The longer the chicken sits in the marinade, the more tender, juicy, and flavorful it will turn out. If you want additional dressing to serve on the bowls, double the marinade.
2. Grill the chicken
Before grilling the chicken, get rid of any excess marinade so it doesn’t drip and burn on the grill. It’s best to cook chicken over direct heat at 400F to prevent it from sticking to the grill.
Grill the chicken for about 5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 160-165F. If you own a meat thermometer, now is a good time to use it! Another important step is to let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before serving so the juices have a chance to redistribute.
3. Assemble the bowls
To assemble your chicken quinoa bowls, add a layer of quinoa (or your grain of choice) followed by sliced chicken, greens, black beans, corn, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and any other toppings or garnishes you like.
Best Toppings for Quinoa Bowls
There are so many different ways to customize these bowls and make them your own by choosing different toppings, veggies, dressing, and/or salsa.
Here are some favorites:
- Sliced avocado or guacamole
- Crumbled queso fresco, Cotija, or feta cheese
- Diced mango or pineapple salsa for a sweet, fruity flavor
- A dollop of sour cream, Mexican crema, or Greek yogurt
- Roasted red pepper hummus or avocado hummus
- Corn salsa or pico de gallo
- A drizzle of hot sauce for extra spice
Storage and Reheating
If you have any leftover chicken quinoa bowl ingredients, follow these storage and reheating tips:
- Fridge: Store the leftover ingredients from your chicken quinoa bowls in separate containers for up to 4 days. If they are mixed together, everything tends to get soggy, so we suggest eating it within a day or two.
- Freezer: Once completely cooled, you can freeze cooked chicken and quinoa separately in freezer-safe bags or containers for up to 3 months.
- Reheating: Reheat the chicken and quinoa on the stovetop until warmed through. Alternatively, heat them in a microwave in 30-second bursts. Assemble the bowls with fresh greens and other toppings.
Recipe Ideas and Variations
Change things up with these tasty variations and ideas.
- Vegetarian: Replace chicken with tofu, tempeh, or portobello mushrooms.
- Shrimp: Use grilled shrimp instead of chicken.
- BBQ: Replace chili-lime marinade with barbecue sauce, and add grilled bell peppers and red onions.
- Asian-inspired: Marinate the chicken in teriyaki or soy-ginger sauce and use edamame, shredded carrots, and sesame seeds for toppings. It’s also delicious with peanut sauce.
- Steak: Replace the chicken with grilled steak or flank steak.
- Breakfast: Use scrambled eggs instead of chicken and add sautéed peppers, onions, and a sprinkle of cheese for a really tasty breakfast bowl.
Follow these tips for the very best chicken and quinoa bowls.
- Marinate the chicken: For the best flavor and texture, marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes before grilling.
- Use a meat thermometer: To ensure the chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160-165F, we suggest investing in a meat thermometer.
- Let the chicken rest: Allow the chicken time to rest for 5-10 minutes after grilling it. This helps the juices redistribute and prevents them from being lost once you slice the chicken.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about these quinoa and chicken bowls.
Absolutely! Instead of quinoa, you can try using rice, couscous, farro, or cauliflower rice.
Yes, quinoa is a gluten-free grain, making this dish suitable for those with gluten sensitivities. However, it’s always important to check any store-bought ingredients to see if they contain any gluten-based additives.
Yes, you can bake the chicken in the oven at 375F for 25-30 minutes, or pan-sear it over medium heat for 5-7 minutes per side until cooked through.
Chicken Quinoa Bowls
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- 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
- 2 limes (juice and zest, about 1/3 cup)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp honey
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 2 cups greens (Romaine lettuce or butter lettuce)
- 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup corn
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup cilantro
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- Nutritional Information
Add the chicken breast and marinate for at least 30 minutes, ideally 1-2 hours. While the chicken marinates, make the quinoa. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil (to cook one cup of quinoa.) Once boiling, stir in the quinoa. Turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook on low for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
* 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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