Best Buddha Bowl

The ultimate nutrient-packed vegan buddha bowl! Fresh veggies, beans, sauerkraut, and a vibrant turmeric tahini sauce make it hearty and flavorful.

Buddha bowl

Where did the name ‘Buddha Bowl’ come from, anyway? If you’ve been on Instagram in the last 5 years, chances are you’ve seen these colorful bowls, packed with plant-based goodness like grains, legumes, steamed and raw veggies, and flavorful sauces. According to a 2017 Epicurious article by Katherine Sacks, the name could come from how Buddha collected alms, using a large bowl to gather small bits of food that the residents of whatever village he was staying in could afford to share.

Before we started calling these colorful bowls “Buddha Bowls,” I knew them as macro bowls. When we lived in Austin, I headed to a macrobiotic restaurant called Casa de Luz whenever I needed a bit of a recharge. Instead of having a fixed menu, Casa de Luz offered one rotating meal per day. It would always be some type of buddha bowl, with a grain, a legume, blanched leafy greens, steamed vegetables, a pickled vegetable, and a delicious sauce. It may sound limiting, but I’ve honestly had some of the best sauce and vegetable pairings of my life there. Since I can’t visit Casa de Luz regularly now that we live in Chicago, I used their basic template to build my own buddha bowl recipe.

Buddha bowl recipe ingredients

My Buddha Bowl Recipe Ingredients

To make a homemade version of a Caza de Luz macro bowl, I used one item from each of these categories:

  • A delicious sauce – I made a vibrant turmeric tahini sauce. It’s my favorite type of creamy sauce in that it doesn’t require a blender, so you can stir it together in no time. And if you have leftovers, you’re in luck! This colorful sauce tastes great on everything.
  • Cooked vegetables – Roasted sweet potatoes were my pick.
  • Raw vegetables – Watermelon radish, rainbow carrots, and red cabbage give this buddha bowl recipe a huge pop of color!
  • Leafy greens – Bring on the kale.
  • A legume – I chose my go-to plant-based protein: chickpeas!
  • A grain – I used brown rice, but if you don’t have any on hand, feel free to substitute white rice.
  • A pickled vegetable – Sauerkraut! I love Bubbies.

These components all keep nicely in the fridge if you want to meal prep this recipe for lunch during the week. Find my best meal prep tips here and more of my favorite healthy lunch recipes here!

Vegan buddha bowl

Vegan Buddha Bowl Recipe Variations

I love this recipe as written, but feel free to customize your buddha bowl. Here are a few of my favorite variations:

Let me know what variations you try!

Buddha bowl recipe

More Favorite Plant-Based Recipes

If you love this buddha bowl recipe, find 85 more delicious vegan recipes here, or try one of these healthy bowls next:

Best Buddha Bowl

rate this recipe:
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 35 mins
Serves 4
Prep these simple components ahead of time to pack this healthy buddha bowl for lunch, or make it for an easy weeknight dinner! Vegan and gluten-free.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 watermelon radish or 2 red radishes
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • 8 kale leaves, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice or quinoa
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas or cooked lentils
  • ¾ cup sauerkraut or other fermented veggie
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds or hemp seeds
  • Turmeric Tahini Sauce, for serving
  • Microgreens, optional
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Toss the sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread onto the baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Thinly slice the radish into rounds (this is best done on a mandoline), and use a vegetable peeler to peel the carrots into ribbons.
  • Toss the radish slices, carrots, and shredded cabbage with a squeeze of lemon. Set aside.
  • Place the kale leaves into a large bowl and toss with a squeeze of lemon and a few pinches of salt. Use your hands to massage the leaves until they become soft and wilted and reduce in the bowl by about half.
  • Assemble individual bowls with the brown rice, chickpeas, kale, carrots, radishes, cabbage, sweet potatoes, sauerkraut, sesame seeds, and microgreens, if using. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the Turmeric Tahini Sauce.

 

38 comments

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  1. This looks great!!! I’ve been searching for watermelon radish….can’t seen to find it anywhere!!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.28.2017

      I’ve been seeing them at my Whole Foods lately – they seem to vary by region and season – hopefully you can find them later this spring! (although they’re not completely necessary for this recipe, they’re just pretty!)

      • Catherine
        04.22.2017

        5 stars
        I imagine different regions and stores/supplies dictate what we can buy and I’m pretty sure if you want the taste & texture of the original recipe subbing regular sweet smaller spring radishes would be more than okay!

  2. All through this post I was saying Yes, Yes, Yes! I love that Ayurvedic proverb too – should put it up in my office. And a big yes to steaming veggies and adding mung beans to this bowl! Will definitely be making this soon. Thanks Jeanine!

    • 5 stars
      Made it. Loved it. Will repeat. Especially loved the sauce. Was pleasantly surprised it didn’t need sweetness from honey or maple. Thought the flavors would be slightly bitter without but I was wrong. Excellent!

