This vegan burrito bowl recipe is a delicious fusion of Mexican and Asian flavors. Smoky citrus tofu, black bean and corn salsa, heirloom tomatoes, and crisp greens are piled high on a bed of brown rice. Then we're giving everything a generous dollop of homemade guacamole and finishing things with a drizzle of chipotle vinaigrette. There's no need to keep looking for the perfect plant-based lunch option; you've got it right here!
I know that some days I could go for a big and hearty lunch. This vegan burrito bowl really hits the spot when I am feeling famished. Not only is this veggie burrito bowl beautiful and bountiful, it also offers a lot nutritionally.
A misconception that I'd like to clear up right now is that plant-based meals are by default light or low in calories. This burrito bowl is 100% plants and it is a big, high-energy meal. There's nothing light or "diet-y" about this satisfying dish.
In addition, you're getting (approximately) 21 grams of fiber, almost 1,000 mg of potassium, and 32 grams of filling protein. And let's not forget about the rainbow of phytonutrients from the wide variety of vegetables here.
So, how did I fit all of this goodness into my burrito bowl? Here's a closer look at our participants:
Ah, there they are, gathered together like I'm about to hold a party with a burrito bar. It might be fun to set this up for dinner and let everyone choose their own toppings.
This set-up also allows for easier assembly if you are making these veg burrito bowls as a meal prep. Throw a bit of each item into your Mexican-inspired burrito bowls, and meal prepping will be done in a flash.
Let's chat about what you need…
Don't Skip the Smoked Tofu for the BEST Vegan Burrito Bowl
If you followed my recipe on smoked tofu, you're in good shape for making these vegan burrito bowls. IMVHO, the citrusy, smoky tofu is a key ingredient in these bowls. SO GOOD. (Psst... the smoked tofu was even featured in The Daring Kitchen's Plant-Based Recipes for Meatless Mondays.)
No worries though if you aren't up for buying a smoker and smoking your own tofu. Sometimes you can find tofu that has already been smoked in the supermarket. If not, you can substitute a store-bought flavored tofu that sounds appealing.
The tofu is an awesome-sauce ingredient in these veggie burrito bowls, and not just because of the flavor boost it provides. Nutritionally, you're getting a complete plant-based protein. Tofu counts as a lean protein, as do most other legumes with a few exceptions (e.g., peanuts).
Additionally, tofu is often a rich source of non-dairy calcium. (But be sure to check the nutrition label to ensure you are getting this benefit. Some brands provide far less calcium than others.)
If you think a vegetarian burrito bowl might be more your style, dairy foods are another great way to get protein and calcium. You could add some shredded cheese (how about pepper jack?) and/or a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.
Make this burrito bowl vegetarian or make it vegan. Whatever floats your boat! This recipe is fully customizable to fit your tastes and preferences.
I decided to skip the cheese in the recipe below. However, this plant-based bowl ended up plenty rich with the help of two other ingredients…
Add Guacamole and Olives for Some WFPB Healthy Fats
"WFPB" stands for "Whole Food, Plant-Based." If we're talking about which plant foods are best in terms of health, the whole food options are typically the winners. Avocado, in the form of guacamole, and olives are both great WFPB options for fat.
There's also some fat provided by the avocado oil in the chipotle dressing, and smaller amounts of fat in the other foods. I was not stingy at all with the portions of these foods in the bowls. As I said at the top, this isn't a light or a diet dish.
(And I was especially generous the guacamole because who doesn't love guac? A lot of eateries will make you pay extra to get the guacamole, so save money and have it at home!)
Part of the reason I did this is to demonstrate that a dish can be plant-based and "healthy" but not conducive to fat loss at all. This vegan burrito bowl might be the highest calorie dish on my site at the moment. It is packed with whole foods and plants!
(Psst… my tropical lentil bowls with coconut rice recipe is another delicious and high-calorie vegan meal prep. I just wanted to throw that out there if you're looking for this sort of thing.)
I've seen some extremely alarming photos and videos online of long-term vegan diet adherents who appear cachectic. Some may point the finger at the vegan diet as the cause of the wasting and malnourishment. However, these people likely had an underlying eating disorder or other illness that was the root cause of their physical state.
As I am showing here, it is not too difficult to get adequate (or even excessive!) calories on vegan and vegetarian diets. With a little forethought, you can also ensure you get the RDA for protein.
