How to Make a Buddha Bowl + 20 Belly Filling Recipes

How to Make a Buddha Bowl - The Definitive Guide. (+ 20 Belly Filling Recipes) #vegan | hurrythefoodup.com

Buddha Bowl. The first time I heard the name I was delighted. Delighted that somebody had named a dish that. After eating one, I was even happier.

It was bright, colourful, nutritious and satisfying. But the real beauty of it is that you can make one pretty much however you want. Follow a few teachings and you can knock up a delicious and varied Buddha Bowl every time.  

The basic Buddha Bowl consists of a grain, a green and a bean, and is usually accompanied by a tasty dressing. It is so-called as it is usually eaten from a bowl with a wide top – that signifies Buddha’s belly!

It incorporates many essences of life without taking life. Of course a Buddha Bowl is always vegetarian, and usually vegan.

Because of the combination of grains, greens and beans you’re getting a bowl full of complete proteins – all the essential amino acids that your body can’t make alone will be provided. This meal also takes care of a whole host of macro and micro nutrients too, determined more precisely by the combos you pick.

We’ve put together this guide to make sure you get your buddha bowls right every time – easily and without fuss, just the way it should be. And so, without further ado:

Part 1: Grab a grain and prep it most deliciously.

How to Make a Buddha Bowl - The Definitive Guide. (+ 20 Belly Filling Recipes) #vegan | hurrythefoodup.com

We’re going to focus on rice to begin with here for simplicity’s sake – rice is a really easy way to start – and there are so many beautiful variations available. There are many alternatives (and although not all of them technically grains) you can also use quinoa, millet, freekeh, buckwheat, barley or couscous – whichever you like the most, suits your budget, or is the easiest for you to find at your local store.

To really enjoy your Buddha Bowl you need to learn how make your grains taste awesome. If they are bland you won’t enjoy the dish. Here are some examples of our favourite ways to cook delicious rice:

How to Make a Buddha Bowl - The Definitive Guide. (+ 20 Belly Filling Recipes) #vegan | hurrythefoodup.comBasmati Rice – Three Ways

Ingredients for two:

  • ½ cup basmati rice
  • 1 cup cold water
  • A pinch of salt

Directions:

Rinse the rice in a sieve (optional but great if you can!). Add the rice to a pot. Add water and salt, bring it to a boil. Pop the lid on top and put it on low heat for 8-10 minutes. Check back when the time is up, fork through it to make it fluffy. Optional but even more awesome: leave it for another 10 minutes to let excess moisture evaporate. Make sure to give the rice some extra flavour with spices and herbs!

Here are three combos you can add to the basic basmati rice recipe (serving 2):

Version 1: Indian Style – pick and choose from the spices below; experiment a little and see some exciting results! Add them to the rice as it’s cooking.

  • 1 tsp of ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 pierced cardamom pods

Version 2: Cilantro Freshness – you can use any herbs you like but we love this version in particular.

Follow the basic recipe above but when the rice is cooked add a tbsp of olive oil, a few splashes of lime, and a handful of chopped cilantro/coriander. Season with more salt if needed. Citrusy fresh 🙂

Version 3: Sweet and Crunchy

When the basic rice is cooked stir in a handful of chopped walnuts, a handful of raisins or dried cranberries and a dash or two of balsamic vinegar. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the ingredients to hand, throw in what you do have!

Check out Jamie Oliver’s video to see how easy cooking awesome rice really is. (But also a bit on the expensive side if you use as much safran as he does, ha!)

Mexican-Inspired Brown Rice

(you can use standard white rice as well, it cooks a little quicker too)

Ingredients for two:

  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • ½ cup of brown rice
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth instead of water
  • Half an onion
  • Half a red bell pepper
  • 1 tomato
  • A pinch of salt

Directions:

Rinse the rice in a sieve (optional). Add the olive oil to a pot and put it on medium heat. Next add the rice. Let it fry for a 2-3 minutes while stirring every now and then (if making the Mexican version then add half an onion, half a bell pepper and the tomato). Add water (or broth) and salt, bring it to a boil. Then stick lid on top and put it on a low heat for 20 – 25 minutes. Check back when the time is up, fork through it to make it fluffy. Optional: leave it for another 10 minutes to let excess moisture evaporate.

Check out this post by The Kitchn for an even more detailed explanation on cooking brown rice.

