Copycat Chipotle Vegan Burrito Bowl Recipe (2022)
Updated: Mar 8, 2022
By: Andrea Memon, RDN, CD, LD
Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, High Fiber
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Prep Time: 10
Cook Time: 10
Total Time: 20
The Chipotle-inspired vegan burrito bowl starts with cilantro lime brown rice as the base. The toppings are spicy southwest black beans, and a combination of pan-seared and fresh veggies, which create a variety of textures and southwest flavors. The veggies are caramelized onions, pan-seared bell peppers, roasted corn, and fresh cherry tomatoes. The bowl is finished with your favorite salsa, creamy avocado cubes, and fresh cilantro. Together, it is a party in your mouth. The best part is it’s fast, easy, and nutritious. Fair warning, it might become a new staple meal in your rotation.
Why You’ll Love It
Four components to a winning recipe are it must be fast, easy, nutritious, and delicious! And this Chipotle-inspired vegan burrito bowl recipe checks all four boxes and more!
It’s a Winning Recipe
It’s fast. It takes under 20 minutes to prepare.
It’s easy. Stick with me. I'll share all the shortcuts below.
It’s nutritious. The beans and rice are complete protein and it's high in fiber. Plus, the balance of whole grains, protein, veggies, and healthy fat will keep you full for hours.
It’s delicious. The southwest flavors are amazing. The variety of textures is wonderful. As I said, it’s a party in your mouth.
It’s great for families. Everyone can top their bowls differently, but the kids get to see others eating unfamiliar toppings.
It’s fun! It doesn’t have to be Cinco de Mayo to set up a burrito bar. This means you can build custom bowls, just like at Chipotle. How fun and easy is that? It’s one meal for everyone. If you are a Mom, you know the value in this!
It’s flexible! Custom-built bowls easily accommodate meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. This flexibility allows one meal to meet different dietary goals and food allergies.
It’s pantry friendly. If you are out of black beans, substitute any beans in your pantry. If you are out of rice, use any grain you have - quinoa, farro, or even cauliflower rice. If you don’t have a spice or two, go ahead and make the recipe without. Homemade food with fresh, simple, whole-food ingredients is almost always delicious.
It costs less. Cooking at home is always cheaper than eating at a restaurant.
It’s environmentally friendly. Depending on which plant foods you include, vegan meals typically “have far lower carbon, water, and ecological footprints." To support the environment, skip the recipe avocados as they require a significant amount of water to grow.
What You’ll Need
Cilantro-Lime Rice - It starts with pre-cooked, frozen brown rice and is seasoned with fresh cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Brown rice brings substance to the bowl, has a more hearty texture, and is higher in fiber and magnesium compared to white rice.
Fajita Veggies - They are pan-seared and seasoned with chili powder, salt, and pepper. The seasoning is simple, but the flavor of pan-seared veggies is unbelievable, especially if you let your pan heat up enough to char the veggies and caramelize the onions. I used red onion and red and orange bell peppers, but white onion and any bell pepper will work.
Chipotle Black Beans & Corn - It starts with a can of yellow corn and a can of black beans and they are seasoned with southwest spices.
Cherry Tomatoes - They are chopped and seasoned with coarse salt. Simple and fresh.
Avocado - They are cubed and seasoned with coarse salt. Creamy. Delicious. Need I say more?
Salsa - Use your favorite salsa from the store for extra flavor, extra fast!
The research and testing were extensive before finalizing the spices in this recipe. I wanted to keep it simple but also wanted to prioritize flavor. I ended up using salt, black pepper, cumin powder, coriander powder, chili powder, chipotle powder, garlic powder, and dried oregano.
This might look like a long list of ingredients and spices but stick with me. Most of the work is gathering the ingredients and spices, opening cans and packages, chopping a few vegetables, turning on the stovetop, and throwing everything in. Below I’ll share some great tips to save even more time if you are in a real-time crunch, so you'll be able to assemble your vegan burrito bowl fast when you are starving. The bonus is, I promise, the tips will not compromise the delicious southwest flavor we love.
How to Make a Vegan Burrito Bowl
The steps to making this delicious and nutritious vegan burrito bowl are: to gather your cooking supplies, food, and spices, prep the ingredients, cook the rice, fajita veggies, corn, and beans, and assemble the burrito bowl with your choice of toppings.
