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Mexican Buddha Bowl

$11.97 Recipe/$2.99 Serving

Mexican buddha bowls are a quick and easy weeknight meal or meal prep lunch! Ready in about 30 minutes, this healthy Mexican buddha bowl is healthy, filling, and full flavor super customizable! Filled with cilantro lime quinoa, Mexican veggies, and smoky black beans, this buddha bowl is going to quickly become you favorite meatless meal!

Quinoa, black beans, veggies and avocado in a white bowl.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Easy to make, ready in 30 minutes – Buddha bowls are easy to make, since so much of the meal can also be made in advance, it’s great for busy weeknight dinners or work lunches. All the individual parts of the buddha bowl are very simple recipes, and the entire recipe can be cooked and assembled in 30 minutes. Typically, I like to cook the quinoa in the instant pot while the veggies are cooking on the stove. As soon as the veggies are done, take them out of the skillet and cook the black beans. Everything comes together in 30 minutes and is full of flavor and textures.
  • Healthy, easy to find ingredients – the ingredients for these healthy Mexican buddha bowls can be found in your local grocery store. This meatless meal is also budget friendly, and can be made even less expensive by swapping the quinoa for rice and making your own black beans from scratch (I use the Instant pot).
  • Versatile – you can easily change up the ingredients to this Mexican buddha bowl to match what you have on hand, as buddha bowls are typically a mixture of flavors and textures. Even better, you can serve this hot, cold or at room temperature making it great for meal prep too!
  • Great for meal prep – you can prep all the ingredients for this healthy Mexican buddha bowl in advance and store in the fridge for up to a week! You can easily make lunch for 3-4 days with these ingredients.
Ingredients to make Mexican buddha bowl
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What’s in this Mexican buddha bowl

Cilantro Lime quinoa

  • Quinoa – quinoa is a quick cooking seed (not a grain) that is packed with protein and fiber. It cooks quickly (about 20 minutes) and you can make it on the stove or in the instant pot. You could also use rice (I love jasmine rice or basmati rice) or even cauliflower rice to make this low carb friendly.
  • Lime juice – fresh lime juice is best in this recipe! The lime juice helps to give a bright, tangy flavor to the quinoa.
  • Fresh Cilantro – fresh cilantro really help create that Mexican inspired meal when paired with the lime juice. Fresh cilantro also provides a fresh, herby flavor that makes the entire dish pop.
  • Spices: Salt, garlic powder – these help to elevate the flavors of the dish.

Mexican Veggies

  • Zucchini squash and yellow squash – zucchini and yellow squash are some of my favorite veggies to sauté up for a quick and easy meal. They are easy to cut and cook and soak up flavors very well. You can cut these into half moons or cut them into thin matchsticks to cook quickly.
  • Red onion – red onions bring so much flavor to this Mexican veggie combination. You can also use white or yellow onions or even green onions in place of the red onion if needed.
  • Bell Peppers – bell peppers, like zucchini and squash are almost always included in my Mexican style meals. They cook up quickly and their slightly sweet flavor contrasts the smoky flavors from the seasonings perfectly.
  • Spices: Chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt – these spices really help to provide a smoky, Mexican flavor to the veggies.

Black Beans for Tacos

  • Black beans – black beans are a great source of protein and fiber and are very budget friendly. Black beans are super filling and so easy to find. You can also use kidney beans, white beans or lentils in place of the black beans.
  • Tomato paste – this adds a layer of flavor and also helps to create a sauce for the black beans, giving them so much flavor when combined with the Mexican inspired spices.
  • Spices: Chili powder, ground cumin, salt – the spices help to really take these black beans to the next level of flavor without being a long cooking meal.

Toppings

  • Radish – I love using fresh radish in Mexican inspired meals. It adds a level of freshness and crunch to the meal. This is 100% optional though, you could also use fresh bell pepper, crumbled up tortilla chips or jicama for similar crunch.
  • Avocado – avocado provides a creamy texture to the buddha bowl and is also a great source of healthy fats and fiber. You could also use your favorite guacamole recipe in place of the avocado for even more flavor.
  • Salsa – salsa acts almost like dressing in this recipe and provides another layer of flavor. Use your favorite salsa or even make homemade! You could also use pico de gallo.

How to make Mexican buddha bowls

Start by making the quinoa on the stove or in the Instant Pot. This is typically pretty hands off, but will take about 15-20 minutes.

While quinoa is cooking, chop the veggies for the Mexican veggies. I like to cut the zucchini and squash into half moon shapes, cut the peppers in cubes and slice the onions into thin strips.

Preheat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat while prepping the veggies.

Once the skillet is hot, spray with non-stick spray and add the onions. Cook them 2-3 minutes then add the zucchini and squash. These will need to cook 5-7 minutes until tender, be sure to stir well regularly as the onions will want to stick to the bottom and start to burn. After the zucchini and squash are tender, add the bell pepper and spices. Cook 2-3 more minutes.  

Steps on how to make Mexican veggies in cast iron skillet.

While the veggies are cooking, rinse and drain the black beans.

