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Chicken & Quinoa Burrito Bowls with Spicy Green Sauce

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Good and good for you! You’ll love these protein-packed chicken and quinoa burrito bowls with a spicy green sauce.

burrito bowls

These burrito bowls are really three stand-alone dishes in one: an easy grilled chicken recipe you’ll put on repeat throughout grilling season; a spicy green sauce you’ll want to put on everything; and foolproof quinoa. The toppings are up to you – fresh corn, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, or whatever your heart desires. These bowls are totally doable for a dinner party since you can make most of the recipe ahead, and everyone will love assembling their own bowls. They’re healthy and gluten-free to boot.

What You’ll Need To Make Burrito Bowls

This chipotle-flavored burrito bowl recipe is even better than takeout and just as fast. Loading it with vegetables and using quinoa in place of rice adds nutrition for a healthy dinner.

Mexican Quinoa Bowl-2

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by making the marinade for the chicken. To make life easy, I combine everything in a ziplock bag (no dirty bowls!).

Mexican Quinoa Bowl-4

Lime gives the chicken wonderful flavor but note that I only use the zest. Lime juice, or any acidic ingredient, will turn lean boneless skinless chicken breasts into shoe leather before they ever hit the grill. To zest the limes, it’s best to use a rasp grater like the one above.

Mexican Quinoa Bowl-5

Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least six hours or overnight.

Mexican Quinoa Bowl-6

Next make the sauce.

Mexican Quinoa Bowl-7

Simply combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. You’ll notice that I add some of the seeds of the jalapeño to make it spicy — go easy at first and add more to your liking.

Mexican Quinoa Bowl-8

Finally, make the quinoa by combining the quinoa, salt, and water in a medium saucepan. You’ll notice that my recipe calls for a little less water than the instructions on the package. I find it comes out better (read: less mushy) this way, and you can always add a little more water at the end if need be. Cover and simmer until the quinoa is cooked.

Mexican Quinoa Bowl-9

Up to this point, the entire recipe can be made ahead. Come dinnertime, preheat the grill. Place the chicken on the grill and cook, covered, for 2-3 minutes per side, turning only once.

grilled chicken

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and serve with the quinoa, green sauce, and toppings of your choosing.

chicken quinoa bowl-11-

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Chicken & Quinoa Burrito Bowls with Spicy Green Sauce

Good and good for you! You’ll love these protein-packed chicken and quinoa burrito bowls with a spicy green sauce.

Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 60 Minutes, plus at least 6 hours to marinate the chicken

Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest, from two limes (save the limes for the green sauce)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1¼ teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 pounds chicken tenderloins (or boneless skinless chicken breasts pounded to an even ½-inch thickness)

For the Green Sauce

  • 1 jalapeño chili pepper, seeded and roughly chopped (reserve the seeds) (see note)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's or Duke's
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, from 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Quinoa

  • 1½ cups pre-washed quinoa (or rinse it before cooking)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt

Suggested Toppings

  • Fresh corn, tomatoes, avocado, cucumbers, beans, cilantro

Instructions

For the Chicken

  1. Combine all of the ingredients except for the chicken breasts in a 1-gallon freezer bag. Close the bag and squish the marinade around to mix. Add the chicken and massage the marinade into the meat until evenly coated. Seal the bag and place it in a bowl in the refrigerator (the bowl protects against leakage); marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Clean the grill and preheat to high. Lightly dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and, using tongs, carefully rub over the grates several times until glossy and coated. (Alternatively, you can spray the grates generously with a non-flammable cooking spray.) Place the chicken on the grill and cook, covered, for 2-3 minutes per side, turning only once. Transfer to a cutting board and slice into bite-sized pieces.

For the Green Sauce

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend into a smooth sauce. Taste and then blend in some of the reserved jalapeño seeds to add heat, if desired. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the Quinoa

  1. Add quinoa, salt and 2⅔ cups water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked. You'll know it is done when the little "tails" sprout from the grains. (If necessary add 1-2 tablespoons more water if the quinoa is not cooked by the time all the liquid is absorbed.) Transfer to a serving bowl.

To assemble

  1. Scoop warm quinoa into bowls and top with grilled chicken, optional toppings, and green sauce.
  2. Note: After touching the seeds of the jalapeño pepper, be sure to wash your hands well and avoid touching your eyes.
  3. Note: Nutritional information was calculated assuming that approximately 3 Tbsp. of the oil is absorbed by the chicken while marinating.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 bowl (data does not include green sauce or vegetable toppings)
  • Calories: 627
  • Fat: 33 g
  • Saturated fat: 6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 53 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Protein: 29 g
  • Sodium: 701 mg
  • Cholesterol: 62 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Comments

  • I made this last night and it was phenomenal-my whole family loved it ranging from my husband who generally only likes Indian food to my son’s girlfriend who generally prefers to only eat pasta. Thank you Jenn for an amazing recipe! Jenn We have lots of leftover sauce so I am thinking to use that to make tuna salad for lunch-do you think this will work with tuna?

