This Buddha bowl is a beautiful combination of vibrant and colorful vegetables, nourishing whole grains, and plenty of plant-based protein accompanied by a delicious peanut dressing.
It is an excellent way to pack tasty and nourishing ingredients into one flavorful and gorgeous dish.
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Buddha bowls are an easy and practical way to eat a nutrient-dense and balanced meal in one - well - bowl.
They are like grain bowls and very similar to poke bowls, except they don't contain fish or meat and favor plant-based protein.
There are three main components to Buddha bowls:
- Vegetables and fruits: you can add them raw, steam them, grill them, or roast them in the oven.
- Whole grains: farro, barley, whole grain rice, buckwheat, amaranth, and even quinoa; you can pick your favorite.
- Plant-based protein: think tofu, edamame beans, chickpeas, or tempeh.
- Sauce: peanut sauce is our favorite.
Take our recipe as a guideline and make Buddha bowls with your favorite ingredients, depending on your local and seasonal availability.
Here are a couple of tips to remember when making Buddha bowls:
- Eat the rainbow: the more color you add, the more nutrients you eat. We always try to include something purple, orange, and dark green because they are packed with good stuff.
- Keep things balanced: eat a little of everything, including grains, veggies, protein, and sauce.
- Go for whole grains like brown rice, barley, and farro. They are more nourishing and keep you full longer.
Ingredients & Substitutions
We use whole-grain rice for our vegan Buddha bowl.
Substitute farro, barley, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, and even couscous for rice.
Some like to make this with cauliflower rice, but we think that wouldn't make a balanced meal (and you will get hungry a lot faster without a whole grain).
Our favorite protein is quick-grilled tofu.
Substitute marinated tofu, pan-fried crispy tofu, air-fryer tofu, chickpeas, crispy roasted chickpeas, hummus, falafel, edamame beans, black beans or other beans, and even tempeh.
Buddha bowls are generally vegan or vegetarian (like the diet of Buddhist monks) and don't include chicken or fish.
Vegetables and Fruit
You can add your favorite vegetables and fruit. You can add them raw, grilled, steamed, or oven-baked.
Think about the colors of the rainbow, and add three to seven vegetables:
- RED: We add thinly sliced red onion pickled in lemon juice and salt for 10 minutes.
Substitute tomatoes, red bell pepper, radish, red chili pepper, or red leaf lettuce for red onion.
- ORANGE: We add carrot ribbons sliced with a vegetable peeler. Substitute orange bell pepper, roasted butternut squash, microwaved sweet potato or roasted sweet potatoes, roasted kabocha squash, pumpkin, and even cantaloupe melon for carrots.
- YELLOW: We add juicy mango. Substitute pineapple, yellow bell pepper, corn, cauliflower, golden tomatoes, yellow carrots, and yellow squash for mango.
- GREEN: We add spinach, cucumber, and avocado. Substitute kale, arugula, collard greens, green cabbage, watercress, romaine lettuce, zucchini, broccoli, shaved or roasted Brussels sprouts, steamed artichokes, green beans, steamed asparagus, roasted asparagus, and green peas for spinach and cucumber.
- PURPLE: We add thinly sliced red cabbage. Substitute roasted eggplant, beets, purple sweet potatoes, purple cauliflower, radicchio, and purple carrots for red cabbage.
Sauce for Buddha Bowl
Like with vegetables, you can pick your favorite sauce. If you are using tofu, then we strongly recommend our peanut sauce which we make with:
- Peanut butter: smooth or chunky; both work. Substitute almond butter or other nut butter.
- Tahini: optional; substitute more peanut butter or other nut butter.
- Sesame oil: keep out if you don't have it.
- Rice vinegar: substitute with fresh lime juice or apple cider vinegar.
- Brown sugar: substitute maple syrup, agave syrup, palm sugar, or coconut sugar.
- Soy sauce: substitute tamari or coconut aminos for gluten-free.
- Garlic and ginger: substitute garlic and ginger paste.
- Sriracha sauce: substitute red pepper flakes, hot sauce, or another spicy ingredient.
How to make a Buddha bowl
Boil the rice
Add the rice to a sift and rinse with water. Add it to a pot with plenty of salted boiling water and cook as per package instructions or until al dente (whole grain rice can take 30 to 45 minutes).
Spread the cooked rice on a baking sheet to cool down without overcooking.
Tip: Avoid rinsing rice under cold water to cool it down.
Prep quick pickled red onions
Thinly slice the red onion and add it to a bowl with freshly squeezed lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, salt, and red pepper flakes. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes.
Grill the tofu
Pat the tofu dry with kitchen paper and slice it into ¼ inch (0.7 cm) slices. Toss tofu slices in olive oil, salt, and black pepper until well coated in oil.
Warm up your grill pan, add the tofu slices, and grill for 3 minutes on medium heat.
Turn around with the help of a flat spatula and grill for 3 more minutes.
Make the peanut sauce
Whisk or blend peanut butter, tahini, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar, grated ginger, grated garlic, and sriracha sauce.