Jasmine Coconut Rice

Ingredients for two:

  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Teaspoon honey
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup uncooked jasmine rice

Directions:

In a saucepan, combine coconut milk, water, honey, and salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in rice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 18 to 20 minutes until rice is tender.

Other Flavours

Play around with the spices and liquids, add different herbs before serving, there is no right or wrong – that’s half the fun of a Buddha Bowl! Making good rice is a craft, and you’ll improve with every batch.

Other Grains

Remember we said you can use other ingredients like couscous or quinoa too? Well, we weren’t joking! Trying subbing the rice for one of those – you can use the variations from above too. Also if you’re in a rush then you can simply cook the grains in stock instead of water for an instant flavour hit – this is one of the very fastest ways to make a Buddha Bowl!

Part 2: Pick a veg and prep it the awesome way.

How to Make a Buddha Bowl - The Definitive Guide. (+ 20 Belly Filling Recipes) #vegan | hurrythefoodup.com

Now your rice or chosen grain is merrily cooking away, it’s time to get the ‘green’ ready. The green is going to be some delicious veggies and/or a leafy green that compliments what you’ve made so far.

The key here is to create something tasty with a few simple ingredients. Some evergreens are spinach, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, sprouts, avocado and spring onion. But once again, there are no right and wrongs with this versatile and beautiful dish we call a Buddha Bowl.

Here are some tasty ways to get your greens and veg just right:

Sauteed Vegetables

Here we use bell peppers, but you can use whatever you’re in the mood for – or happen to have in the fridge, begging to be used up!

Ingredients for two:

  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Cut the peppers in thin strips (“julienne”). Check out this video for some cool cutting edge cutting tips. It’s funny too. After a few giggles heat the olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the bell peppers and onion; season with salt and pepper. If you have one, add a lid on top to keep in the steam. It’s not classic sauteing, but it helps to soften the veg more quickly. Stir occasionally! When the bell peppers are soft (after about 10 minutes) add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Devine!

A Quick and Simple Salad

Here we use lettuce, carrot and rocket but you can use whatever raw veggies you like. There’s no cooking to be done here, just a bit of prepping. To save even more time you can use a bag of mixed salad.

Ingredients for two:

  • 1/4 chopped lettuce (or similar)
  • 1 grated carrot
  • A handful of rocket

Directions:

Not much to say here – rinse the ingredients, peel and grate the carrot (unless it’s organic, then you can eat the skin), chop the lettuce. Done.

Steamed Vegetables and Greens

One of the easiest and most nutritious ways to cook veg. Sounds exactly like it is. Once again, use your favourite veg, or simply what you have to spare. Here I’m using a couple of different veg with different steaming times to give you an idea of how it goes.

Ingredients for two:

  • 1.5 cups chopped broccoli
  • 1.5 cups spinach leaves

Directions:

Bring about 3 cm of water to boil in a saucepan. Place the equally chopped broccoli in a steamer bowl (a metal sieve works fine too!) and place it on top of the boiling water. Cover with a lid. Note – the veg should be above the water, not in it. After about three minutes add the spinach and let the steam finish its job. Another three minutes should do it, and you’ll have some beautifully tender veg ready for your Buddha Bowl.

The above instructions are just an example – you can use whatever vegetables you want! Bear in mind that each veg takes a different length of time – you don’t want soggy greens! This post has a great list of veg steaming times. To test a veg to see if it’s cooked, just poke it with a knife in the thickest area. If the knife slides in easily, it’s ready!

Part 3: Choose a legume and ‘av it the way you like.

How to Make a Buddha Bowl - The Definitive Guide. (+ 20 Belly Filling Recipes) #vegan | hurrythefoodup.com

Legumes give our Buddha Bowl a big protein punch. Think black beans, kidney beans, white beans, black eyed peas (not the band, obviously), chickpeas, red lentils, brown lentils, peas, edamame.  Also tofu, seitan or tempeh are great too!

Usually it makes sense to just use canned ones for convenience reasons. If you already have some cooked legumes in the fridge then that’s just fantastic!

Here’s how to make your legumes really tasty.

How to Make a Buddha Bowl - The Definitive Guide. (+ 20 Belly Filling Recipes) #vegan | hurrythefoodup.com‘Raw’ or ‘sauteed’

Legumes usually taste awesome when just drained and rinsed out of the tin.

You can pimp them a little with lime, salt, pepper, some olive oil and/or herbs. Then just add them as they are to your Buddha Bowl. It’s the quickest and simplest way.

