Buddha Bowls are loaded with smoky flavor and textures that will satisfy both meat-eaters and vegetarians! Roasted sweet potatoes, quinoa, and black beans make a filling base for healthy veggies, sliced avocado, and crunchy almonds topped with a simple cilantro citrus dressing.

If you love Buddha bowls then you also might enjoy our Vegetarian Swiss Chard and Pinto Bean Burritos or Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells.

A buddha bowl with citrus cilantro vinaigrette dressing.

Lately we have been on a buddha bowl kick at our house. I like to throw in meatless meals occasionally when meal planning because they tend to be more budget friendly and healthy, and it makes a nice change. Buddha bowls are one of our favorite choices because they are so satisfying that you don't feel like you are missing out on meat at all.

If you are new to buddha bowls, they are typically a vegetarian meal where everything is served in a bowl. It's less heavy on the greens than a typical salad and has more textures from grains, plant-based proteins, vegetables (either raw or cooked), and some kind of dressing or sauce to drizzle over the top.

They make great "clean-out-the-fridge" type of meals because you can grab whatever veggies you have in the crisper and use them up with pantry grains like quinoa or brown rice to bulk things up. Plus, they are great if you like to do meal prep because you can make larger batches of the bowl elements and keep them in the fridge for easy assembly during the week.

Why this Recipe Works

  • Wholesome & healthy. Sweet potatoes, quinoa, and black beans give a good balance of flavor with satisfying protein and carbs.
  • Customizable. Easily personalize your buddha bowls to your tastes or dietary preferences with different veggies, proteins, carbs, and dressings.
  • Plant-based & vegan friendly. If you leave out the queso fresco or cotija cheese, these are a completely plant-based meal.
A buddha bowl with grains, greens, proteins, and queso fresco on top.

Ingredient Notes

Having a well-stocked pantry will help making buddha bowls a breeze, even if you don't have all the specific elements for a particular buddha bowl since so many of them can be easily swapped in or out.

  • Grains: quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, millet, or barley are all popular choices.
  • Beans: Black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, or pinto beans add bulk.
  • Nuts or seeds: Chopped almonds, pistachios, peanuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and more add great texture and crunch.
  • Spices: Go for big, bold flavor by adding garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. It's a bit smoky and southwest.
  • Greens: Baby kale, arugula, or spinach give lots of vitamins and help you get those leafy greens without making this dish too salad-y.
  • Herbs: Chopped cilantro, fresh parsley, chives, fresh basil, mint leaves, etc. all add interest to this dish without the extra calories.
  • Healthy fats: These actually help keep your stomach satisfied. Choices like cheese (we use queso fresco, cotija, or feta here) are good options if you aren't worried about going vegan. Or try a drizzle of your favorite nut butter or tahini with some sliced avocado.
  • Veggies: The sky is the limit when it comes to buddha bowls, but popular choices include roasted butternut squash, woody vegetables like asparagus, root vegetables, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, falafel, cucumber, zucchini, tomatoes, and more.
Ingredients for sweet potato buddha bowls.

How to Make This Sweet Potato Buddha Bowl

Start with a base. Usually the thing that will take the longest to prep is the grain or the bulky vegetable element of your buddha bowl like roasted sweet potatoes so get those going first.

For this particular bowl, I start by peeling and chopping my sweet potato into bite-size chunks, then drizzling them with olive oil and tossing with some salt, pepper, and spices. Then I spread them on a baking sheet lined with foil for easy clean up and roast them with a quartered red bell pepper until fork-tender.

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, I cook the quinoa or brown rice on the stove or in the instant pot. This is easy to do a couple days ahead and just keep in the fridge so you can make a buddha bowl whenever you want. Divide the quinoa between bowls as the base. We like to use shallow pasta bowls to contain things.

Toast the almonds in a skillet with some spices and lime zest and make a quick citrus dressing for drizzling over the bowls.These elements come together quickly, so I usually don't bother to prep them ahead, but both could be done a few days in advance.

Layer a handful of the greens on top of the quinoa in your bowl, followed by the chopped and roasted sweet potatoes and red peppers. You want the bulkier, chunkier items lower in the bowl so they aren't falling off the top.

Add things like sliced avocado, lime wedges, and a generous sprinkling of the spiced almonds and cotija cheese on top. Then drizzle with the citrus dressing just before serving.