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        04.04.2017

        Hi Katie, I’m so glad you loved it! xo

        • Marge Teilhaber
          01.24.2018

          The lack of sweetener is what attracts me to this dressing. Can’t wait to try it. Will be back to comment! (I despise sugar anything with savory!)

  3. This looks so delicious and healthy! Love eating colorful food too!

  4. Will definitely try this – sounds tasty and healthy 💪

  5. Lindsay from withsaltandpepper.com
    03.28.2017

    This sounds so fresh and clean! I love tahini sauces and this sound delicious. I will definitely have to try this out!

  6. Izzy from pinchofdelight.com
    03.29.2017

    These look so pretty!
    Izzy | Pinch of delight

  7. nora ibrahem saleh
    03.29.2017

    lovely blog its so healthy and i think tasty also

  8. Misbamia from comocomodiet.wordpress.com
    03.29.2017

    I love this kind of bowls where you have everything you need on it!! They always make me feel very good.

  9. Maria from almostproperly.com
    03.31.2017

    I need a restaurant like that in my life!!! Eliminate the choices – we have too many – and just feed me something clean, nutritious, and delicious! Tahini is the best. I can’t get over how beautiful this bowl you created is!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.02.2017

      Thank you! Ha, yes, sometimes zero choices is best!

  10. 5 stars
    Yum! Boyfriend and I switched to being vegetarian 2 months ago, your blog is a life saver! You can only eat Tofu so many times. First recipe we’ve tried, can’t wait to try more! SPIRALIZED DAIKON “RICE NOODLE” BOWL and QUINOA APRICOT & ARUGULA SALAD next!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.11.2017

      I’m so glad you both enjoyed this!!

  11. Aidan
    04.15.2017

    Hi Jeanine!

    Looking forward to trying this soon. 🙂 I haven’t seen any watermelon radishes pop up yet this year – it’s still a bit chilly here and I tend to see them later in the spring. Anyway, I was wondering if you have any ideas for substitutes – maybe a handful of thinly sliced red radishes?

    Thank you so much,

    Aidan

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.16.2017

      yep – thinly sliced red radishes would be just fine here!

      • Aidan
        04.22.2017

        5 stars
        I’m munching on this right now and wanted to check back in because it’s really amazing! The sauce is super delightful, and now I know that I like mung beans. Thanks for the recipe. 🙂

        • Jeanine Donofrio
          04.24.2017

          Hi Aidan – I’m so glad you’re enjoying the recipe!

  12. Geri
    07.09.2017

    5 stars
    This was yummy, thank you 🙂 Loved the dressing

  13. Sorrel
    10.04.2017

    5 stars
    So yummy. Just made with leftover quinoa, lentils, steamed broccoli, and added some steamed carrots, sauteed beet greens, the sauce as written, and sauerkraut. Incredible. Thanks!

  14. mm
    04.24.2018

    Thank you! Your turmeric tahini sauce was delicious with beets!

  15. Billy from spoiledtoperfection.com
    10.29.2018

    5 stars
    These bowls look so great! Definitely excited to make these at home the next time I hit the grocery store. Thank you so much for sharing!

  16. phyllis
    02.06.2019

    Can’t wait to make all these salads. How long does the avocado/tahini dressing last in the refrig?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.06.2019

      Hi Phyllis – the avocado sauce will last 2-3 days (since avocados brown fast). The turmeric tahini sauce in this post will last about 5 days. I hope you enjoy!

  17. Jeanine Donofrio
    06.07.2019

    Hi Sara, I’m so glad you loved the bowls!

  18. Emily
    08.15.2019

    Hey! Do you have any recommendations of what to add to this if it gets too watery? I want it to be more of a dip and less of a dressing,…I think the tahini I used may have been too liquidy. Thanks in advance!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.18.2019

      Hi Emily, this one is definitely more of a dressing than a dip. To thicken it, you could add chickpeas and blend it into a food processor so that it’s thicker, more like hummus. I hope that helps!

  19. Lily
    01.13.2020

    Hi Jeanine,

    I loved the original sauce recipe you had here. Any chance you would share it? I know you have the link to a new version but I would prefer the old version.

    Thanks,
    Lily

  20. Katie
    08.04.2020

    Hi! Love all of your beautiful recipes! Can you please share a link to a couple of your favorite bowls to serve in and/or could recommend a size? Thank you! I understand if you’re not able to share that.

  21. Lisa H.
    08.20.2020

    Something like this is already on the menu once a week in my house (grain + bean + greens + assorted other sauteed vegetables), but I never really thought of adding raw or pickled vegetables to the mix. I don’t think I want sauerkraut on the chickpea/barley thing I’m eating now with a dollop of tzatziki, though, haha! – maybe pickled turnips like they put on shawarmas…

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.