When the veggies are done cooking, take them out of the skillet. Immediately add the black beans, tomato paste, water, salt and spices. Stir well over medium heat. The mixture will come to a simmer and the water will start to evaporate quickly. Cook 5-7 minutes until beans reach your desired consistency (5 for saucier and 7 minutes for drier beans). If you find your beans get too dry add 2-4 tablespoons of water and stir. Turn off the heat once these reach your desired consistency.

Steps on how to make Mexican black beans.

After beans are done cooking, chop the rest of the veggies and cilantro.

When quinoa is done cooking, add lime juice, cilantro, salt and garlic powder, stir well.

steps on how to make cilantro lime rice, chopping cilantro and stirring in the quinoa.

Assemble the buddha bowls, adding cilantro lime quinoa, Mexican vegetables, Mexican black beans, chopped radish, sliced avocado and a large spoonful of your favorite salsa. Enjoy!

Meal prep tips

Mexican buddha bowls can be enjoyed hot, cold or room temperature. If you plan on heating up your buddha bowls when reheating the leftovers, be sure to wait until right before serving to add the avocado, radish and salsa. The rest can be pre-portioned and stored together to make getting lunch together a breeze.

You can easily freeze the quinoa and black beans for later use. It’s more difficult to freeze the veggies, as zucchini and squash get very soggy when defrosted. If you know you want to freeze leftovers, use all onions and peppers, and omit the zucchini and yellow squash.

It’s best to wait to slice the avocado until right before serving. If you know you won’t have time for that, you can make a quick guacamole by combining avocado, lime juice, cilantro, salt and garlic powder. Guacamole typically holds up better than fresh avocado.

Mexican buddha bowl in a white bowl with a fork in the bowl.

What else can you add to this Mexican buddha bowl

Protein: Mexican Shredded Chicken, Air Fryer Frozen Shrimp, Air Fryer Salmon

Dressing: Creamy Cilantro Tahini Dressing, Cilantro Lime Dressing, Avocado Ranch or Spicy Tahini Dressing

Veggies: Shredded lettuce, pickled onions, pickled jalapeno, fresh jalapeno, fresh or roasted corn

Crunch: Crushed up tortilla chips, toasted pepitas or cashews

Common questions

What is a buddha bowl

Buddha bowls are known to be very filling and nourishing, and typically have a great balance of healthy carbs, protein, and fats. Usually, buddha bowls revolve around a grain, veggie, protein and healthy fat and are often very colorful and full of variety of flavors and textures.

No one quite knows where the term Buddha bowl comes from. An article from Bon Appetit mentions that Martha Stuart might have coined the phrase in her vegetarian inspired cookbook in 2013, where others think that it’s named after the fact that Buddha would carry a bowl around and collect food from villagers and put it together in a bowl to enjoy (per Epicurious Magazine).

No matter where the name came from, I think many people can agree that buddha bowls are a fun one bowl meal that are full of flavor, texture and so fun to eat!

What are some other Mexican inspired recipes that could also be part of a buddha bowl

Lage white bowl packed with Mexican Buddha Bowl ingredients.

Storing leftovers

Fridge: You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. I recommend waiting to add the salsa and avocado until right before serving if possible. Avocado tends to brown within hours of being cut and the salsa can water down the buddha bowl if added too early.

Freezer: You can freeze the cilantro lime quinoa and black beans easily (3 months in airtight containers). I do not recommend freezing the Mexican veggies if you are using zucchini and yellow squash, as they get watery when defrosted. If you know you will be freezing the veggies, just use just peppers and onions (about 3 peppers), as these freeze a bit better (freeze up to 2 months). You can freeze avocado as well. I would freeze the ingredients all separately and assemble the buddha bowls with defrosted veggies.

Substitutions

  • Cilantro Lime Quinoa – you can use rice or cauliflower rice in place of the quinoa. For more substitutions, check out this cilantro lime quinoa recipe.
  • Mexican Veggies – you can use whatever veggies you have on hand for this. For other substitution ideas, check out the substitution section in this Mexican Vegetable recipe post.
  • Mexican Black beans – you can make this with black beans, white beans, pinto beans, kidney beans or even lentils in place of the black beans. For other substitution ideas, check out the substitution section in Black Bean Tacos.
  • Radish (optional) – you can simply omit the radish or replace it with something crunchy like thinly sliced bell peppers, crushed tortilla chips or jicama.
  • Avocado (optional) – avocado adds creaminess. You could also use a creamy chipotle mayo or homemade guacamole in place of the avocado.
  • Salsa – I use a store-bought salsa and it’s a great way to change up the flavors of this dish by using a different salsa every time. You can also make your own salsa or use pico de gallo or one of the dressing options listed above in place of the salsa.

If you love this recipe, you should try

Asian Buddha Bowl

Mexican Cauliflower White Bean Soup

Italian Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean White Bean Salad

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Hand holding fork in bowl filled with Mexican buddha bowl ingredients.

