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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.

Wooden bowl with chicken, quinoa, and spicy green sauce.

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.

Plate of grilled chicken with tongs.

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


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


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.

See more recipes:


  • Hey Jenn! I’m wondering how I could make this dairy free…I know I can use dairy free sour cream, but what’s a good substitute for the Mayo?

    • Hi Rebecca, the great majority of mayo you’ll find in stores is dairy-free (but be sure to check the label) so you should be good to go. Hope you enjoy!

  • Can’t wait to try this! If I make extra sauce, do you have an idea of how long it would last in the fridge?

    • I would guess it would last nicely in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Enjoy!

  • Wow – this was amazing! I only had an hour to marinate the chicken, and didn’t have quinoa so I served with cilantro rice from Jenn’s cookbook instead, but other than that followed the recipe exactly. The green sauce was to die for, and the chicken turned out juicy and flavorful despite the short marinating time. For veggies, I added leftover chickpea, corn and red pepper salad (also from Jenn’s blog). The combination was out of this world. One of my new favorite recipes. Can’t wait to make again!

  • This was fantastic! Made the chicken with the same spices as Jenn’s chicken fajitas recipe (which is also fantastic)—veggies in the bowl were fresh red pepper, scallions, tomatoes, red onion, and cucumber. Topped it with some shredded lettuce and mexican cheese too, and then the green sauce (omitting chilies because we can’t eat spicy)–it was absolutely delicious! Another total winner–Jenn is brilliant

  • I made this exactly as written, and it was perfection in a bowl. I am curious if you think it would be good with salmon, but only marinade is for about an hour. The recipe calls for lime zest (not juice which is acidic and can cook fish & seafood quickly). What are your thoughts on using salmon?

    • Glad you liked them! Yes, what you’re suggesting with salmon should work. Please LMK how it turns out!

  • This recipe was out of this world! The marinade was perfect and I could drink the sauce alone. My husband actually made it. He loves to cook, but doesn’t like to choose what he’s making, so I always select the recipes to give to him. He faithfully follows every recipe as written, so rest assured, if you make this recipe as stated, you won’t be disappointed!

  • I made this last night for supper and it was amazing! Very healthy and tasty. The green sauce is what really put it over the top. I used one jalapeño and half the seeds to give it a little kick. Hubby is not a quinoa fan, but he even said it was okay! I’m still working on him! 🙂 Will definitely be making this again and love that you can customize the veggies to put in it.

  • This was excellent! Made exactly as written. Thanks so much!

  • This meal is delicious, my husband and teen daughters all loved it- definitely restaurant quality. Thank you for this recipe!

    • — Janet Peterson
    • Reply
  • I have to say that this is one of my favourite bowls! The flavour is fantastic!!! The perfect bowl to prep for lunches. And can I just say that the sauce is out of this world!!! I want to put it on everything lol. Also, my husband who hates cilantro, can’t wait for me to make it.
    Thank you so much for making so many amazing recipes. They are on regular rotation in my house. Loving your cook book too. Will there be a second book soon? 😄

  • Hi Jenn –

    Do you cook or roast the corn or serve fresh off the cob?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Cindi, If you’re using fresh corn on the cob, you’ll need to cook the corn first. Hope you enjoy!

  • Delicious! My family loved this meal. I had always thought quinoa would be hard to cook & figured my family wouldn’t eat it. Boy was I wrong. We loved the flavour of this entire meal & I made recipe exactly as written. My boys who are 8 & 4 didn’t find this spicy. Thank you for another awesome recipe!!!!

  • This recipe is wonderful. It proved to my family that quoina can make meals healthy and delicious. This recipe is going in my favorites folder! Thank you for sharing!

  • O m g. These were amazing. Used fresh tomatoes from our garden. I didn’t grill the chicken, just baked it, but wow! Definitely a keeper recipe. The sauce I could put on anything, its that tasty! Thank you

  • This was a fabulous late summer meal. We had sides of home-grown cherry tomatoes, green beans and peppers. The sauce was delicious although I only used 3/4 of a jalepeno. Thanks for a fantastic recipe!

