We eat Mexican food for dinner at least once a week, a tradition that started when Ella was a toddler. And soft tacos were one of the only ways we could get her to eat vegetables. (As long as we sneaked them, chopped, in a tortilla with cheese, she was happy.) We always start with a big bowl of guacamole, which we snack on while cooking; then we spoon over whatever we’re making. These chicken burrito bowls are one of our very favorites. And in case you were wondering: yes, Ella still prefers hers wrapped in a tortilla.—Nicki Sizemore

Chicken Burrito Bowl FAQs

How can I make these bowls vegetarian?

If you want a veggie version of this bowl you can, obviously, just remove the chicken. But take it one step further and prepare some diced firm tofu in the same way as you would the chicken thighs. Take care not to overcook–tofu doesn’t take as long as raw chicken would.

What can be made ahead?

The guacamole can be refrigerated for up to one day. Just place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface and cover it tightly to prevent browning. (If it does brown slightly, just scrape that off before serving.) The lime sour cream can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

A chicken burrito bowl with grilled chicken, quinoa, lettuce, cheese, corn, beans, guacamole, and purple corn chips

Chicken Burrito Bowl

5 / 6 votes
Spice-rubbed chicken is paired with a warm bean and corn salad, along with shredded romaine lettuce and cheese. A scoop of guacamole and a drizzle of lime sour cream are the pièce de résistance. The recipe makes a big batch of guacamole, so feel free to halve it if you’re not so avocado-obsessed.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories614 kcal
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time1 hour


For the guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados, pitted
  • Juice of 1/2 lime, plus more as needed
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

For the lime sour cream

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest, preferably organic
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons water

For the burrito bowls

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 to 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or you can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts pounded 1/2-inch thick | 12-mm thick)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup drained and rinsed black beans (from a 15-ounce | 425-g can)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen sweet corn
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
  • 3 to 4 cups cooked whole grains, such as rice, farro, barley, quinoa, or a mix of grains, warm

To serve

  • Shredded romaine lettuce
  • Shredded Cheddar or crumbled cotija cheese
  • Hot sauce
  • Tortilla chips


Make the guacamole

  • Scoop the avocado from the peel into a medium bowl and add the lime juice and garlic, if using. Using a fork, mash everything together until creamy yet still slightly chunky or however you like it. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the cilantro. Taste and add additional lime juice if desired. You can press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole and refrigerate it until ready to use or up to 1 day.

Make the lime sour cream

  • In a small bowl, mix the sour cream with the lime zest and lime juice. Stir in the water, a little at a time, adding enough just until the sour cream is loose enough to drizzle but isn’t watery. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate the lime sour cream for up to 2 days.

Assemble the burrito bowls

  • In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder and cumin. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper and then evenly sprinkle them with the spice mixture, patting gently so the spices adhere to the chicken.
  • In a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the chicken and cook, turning once or twice and adjusting the heat as needed, until browned on both sides and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes total (the internal temperature should read 165°F |74°C). Move the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for a few minutes.
  • While the chicken rests, place the skillet back over medium heat and add the jalapeño and garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add the beans, corn, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the tomatoes. Stir in the lime juice and the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
  • Slice or chop the chicken. Spoon the grains into bowls and arrange the chicken, bean mixture, a small pile of romaine, and a small pile of cheese on top. Spoon a generous helping of the guacamole onto each bowl, drizzle with the lime sour cream, and sprinkle with cilantro and pass the hot sauce and tortilla chips on the side. Or, for less dinner table drama, let individuals create their own bowls.

Adapted From


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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 614 kcalCarbohydrates: 42 gProtein: 35 gFat: 38 gSaturated Fat: 8 gMonounsaturated Fat: 22 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 69 mgSodium: 2286 mgFiber: 19 gSugar: 6 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2018 Nicki Sizemore. Photo © 2018 Katrin Bjork. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Burrito bowls are one of my favorite easy throw-together dinners since 90% of the ingredients are usually already in the fridge or cupboard. This recipe included a few special additions like lime sour cream and warmed black bean, corn, and tomato salad to make the bowls a little more interesting.

Reading through the recipe, I initially thought it was just going to be extra work, but I actually liked the additions and the flavor they brought. My boyfriend and I especially liked the pan-cooked chicken. It had a pleasingly crispy brown crust of slightly smoky spices.

I’ll definitely make these burrito bowls again—likely doubling the recipe to have more leftovers. There was enough bean salad, sour cream, and guac for 4 servings, but 2 of us ate most of the chicken so I would make more of that next time.

This recipe will go on our list of “do again and again dinners.” It would also be good for a luncheon as it makes a beautiful presentation and has several different tastes built into it. I especially liked the lime sour cream and what it did to the other ingredients.

It’s easy and takes only a moderate amount of time to make and some of it can be prepared in advance to make the final work even less. It’s the kind of recipe that you could get even the most inexperienced cook to help with. I served it with brown rice.

The flavor combinations are classic—spiced southwestern-flavored chicken, beans, sour cream, lime, guacamole. These work perfectly together if one likes Mexican-ish food. So the recipe can really fail only if it’s not written well or if the proportions are sloppy. Thankfully this is not the case here. The recipe overall is clearly written and makes sense so even a novice who might be intimidated at trying their hands at one of those Chipotle-style burrito bowls at home can pull it off.

Good idea is to make a larger batch of all the elements as well and have them on hand for the week where dinner or lunch can be put together in a snap. I loved the simple guacamole—just mashed avocados, garlic, lime, salt, and cilantro. Simple and delicious.

I used a mixture of rice, quinoa, and farro and really liked the hearty toothsome combination.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is very easy to follow and even more delicious. The instructions were very clear and easy to follow. The sweet and citrus flavors from the sauces mix very well with the savory and spicy flavors of the chicken and grain, and the textures from all the foods work very well together. This recipe is also very inclusive to dietary needs such as gluten-free and dairy-free, as you can simply add or take away certain ingredients and you’ll still end up with an amazing dish.