Thai Bowls (Build Your Own)
These Thai Bowls are easy to make, healthy, and can be made with any combination of grains, vegetables, and protein you like. Just add the amazing homemade peanut sauce and your Thai Bowl is ready.
These easy build-your-own Thai Bowls are one of my favorite bowl recipes around. While we love these Asian Rice Bowls and Crispy Salmon Bowls, there is something so satisfying about these Thai Grain Bowls.
You choose the grain, the vegetables, the protein, and the toppings. Then all you have to do is make the Thai peanut sauce and drizzle it on top. Easy, nutritious, and so tasty.
One more reason I love these Thai Bowls is that it is a great family meal or meal for guests. Simply set out the grains, cooked protein, vegetables, toppings, and sauce. Everyone can build their own bowls and create their perfect combination.
Why We Love Build Your Own Thai Bowls
- Versatile: These bowls can be built with any combination of grains, vegetables, and protein you like. The Thai-inspired sauce brings everything together.
- Healthy and nutritious: This recipe is packed with whole grains, lean protein, vegetables, and a healthy peanut sauce.
- Great for meal prep: These bowls store and reheat well making them ideal for meal prep. They also taste great eaten hot or cold.
How to Make Your Own Thai Bowls
1. Choose your base
Most bowl recipes start with a base of grains. Choose from white rice, brown rice, quinoa, farro, couscous, or rice noodles. For a lighter option, use cauliflower rice, spaghetti squash, or greens. Usually, the grains take the longest to cook, so start with these or use precooked or frozen rice for a faster option.
2. Pick a protein
To make the bowl hearty and filling, it's important to include protein. This can be as simple as including quinoa (more protein than rice) and edamame like the recipe below.
Or choose to add ground turkey, cooked chicken, pork tenderloin, ground beef (like in these Korean Beef Bowls), shrimp, salmon, tofu, tempeh, or chickpeas. Season the protein with a touch of soy sauce and some fresh or powdered ginger and garlic.
If you want a more Thai-inspired, consider using Thai Basil Ground Turkey, Thai Shrimp, Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken, Chicken Larb, or these tasty Thai Chicken Skewers.
Pro tip: Prepare one of the Thai-inspired recipes above for dinner and then make these Thai Bowls to use up the leftovers. Two meals from one recipe!
3. Make the sauce
This Thai-inspired sauce is where this bowl gets all its Thai flavors. This quick and easy peanut sauce is so good! Here is the base recipe and some ideas for switching it up. Consider making a double or triple batch so you have extra.
Thai Bowl Sauce
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
- 2 tbsp peanut butter (or almond, cashew butter)
- 2 tbsp hot water
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar (or lime juice)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove grated garlic)
- Optional additions: sriracha or sambal olek, grated ginger, curry paste, coconut cream, Thai sweet chili sauce, fish sauce, or tamarind paste.
- Directions: Stir everything together adding more water or soy sauce if needed to smooth it out to desired consistency.
If you don’t want to make homemade sauce, you could use stir-bought peanut sauce, Thai stir-fry sauce, Thai sweet chili sauce, or Thai curry sauce.
4. Prep the vegetables
Almost any combination of raw, cooked, and even frozen vegetables can be used to build your Thai Bowls. Most of the time, raw vegetables are the quickest option since they don’t require any extra cooking. Kale, purple cabbage, Napa cabbage or coleslaw mix, bell peppers, green onions, carrots, red onions., cucumbers, and edamame are the most popular choices.
Popular cooked vegetables include broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, snow peas, and green cabbage. Just saute the vegetables in coconut oil, garlic, and ginger for an easy option.
Some favorite veggies to include are these Stir Fried Vegetables, Crispy Roasted Cabbage, and Asian Brussels Sprouts.
5. Assemble the bowls
Now build your delicious Thai Bowls. Layer in your base grains or greens. Add the cooked protein. Arrange the vegetables in the bowl and drizzle on the sauce. If you are meal-prepping these bowls, don’t add the sauce until it is time to eat.
6. Add toppings
Finish the Thai grain bowls with fresh mango, pineapple, sesame seeds, fresh cilantro, fresh mint, fresh Thai basil, hot sauce, avocado, cashews, peanuts, or any other toppings you like! There are also tons of great bowl topping ideas in this Korean Beef Bowl recipe.
There are so many different ways to make these Thai bowls, but these are the most popular variation.
- Make it vegetarian: For a vegetarian Thai bowl, similar to a buddha bowl, just make sure to include enough plant-based protein from quinoa, edamame, tofu, tempeh, or chickpeas.
- Thai Chicken Bowl: Making this Thai bowl with chicken is the most popular variation. Use any cooked chicken, including leftover rotisserie chicken. As long as you have the peanut sauce, it will have plenty of Thai flavors. To make it really special, use these Thai Chicken Skewers, which taste like Chicken Satay.
- Make it low-carb: For a low-carb Thai bowl, make sure to use a low-carb base like cauliflower rice, spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, or greens. Then swap in Stevia or monk fruit sweetener for the maple syrup in the peanut sauce.
- Thai Shrimp Bowl: Take inspiration from these Shrimp Rice Bowls and add some sauteed or grilled shrimp to these bowls.
Meal Prep, Storage, and Freezing Thai Bowls
- Meal prep: For the best results, prepare the grains, protein, sauce, and vegetables separately and let everything cool to room temperature. Then assemble the bowls, starting with the grain layer. Add the protein layer. Then add the vegetables starting with the cooked vegetables and then the raw vegetables. Pack the sauce and any delicate toppings (like avocado) on the side.
- Storage: Keep these Thai Bowls in the fridge for 4-5 days. The sauce will last for 5-7 days in the fridge.
- Freezing: If you assemble these bowls with cooked grains, cooked proteins, and cooked vegetables, they are freezer friendly. Store in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Then add the fresh vegetables after they are defrosted and reheated.
Switch Things Up! Serving Ideas
Although these are absolutely delicious served as rice bowls and grain bowls, you may want to switch things up! Here are some fun ways to serve these Thai Bowls.
- Make lettuce wraps
- Make a salad
- Serve it in a wrap or tortilla
- Serve them as Asian-style tacos
- Stir-fry everything with noodles
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about making these Build-Your-Own Thai Bowls.
Is this the same as a buddha boowl?
Buddha bowls are basically healthy bowl recipes that are packed with fresh vegetables, grains and/or legumes, and sometimes a cooked protein. Many times they are vegetarian but there is are also versions with chicken, shrimp, and other proteins. Usually they are topped with a sauce or dressing to add flavor to the dish.
What's the best way to make this Thai Bowl spicy?
There are two easy ways to make a spicy version of this bowl recipe. The first is by adding Sriracha (or Asian chili paste) to the peanut sauce or simply drizzled on the bowl. Chili crisp would also be delicious. Another option is to add some sliced jalapeno or serrano peppers to the bowl.
Thai Bowls (Build Your Own)
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- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 2 cups coleslaw mix (shredded red cabbage, green cabbage, and carrots)
- 2 cups lacinato kale, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup shelled edamame
- 1 cup mango, chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce (peanut sauce)
- 2 tbsp peanut butter (peanut sauce)
- 2 tbsp hot water (peanut sauce)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil (peanut sauce)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (peanut sauce)
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar (peanut sauce)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (peanut sauce)
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* 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.
Add 2 cups of cooked chopped chicken or another cooked protein to these bowls if desired.
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