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

Mexican Quinoa Bowl-2

How to make burrito bowls

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 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.

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, 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
  • 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

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 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.

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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Reviews & Comments

  • 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,

    • — Bry on March 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Bry, this will have a slightly different taste with parsley, but will still be delicious. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 15, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is so flavourful! The green sauce is amazing. An excellent meal.

    • — Sharon on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • 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 on January 30, 2021
    • 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!

    • — Denise on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • Oops! Jenn’s Black Bean Salad!

      • — Denise on January 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • 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 on January 28, 2021
    • 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 on January 28, 2021
    • 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!

    • — Jean Cavender on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • 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.

    • — JE on January 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • If I use the suggested black beans as a topping, should the beans be rinsed and seasoned or served plain?

    • — JE on January 9, 2021
    • Reply
    • If you’re going to use canned beans, I’d drain and rinse them first and no need to season. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 9, 2021
      • Reply
  • 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 on December 8, 2020
    • Reply

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