    • — Jeanette Spence
    • Reply
  • I love this green sauce..but I was just wondering if I could substitute Crema Mexicana for the Mayo/sour cream?

    • Yes, that should be fine, Paula. Enjoy!

      • Wondering if you could substitute parsley for the cilantro? We are not a fan of cilantro buy the rest of the recipe sounds amazing.

        • Sure – enjoy! 🙂

  • Hi Jenn,
    do you recommend removing the tendon from the chicken before or after cooking?

    • I would recommend before. Here’s some guidance. Hope you enjoy the bowls!

  • Just made the spicy green sauce today for the first time and we both LOVED it!! Had it over quinoa and steamed cauliflower and it was so delicious — and easy! It would literally be good on anything. Thanks, Jenn, for another crazy good recipe. 😊

    • — Corinne Forster
    • Reply
  • Who couldn’t love this recipe??? The marinated grilled chicken could easily stand alone as a main dish, but add all the veggies, Quinoa, and the DELECTABLE green sauce and it is indescribably delicious! I have made the green sauce just to have on hand for salads/ dips. SOOOO good! Everyone loves it! Thank you… AGAIN!!!

  • Great marinade and green sauce is very flavorful. My husband liked it as a salad dressing as well. Very fresh, flavorful and versatile recipe. This is a great all around crowd pleasing recipe! Thank you again for such great all star recipes! I always look forward to your posts.

  • This is a keeper! I made it exactly to the recipe and I wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks for another winner Jenn!

  • Another winning recipe! My husband said that this was the best thing that “I” had cooked yet 😉 My first attempt at quinoa which turned out pretty well by following your directions, and I marinated the chicken for 2 days – which turned out juicy and delicious. Next time, I want to add a little more of the jalapeno seeds to kick up the spice a touch. Can’t wait for friends and family to visit so that I can make this for them!!

  • Great recipe! I love quinoa. Other veggies such as avocados, red peppers, carrots, shredded red cabbage, scallions or other veggies can be use also.

  • Hi! I love your recipes! Can I marinate the chicken for two days? I made your chicken chili with white beans yesterday and still have some left over… it was delicious😊

    • Sure, Lena – two days is fine. 🙂

  • Thanks again for yet another “crowd pleaser.” Only change was brown rice instead of quinoa. I loved the marinade and that sauce is fantastic!

  • I have never tasted anything like this. It is a new favorite in our house. We like it with avocado and Pico de Gallo. The chicken tastes perfect and the green sauce pairs perfectly with it all.

  • This recipe is a staple in our home! It never disappoints and the sauce and marinade are a perfect marriage!

  • I find it baffling that this recipe is not in the most popular recipes section on your site. I have made and loved countless recipes of yours (from both the book and the website) over the last few years but somehow only recently stumbled upon this one. It instantly became a favorite in my house. The marinade works so well (even tried it with tofu – yum!), the green sauce pulls everything together, big kids and little kids alike love it. A true winner all around!

  • Your recipes are amazing. My family loves this recipe and my daughter asked for it for her family birthday party. We are having 15 people. We are planning to grill the chicken (I always use chicken breasts) Can I warm the chicken in the oven before cutting and serving? What temperature would you recommend and should I cover the pan???

    Thank you

    • Hi Sara, Thanks for your kind words about the recipes – so glad you like them! Yes, you can warm the chicken up in a 325-degree oven. The best way to retain the moisture for the chicken would be to wrap it in a foil packet, place it on a baking sheet, and reheat until the internal temperature of the meat is 165 degrees Fahrenheit on a meat thermometer. Hope everyone enjoys and happy birthday to your daughter!

  • Wow my quinoa-hating husband and daughter couldn’t get enough of this dish! The sauce is so delicious! Used parsley because that’s what I had but I bet cilantro would be amazing. Thank you so much for another wonderful recipe!

  • This is indeed a VERY tasty meal! I followed the recipe exactly and the chicken was moist and flavorful, the sauce a perfect compliment to the other flavors. So glad to find this and other delicious recipes by Jenn that include quinoa!