Legumes, Like Black Beans, are a Vegan Burrito Bowl's Protein-Rich Best Friend
One of the biggest difficulties I encountered back when I was vegan and would eat out at restaurants was protein. (This was a couple of decades ago when there were fewer plant-based options on the menus of many chains.) Many of the restaurants that did not specialize in vegan and vegetarian diets would simply leave the meat off the dish. Where was the protein?
If you don't eat meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, or eggs, legumes are your BFF for protein. You do get small amounts of protein from other foods, but legumes are king. These vegan burrito bowls have tofu AND a black bean and corn salsa for protein.
If black beans aren't your thing, there are lots of other protein-packed legumes you could use here. For example:
- Kidney beans
- Pinto beans
- Small red beans
Nuts and seeds also get placed in the protein group on the MyPlate. Though they provide some essential amino acids, I believe that it is better to think of them as healthy fats. They are incredibly calorie-dense, and you'd have to eat an excessive amount if depending on them for protein.
By the way, I've seen the following substituted for protein group foods in recipes. These are NOT adequate substitutions nutritionally for foods in the protein group (regardless of their texture or taste):
- Hibiscus flowers (This recipe for hibiscus taco crumbles is sooooo intriguing! Maybe add a legume-based wrap or some cheese for protein.)
Nothing terrible will happen if you eat the occasional meal or two that is low in protein. However, if your diet is entirely devoid of animal products, I highly recommend adding legumes to most of your meals. Whole food options like the black beans and soy in these vegan burrito bowls are great picks.
Romaine Lettuce and Tomatoes Add a Pop of Color to Your Burrito Bowl
Veggies are lovely to look at, but there is another reason beyond aesthetics to add the rainbow to your bowl. The different colors in vegetables often represent varied types and amounts of potentially beneficial phytonutrients. To get the broadest range of these nutrition boosters in your bowl, eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
The beans in this vegan burrito bowl count as both vegetable and protein. However, they are not the only veggies in the bowl! We've got a variety of veggies here, including the standard salad veggies, lettuce, and tomatoes.
Ok, ok, the tomatoes are botanically a fruit, but close enough. I went with some heirloom cherry tomatoes for an even more colorful dish. We've pretty much got the full spectrum of vibrant plant colors in this veggie bowl.
If you are also a fan of eating the rainbow, you are going to love this burrito bowl. And if healthy eating really isn't your thing, but delicious food is, you are going to love this burrito bowl. And if you want to eat healthy food, but only if it tastes good, well…
Basically, I think you will LOVE this burrito bowl, whatever your angle. I'm patting myself on the back for spreading joy with burrito bowl happiness. Am I being too cheesy?
No! This is not cheesy at all since it's a VEGAN burrito bowl. Haha
Am I allowed to tell dad jokes as a mom? 😉
The Brown Rice in this Vegan Burrito Bowl Holds a Little Secret (Shhhh…)
The base of this unrolled vegan burrito is a bed of fluffy brown rice. But's that's not all you've got here. Just like in my deconstructed sushi bowl, I've mixed in some riced cauliflower.
No, this isn't some health trick to help boost your vegetable intake with hidden veggies (although we're doing that too). The reason I chose to add this veggie is that it improves the texture of the rice. Since I've cooked the rice in vegetable broth, you can't taste the cauliflower at all.
I swear, it's difficult to tell the cauliflower is in there! If you've never tried this in your rice bowls, now might be a great time to give it a go. It's no extra work, since we're using frozen riced cauliflower, and adding it to the rice at the end of cooking.
Not only does the rice/cauliflower combo taste great, it may also help if you have a fat loss goal. Substituting out half your rice for cauliflower does reduce calories and carbs. It also improves the rice, IMHO, and no deprivation is involved at all.
As I mentioned at the top, I wasn't trying to make this one a light dish. Instead, my senses provided all the guidance as to how this dish should be created. And my taste buds are all about adding some riced veggies to the rice for a toothsome bite.
Seal the Deal with a Drizzle of Zippy Chipotle Dressing
No vegan or vegetarian burrito bowl is complete without a drizzle of dressing to bring it all together. I'm adding a bright and citrusy chipotle vinaigrette to this dish. It adds a little heat to your bowl and goes perfectly with the citrus smoked tofu.
If you are assembling these deconstructed burritos as a vegan meal prep, I highly recommend keeping the dressing separate until serving time. Use individual dressing cups to prevent the dreaded meal prep lunch sogginess. No one likes a soggy burrito bowl.
Keep the rice separate from the rest of the ingredients as well, if you'd like to reheat it before you eat. It's a bit of a pain having to use so many containers for your meal prep. However, I think the trouble of keeping lunch fresh and at the right temperature is worth it!
One final tip for meal prepping is that you should use single-serve guacamole cups instead of homemade. Your homemade guacamole will turn brown after sitting in the fridge for a few days. I am speaking from experience on this one!
The individually sealed cups of store-bought guacamole will stay fresh and green until you are ready to eat them. Additionally, you'll save time on meal prep when you use store-bought. This is one short cut that I think is a really smart move to make.
Ok, I think I've covered everything you need to know to make the BEST vegan burrito bowls ever. I personally think it's a very smart move to stick to mostly whole food options if you want a vegan meal. That is precisely what I'm giving you here.
So, gather the components for your veg burrito bowls together (mise en place), and let's do this! Around here, it's about time for lunch!
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to this post. Let's get cooking!
Vegan Burrito Bowl Recipe with Citrus Smoked Tofu
For the rice:
- 1 cup brown rice, dry
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 12 ounces frozen riced cauliflower, thawed and drained
For the black bean and corn salsa:
- 15½ ounces canned black beans, drained
- 1 cup frozen roasted corn, thawed
- 4 ounces canned mild green chilis
- 3½ ounces roasted red peppers, chopped
- ¼ cup scallions, sliced
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
For the guacamole:
- 2 medium avocados, chopped
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, fresh squeezed
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup onion, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, seeded, finely chopped (skip it if you dislike spicy food!)
- 1 plum tomato, chopped
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the chipotle vinaigrette:
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil
- 2 tablespoons chipotle in adobo sauce, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons lime juice, fresh squeezed
- 4 tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- salt and pepper, to taste
For assembling your vegan burrito bowls:
- 1 lb. smoked tofu (store-bought or make your own)
- 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ head romaine lettuce, cut into thin shreds
- ¾ cup sliced black olives
- cilantro, chopped finely (for garnish, optional)
To make the rice:
- Put the rice and vegetable broth in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let it come to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook the rice until the liquid has absorbed and the rice becomes soft, approximately 45 minutes.
- Stir in the riced cauliflower during the last few minutes of cooking. Prepare the rest of the dish while the rice cooks.
To make the black bean and corn salsa:
- Stir all of the "for black bean and corn salsa" ingredients together in a large bowl. Let the flavors meld in the fridge while you work on the rest of the dish.
To make the guacamole:
- Put all of the "for the guacamole" ingredients in a food processor. Blend until it is mostly smooth. You may need to stop the processor and scrape down the sides with a spatula if the ingredients are sticking. Wrap your guacamole in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge while you work on the next step.
To make the chipotle vinaigrette:
- Put all of the "for the chipotle vinaigrette" ingredients in your cleaned food processor. Blend the dressing until smooth and then set it aside while you assemble the bowls.
To assemble your vegan burrito bowls:
- Put ¼ of the cooked rice mixture in the bottom of a bowl. Top with ¼ each of the black bean and corn salsa, smoked tofu, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and guacamole. Drizzle ¼ of the dressing on top of each bowl. Garnish with cilantro, if desired. YUM!
- If creating this as a meal prep, keep the rice separate so it can be reheated later. I also recommend keeping the dressing separate until serving time, and using individual serving-size containers of guacamole rather than making your own. (This will help prevent the mashed avocado from browning.)
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). You can make a burrito bowl vegan AND have it be high-calorie with adequate protein! Look to plant-based fats, such as guacamole and olives, to add more energy in a small volume. Throw on generous amounts of legumes, like the tofu and black beans here, for plant-based protein. No matter your chosen diet, it's essential to give your body adequate amounts of the nutrients it needs to thrive. There are many different ways to structure your diet that can lead to good health. That said, if you are here specifically for recipes that may help with fat loss, I'd consider these changes:
- Cut the amount of guacamole in half
- Skip the olives
- Swap out all of the brown rice for riced cauliflower
- You could also experiment with cutting back on the avocado oil in the dressing (perhaps use an equal amount of orange juice in its place)
- DON'T remove the legumes and non-starchy veggies here!
What ingredients are a must-have in your perfect burrito bowl? How often (if ever) do you eat plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan meals? How do you define the term "plant-based"?
If you try this vegan burrito bowl recipe, I'd love it if you left me a rating below! I use your feedback to help improve the recipes and content on the site.