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This healthy chipotle chicken burrito bowl is meal-prep simplicity at its best.
Not only is it packed with whole food goodness but it travels incredibly well, making it the perfect portable meal for an afternoon of summer boating, a back-to-school lunch or a portable meal for a long day of travelling.
It’s also got tons of crowd-pleasing flavour thanks to the homemade seasoning of Tex-Mex style spices.
Why We Love This Chicken Burrito Bowl
In summer we do a lot of pontoon boating and I’m always looking for no-mess, healthy food ideas to enjoy on a boat.This chicken burrito bowl ticks all the boxes in terms of portability, flavour, nutritional goodness and tidiness.
There are lots of other reasons to love it too:
- It’s low in saturated fat and is heart-healthy, high protein and all-natural with no MSG, preservatives or other artificial additives.
- If you’re looking for a chicken bowl recipe that’s versatile, this is it. Customize it with your choice of toppings.
- Just double, triple or quadruple it for back-to-school and office lunch meal prep.
- It’s got all the flavour of a burrito or wrap but skips the extra calories (and carbs) you get in a tortilla wrap.
- It travels exceptionally well. I’ve even made burrito bowls as portable lunches to eat on a road trip, an airplane or at the airport on a long travel day. Just pack portions in individual thermos bowls.
- The bold Tex-Mex flavours of this healthy Mexican chicken bowl is popular with all ages. It’s got loads of flavour but isn’t so spicy that little kids or heat-adverse eaters won’t enjoy it.
- It’s a great way to use up a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes and leftover corn on the cob.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the full ingredients and method.
Chicken: Chicken breast is lower in fat than thighs so it’s our first choice when making a healthy recipe. But you can easily swap in chicken thighs if you prefer. Just trim off any extra fat.
White Rice: Carbohydrates help provide energy to fuel your organs and central nervous system. You can use brown or wild rice for extra fiber, vitamins and minerals — just factor in the longer cooking times.
For a quick meal prep option, make extra rice (such as our recipe for Mexican Arroz Verde green rice) for dinner the day before and use the leftovers in this burrito bowl. It’s similar to the Cilantro Lime Rice on the menu at Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Beans: Cooked beans provide protein as well as vitamins and minerals. You can use white, black, pinto or your choice of bean in this recipe. For the best texture and flavour, cook the beans from scratch rather than use canned.
Lettuce: Lettuce serves as a cradle to hold the ingredients together in the serving dish. Iceberg or any kind of leaf lettuce will work. Only use butter lettuce if you’ll be serving the burrito bowl immediately as it bruises easily.
Corn Kernels: Cooked corn on the cob has the best flavour but you can use niblets cooked from frozen. Canned corn is already cooked so you can use it straight from the can. Drain it first and rinse it with fresh water.
Cherry Tomatoes: These bite-sized tomatoes are sweet and juicy with thin skins. They’re the best tomato for a burrito bowl as they don’t make the other ingredients soggy.
If you’re transporting your burrito bowl, opt for grape tomatoes which are smaller and oblong-shaped. They have less juice and a slightly thicker skin which makes them more durable and better for travelling.
Red Onion: The deep purple colour of red onion adds visual interest to any dish and who doesn’t want a pretty rice bowl? Red onion is milder than yellow. But if it’s pungent, soak it in ice water for 15 minutes after chopping. That will help mellow out the flavour.
Jalapeño Pepper: Pickled jalapeño peppers add a bit of kick to a burrito bowl and complement the Tex-Mex flavours of the spice mix and other ingredients.
Avocado: A halved avocado (preferably Hass) serves as the holder for the Greek yogurt. It also adds a rich, creamy texture along with beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) which help you feel fuller after a meal.
Greek Yogurt: High in protein, Greek yogurt makes a healthy substitute for sour cream as it doesn’t contain thickeners.
Fresh Herbs: Chopped cilantro adds aroma, depth of flavour and freshness. If you’re part of the population whose genetics make cilantro tastes like soap, substitute fresh parsley or mint.
Spice Marinade: Check the recipe card for details on making the spice mix to season the chicken before grilling it. Preparing your own spice seasoning mix is more economical than using store-bought.
You’ll get all the bold flavour and heat without the sugar, preservatives and additives such as MSG often found in commercial brands.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Spanish olive oil is generally fruitier and more robust than Italian olive oil so holds up especially well to the spice mixture but any good quality olive oil will do.
Garlic Powder, Onion Powder and Paprika: Garlic and onion are cornerstone flavours in seasoning while paprika adds colour and a bit of spicy heat. Use smoked paprika if you have it on hand.
Chipotle Chile Powder – Made from dried, smoked jalapeños which are crushed after they are dried and smoked. Adds a delightful smoky heat and depth of flavour. You can substitute one chopped, whole chipotle pepper found canned in adobo sauce.
Cumin – A very popular spice from the parsley family, it’s made from the ground seeds of the plant. It’s a signature spice in taco seasoning.
Oregano – I prefer Mexican oregano because is more citrusy than Greek or Mediterranean oregano. It’s actually a completely different species!
Lime juice: Freshly-squeezed lime juice is key to a bright, fresh marinade. It’s also mixed with the rice to make a cilantro lime rice. Serve a wedge of lime on the side for extra zip.
