A Mexican Buddha Bowl (AKA vegan fajita bowl) is an amazingly vibrant meal prep lunch or dinner that packs in the protein. It is a feast for the eyes as well as the belly! With many parts, feel free to customise the dish to your taste. Buddha bowls often feature small portions or several foods like plant proteins, beans and whole grains. Especially for those who enjoy our Tex-Mex inspired Tofu Quinoa Bowl.
🌟 Why this recipe works
- Easy – a Mexican Buddha bowl is so easy to make! Only one part of this meal needs to be cooked in the oven and one on the hob. The rest are super easy to make either cold or in the microwave. Buddha bowls are usually vegetarian and they consist of many small portions of individual foods. Usually including a grain, plant protein such as beans (or tempeh or tofu) as well as colourful veggies, plus a refreshing dressing or spice mix. This fajita bowl is instead dressing-free as there are many condiments to add like simple mashed avocado, salsa and even vegan sour cream.
- Spice blend – just like our Quorn Fajitas, this recipe uses a simple spice blend. It consists of just three spices inspired by Mexican flavours. Just smoked paprika, coriander powder and chipotle powder is needed for the vegan fajita bowl. They can be found in most store cupboards and are easy to find at the supermarket.
- Flexible – while this bowl features many parts, it’s also a very flexible meal. Generally Buddha bowls are served cold (but parts can be warm) and there are many substitutions you can make based on what you have in the fridge or the cupboard. As long as it’s served in a single bowl and looks colourful, you’re basically there! Buddha bowls are not hard to make, but if you’d like to serve it in an artful way, the presentation may take a little bit of practice.
- So filling – a Mexican inspired Buddha bowl is super filling and makes for a great meal prep lunch or dinner. Each individual part of the bowl keeps in the refrigerator for three days and can be served cold. Of course, the beans, fajita vegetables and rice can be warmed up in the microwave if you’d like, but this isn’t mandatory.
📋 Ingredient Notes
- Chestnut mushrooms – the mushrooms make up half of the sheet pan vegan fajita bowl vegetables. They’re very meaty and perfect in this recipe. They retain their firm texture when cooked, so we think they’re not to be missed in this Mexican Buddha bowl. If you really can’t hack mushrooms, try switching to tofu or sweet potato wedges. If you love mushrooms, you could also try this Mushroom Biryani.
- Black beans – we make easy and simple refried beans as part of the Mexican Buddha bowl. They’re in no way traditional but they are very tasty!
- Peppers – peppers (or capsicum) offer a delightful crunch in this bowl, as part of the fajita vegetables. In addition, while we use red and yellow peppers, you can alternatively use any colour pepper that you have on hand, including orange or green – which we must admit is always last in the fridge, unless we’re making a jackfruit chilli.
- Whole grain rice – Buddha bowls usually use whole grains as they are considered to be a healthier alternative to white rice. Alternatives include quinoa, buckwheat or a mixture of your favourite grains.
- Chipotle powder – to bring a rich and deep flavour to the Mexican Buddha bowl! While this recipe doesn’t use a particular spice mix in the style of a specific Mexican dish, the chipotle brings a richness, the smoked paprika brings smokiness and the coriander powder rounds it off. All balanced with a little lime juice and a perfect amount of seasoning. Plus extra chilli if you like!
Check out the recipe card at the bottom of this article for exact measurements to make this Mexican Buddha bowl.
🔪 Step-by-step Instructions
This is a step-by-step overview with photos for this recipe. The full recipe, along with measurements and detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this page.
1. Cook rice according to package instructions. For whole grain rice, it usually takes 25 minutes on the stove top. Once it’s ready, mix through the chopped fresh coriander, salt and lime juice. Then set aside.
2. While the rice cooks, place all of the chopped vegetables in a mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl mix the olive oil, spices and salt. Pour over the vegetables and mix really well until all of the veggies are well coated.
3. Place onto a lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes on gas mark 5. Turn half way.
4. In a saucepan, fry off the garlic with oil spray or a splash of water.
5. Next add in the black beans on a medium high heat. Stir well then begin mashing with a potato masher or a fork.
6. Add in the water, a little at a time, until it reaches the consistency of refried beans. It should be like a thick chunky paste, and no whole beans should be visible. You may need all of the water, you may need slightly less than ½ a cup. The beans soak up the water very quickly, so if you leave them to stand while you make the rest of the Mexican Buddha bowl, it may need a splash of water to loosen it slightly, just before serving.
7. In a separate dish, take the peeled avocados, lime juice and salt and pepper and mash it all together. Roughly mash the avocado until it resembles a simple guacamole.
8. Place the rice in the bowl and serve the roasted vegetables, black beans, mashed avocado and sweetcorn on top. You can then also add hot sauce (or chilli flakes), vegan sour cream (or yoghurt), fresh coriander, salad leaves, fresh cherry tomatoes and tomato salsa, depending on your preference.
👩🍳 Expert Tips
- Meal prep – Mexican Buddha bowl is great for meal prepping. Prepare each part on a Sunday and then you’ve got lunch for the beginning of the week. You can easily double the quantities and make even more if you like! If you’re going to eat the bowl cold, make up each bowl and leave it in the fridge in an airtight container. If you’d like the rice, vegetables and black beans reheated, make sure to keep each part in individual containers in the refrigerator, until you’re ready to consume it.