Mexican Buddha Bowl

$11.97 Recipe/$2.99 Serving
Mexican buddha bowls are easy to make, ready in 30 minutes and perfect for lunch or dinner. Easy to customize based on what you have on hand and perfect for meal prep.
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: mexican buddha bowl
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Cilantro Lime Quinoa

  • 1 cup quinoa (dry) - $1.12
  • 1.5 cups water - $0.00
  • 2 medium limes - $0.66
  • 1/3 cup cilantro - $0.70
  • 3/4 tsp salt - $0.04
  • 1 tsp garlic powder - $0.10

Mexican Vegetables

  • 2 medium zucchini - $1.99
  • 1 medium yellow squash - $0.99
  • 1 medium red onion - $0.33
  • 1 medium bell pepper - $1.29
  • 1.25 tsp chili powder - $0.13
  • 1 tsp salt - $0.05
  • 1 tsp garlic powder - $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin - $0.05

Mexican Black Beans

Toppings

  • 2 medium avocado - $1.50
  • 3 medium radish - $0.25
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes - $0.50

Instructions

  • Start by rinsing the quinoa.
  • Cook the quinoa. You can cook it on the stove with 2 cups of water or in the instant pot with 1.5 cups water. To cook on the stove add water and bring to a boil, once boiling cover and turn down to low, simmer for 15 minutes. To use the instant pot add quinoa and water and cook high pressure 1 minute, let pressure release 10 minutes before manual release.
  • Chop the vegetables, cut the zucchini and yellow squash into half moon shapes, dice the bell peppers and slice the onions.
  • Preheat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add the onions and cook 2-3 minutes until they start to get tender. Next add the zucchini and yellow squash. Cook 5-7 minutes, being sure to stir often so that onions don't burn. Once zucchini is done cooking, add the spices and bell peppers. Cook 2-3 minutes.
  • Rinse and drain the black beans while the veggies are cooking.
  • Once vegetables are done cooking, remove the vegetables and add the black beans, water, tomato paste, and spices to the same skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring well to fully incorporate the tomato paste into the beans. Cook 5-7 minutes (5 minutes for saucy beans and 7 minutes for drier beans). You can always add 2-4 tablespoons to make it saucier. Turn off the stove once beans are done cooking.
  • While the black bean are cooking, chop the cilantro, radish, tomato and avocado.
  • Once the quinoa is done cooking, add the lime juice, cilantro, salt and garlic powder. Stir well.
  • Once the quinoa, veggies and black beans are done cooking, make the buddha bowls by assembling all the ingredients in a single bowl.

Notes

Meal prep tips
  • Mexican buddha bowls can be enjoyed hot, cold or room temperature. If you plan on heating up your buddha bowls when reheating the leftovers, be sure to wait until right before serving to add the avocado, radish and salsa. The rest can be pre-portioned and stored together to make getting lunch together a breeze.
  • You can easily freeze the quinoa and black beans for later use. It’s more difficult to freeze the veggies, as zucchini and squash get very soggy when defrosted. If you know you want to freeze leftovers, use all onions and peppers, and omit the zucchini and yellow squash.
  • It’s best to wait to slice the avocado until right before serving. If you know you won’t have time for that, you can make a quick guacamole by combining avocado, lime juice, cilantro, salt and garlic powder. Guacamole typically holds up better than fresh avocado.
Substitutions
  • Cilantro Lime Quinoa – you can use rice or cauliflower rice in place of the quinoa. For more substitutions, check out this cilantro lime quinoa recipe.
  • Mexican Veggies – you can use whatever veggies you have on hand for this. For other substitution ideas, check out the substitution section in this Mexican Vegetable recipe post.
  • Mexican Black beans – you can make this with black beans, white beans, pinto beans, kidney beans or even lentils in place of the black beans. For other substitution ideas, check out the substitution section in Black Bean Tacos.
  • Radish (optional) – you can simply omit the radish or replace it with something crunchy like thinly sliced bell peppers, crushed tortilla chips or jicama.
  • Avocado (optional) – avocado adds creaminess. You could also use a creamy chipotle mayo or homemade guacamole in place of the avocado.
  • Salsa – I use a store-bought salsa and it’s a great way to change up the flavors of this dish by using a different salsa every time. You can also make your own salsa or use pico de gallo or one of the dressing options listed above in place of the salsa.
Storing leftovers
  • Fridge: You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. I recommend waiting to add the salsa and avocado until right before serving if possible. Avocado tends to brown within hours of being cut and the salsa can water down the buddha bowl if added too early.
  • Freezer: You can freeze the cilantro lime quinoa and black beans easily (3 months in airtight containers). I do not recommend freezing the Mexican veggies if you are using zucchini and yellow squash, as they get watery when defrosted. If you know you will be freezing the veggies, just use just peppers and onions (about 3 peppers), as these freeze a bit better (freeze up to 2 months). You can freeze avocado as well. I would freeze the ingredients all separately and assemble the buddha bowls with defrosted veggies.
See how I calculate food cost.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
548
Fat
 
19
g
Carbohydrates
 
79
g
Fiber
 
25
g
Sugar
 
8
g
Protein
 
22
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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