    • — Vibha on August 23, 2023
    • Reply
    • So glad everyone enjoyed it! I think it would definitely be different, but would be tasty with tuna. 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 23, 2023
      • Reply
  • Which of your rice recipes would you recommend for this if I don’t like quinoa? Thanks!

    • — Andrew on August 19, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Andrew, you can go with couscous. It would also be delicious this Cilantro Lime Rice. Hope you enjoy whatever you choose!

      • — Jenn on August 21, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, what temperature should the grill be preheated to? Thank you for all your amazing recipes!

    • — Vibha on August 17, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Vibha, it should be preheated to high. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 17, 2023
      • Reply
  • This is delicious and makes a tremendous first-night dinner to serve to houseguests, as it is tasty and healthy, and can be prepped the morning before (more time to spend with them once they are at your house). The next day I served the leftovers in bowls and added shredded cabbage (red and green), plus shredded carrots, and it made a delicious salad! My houseguests loved it and asked for a copy of the recipe!

    • — MaryDee on August 14, 2023
    • Reply
  • Recipe is delicious. The Green Sauce is great; I’ve used it on other dishes as well. I would like to suggest that you not use plastic ziplock bags to marinate the chicken. It’s a waste of plastic to use bags for this purpose. Same goes for using aluminum foil to line baking sheets; use parchment paper instead. Thanks!

    • — Pat on August 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • Are there other ways to cook this chicken instead of a grill?

    • — Heather on June 27, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure – for indoor cooking, I’d use a grill pan. Heat it over medium-high heat until hot. Add the marinated chicken breasts and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on the first side without touching, until the chicken develops nice grill marks. Using tongs, flip the chicken over and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, or until cooked through. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 27, 2023
      • Reply
    • This is one of my favorite recipes because it is flavorful, healthy, and can be prepped ahead.

      • — JE on January 11, 2024
      • Reply
  • Excellent! I substituted brown basmati rice for the quinoa. We can’t get enough of that green sauce … yummy!

    • — Joanne on June 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • OMG these chicken quinoa bowls are so good. Thanks for the recipe!

    • — Kt on June 7, 2023
    • Reply
  • I have made this at least five times and my kids asked me last night why I don’t make it more because it is their favorite dish! They know you by name and now ask every time I make something new if it’s “from Jen Segal” because they know it will be good.

    • — Danielle Robinson on May 3, 2023
    • Reply
  • This recipe is seriously amazing! One of my very favorites of yours I have tried. I’m planning on making either this or your chicken fajitas for my mother-in-law’s birthday dinner. She loves salads. Do you have a recommendation for a salad that would pair well with either of those dishes? Thanks in advance!

    • — Rachel on March 17, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I’m enjoying all of your recipes with success. I do have a question, I was getting ready to make the chicken & quinoa bowls and noticed the spicy green sauce says 1 jalapeño pepper but in your cookbook for the green sauce on page 132 it says 3 peppers. The rest of the sauce is identical. Can you please clarify. Thank you

    • — Sue G on March 12, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Sue, so glad you like the recipes! When I was writing the cookbook, I decided to make a green sauce that was a bit spicier. You can use anywhere from 1 to 3 peppers based on how much heat you want. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on March 15, 2023
      • Reply
  • OMG!!! I’m posting this as I’m eating! This was AMAZING! We didn’t want to use quinoa so we roasted sweet potatoes instead. And that green sauce! Yum to the yum! Awesome recipe! Thank you!

    • — Tabitha on February 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • Forgot to click 5 stars!

    • — Tess on January 17, 2023
    • Reply
  • Healthy, yummy and easy. The green sauce is over the top! Thanks for another keeper, Jen!

    • — Tess on January 17, 2023
    • Reply
  • Amazing!!! Family raved 10/10.

    • — Sara on January 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • I could drink this green sauce!

    • — Connie on December 6, 2022
    • Reply
    • 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 6, 2022
      • Reply
  • I made this green sauce recipe and put it over some leftover baked chicken with quinoa, cucumber, tomatoes and avocado… It was fantastic! Thank you for sharing!

    • — Gayle on August 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • This recipe is a game-changer for my family. We thought we didn’t like quinoa. While we always crave Tex-Mex style food, it’s often so unhealthy that we rarely eat it. Enter this phenomenal burrito bowl!! My husband and I make the full recipe for dinner (often on weeknights, it’s that easy), and we take leftovers to eat at work the next day. My husband texted me a few weeks ago during lunch: “I’m glad we found this recipe. It tastes so good.” Thanks for always creating the best meals, Chef!