Alternatively: If you saute veggies then add some legumes in the last 2-3 minutes of sauteing. Done.

For a Buddha Bowl truly bursting in flavour here are some extra mouth-watering ideas.

Ginger Spiced Beans

Ingredients for two:

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cm fresh ginger
  • 1 tin black/kidney beans (15.5 oz / 435g)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of half a lime (maybe a little more)

Directions:

Grate or chop the garlic and ginger. Then fry both in oil on a medium heat and in a large saucepan for a minute. Drain and rinse the beans, then add them to the pan. Fry for a couple more minutes, adding a couple of tablespoons of water as you go. Finally, remove from the heat, add the salt, pepper and lime juice. You can mash the beans a little if you like.

Spicy Green Beans

Ingredients for two:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 200g of green beans (a good handful), ends trimmed, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek (or 2 tsp chili flakes)

Optional

  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

Fry the garlic in oil on a medium heat and in a large saucepan for a minute. Then add the green beans to the pan. Fry for a couple more minutes, adding soy sauce and sambal oelek and optional ingredients as you go. Done.

Crispy Tofu Cubes

Ingredients for two:

  • 1 pack of firm tofu (14oz, 400g)
  • 4 tbsp of oil for frying, eg. peanut oil
  • Some salt

Directions:

Slice the tofu into cubes, a little bigger than a regular die. Get a pan and fry the cubes in oil on a medium heat  for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Stir occasionally so they won’t stick to the pan. You might have to add a little oil every now and then. Make sure to season them with salt while they’re still sizzling!

Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients for two:

  • 1½ Cups/ 1 standard tin cooked chickpeas
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • ½ Tsp Paprika
  • 1 Tsp Chili Powder
  • ⅛ Tsp Turmeric
  • ½ Tsp Oregano

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in one large bowl and mix until chickpeas are all coated. Place in a baking tray and put in a pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes at 200°C/400°F.

Curried Chickpeas

Ingredients for two:

  • 1 ½ cups/ 1 standard tin cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp curry paste – think red, green, yellow, tandoori, tikka – use your fave!
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: A squeeze of lime if you have it.

Directions:

Much like above, mix all the ingredients together and coat the chickpeas evenly. Either place them in a baking tray and roast in the oven as above, or fry in a pan on a medium heat for about 8 mins for a slightly crispier option.

Part 4: Make an awesome dressing

How to Make a Buddha Bowl - The Definitive Guide. (+ 20 Belly Filling Recipes) #vegan | hurrythefoodup.com

A fancy dressing is not always necessary, especially if you’ve already pimped all the other ingredients.

If you want to keep it simple, just opt for some sambal oelek, sriracha, soy yogurt or the good old combo of vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

But at times a dressing with an extra kick can do wonders. Here are four that definitely make any buddha bowl fun to eat. The ingredients are always enough for two servings:

Asian Style Peanut Butter Dressing

  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup to make it vegan
  • 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • A pinch or two of chopped or grated ginger (dried is fine)

Spicy-Orange Vinaigrette

  • a good orange squeeze (about 2 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek or sriracha
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar

How to Make a Buddha Bowl - The Definitive Guide. (+ 20 Belly Filling Recipes) #vegan | hurrythefoodup.comVegan Caesar Dressing (Howie’s Favourite!)

  • 50ml Soy milk
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1  tsp mustard
  • 1  tsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper

Optional: drop of maple syrup

Red Pepper Sauce

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup cilantro or parsley (you can use dried or frozen too of course)

Optional: A couple of chilies if you want it spicy!

Roughly chop the bell pepper (minus the core and seeds), and add it with the rest of ingredients to a blender or large bowl and blend! A hand blender works really well for this. That’s it, sauce ready!

5 from 6 votes
Print

How to Make a Buddha Bowl

How to Make a Buddha Bowl - The Definitive Guide. An incredibly satisfying meal - made the way you want, + 20 of the best belly filling recipes out there!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Vegan
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 bowls
Calories 600 kcal
Author HurryTheFoodUp

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup uncooked grains (rice, quinoa, millet, freekeh, buckwheat, barley or couscous)
  • 3 cups greens (some favourites are spinach, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, sprouts, avocado and spring onion)
  • 1 cup cooked legumes (1 cup = 1 can / 15.5 oz / 435g; black beans, kidney beans, white beans, black eyed peas, chickpeas, red lentils, brown lentils, peas, edamame. Also tofu, seitan or tempeh works.)