Chop the vegetables
Cut mango and cucumber into dice. Thinly slice the carrot with a vegetable peeler. Thinly chop the red cabbage.
Build the Buddha Bowl
To a large serving bowl, add boiled rice, spinach, diced mango, carrot ribbons, sliced cabbage, diced cucumber, sliced avocado, and grilled tofu.
Top with pickled red onion and a generous drizzle of peanut sauce. Optionally, sprinkle with sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds.
Get transported to the shores of the Mediterranean with this delicious and nourishing Mediterranean grain bowl.
We make it with tomatoes, cucumber, olives, parsley, feta cheese, falafel, hummus, warm pita bread, lemon wedges, and a delicious tahini sauce as dressing.
Check out our Mediterranean bowl recipe.
Choose a different dressing
A creamy, nutty, and delicious sauce with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, water, and salt.
It's delicious with all veggies, rice, and tofu and an excellent choice for Buddha bowls.
Check out our tahini sauce recipe.
A Mexican-inspired dressing with fresh and zesty flavors. You can make it with fresh cilantro, lime juice, maple syrup, olive oil, salt, garlic, and ginger.
Check out our cilantro lime dressing recipe.
A swirl of fresh herbs and tangy flavors, this green goddess dressing is packed with herby aromas and an irresistibly creamy texture.
You can make it with our vegan mayo, yogurt, garlic, olive oil, parsley, basil, dill, chives, mint, capers, salt, and pepper.
Check out our green goddess dressing recipe.
Our vegan Buddha bowl is fulfilling, nourishing, and tastes delicious without anything on the side.
We usually make one giant bowl and share it among the two of us, and we keep the leftover for the next day.
You can have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's also excellent for meal prep since you can grill the tofu, pickle the onions, make the sauce, and boil the rice up to 3-4 days in advance.
Make ahead: this Buddha bowl is an excellent recipe for meal prep. You can boil the rice, make the peanut sauce, pickle the onions, and grill the tofu up to 4 days in advance and keep it in separate containers in the fridge.
Refrigerator: keep the bowl in the fridge, covered with plastic, for a day or two. The components can last up to 4 days if stored in separate airtight containers.
Freezer: this recipe is not suitable for freezing.
More Grain Bowls
Get more wholesome and colorful meal inspiration with these nutritious grain bowls:
- Mediterranean barley salad (roasted vegetables, barley, sundried tomatoes, etc.)
- Mediterranean bowl (hummus, falafel, tahini, olives, feta, etc.)
- Rice salad (whole-grain rice, cherry tomato, olives, cucumber, olive oil, etc.)
- Couscous salad (couscous, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, lemon, etc.)
- 25 best grain bowl recipes (falafel bowl, Mediterranean bowl, and more)
More Tofu Recipes
For more plant-based protein ideas, see our easy and tasty tofu ideas:
- Fried tofu (tofu cubes, paprika, garlic powder, olive oil, salt, etc.)
- Tofu salad (romaine lettuce, fried tofu, cherry tomatoes, tahini sauce, etc.)
- Marinated tofu (cornstarch, tofu, soy sauce, mustard, apple cider vinegar, etc.)
- Air fryer tofu (paprika, tofu, olive oil, garlic powder, cornstarch, etc.)
For many more tofu ideas, check out our tofu category page.
- 1¼ cup whole-grain rice
Quick Pickled Red Onion
- 1 red onion
- 1 lemon the juice
- ½ teaspoon salt + ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 16 ounces tofu firm or extra firm
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt + ¼ teaspoon black pepper optional
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons tahini or more peanut butter
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or lime juice, or apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon ginger grated
- 1 clove garlic grated
- 2 teaspoons sriracha or ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil optional
- 1 cup cucumber diced
- 1 cup red cabbage thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot sliced with a vegetable peeler
- 1 large mango diced
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 avocado
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 1 handful cilantro
- 4 wedges lime
- Rinse and cook the rice in a pot with lightly salted boiling water.Drain it then spread it on a baking sheet to cool down.
PICKLED RED ONION
- Thinly slice the red onion and add it to a bowl with freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt, and red pepper flakes. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Pat the tofu dry with kitchen paper and slice it into ¼ inch (0.7 cm) slices. Toss tofu slices in olive oil, salt, and black pepper until well coated in oil.Warm up your grill pan (a non-stick pan works too), add the tofu slices, and grill for 3 minutes on medium heat.Turn around with the help of a flat spatula and grill for 3 more minutes.
- Whisk or blend the sauce ingredients.
- Cut mango and cucumber into dice. Thinly slice the carrot with a vegetable peeler. Thinly chop the red cabbage.
- To a large serving bowl, add boiled rice, spinach, diced mango, carrot ribbons, sliced cabbage, diced cucumber, sliced avocado, and grilled tofu.
- Top with pickled red onion and a generous drizzle of peanut sauce. Optionally, sprinkle with sesame seeds, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.