  • This is one of my daughter’s favorite meals! The marinade for the chicken is very flavorful, and the green sauce is awesome. Have made with brown rice as a substitute for the quinoa and it’s just as good!

  • Hi Jenn! I bought all the ingredients to make this, but I bought couscous instead of quinoa by mistake. Will it make a big difference?

    • Not at all, Carol – couscous will be good!

  • I’ve made this twice in the past week – the second time per request. The green sauce is amazing. Thank you for another great recipe.

  • A-mazing green sauce! I prepped the chicken sauce and quinoa in the morning and pulled it together right before dinner. It was just too hot to grill so I broiled the chicken and it was perfectly charred and the spices spot on. The real star of this dish is the spicy green sauce. I am so glad I have extra – will use on scrambled eggs tomorrow morning

  • Would it be OK to bake the chicken instead ?

    • I’d broil it. 🙂

  • Hi Jenn!
    My family LOVES this chicken and I make it often. I’ve always grilled it, but today it’s raining and I don’t want to grill. Can I bake it instead? If so, at what temperate and for how long?

    • Sure, Jodie – I’d broil it though. Time will be about the same per side. Hope that helps!

  • My family loved this recipe especially the spicy green sauce. The delicious marinated chicken and green sauce take our grain bowls up a notch.

  • Hi Jenn,
    This sounds delicious, but we are not big cilantro fans at our house. Can you suggest a possible substitute that might work in its place? Also, I love your cookbook-it already has worn and spotty pages -the mark of a really good cookbook!

    • Hi Jane, You can just leave the cilantro out – no biggie :). And so happy you’re enjoying the book!

  • This recipe is outstanding. Ive made it several times for my family and for parties. It is always a hit!! Everyone always asks me for the recipe.

  • This recipe is HEAVILY in rotation at my house. I use rice instead of quinoa. SOSOSOO GOOD

  • Hey Jen, I made this dish not once but twice in two weeks time. You hit the jackpot with this one. The marinade for the chicken is delicious, and you’re right it will be on repeat this summer. The sauce is the bomb! My vegetarian daughter loves it. I had to make sure to make extra for her she puts it on everything. I just have to be careful with it. I get a little heartburn if I eat too much of it. And I just received your/my cookbook ☺️I’m so HAPPY I’ve already marked several pages of recipes to try. Thank you Jen😌

  • Made this for dinner this evening. I could eat this every single day for the rest of my life.

  • Okay Jen, I picked up the chicken I’m going to season it up tonight for tomorrow’s dinner. I’ll let you know how it turns out. My mouth is watering just thinking about it yummm.

  • This chicken recipe is awesome!! And the sauce is super light. I am not a fan of mayo or sour cream so we replace with Greek yogurt and it taste wonderful! And I skip jalapeños only because I never have any either.

    Honestly just the chicken by itself is great! I will put it over rice or noodles or even in a sandwich.

    My kids love it and they are 6 and 4 years old.

  • Hi Jenn
    Would it be okay to substitute rice for the quinoa?
    Cannot wait to make this

  • Made this last night and it was OMG delicious! The green sauce is outstanding. The chicken I had was already cut for stir-fry so I marinated that for several hours and stir-fried it. I used every topping suggested and added sliced green onions. I also added freshly made papadums and went “taco-style” on this meal. It was wonderful. Thank you for a great recipe!

  • Great recipe! I used yogurt in place of the mayo (reduced lime juice) in the sauce and since I had steak I used that in place of the chicken. I like that you can customize it. The sauce was so good I could have licked the bowl lol

  • This looks great but my husband hates mayo so I was wondering what I could substitute in the sauce? Maybe Greek yogurt?

    • Hi Anne, you can substitute plain yogurt for the mayo, but it will make the dressing a bit tangier, so you may want to cut back on the lime juice. Enjoy!

  • I just made this for dinner tonight, it is soooo good! Loved it!!!

    • — Stephanie Leonard
    • Reply

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