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Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowls

Sweet potato quinoa bowls are hearty, filling and ridiculously delicious. These quinoa kale sweet potato bowls are great for lunch or dinner and are perfect for meal prep. These healthy roasted cauliflower quinoa bowls come together in about 45 minutes and are vegan, gluten free and dairy free.

Maple tahini dressing drizzled over quinoa sweet potato bowl.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Easy to assemble – this recipe takes some time to cook but is relatively easy and hands off. Everything cooks during that 45 minute cooking period, but you may dirty a few dishes. Use parchment paper on the baking sheet for easy clean up. I recommend using the instant pot to make the quinoa as hands off as possible. The onions and kale cook up in just minutes on the stove and are very simple to make. Once everything is cooked, the bowls are so easy to assemble and customize.
  • Simple ingredients – this recipe for quinoa sweet potato bowls is just 8 simple ingredients, most of white you likely have on hand right now. Use your favorite store-bought dressing or make one of my favorites, most of which take just 1 minute to assemble with minimal ingredients.
  • Great for meal prep – this sweet potato kale quinoa bowls reheat so well (since you are cooking the kale in advance you don’t have to worry about it wilting when reheating). You can make this on Sunday for lunches to last most of the week ahead. Be sure to wait to add any dressing or crunchy or creamy toppings until right before serving.
  • Versatile – change up the flavors by using a different dressing or different spices. Change up the quinoa grain bowls by using different veggies or adding a different protein. The base of this recipe is easy to change based on what you have on hand.
Ingredients to make quinoa sweet potato bowls.
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Ingredients

  • Sweet potatoes – sweet potatoes help to make this grain bowl filling and give it a slightly sweet tone, especially once the sweet potatoes are roasted. The sweet potatoes compliment the spices on the cauliflower well and also cook in the same amount of time as the cauliflower, making them perfect to roast together.
  • Cauliflower – adding cauliflower to these sweet potato quinoa bowls helps make them more filling, packed with veggies and the cauliflower is spiced with a smoky seasoning from the cumin that make it pair perfectly with the sweet potatoes.
  • Extra virgin olive oil – the olive oil helps to coat the cauliflower to ensure the spices stick to the cauliflower and also help the cauliflower get golden brown when roasting. You can also use avocado oil, melted coconut oil or melted ghee or butter in place of the olive oil.
  • Spices: Salt, cumin, garlic powder – these spices help to elevate the flavors of the cauliflower and make it savory, smoky and give it umami qualities. Check out the other flavor options below if you don’t have cumin or don’t love it.
  • Quinoa + water – quinoa is a high protein seed (that acts like a grain) and helps make these sweet potato bowls super filling. Quinoa is easy to prep (my favorite method is the instant pot) and you can even find frozen, precooked quinoa in the grocery store if you want to cut back on some of the cooking in this recipe.
  • Red onion – red onion helps to add a deep, savory flavor to the bowls and also pairs well with the rest of the ingredients. If you don’t have red onions, you can also use white onions, yellow onions or shallots. If you don’t have onions, you can simply omit them.
  • Kale – kale is hearty cooks up so perfectly in the skillet in just a minute or two. The kale helps to add more veggies to this bowl and makes it so that you don’t have to serve this over salad greens. Be sure to remove the thick stem from the kale (if you buy prechopped kale, run through it to remove any thick stems). If you don’t love the taste of kale, add about 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar to the kale as it cooks to help cut through some of the bitter flavor.

How to make sweet potato quinoa bowls

Start by preheating the oven to 425F.

Cut the sweet potatoes into ½ – 1 inch cubes. Add them to a parchment paper lined extra large baking sheet.

Sweet potato cut into cubes on a wooden cutting board.

Cut the cauliflower into bite size pieces. Add it to a bowl and add the olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, cumin, and garlic powder to the cauliflower and stir well until all the florets are coated. Add the cauliflower to the extra large baking sheet with the sweet potatoes. Note that if you don’t have an extra large baking sheet, put the cauliflower on a separate parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Cauliflower florets in a white bowl with spices on top.

Bake the sweet potatoes and cauliflower at 425 for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, stir the pan and cook 10 more minutes.

Before and after roasting the cauliflower and sweet potatoes.

Make quinoa in instant pot or on the stove while potatoes and cauliflower are baking. Combine 1 cup rinsed quinoa with 1.5 cups water. Set the instant pot for 1 minute (high pressure) then allow the pressure to naturally release for 5-10 minutes. You can manually release after this time.