- Grains – we use whole grain rice in this vegan fajita bowl. However, you can alternatively use white short grain rice, quinoa, buckwheat or even cauliflower rice for a low-carb option.
- Additional toppings – the Mexican Buddha bowl really comes into its own when you add the extra toppings. They help to tailor the bowl to an individual’s taste too. Add as much as you like. We recommend choosing from: vegan sour cream, salsa, fresh coriander, salad leaves and hot sauce. My favourite is Cholula and it goes perfectly with this vegan fajita bowl.
- Storage – every element of this dish keeps well in the fridge in an airtight container. However, you may like to mash the avocado each day for extra freshness. However, as the avocado mash does include lime juice, it does stay fresh in the fridge. We left it in the fridge for 2 days and it fared very well indeed.
- Serve hot or cold – we mentioned above that Buddha bowls are usually served cold, but some elements can in fact be served warm. The black beans, fajita vegetables and coriander rice can be heated before serving. Just make sure the rice is piping hot throughout before serving.
- Wrap it up! Although this vegan fajita bowl is designed to be served as a bowl, the individual components can be served inside a large flour tortilla. Wrap it up into a fajita for an alternative meal.
Basically, we just heat up the black beans in a pan and as they start to heat, just mash them with a potato masher and gradually add up to ½ a cup of water, until the desired consistency.
A Buddha bowl can consist of many different components! Generally they’re vegetarian (opposed to a Nourish bowl which is similar but also contains meat), and are made up of individual parts – whole grains, plant protein, various vegetables, various salad ingredients and even salad dressings. In this Mexican Buddha bowl, we use black beans, mushrooms and peppers, alongside fresh coriander and lime rice and sweetcorn (either fresh, from a can, or frozen).
It depends on what is in your Buddha bowl, but this vegan fajita bowl keeps in the fridge (in airtight containers) for up to three days, so it’s perfect for meal prepping.
As long as there’s a wholegrain, plant protein and a mixture of vegetables, as well as a dressing or condiments, it can be called a Buddha bowl!
There are many theories of where the Buddha bowl originated. Some say it’s named after the Buddhist belief in balance (e.g. it’s perfectly balanced with all of its individual parts) or that it is similar to Buddha’s bowl that would be filled with vegetarian food by villagers, and Wikipedia says it first emerged at a restaurant called Juice for Life in Toronto, and it featured in the same restaurant’s cookbook from the 90’s. Bon Appetit says Martha Stewart invented it in 2013. Whatever the real story is, we’re just glad that they exist now!
🍛 What to serve with it:
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Mexican Buddha Bowl
For the avocado:
- 3 avocados – peeled and chopped
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- Salt and pepper – to taste
For the rice:
- 250 g brown rice
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander
- 2 tbsp lime juice
For the fajita vegetables:
- 400 g chestnut mushrooms – sliced
- 3 peppers – sliced
- 1 onion – sliced
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp chipotle powder
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp garlic powder – finely chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
For the refried beans:
- 240 g black beans – 1 x 400g can, drained
- 2 cloves garlic
- 125 ml water
- salt – to taste
- 1 cup sweetcorn
- Fresh coriander – optional
- chilli flakes – optional
- salsa – optional
- hot sauce
- Cook rice according to package instructions. For whole grain rice, it usually takes 25 minutes on the stove top. Once it’s ready, mix through the chopped fresh coriander, salt and lime juice. Then set aside.250 g brown rice, 2 tbsp fresh coriander, 2 tbsp lime juice
- While the rice cooks, place all of the chopped vegetables in a mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl mix the olive oil, spices and salt. Pour over the vegetables and mix really well until it’s all coated in the mix.400 g chestnut mushrooms, 3 peppers, 1 onion, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp chipotle powder, 2 tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp salt, 2 tbsp olive oil
- Place onto a lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes on gas mark 5. Turn half way.
- In a saucepan, fry off the garlic with oil spray or a splash of water.2 cloves garlic
- Then add in the black beans on a medium high heat, stir well then begin mashing with a potato masher or a fork. Add in the water, a little at a time, until it reaches the consistency of refried beans – it should be like a thick chunky paste, and no whole beans should be visible. You may need all of the water, you may need slightly less than ½ a cup.240 g black beans, 125 ml water, salt
- In a separate dish, take the peeled avocados, lime juice and salt and pepper and mash it all together, until you have roughly mashed avocado, similar to guacamole.3 avocados, Salt and pepper, 1 tbsp lime juice
- Place the rice in the bowl and serve the roasted vegetables, black beans, mashed avocado and sweetcorn on top, in separate sections. You can then also add hot sauce (or chilli flakes), vegan sour cream (or yoghurt), fresh coriander, salad leaves, fresh cherry tomatoes and tomato salsa, depending on your preference.1 cup sweetcorn, Fresh coriander, chilli flakes, salsa, hot sauce
- The Mexican Buddha bowl is super flexible. Serve it with extra toppings that suit your taste buds. We recommend choosing from: vegan sour cream, salsa or pico de gallo, fresh coriander, salad leaves, hot sauce and even a few nacho chips.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Portion out each bowl into an airtight container if eating cold, straight from the fridge. If you’re going to reheat any part of the bowl, make sure to store each part individually.
- Make the avocado mash fresh each day, if you like, but it does keep well in the fridge as it has lime juice in it – perfect for helping to preserve it.
- Switch mushrooms for tofu, tempeh or sweet potato wedges.
- We do not recommend this recipe for freezing.