Build Your Own Grain Bowl

how to make a buddha bowl

Think of a Grain Bowl as a dinner jigsaw puzzle, where you can put the pieces together any way you like, as long as you follow a few simple guidelines. A Grain Bowl is a bowl filled with one part grain, one part greens, one part protein. Top that layer with veggies (they can be grilled, sautéed, roasted, raw), and add nuts, fruit or herbs. Then tie the whole thing together with a clean, homemade dressing.

You’ve likely eaten a Grain Bowl out somewhere — all those fast casual restaurants love them. But their moment on the home kitchen stage appears to be now.

Which makes sense. They’re plant-based and oh-so-accomodating. Need your meal to be vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or paleo? Grain Bowls can be all those — at the same time. There is no better time to pile on the local vegetables than the height of summer!

This dinner can also be kid-friendly. Just set out the various pieces (say, brown rice, roasted chickpeas, crispy tofu, steamed broccoli, shredded carrots and raisins) and let your kids fill up their bowls with what appeals. Top with kid-approved peanut sauce or a dollop of yogurt.

One other plus: Nearly every piece of the Grain Bowl can be made ahead. Prep your grain,  your protein, some of your veggies and your dressing during the weekend then pull them out on a busy weeknight to put a super yummy, healthful dinner on the table in under 30 minutes. Want more of a recipe and less of a guide? Here’s how I make my Mediterranean Grain Bowl.

Basic Grain Bowl

Makes 2 meal-sized servings


  • 1 cup cooked grain, like rice, quinoa, barley or couscous
  • 2 cups fresh leafy green, like spinach, kale, Swiss chard or collard or beet greens
  • 2 cups other vegetables. These can be anything from sautéed mushrooms and onions to a roasted root vegetable medley to fresh-from-the-garden summer veggies.
  • 1/2 cup protein, think lentils, black beans, hard-boiled eggs, pan-roasted tofu or even grilled chicken or fish
  • Toppings (like crumbled feta, sliced almonds or a sprinkling of herbs such as parsley or cilantro)
  • 1/3- 1/2 cup dressing (try this Honey Mustard Vinaigrette)


  1. Begin by cooking your grain and protein in the best preparation style suited for them. Set aside.
  2. Prepare vegetables by dicing, sautéing, roasting, grilling or any other appropriate method.
  3. Stir together dressing.
  4. Chop greens into ribbons.
  5. Gather and prep any toppings you’re using.
  6. Assemble the Grain Bowl, starting with the grain, then greens, then protein, then vegetables, then toppings. Drizzle dressing over the entire bowl.