For the dressing:

  • Try sriracha, soy yogurt or a combo of vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Instructions

  1. Step 1: Cook the grain
  2. Step 2: Prep the greens
  3. Step 3: Prep the legumes
  4. Step 4: Whip up a nice dressing
  5. Add everything together in one bowl.
  6. Enjoy while doing the downward dog 😉

Our Favourite Buddha Bowl Combos

As we mentioned (once or twice), part of the joy of a Buddha Bowl is doing it your own way. Experiment, have fun and try out different harmonious flavour unions. If you’re really struggling, then here are a few of our favourites to help you on your way. And one or two not to try 😉

  • Mexican style couscous, 1 yellow bell pepper and 2 spring onions (chopped, raw), raw kidney beans and splash of sweet and sour sauce.
  • Indian style rice, steamed spinach and curried chickpeas.
  • Sweet and crunchy couscous with fresh salad, a dash of your favoured sauce.
  • Mexican style quinoa, sauteed bell peppers and red pepper sauce, eaten cold.
  • Mexican style brown rice, spinach and julienned bell peppers, “sauteed” spicy white beans

I’ve only found one combination that truly didn’t work so far: coconut rice with caesar dressing. Amazing separately but they’ll be stabbing backs before we know it 😉

Buddha Bowl FAQ

How long do certain ingredients keep fresh in the fridge?

  • Cooked quinoa lasts for 6 days
  • Cooked rice lasts for 5 days
  • Cooked beans last for 5 days
  • Cooked lentils last for 5 days

So, cooking up multiple servings of grains or having a half emptied can of beans is not a problem at all. Just refrigerate them and make another Buddha Bowl within the next couple of days. Easy.

Right then, you now know the basic tips and tricks of building a proper Buddha Bowl. After all it really comes down to your creativity. Just follow the basic construction ideas and you’ll be making feast after feast.

How to Make a Buddha Bowl - The Definitive Guide. (+ 20 Belly Filling Recipes) #vegan | hurrythefoodup.com

Did I leave anything blurry? (Ah Blurry, there’s a great song I haven’t heard for ages!) Just pop any questions in the comments and I’ll help however we can!

We’re always eager to hear any food related story – have you made a Buddha Bowl before? What “grain, green, bean combo” did you go for?

And finally – If you’re still thirsty… or even hungry for more inspiration, check out these 21 Buddha Bowl recipes. Not all of them follow the “rules” of this guide, and some of them take longer than the usual 30 minutes you’re used to on our blog, but they’re all awesome…and vegan too!

  1. Nourish Buddha Bowl – The classic buddha bowl
  2. Sweet Spicy Asian Brown Rice and Pineapple Bowl – Yep, this is as exciting as it sounds!
  3. Simple Vegan Burrito Bowl – Satisfying and Mexican!
  4. Roasted Veggie Buddha Bowl – Includes a tasty pesto sauce
  5. Veggie Rice Buddha Bowl – With a lemon herb sauce, cool!
  6. Peanut Tofu Buddha Bowl – Dat peanut sauce!! 😀
  7. Chili Orange Veggie Bowl – Steam your veg!
  8. Rice Bowl with Sorrel, Kale, Lemon and Radishes!
  9. Fall Buddha Bowl with Quinoa – Comforting and healthy!
  10. Rice, Black Bean and Avocado Bowl – With a Sweet Chili Mustard Sauce!
  11. Tropical Buddha Bowl – This is filling and refreshing at the same time
  12. Quinoa Bowl with Sun-Dried Tomato Cashew Cheese Pate
  13. Sesame Garlic Buddha Bowl – Love the flavours!!
  14. Nourishing Buddha Bowl with Tasty Baked Tofu
  15. 15 Minute Buddha Bowl – This one is fun to eat!
  16. Winter Buddha Bowl – Lentils, sweet potato and a lovely vinaigrette
  17. Spring Buddha Bowl – With asparagus and all that 🙂
  18. Buddha Bowl with Red Pepper Sauce and Roasted Chickpeas – Wow!
  19. 30 Minute Black Rice Buddha Bowl – Plus lots of veggies!
  20. Colourful Buddha Bowl with a Tahini Lemon Sauce – Sounds amazing, right?

38 comments

  1. I just call them dinner bowls…I make all my dinners in this form…my bowl is always overflowith with good things 😉

  2. This post is awesome! I love how versatile the Buddha Bowl is and you gave so many great options! I want to run into the kitchen to make one right now!