Before and after cooking quinoa in instant pot.

While the sweet potatoes and cauliflower cooking, chop red onion and destem and chop the kale.

Chopped onion and chopped kale on wooden cutting board.

During the last 10 minutes after you put the cauliflower and sweet potatoes back in the oven, cook the onions 3-4 minutes in a large skillet. After 3-4 minutes, add the kale and ¼ tsp salt and stir 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to wilt further if needed.

Shredded kale in stainless steel pan before and after sauteing.

Assemble the bowls by dividing up the ingredients between 4 bowls.  Add your favorite dressing, toppings and serve hot, warm or room temperature.

What kind of dressing to add to this kale grain bowl

  • Maple tahini dressing – this is thick, creamy, and slightly sweet and would pair perfectly with these ingredients.
  • Creamy Balsamic Dressing – this creamy balsamic dressing is tangy, sweet, and creamy. This dressing is my go-to recipe for any fall themed salads or grain bowls.
  • Tahini Lime Dressing – this is tangy and creamy and the lime and spiced cauliflower would be perfect together.
  • Honey Mustard Dressing – Honey mustard is sweet, tangy and one of my favorite dressings to use on any quinoa bowl.
  • Almond Butter Tahini Dressing – this dressing is slightly sweet from the maple syrup, slightly spicy from the added ginger and creamy. It pairs so well with the sweetness from the sweet potatoes and the cumin on the cauliflower.
Maple tahini dressing being poured over a quinoa bowl.

Top tips

  • Be sure to rinse the quinoa well before cooking it. Quinoa can often have a bitter, soapy taste due to the saponin coating that is naturally occurring on the quinoa (to make it undesirable to birds and others). Once this coating is rinsed off, the quinoa has a much nuttier flavor.
  • You can cook the quinoa in vegetable broth (or chicken broth) to give the quinoa even more flavor.
  • Use an extra-large baking sheet or break this between 2 baking sheets for the best cooking. You don’t want to overcrowd the veggies while roasting or they will just steam.
  • Make a double batch of quinoa for this meal and use it in other recipes during the week or freeze it for use later in the month. You can freeze quinoa in 1/2 or 1 cup portions and defrost in the microwave in 2-3 minutes for easy use.
  • You can buy cooked, frozen cooked quinoa at stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods if you need to cut out a step out of the cooking process.
  • Time saving tip: Buy pre-chopped sweet potatoes and cauliflower florets (you may still want to cut these down to bite size pieces if you see large florets in the bag).
  • If you want to serve this more like a salad, skip cooking the kale and instead chop the onion into large pieces and roast it alongside the sweet potatoes and cauliflower.
  • If you don’t love the taste of kale, add about 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar to the kale. This can help cut through some of the bitter flavor.

Other additions

  • Beans: Chickpeas, white beans, black beans
  • Cheese: Add feta or goats cheese
  • Crunch: Add pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds sliced almonds, chopped pecans, chopped cashews
  • Veggies: Roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, asparagus, brussels sprouts, purple cabbage
  • Dried fruit: Dried cranberries, chopped pitted dates, dried cherries, golden raisins
  • Protein: Beans, tofu, shredded chicken, salmon, shrimp, hemp hearts
  • Herbs: Cilantro, flat leaf parsley
  • Creaminess: Avocado
Roasted cauliflower sweet potato kale grain bowl with maple tahini dressing behind the bowl.

Other spice blends to change the flavor of this quinoa sweet potato bowl

  • Mediterranean – Add tomatoes, artichoke hearts and kalamata olives to the bowl. Coat the cauliflower in 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. italian seasoning and 1/2 tsp. oregano. Use Greek dressing as the dressing.
  • Italian – Add tomatoes and artichoke hearts to the bowl. Coat the cauliflower in 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. garlic powder + 2 tsp. italian seasoning. Use creamy pesto for the dressing or my favorite dairy free italian dressing.
  • Moroccan – add shredded carrots and red cabbage to the bowl. Coat the cauliflower in 1.5 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. garlic powder and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon. Serve with tahini lime or cilantro lime dressing
  • Mexican – Add roasted red peppers, shredded red cabbage, black beans, avocado and use a cilantro lime dressing, chimichurri as dressing or even drizzle with spicy tahini sauce.

Common questions

Do you need to rinse quinoa before cooking it?