Recipe FAQ's

Why is it called a buddha bowl?

Nobody is really sure how this dish got it's name, but one popular explanation is that it is a balanced meal, which represents an important principle in Buddhism of balance. Another fun theory is from a story that Buddha himself would carry a bowl and villagers would add to it to fill it.

Can any elements of this buddha bowl be frozen?

You could definitely make and store cooked quinoa or rice in the freezer for a few months and reheat for your buddha bowls. I wouldn't freeze and reheat the sweet potatoes or roasted red bell peppers though.

Recipe Tips

  • Easier prep: If you know you will be pressed for time, you could purchase a jar of roasted red peppers to use. There are also many tasty seasoned almond and other nut options at the store that you could purchase instead of the approach of making them yourself. Store-bought dressings, pico de gallo, or guacamole can also be used to make this an easy dinner recipe when you know you won't have a lot of time or energy after a busy day.
  • Change up the sauce. We love the tangy citrus dressing that gets drizzled over this buddha bowl, but our Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing or a lemon tahini sauce are more favorites for adding even flavor to our buddha bowls.
  • Want even more protein? Try adding a fried egg or grilled shrimp, chicken breast, or salmon on top.
A white bowl with quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted red bell pepper, and avocado.

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Buddha Bowls

No ratings yet
Amy Nash
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
This easy Buddha Bowls recipe is loaded with smoky flavor and textures that will satisfy both meat-eaters and vegetarians! Roasted sweet potatoes, quinoa, and black beans make a filling base for healthy veggies, sliced avocado, and crunchy almonds topped with a simple cilantro citrus dressing.

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. sweet potato, peeled & diced into bite-size pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1 large red bell pepper, quartered
  • cup dry quinoa (2 cups cooked)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ cup almonds
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest, divided
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 ounces baby kale, arugula, or spinach (about 4 cups)
  • 2 ounces crumbled Cotija cheese, queso fresco, or feta (about ½ cup)
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 4 lime wedges
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, partially drained
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped chipotle chiles canned in adobo sauce

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Toss sweet potatoes in a large bowl with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Spread in an even layer on one side of a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  • In the same bowl, toss the red peppers with 1 teaspoon of olive oil then arrange them on the other side of the baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring the potatoes halfway through baking. The potatoes should be tender and the peppers slightly charred when they are done. Remove from the oven and slice the bell pepper into strips.
  • While the veggies are roasting, cook the quinoa according to package directions, but add ½ teaspoon kosher salt, smoked paprika, and garlic powder halfway through the cooking process.
  • Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a small skillet for 2-3 minutes until fragrant, then remove to a cutting board and chop. Return the toasted almonds to the pan along with 1 teaspoon olive oil, remaining ½ teaspoon of the chili powder, ⅛ teaspoon of the salt, 1 teaspoon of the lime zest, and the sugar. Cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat.
  • Wipe out the pan used for the almonds and add the partially drained black beans with their remaining liquid in the pan along with the chipotle chiles and ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together 5 teaspoons olive oil, remaining ¾ teaspoon salt, remaining ¼ teaspoon black pepper, remaining 1 teaspoon lime zest, lime juice, and chopped cilantro.
  • To assemble the bowls, divide the cooked quinoa or rice into the bowls, then top with the black beans, kale, spinach, or arugula, sweet potatoes, red bell pepper, and sliced avocado. Drizzle with the dressing, then sprinkle with the cheese and almonds. Garnish with the lime wedges.

Notes

  • Substitutions: Brown rice is an excellent substitute for the quinoa.
  • Easier prep: If you know you will be pressed for time, you could purchase a jar of roasted red peppers to use. There are also many tasty seasoned almond and other nut options at the store that you could purchase instead of the approach of making them yourself. Store-bought dressings, pico de gallo, or guacamole can also be used to make this an easy dinner recipe when you know you won't have a lot of time or energy after a busy day.
  • Change up the sauce. We love the tangy citrus dressing that gets drizzled over this buddha bowl, but our Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing or a lemon tahini sauce are more favorites for adding even flavor to our buddha bowls.
  • Want even more protein? Try adding a fried egg or grilled shrimp, chicken breast, or salmon on top.
  • Adapted from Cooking Light.

Nutrition

Calories: 561kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 1117mg | Potassium: 1196mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 18270IU | Vitamin C: 72mg | Calcium: 246mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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