How to Build a Vegan Burrito Bowl
Place the cilantro-lime rice at the base of your bowl and add your favorite toppings.
Start with a base of cilantro-lime rice.
Add fajita veggies.
Add southwest spicy beans & roasted corn.
Add avocado cubes.
Add crunchy cherry tomatoes.
Add salsa, cilantro and sliced jalapeño.
How to Eat a Vegan Burrito Bowl
I suggest mixing the ingredients in your bowl together before eating. This is because the southwest flavor is concentrated in the Chipotle black beans and corn, so it’s ideal to spread the flavor throughout the bowl. However, there are other ways to eat it. You can leave it as is and start eating. You can place the ingredients into a wrap using lettuce, flour, or corn tortilla. It’s completely up to you! If you keep it as a bowl, to scoop it, you can use tortilla chips or a spoon, or even better - you can use both!
Other Vegan Burrito Bowl Toppings
There are so many flavorful toppings to add to a vegan burrito bowl. Here are some ideas:
Tofu - this is a great addition. I recommend pan searing and adding southwest spices for extra flavor.
Tempeh - you can use this instead of tofu. It’s higher in protein and iron compared to tofu.
Pinto Beans - this is another delicious, high fiber option to combine with rice to make a complete protein combo.
Vegan Refried Beans - Read the label to look for a brand that does not have lard.
Vegan Shredded Cheese - It’s always fun to add some cheese.
Whole Fat Plain Yogurt - Only if you are vegetarian.
Vegan Sour Cream - This will make the bowl extra creamy.
Tortilla Chips - Yes, please.
Sliced Black Olives - I love olives. They would be a great addition.
Roasted Sweet Potato - If you are feeling ambitious, this would be a delicious addition.
Sliced Jalapeño Peppers - If you want some heat, include the seeds. They will do the trick.
Leafy Greens - This will boost the volume of the bowl to keep you extra satisfied. To reduce the carbohydrate count, swap half of the rice for lettuce. This way it is more like a burrito salad bowl, which sounds good to me!
Salsa - Try different types of salsa like salsa verde, pico, tomatillo-green salsa, or tomatillo-red chili salsa. The next time you are at your favorite Mexican restaurant, buy a container of salsa to go. It’s usually cheap and always flavorful. You will be happy it’s in your refrigerator the next time you make this recipe.
Cilantro Lime Dressing - either homemade or store-bought.
Lime Wedges - For extra fresh lime juice.
Meal Prep Tips
Meal prep is a real-time-saver to get meals on the table fast. If you prepare ingredients ahead make sure you follow food safety guidelines to keep food safe. The rice, beans, corn, and fajitas veggies can be made a few days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. This way you can heat them up and assemble your vegan burrito bowl in minutes on a later day. Nutritionally, rice that has been cooked and cooled contains resistant starch, a type of fiber that "functions like soluble, fermentable fiber” and has powerful health benefits. So preparing rice ahead of time and storing it in the refrigerator makes sense for many reasons. The only item you cannot make in advance is the avocado cubes.
Tips for Storing
Leftover or meal-prepped food can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or frozen for 3 to 4 months. If you make any of the vegan burrito bowl ingredients ahead of time, pack each item individually and store it in the refrigerator. They will be ready to warm up and assemble your bowl when you are hungry.
Other Vegan Bowl Recipes
Here are some other vegan bowl recipes to try:
Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl
What is a Burrito Bowl?
A burrito bowl is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s the inside of a burrito in a bowl. Another way to describe it is the burrito filling minus the tortilla and served inside a bowl. There are a few reasons people might prefer a vegan burrito bowl over a traditional vegan burrito. One possible benefit is a burrito bowl reduces the number of total carbohydrates in your meal. Who needs to eat rice and a burrito size tortilla in one meal? The second possible benefit is removing the tortilla and substituting a bowl makes it gluten-free, which is ideal if you have a gluten allergy or intolerance.
What’s in Chipotle’s Vegan Burrito Bowl?