Yes, even if the quinoa says it’s been rinsed already it’s best to take the extra minute to rinse it yourself.

Quinoa is a seed (not a grain) and it produces a substance called saponin that is a bitter coating meant to deter birds and animals from eating the seed.

This bitter coating needs to be rinsed off the quinoa before cooking.

You can use a very fine mesh strainer or a nut milk bag to rinse the quinoa. I like to rinse the quinoa, then soak it in hot water for 1-2 minutes, then rinse it again. This helps ensure that the coating is off the quinoa.

Quinoa sweet potato kale bowl in white bowl with yellow napkin on the side.

How to make quinoa on the stove

I prefer to make quinoa in the instant pot because it’s a set it and forget it method. If you choose to make quinoa on the stove, be sure to stay close by as you need to turn down the heat. Be sure you use a large enough pot or the quinoa may bubble over when simmering.

  • Rinse quinoa well.
  • Add quinoa and 1.75 cups of water to a pot with a well-fitting lid.
  • Bring quinoa and water to a boil, turn down to low, cover and cook 15 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork after cooking.

What other grains can you use

You could also use brown rice, white rice, kamut, barley (not gluten free). Be sure to cook these according to the packages, as they will likely need a different method than the quinoa.

Can you freeze sweet potato quinoa bowls?

All of these ingredients can be frozen, but I don’t love the texture of sweet potatoes after defrosting. If you need to freeze leftovers, keep them separate.

How to use the frozen leftovers

  • The defrosted sweet potatoes can be used in soups, stews or in breakfast bowls.
  • The defrosted cauliflower can be made into a creamy soup (add a can of beans and some vegetable broth) or add it to frittatas after defrosting.  
  • The quinoa defrosts well and can be used in any recipe that calls for cooked quinoa.
  • The kale and onions also defrost and reheat well and can be used as a side dish or added to frittatas, pasta dishes, casseroles, or soups.

How to make these quinoa kale sweet potato bowls for meal prep

Make everything as stated in the recipe.

You can leave the ingredients separate or make them into bowls for easy reheating/serving.

Be sure to wait to add any dressing or toppings that may not reheat well until right before serving. For example, I would wait to add avocado, chopped nuts, cheese or fresh herbs until right before serving.

Sweet potato quinoa kale grain bowl in a white bowl. with yellow napkin on the side.

Storing leftovers

Fridge: Store leftover sweet potato quinoa bowls in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can store the ingredients separately or assemble them into bowls for easy meals later in the week. Be sure to wait to add dressing and any crunchy or creamy ingredients until right before serving.

Freezer: The ingredients can all be frozen for up to 3 months, but the sweet potatoes and cauliflower will have a different texture when defrosted, so I recommend freezing the leftovers separately and using them in different ways. See my ideas above.

Substitutions

  • Sweet potatoes – you can also use butternut squash, kabocha or regular potatoes in place of the sweet potatoes.
  • Cauliflower – you can use brussel sprouts in place of the cauliflower (they cook in the same time as the sweet potatoes). If you want to use broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash, or asparagus, these cook faster than the cauliflower would. Most of these only need about 20 minutes in the oven to get well roasted. To add these cook the sweet potatoes 20 minutes, remove them from the oven, add the veggies and roast again for 20 minutes (check with 5 minutes left to stir the pan).
  • Olive oil – olive oil is used to coat the cauliflower to help the spices stick and roast the cauliflower well. You can also use avocado oil, melted coconut oil, melted ghee or butter.
  • Spices – See the list above for different spice combinations you can use. If you cannot use salt, be sure to find a salt-free alternative seasoning you enjoy.
  • Quinoa – quinoa helps to add protein to the vegan sweet potato grain bowl. You could also use brown rice, white rice, kamut, or barley (not gluten free) in place of the quinoa.  If you do this you may also want to add some protein in the form of beans or hemp hearts to make up for the missing protein from the quinoa.
  • Red onion – the onion helps to amplify the flavor in the dish. If you don’t have red onion, you can use yellow onions, white onions or even shallots. If you cannot tolerate onion or don’t’ have any on hand, simply omit it.
  • Kale – I prefer to use lacinato kale (sometimes called Tuscan kale or dino kale) but green curly kale or red kale would also work great here. You could also try this with swiss chard or collard greens. You can use baby spinach (however it will wilt down to almost nothing) so I recommend using 2-3 cups of frozen spinach that you add some salt to (maybe an extra ¼ teaspoon).