How to Make a Grilled Chicken Burrito Bowl
1. To make the marinade, measure the spices into a small bowl and stir. Add the olive oil, lime juice and mix until smooth.
2. Trim off any excess fat from the chicken breast. Rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.
3. If the chicken breast is especially thick, hammer it with a mallet to flatten slightly. Then, place the chicken fillet and the marinade in a freezer bag and allow it to marinate for 30 minutes.
4. While the chicken is marinating, steam the rice according to package instructions. If you’re using white rice, this will take around 15 minutes.
5. Preheat a BBQ grill or a grill pan to 400 F. Add the chicken and grill about 7 minutes. Turn over and grill the other side for another 7 minutes, or until internal temperature is 165 degrees.
6. Remove from the grill and let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
7. Mix the steamed cooked rice, lime juice, chopped herbs, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in a mixing bowl. Toss gently.
8. Once the chicken is grilled, the rest of the steps involve assembly the ingredients for your burrito bowl. First, place a lettuce leaf in the bottom of the serving bowl so it’s shaped like a cup.
9. Then, arrange the warm rice, cooked corn, cooked beans, chopped tomatoes (or leave whole if small) and chopped onions in groupings within the lettuce leaf.
10. Arrange the sliced chicken overtop.
11. Add half a peeled avocado and chopped jalapeño peppers. Before serving, add a spoonful of Greek yogurt.
Serve warm with a sprinkle of extra cilantro (or fresh herb of choice) and a wedge of lime.
Tips and Serving Suggestions
- Craving a burrito bowl from Chipotle Mexican Grill? To make a Copycat Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl load your serving dish with guacamole, grated cheese, queso blanco and salsa fresca (pico de gallo). Then, drizzle creamy avocado lime dressing over top.
- I like to ramp up the heat factor by adding one of my favourite homemade salsas such as Guatemalan Chirmol or Salsa Verde (Green Tomatillo Salsa) or Easy Jalapeño Peach Salsa.
- Or, serve with a bottled medium-hot sauce such as Marie Sharp’s Original (Belize), Salsa Huichol (Nayarit, Mexico) or Llewellyn’s Hot Pepper Sauce (Nevis).
- Cook once and enjoy it twice by grilling extra chicken and then use it in a spicy chicken wrap.
Healthy Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl
- Grill Grill pan or BBQ
- 1 boneless and skinless chicken breast
- .5 cup white rice uncooked
- 0.5 tbsp lime juice freshly squeezed
- .5 whole avocado Hass
- 2 tbsp cilantro chopped
- ½ cup cooked white beans or black turtle beans
- ½ cup cooked corn niblets canned, frozen or off-the-cob
- ⅓ cup cherry tomatoes quartered
- 1 tbsp Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup red onion sliced or chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped jalapeño peppers fresh or canned
- 1 leaf lettuce
- 1/16 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper freshly ground
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 tbsp lime juice freshly squeezed
- ½ teaspoon paprika smoked or sweet
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder preferably chipotle or chile cobanero
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp dried oregano Mexican
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
- To make the marinade, measure the spices into a small bowl and stir. Add the olive oil, lime juice and mix until smooth.
- Trim off any excess fat from the chicken breast. Rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.
- If the chicken breast is especially thick, hammer it with a mallet to flatten slightly. Then, place the chicken fillet and the marinade in a bowl or freezer bag and allow it to marinate for 30 minutes.
- While the chicken is marinating, prepare the rice according to package directions. It's generally a ratio of 1 part rice to 2 parts water, steamed for 15 minutes.
- Preheat a BBQ grill or a grill pan to 400 F. Add the chicken and grill about 7 minutes. Turn over and grill the other side for another 7 minutes, or until internal temperature is 165 degrees.
- Remove from the grill and let stand a few minutes before slicing.
- Mix the steamed cooked rice, lime juice, chopped cilantro, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in a mixing bowl. Toss gently.
- Lay a lettuce leaf in the bottom of the serving bowl. Arrange the steamed rice, corn, beans, chopped tomatoes and onions in groups within the lettuce leaf.If you're using canned corn, it's already been cooked so just drain it and rinse with fresh water.
- Arrange the thinly sliced chicken in the bowl.
- Add half a peeled avocado and chopped jalapeño. Before serving, add a spoonful of Greek yogurt.
- Garnish with fresh chopped herbs and a wedge of lime. Serve with hot sauce or salsa on the side.
- You can double, triple and even quadruple this recipe.
- Customize it with your own favourite toppings.
- Use leftover rice such as Mexican Arroz Verde rather than steaming the rice.
- To make a Copycat Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl, load your serving dish with guacamole, grated cheese, queso blanco and salsa fresca (pico de gallo). Then, drizzle creamy avocado lime dressing over top.
- Ramp up the heat factor by adding a homemade salsas such as Guatemalan Chirmol or Salsa Verde (Green Tomatillo Salsa) or Easy Jalapeño Peach Salsa.
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Dividing her time between Canada, Guatemala and Mexico (or the nearest tropical beach), Michele Peterson is the founder of A Taste for Travel. Her award-winning travel and food writing has appeared in Lonely Planet’s cookbook Mexico: From the Source, National Geographic Traveler, Fodor’s and 100+ other publications.
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