    • — Rachael Myerly on April 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • Make this today…speechless…last 4 years I was using your recipes…did so many and was never disappointed…come in Canada 26 years ago and it was definitely hard for me to cook …nothing was tasty and I stick for so long with my mom cousin….background Bosnia and Herzegovina….you helped me with your recipes to experience so many flavors I never thought I will be using in my kitchen….thank you for making me the best cook for my family…they all love your recipes…my daughter order for me both your books…I am so excited specially now I am retired and I can enjoy cooking 🥰

    • — Borkica on April 17, 2022
    • Reply
    • 💗

      • — Jenn on April 18, 2022
      • Reply
  • Love all your stuff…. What would be a good use of extra green sauce.?

    • — Cindy on April 15, 2022
    • Reply
    • Glad you like the recipes! You could drizzle the green sauce over roasted veggies (or dip raw veggies into it). It would also be delicious drizzled on grilled fish or beef.

      • — Jenn on April 16, 2022
      • Reply
  • I love all of Jenn’s recipes. But this dish is my go to comfort delicious every time dish. I like it so much I have to comment. It’s amazingly simple and delicious! Smother me in spicy green sauce please 😅

    • — Elaine Adamsky
    • Reply
  • Hi! Question about cilantro; how much stem is okay to use or should I just pick off the leaves? Can’t I just cut off the thick stems at the bottom of the bunch (after washing) and throw them in? It was my kid’s job to pick the cilantro leaves – but they are both off at university now – and I hate that task (but LOVE this sauce!)

    • — Laura Deckmann
    • Reply
    • Hi Laura, yes, for the most part, it’s OK to have the stems in there; you just want to make sure that none of them are too thick. Hope that helps!

  • These burrito bowls are super flavorful and the green sauce takes the dish over the top. There was no quinoa in the pantry so I used farro instead with great success. Thanks for the recipe … we are looking forward to the leftovers!

  • Great recipe, especially for anybody doing a whole30. Provided quinoa for those who wanted a grain and also served a spring mix as an option for the base, in lieu of the quinoa. Converted the green sauce to be whole30 compliant by subbing compliant coconut milk yogurt for the sour cream and using homemade mayo (no sugar).

    Also subbed the honey in the chicken recipe with the same amount of date paste. Used chicken breast, pounded and cut into strips and marinated for 2 days for extra flavor. Cooked under the broiler for 5 minutes per side and the chicken remained moist and flavorful.

    This is going to become a regular! Thanks for a great recipe.

  • Made this for dinner tonight, and it was a big hit! Will definitely make again. In addition to the chicken, we topped with cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden, and black beans. The green sauce was delicious, and we have a fair amount left over — any ideas on how else we might use the leftover green sauce?

    • So glad you enjoyed, Emily! The sauce is good on everything – chicken, fish, shrimp, steak, fries, veggies, etc.

  • Delicious and very satisfying! I will definitely make this again without changing a thing!

    • — Daniel Cadieux
    • Reply
  • Have you tried it with brown rice instead of Quinoa

    • I haven’t personally, but I think it would also be delicious with brown rice!

  • Very delicious recipe and fun to assemble with toppings.
    The green sauce was especially nice alongside the flavorful marinated chicken tenders.
    My younger son had asked for a quinoa dish and this was my first time cooking or eating this grain, but unfortunately it gave me the worst stomach pain afterwards.
    Even though the quinoa was washed, I must be sensitive to the saponin which coats this grain…
    Mentioning this in case others experience this as well.

  • This is such a delicious recipe! My tween has declared it her favorite meal and my little guy loves that he can build his own bowl to his liking making for a healthy, well eaten dinner for all. Fantastic for next day lunch as well! Thank you, Jenn-well done!

  • This was excellent! Made it for the first time and everyone loved it. Make extra green sauce. The next day I had a vegetarian bowl with black beans, cucumber, tomato, radish, avocado, and lots of sauce. Delicious.

  • Hi Jenn,
    I have loved all your recipes! Do you think this marinade will work with Tenderloin Steak Tips? I am serving steak as well as the chicken.
    Thank you!

    • — Alison Olthoff
    • Reply
    • Definitely (and so glad you like the recipes)! 🙂

  • This was AMAZING!!! (I find myself saying that again and again about your recipes – they are truly all so good!) Super flavorful chicken, the quinoa was perfectly cooked (not mushy!) and that sauce is DElish. Everyone in my family loved this. Also, I pre-ordered your new cookbook and can’t wait for it to come out! 🙂

    • Glad you liked this and thanks for your support with the cookbook!! 🙂

  • Hi – I absolutely love all your recipes and I’ve made quite a few now! So I made the chicken burrito bowl recipe tonight – with rice – and my hubby is in absolute heaven!! It was SO good! We loved the spicy green sauce. Way better than a restaurant! Thank you for all your wonderful recipes especially since we are doing so much cooking at home these days! Laura

    • — Laura Griffith
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    I made this for dinner tonight and everyone loved it including the little ones. The chicken marinade is so fantastic on its own. My husband said he’d eat it every night !
    Thank you!