If you love this recipe, you should try

Fall Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Pumpkin Salad

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad

Mexican Buddha Bowl

Asian Buddha Bowl

★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below!
Kale sweet potato quinoa bowl with maple tahini dressing drizzled over top.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl

Sweet potato quinoa bowls are easy to assemble and great for meal prep. This healthy quinoa kale sweet potato bowl comes together in 45 minutes and is vegan, gluten free and dairy free.
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Keyword: quinoa sweet potato bowl, sweet potato quinoa bowl, sweet potato quinoa kale bowls
Prep Time: 2 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425F.
  • Cut the sweet potatoes into 1/2-1 inch cubes. Add the sweet potatoes to an extra large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Cut the cauliflower into florets and add them to a large bowl. Add the olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, garlic powder, ground cumin to the cauliflower. Stir well to full coat the cauliflower. Add the cauliflower to the baking sheet along side of the sweet potatoes (use 2 separate baking sheets if you don't have an extra large one).
  • Bake the sweet potatoes and cauliflower in the 425F oven for 40 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove from the oven then stir.
  • While the cauliflower and sweet potatoes are roasting, make the quinoa in the instant pot or on the stove. Rinse quinoa, add it to the instant pot with 1.5 cups water. Cook high pressure for 1 minute. Let natural release 10 minutes before manually releasing pressure.
  • Chop the red onion, destem the kale and chop it into bite size pieces.
  • Cook the onions in a preheated skillet for 3-4 minutes. Add the kale and 1/4 tsp. salt to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat and allow the kale to wilt further if needed.
  • Once everything is done cooking, divide the ingredients between 4 bowls. Add your favorite dressing and toppings.

Notes

What kind of dressing to add to this kale grain bowl
  • Maple tahini dressing – this is thick, creamy, and slightly sweet and would pair perfectly with these ingredients.
  • Creamy Balsamic Dressing – this creamy balsamic dressing is tangy, sweet, and creamy. This dressing is my go-to recipe for any fall themed salads or grain bowls.
  • Tahini Lime Dressing – this is tangy and creamy and the lime and spiced cauliflower would be perfect together.
  • Honey Mustard Dressing – Honey mustard is sweet, tangy and one of my favorite dressings to use on any quinoa bowl.
  • Almond Butter Tahini Dressing – this dressing is slightly sweet from the maple syrup, slightly spicy from the added ginger and creamy. It pairs so well with the sweetness from the sweet potatoes and the cumin on the cauliflower.
Top tips
  • Be sure to rinse the quinoa well before cooking it. 
  • You can cook the quinoa in vegetable broth (or chicken broth) to give the quinoa even more flavor.
  • Use an extra-large baking sheet or break this between 2 baking sheets for the best cooking. You don’t want to overcrowd the veggies while roasting or they will just steam.
  • Make a double batch of quinoa for this meal and use it in other recipes during the week or freeze it for use later in the month. You can freeze quinoa in 1/2 or 1 cup portions and defrost in the microwave in 2-3 minutes for easy use.
  • You can buy frozen cooked quinoa at stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods if you need to cut out a step out of the cooking process.
  • Time saving tip: Buy pre-chopped sweet potatoes and cauliflower florets (you may still want to cut these down to bite size pieces if you see large florets in the bag).
  • If you want to serve this more like a salad, skip cooking the kale and instead chop the onion into large pieces and roast it alongside the sweet potatoes and cauliflower.
  • If you don’t love the taste of kale, add about 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar to the kale as it cooks to help cut through some of the bitter flavor.
How to make quinoa on the stove
  • Rinse quinoa well.
  • Add quinoa and 1.75 cups of water to a pot with a well-fitting lid.
  • Bring quinoa and water to a boil, turn down to low, cover and cook 15 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork after cooking.
Storing leftovers
  • Fridge: Store leftover sweet potato quinoa bowls in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can store the ingredients separately or assemble them into bowls for easy meals later in the week. Be sure to wait to add dressing and any crunchy or creamy ingredients until right before serving.
  • Freezer: The ingredients can all be frozen for up to 3 months, but the sweet potatoes and cauliflower will have a different texture when defrosted, so I recommend freezing the leftovers separately and using them in different ways.
See how I calculate food cost.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
388
Fat
 
7
g
Carbohydrates
 
71
g
Fiber
 
13
g
Sugar
 
11
g
Protein
 
14
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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