  3. I love this tutorial about how to make a buddha bowl! I’ve never had one myself, so this was very informative. Love all the variations too!

  4. I LOVE the Buddha bowl. It’s one of my favorite lunches. So many great options and now I have your list to work through. Thanks!

  5. i have never tried ‘Buddha Bowl’ per say but my dinner almost always some form of Buddha bowl coz its so versatile, easy and nutritious!!!

  6. What a great post! I love how customizable Buddha Bowls are. I eat one at least 2 or 3 times a week.

  7. Buddha bowls are awesome! Love your step by step photo 🙂

  8. Dave, this is such an awesome post!! I feel like everyone needs to read this because there is so much great information/methods/recipes available here. I’ve slowly started making buddha bowls more often. My boyfriend seems to like them, altho i feel a bit bad sometimes because i’m taking away all his meat dinners. No complaints yet tho =P

  9. Oh wow! Now I get to know all about Buddha bowl! Looks simple and delicious:)

  10. Ive seen Buddha bowls around but never bothered to learn more or make one. This is a great tutorial. And come to think of it, most of my meals is like a Buddha bowl – rice, dal, veggies 🙂 though I eat it on a plate most of the time!! 🙂

  11. This is such a great post! I could eat a Buddha bowl every day. Thanks for sharing my recipe with all of these delicious bowls.

  12. I love the formula you came up with 🙂 I was always very intuitive with creating my bowls but it’s great to have such a blueprint on hand!

  13. Oh, okay! 😀 Now I know what’s going on with Buddha bowls! The lunch I just ate was accidentally a Buddha bowl, and I feel so fresh and hip now that I know. 😀 This is an awesome tutorial, seriously! Clever, entertaining and very helpful. You’ve given me the courage to start creating Buddha bowls of my own, on purpose!

  14. I always love you step-by-step guides. I’ve made a buddha bowl twice in the past month, and neither was exactly what i was going for, but this sounds perfect. saving it for the next picnic!

  15. This is my favorite thing to make!….at the Whole Foods salad bar lol. Thank you so much for posting this! Now I feel like I can work toward making my own.

  16. Thanks so much for including me! I love the detail here, it’s seriously amazing! Will definitely be sharing.

    • You’re welcome Jessica, glad you like the post. It’s been quite some work, yes 😉 Thanks a lot for spreading the word too.
      Have a great weekend!

  17. What about Jesus bowls? What’s in them?

  18. Just saw that you included my bowl in this wonderful post! Thank you so much and I
    will definitely share! And LOL on the Jesus bowls…I want one of those!

    • Ohh, I know I mentioned it in the group but I might have forgotten to tag you!
      Great you found out anyway 😀
      + I’m happy to prepare you a Jesus Bowl hahaha

  19. Thanks for this informative, user-friendly post. I am leading a group through a week of whole foods and will share this with them.

  20. What sauce would you recommend with the Indian Rice/Roasted Chickpeas bowl? I love curry, and I’m afraid the peanut sauce would overpower the curry flavor. I am also a wimp when it comes to spice!

    • Hi Cassie!
      So sorry for the late reply. We had quite a tough couple of weeks 😉
      Hmmm, Indian rice, roasted chickpeas – maybe with a salad and a tasty vinaigrette? You’re right – the peanut sauce might be a little overpowering, true.

  21. No worries Howie! We’re gonna give the red pepper sauce a go tonight. We’ll see how it goes! Thanks!

  22. Thank you so much for this post, I have recently become vegan and I can’t believe how tasty this is. I tried the peanut dressing and it was AWESOME!

    • I looooooove the peanut dressing too Tanya! From the very first time I tried it, I was blown away – and even after nearly three years I still have it every week or so in one form or another :). You’re very welcome for the post, thanks for your lovely comment!

  23. Curious to know if the beans, rice and sauces could be made in bulk then frozen… How would one go about doing this… and, what is a ‘rocket’?

    Thank you!

    • Hi there! Yep that would be possible, indeed! In fact I do that myself quite often. In regards to beans: I only see a reason to freeze them when you cook up dried ones. Beans from a can are super quick to prepare, I don’t see why you would want to freeze them. Here is what I do: recently I purchased an instant pot that allows me to cook dried beans within 45 mins. I let them cool and then freeze them in 2 servings containers. Regarding rice: I do exactly the same: 7 minutes in the instant pot, then freeze 2 servings per container, done.
      And regarding rocket: It’s the British word for arugula
      Hope I could help 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *