Quinoa Bowls are an easy, make-ahead meal that will have you ready to tackle the week ahead. All you have to do is prep a few components, then you’ll have a fast meal that you can assemble in just 5 minutes or less, straight from the fridge!
Why You’ll Love Them
They are easy to customize. You can make quinoa bowls using practically any ingredients you have on hand. Whether you top them with roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, black beans, or chicken, they always come together nicely with a good sauce on top. It’s a great way to clean out your fridge!
They are a complete source of protein. Quinoa contains all the essential amino acids that your body can’t make on its own, so it’s considered a complete source of plant-based protein. This is extra-helpful if you are looking to make a filling vegan or vegetarian meal, since they are also full of fiber.
They are delicious! Using a homemade sauce on top, like the recipe below, will take the flavor to the next level. I highly recommend making your own dressing, for the best results, rather than using a store-bought option.
They are relatively easy to prep. All you have to do is cook some quinoa and make a sauce. If you would like to top the bowls with roasted vegetables, rather than raw ones, you can let the veggies cook in the oven while the quinoa cooks on the stove. When you work efficiently, the whole process should take just about 30 minutes of effort.
They are allergy friendly. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, and when you don’t add dairy or meat to these bowls, they are also vegan.
Ingredients You’ll Need
What’s in a quinoa bowl?
- Cooked quinoa
- Salad greens & chopped veggies
- Roasted vegetables
- Chickpeas (or other protein)
- A delicious dressing
Quinoa bowls are a choose-your-own-adventure type of meal. Whatever you have on hand in the fridge can become a topping, so it’s a great way to use up any extra produce. The dressing on top will bring it all together.
How to Make Quinoa Bowls
1. Roast the veggies.
If you are going to top the quinoa bowls with roasted veggies, be sure to preheat your oven to 400ºF first. Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces, and drizzle them with olive oil.
Arrange them in a single layer on a large baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until tender. The time will vary based on the vegetables you are cooking. Sweet potatoes take closer to 30 minutes to become tender, while less-starchy veggies, like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, will take only 20 minutes.
2. Cook the quinoa.
While the vegetables are roasting, cook the quinoa. I have tips for how to cook quinoa on the stove, or how to make Instant Pot quinoa, depending on your preference.
The quinoa will take roughly 15 minutes to cook, but it usually takes an additional 5 minutes or so for the water to come to a boil. When the quinoa is done cooking, fluff it with a fork, and set it aside to cool.
Pro Tip: Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve to help remove some of the bitter flavor from the outer coating. This will make the quinoa cook up fluffier, too!
3. Make the dressing.
While the veggies and quinoa are still cooking, you can whip up the creamy pesto dressing in a blender. Add in the fresh basil & parsley, vinegar, tahini, garlic, shallot, red pepper flakes, water, olive oil, and salt. Then blend until it’s smooth.
The flavor of this dressing will become even better as it rests, so pour it into a storage jar, then set it aside until you’re ready to use it.
Once the veggies are done roasting, and the quinoa is done cooking, the quinoa bowls are ready to assemble.
Start with a base of salad greens, and add a big scoop of quinoa on top. Then you can add a generous portion of roasted veggies, chickpeas, chopped cucumbers or cherry tomatoes, and a generous drizzle of dressing.
Looking for more topping ideas? Try adding a dollop of any dip you keep in the fridge, like homemade hummus or vegan pesto.
You can store the quinoa bowl components separately in the fridge for up to 5 days.
If you want to mix them together in meal prep containers, I’d recommend keeping the leafy greens and sauces separate, so they won’t become soggy overnight. Add the dressing right before serving, instead!
More Quinoa Bowl Recipes
The recipe below is just one variation, but you can mix and match your favorite toppings and dressings each week to keep things interesting. Below are a few more suggestions.
Thai-Style Quinoa Bowls. Top your quinoa bowl with baked tofu, sliced mango, red bell peppers, fresh basil, and peanut dressing. This is one of my favorite combinations!
Mexican-Style Quinoa Bowls. Top the quinoa with black beans, red onion, sliced avocado, chopped romaine, corn, salsa, and cilantro dressing.
Mediterranean Quinoa Bowls. Top the quinoa with roasted red peppers, red onion, feta cheese, kalamata olives, and Italian dressing.
Want to change up the dressing? Be sure to also try Tahini Dill Dressing, Honey Balsamic Dressing, or Champagne Vinaigrette.
Quinoa Bowls with Creamy Pesto Dressing
- 1 pound brussels sprouts , trimmed and sliced in half
- 1 pound cauliflower florets
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- fine sea salt
- 1 ½ cups dry quinoa
- 2 ¼ cups water
- 12 ounces mixed greens
- 1 pound assorted chopped veggies (i.e. cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, etc.)
- 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas (or other cooked beans/protein)
Creamy Pesto Dressing
- 1/4 cup fresh basil
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 small shallot (about 2 tablespoons minced)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Add the brussels sprouts and cauliflower to a large rimmed baking sheet, and drizzle them with the olive oil. Toss well, and make sure the brussels sprouts are arranged cut-side-down, to brown nicely. Season generously with salt, then place the pan in the oven to cook until they are tender, about 20 minutes.
- While the veggies are cooking, rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve under running water. This will help remove any bitter flavor. Add the drained quinoa and water to a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Once it's boiling, cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Then remove from the heat completely but keep the lid on for an additional 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside until ready to serve.
- While the quinoa and veggies are still cooking, add the dressing ingredients to a blender, along with ¼ cup of water, to help with blending. Blend until very smooth, and adjust any flavoring as needed. (This dressing will thicken when chilled, FYI, so you can thin it out with a splash of water later, if needed.)
- To assemble the quinoa bowls, add a scoop of cooked quinoa (I use ¾ cup per bowl) to a serving bowl, along with a big handful of leafy greens, a scoop of warm roasted veggies, a scoop of cooked chickpeas, and any chopped raw vegetables you have. Drizzle generously with the dressing, and serve right away. Leftover components can be stored separately in the fridge for up to 5 days, and served cold again for any easy packed lunch.
Update Note: This recipe was updated in July 2022 with a better dressing recipe! If you preferred the older version, I served it with Cucumber Tahini Dressing and Arugula Pesto on top. The new dressing is a hybrid of the two, so you only have to prepare one sauce to achieve a delicious flavor.
If you try this quinoa bowl recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it!
Questions and Reviews
Just wanted to say I made your Best Pot Luck Lentil Salad for a pot luck dinner last evening & it was delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
Megan, You showed a photo of a delicious chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, vegan and GF! But no recipe? Where can I find the recipe?
I was wondering the same thing – lol!
Sorry, the recipes for the cake and frosting are both in my new cookbook– so they will be available to you in just about 4 weeks! 🙂
Love roasting veggies and throwing different combinations together each day for lunch or dinner. Can’t wait to try the dressing recipes!!
This sounds amazing! What meat or method of prep for meat would you use in addition to this recipe? Thank you!!
I hate handling meat, so I throw it in my Instant Pot! I drizzle the bottom with olive oil, dump a few frozen organic chicken breasts on top, sprinkle with salt, and hit the “poultry” button– so easy!
Thank you!! I’m exactly the same with handling meat. Ugh. I need an instant pot! 😉
I’d been eyeing this recipe since it posted and finally found the time to tackle it last night. And although I failed miserably at following directions, I am really loving this recipe! I have two excuses for messing up — I’ve been sick and my neighbor dropped by and was talking to me while I was cooking — and although I completely forgot to add the red pepper and green onions, it was a lovely way to segue back to eating salads from my winter of discontent and all piping hot lunches at work. I did make a couple of substitutions for allergy reasons, (vinegar for lemon juice and sunflower seeds for walnuts), and will need to play with the vinegar ration a bit next time. Maybe I’ll try adding Ume? I think that would be really nice now that I think of it. I also have left over curry for dinner that I need to eat that I’ll put on a bed of quinoa, so instead of quinoa here I added in black beans with complemented the sweet potatoes really well. I also forgot to add balsamic vinegar to the Brussels sprouts, and I will definitely try to remember that next time because I think it would have been a nice counter-balance. Meghan, thanks for getting me to fall back in love with salad!
This is delicious! I made this last week and had to do it again this week. The dressings are also great dips for my fresh veggies. I’m loving it all! Thank you….
Hi Megan, this recipe looks amazing & I definitely want to try it! Quick question though, what is the best method of reheating the leftovers? I try to avoid the microwave, & I think I read in one of your blogs that you do as well, so what method of reheating this recipe do you use?
Thanks so much!
I often eat my leftovers cold as a packed lunch, but if you want to reheat them, I usually just use the stove top. A skillet for the veggies and a small pot for the quinoa (or you could just sauté it all together!). I’ve also spread things thinly onto a pan and placed it under the broiler as a sort of “microwave” effect– everything is usually very hot in about 2 minutes!
Okay, great! Thanks!
My husband and I made this on Meal prep Sunday for our lunches this week and it is absolutely delicious! The dressings really make this really tasty.
Do you serve these cold or hot? And if you do both, do you prefer it one way over the other?
We made these a couple weeks ago and wouldn’t change a thing! Love how healthy and easy this recipe is! We had plenty for left overs to have for lunches the rest of the week. My husband loved the dressing too!! : )
Your MAKE-AHEAD DETOX ROASTED VEGETABLE QUINOA BOWLS are so delicious! I used arugula as the leafy green, and red cabbage & cucumber as the raw veggies. SO delcious, and making the sauces was easy. Thank you!
I make this all the time (I just sub ranch for the tahini). My family loves it!!!
Looking forward to trying this Creamy Pesto recipe, as quinoa bowls are one of my favorite meals.
Where do you buy your tahini? Do you have a favorite brand?
I usually buy tahini from Whole Foods, so I’ve been using their 365 brand of tahini lately. Soom tahini is VERY similar in taste and texture, or you can use Artisana brand, which is much thicker in texture and has a mild flavor.
This looks so good! How long will the dressing last? Thanks
It should keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Delicious and healthy. I love to meal prep on Sunday so I can be sure to eat well and fast during my busy workweek. My husband loved the dressing as well. We will be making this on repeat.
I could drink the dressing it’s so good! I used whatever veggies I had in my fridge and the dressing was so quick to whip up. Love this quick, easy, and healthy meal!