  • I substituted chipotle chili powder for the ancho chili powder as it was all I had on hand, but otherwise followed the recipe, and it was absolutely fabulous! Thanks for another wonderful recipe; I look forward to trying a lot more of your recipes!

  • We made this for a new meal to try and it is absolutely delicious.
    I do have a question. If I were to make this with jumbo frozen raw shrimp, how would you recommend marinating it and for how long?
    Thank you for this delicious recipe. It’s definitely a keeper.

    • Glad you enjoyed this! It’s fine to use shrimp here and I’d suggest marinating them for about an hour. Please LMK how it turns out with shrimp!

      • Just as yummy with the shrimp. It’s just an excellent recipe. Thank you!!!

        • So glad — thanks for reporting back! 🙂

  • I have probably reviewed this before, but feel compelled to do it again because is SO GOOD! I was bringing dinner to a friend and loved that I could prep all of this beforehand and we threw the chicken on the grill while we heated up the quinoa. Only change I made was to lighten the green sauce. I used low-fat Hellman’s mayo instead of full fat and fat-free greek yogurt instead of sour cream. It was slightly less rich than with the full fat stuff but was just as tasty (and better for my waistline). I used corn, tomatoes and cukes as the veggies. I can also attest this is great as leftovers! Yum, yum, yum!

  • Hi Jen, we love this recipe! We would like to make the green sauce for friends that have a cilantro/coriander allergy. Would parsley be a good replacement for cilantro? Would it still taste as good? Would we need to do anything else? Your thoughts would be appreciated! Thank you,

    • Hi Bry, this will have a slightly different taste with parsley, but will still be delicious. Hope you enjoy!

  • This is so flavourful! The green sauce is amazing. An excellent meal.

  • Another favorite across my extended family! The marinade is delicious, I love adding all the fresh and crunchy veggies, but it really is all about the green sauce. Damn, that green sauce is life!

    • — Emily Cavender
    • Reply
  • Easily a family favourite! I can’t even express how much we LOVE the green sauce!!! I often pair Jen’s Black Bean Salad with Corn, Avocado & Lime Vinaigrette which is amazing and just a few extra steps when prepping the suggested toppings. Amazing burst of flavours!

    • Oops! Jenn’s Black Bean Salad!

  • This is a wonderful recipe for a healthier dish for dinner. It was the most requested meal in our house in January to help with keeping our New Year resolutions! We have grilled the chicken when warmer out but also baked it in the oven in a pinch and on a grill pan on top of the stove-all delicious! The sauce is amazing!!! Double so there is extra to enjoy with the chicken as a sandwich or in tacos for leftovers.

    • — Krista Tolsdorf
    • Reply
  • This dish is my husband’s favorite meal! He loves “bowl” meals and this one does not disappoint. His favorite thing? ….. the sauce! It is amazing. Highly recommend for an easy and good for you meal!

    • — Elizabeth Burton
    • Reply
  • Jenn, I want EVERYONE to know how delicious these burrito bowls are so they can try them and know what genuinely good flavor really is! OMG! First of all, the marinated chicken can stand all on its own because it is so flavorful especially when grilled over charcoal. I prefer to use boneless thighs, and I recommend them. I had never even tried quinoa until I made this recipe, and I discovered a new and easy compliment to any number of dishes. However, the highlight of the entire recipe is your delectable Green Sauce!!! It is a drizzle of flavor like no other and absolutely takes the whole dish to another level!!! I served this recently to my entire adult family, and everyone raved about it. Thank you, again, for your gift of another delectable delight!

  • This recipe was tops and exactly the healthy meal that my family was looking for in the New Year. I served it with black beans, hothouse cucumber, corn (365 frozen white corn), tomatoes, avocado and lettuce. I made the sauce the day before when I was making the marinade for the chicken and it made things easier time wise the day of the meal. Like many of the reviewers, I was a bit hesitant when I read about the mayonnaise in the green sauce but the calories/mayonnaise are worth it- the sauce is so good and it adds so much flavor. You can just go easy on the sauce when you add it to your bowl if you are worried about it but don’t omit it from the recipe.

  • If I use the suggested black beans as a topping, should the beans be rinsed and seasoned or served plain?

    • If you’re going to use canned beans, I’d drain and rinse them first and no need to season. Hope you enjoy!

  • I made this for dinner tonight – to rave reviews! All the ingredients were so flavourful and perfectly balanced. That green sauce will become a favourite dressing for salad I am sure 🙂

    The best part is it is so clean – you feel great after eating it.
    Thanks for another great recipe!

    • — Linda Robertson
    • Reply

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