Chipotle is the inspiration, so what’s in their vegan burrito bowl? At Chipotle, you select the ingredients. For vegan bowls, there are two plant-based proteins: new plant-based chorizo which is made from pea protein, or sofritas. For rice, there is white or brown. For beans, there are either black or pinto beans. The toppings include fajita veggies, fresh tomato salsa, roasted chili-corn salsa, tomato chili-corn salsa, tomatillo-green chili salsa, tomatillo-red chili salsa, romaine lettuce, guacamole. Chipotle uses 53 ingredients in its menu items. I’ve determined the possible ingredients in the vegan burrito bowl are avocado, bay leaf, black beans, bell peppers, baby kale, black pepper, brown rice, baby spinach, canola oil, chipotle chili, cilantro, cumin, garlic, gypsum, jalapeno, lemon juice, romaine lettuce, lime juice, onion, oregano, pinto beans, poblano peppers, red chili, red wine vinegar, rice bran oil, salt, soybeans, tomatoes, tomatillo, tomato paste, distilled vinegar, white sweet corn, and white rice. Now we know why there’s so much flavor in one bowl.
What is Southwest Seasoning Made of?
Most southwest seasonings include a mixture of the following spices: ancho chile powder, black pepper, ground cayenne pepper powder, chili powder, chipotle powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, onion powder, smoked paprika, paprika, and salt. Although most southwest spice recipes don’t include Chipotle powder, it is what Chipotle, the restaurant, is named after. Needless to say, it is a key ingredient in their food, so I decided to use it in this recipe.
What’s the Difference Between Ancho Chili Powder, Paprika, Smoked Paprika, Chipotle Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Chili Powder, and Crushed Red Pepper?
Ancho Chili Powder - Made from dried poblano chilies, which “get a name change to signify their change in taste.” The flavor is deep, rich, and smoky with mild to medium heat.
Paprika - it’s made from dried and ground red chili peppers, but the peppers used for paprika tend to be milder. Its flavor is warm, and mildly tangy, with a hint of tomato and sweetness.
Smoked Paprika - it’s made from mildly spicy, dried, ground red chili peppers and the flavor is smoky-sweet with a touch of heat.
Chipotle Powder - it’s made from dried, smoked jalapeño chilies peppers. It has a smoky, sweet, spicy flavor that is common in Southwestern and Mexican dishes
Cayenne Pepper - it’s made from ground cayenne pepper and will turn up the heat in your food
Chili Powder - it’s a combination of ground chili peppers and other spices including cumin, oregano, coriander, garlic, allspice, and cloves.
Crushed Red Pepper (also known as red pepper flakes) - made from dried and crushed, hot red chili peppers
It’s fun to learn about the southwest spices. Here is a helpful guide for more info.
How to Prepare the Vegan Burrito Bowl Faster?
One-Pot Cooking - Use one saucepan to warm and cook everything including the rice, fajita veggies, corn, and beans. Fewer dishes mean that you will spend less time cleaning up, and that's a big time saver.
Cilantro Lime Rice Shortcut - Use a shelf-stable, ready-to-eat, packaged rice. It will take a fraction of the time to warm up compared to frozen rice. Also, use lime juice from a bottle.
Fajita Veggie Shortcut - Buy pre-cut bell peppers and onions. Fresh, not frozen, pre-cut veggies are preferred to save time.
Southwest Flavor Shortcut - Use store-bought southwest seasoning instead of blending your spices.
Ideas to Level Up This Recipe?
The sky's the limit if you have time to spend in the kitchen. You can prepare all of the vegan burrito bowl ingredients from scratch, blend custom southwest spices, and make homemade cilantro lime dressing, salsa, and guacamole. These will take your bowl to the next level and make it extra special. The unique and fresh flavors in homemade foods are hard to beat. They bring depth, brightness, and more complex flavors to your dish. When you have time, try these homemade recipes: salsa, guacamole, and cilantro lime dressing.
Can I Use Cauliflower Rice?
Of course! I love cauliflower rice and think this would be delicious instead of brown or white rice!
Should I Serve the Vegan Burrito Bowl Hot or Cold?
I recommend serving it hot, but you can certainly eat it cold. It is really up to you!
VEGAN BURRITO BOWL RECIPE
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Lunch or Dinner Entree
Cuisine: American, Mexican, Vegan
Cilantro Lime Brown Rice
4 cups cooked frozen brown rice
1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup cilantro, washed, chopped, and packed
Juice from ½ of a lime
1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
¼ medium red onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
Southwest Beans & Corn
1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
½ cup water
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can yellow corn, drained
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon salt