Is it weird to say that Mexican food makes me feel happy about life, especially this time of year? Margaritas, guac, chips and salsa, mariachi, summer nights – I just love it all. As such, I’ve got plenty of Mexican recipes on the site, but these protein-packed chicken and quinoa burrito bowls are my latest south-of-the-border obsession. The recipe is really three stand-alone dishes in one: an easy grilled chicken recipe you’ll put on repeat throughout grilling season; an addictively spicy green sauce; and foolproof quinoa. The toppings are up to you – fresh corn, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, or whatever your heart desires. These burrito bowls are totally doable for a dinner party since you can do most of it ahead, and everyone will love assembling their own bowls. They’re festive, healthy, and gluten-free to boot. Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Begin by making the marinade for the chicken. To make life easy, I combine everything in a ziplock bag (no dirty bowls!).
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 to shoe leather before they ever hit the grill. To zest the limes, it’s best to use a rasp grater like the one above.
Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least six hours or overnight.
Next make the sauce.
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.
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.
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.
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and serve with the quinoa, green sauce, and toppings of your choosing.
My Recipe Videos
Chicken & Quinoa Burrito Bowls with Spicy Green Sauce
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
- 1-1/4 teaspoons ancho chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 pounds chicken tenderloins (or boneless skinless chicken breasts pounded to an even 1/2-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
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's or Duke's
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, from 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Quinoa
- 1-1/2 cups pre-washed quinoa (or rinse it before cooking)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- Fresh corn, tomatoes, avocado, cucumbers, beans, cilantro
For the Chicken
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- Add quinoa, salt and 2-2/3 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.
- Scoop warm quinoa into bowls and top with grilled chicken, optional toppings, and green sauce.
- Note: After touching the seeds of the jalapeño pepper, be sure to wash your hands well and avoid touching your eyes.
- Note: Nutritional information was calculated assuming that approximately 3 Tbsp. of the oil is absorbed by the chicken while marinating.
- 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.