Brimming with flavor, texture, and big, bold spices, these Southwest Bowls are a hearty meal that’s ready in no time! With easy substitutions, this can also be a protein-packed vegetarian dish that surely satisfies!

 southwest bowl

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There’s flavor in every bite of these amazing Southwest Bowls, and with a base of flavor-infused quinoa and oodles of interesting toppings, you can mix and match to make the bowl of your dreams!

Southwest Bowls

I love a good meaty meal, but I have a special fondness for lighter meals. And, when they’re infused with spices – like this one is – I never miss the meat. Perfect for meatless Mondays or whenever you want something a bit heartier, these Southwest Bowls really deliver!

sauce on quinoa bowls

Let me tell you about that sauce! Drizzled on top, it adds creaminess and a punch of well-balanced spicy flavor. It’s not too spicy – there’s some sweetness to temper the spice – and is it ever good! You can save any leftover dressing for your next leafy greens salad.

quinoa with sauce

Why I love this recipe

  • It’s hearty but light at the same time.
  • There’s flavor infused in every bite!
  • I can mix and match the toppings to make every serving different.
  • This looks great on a Big Board – put out all the toppings and let guests assemble their own customized bowl.

ingredients for southwest bowls

Gather these ingredients

  • Uncooked quinoa – I love using red quinoa from Trader Joe’s, but any kind will work.
  • Chicken broth
  • Adobo sauce – From canned chipotle chiles in adobo.
  • Ground cumin
  • Garlic powder
  • Minced garlic – From fresh garlic cloves.
  • Kosher salt
  • Canned black beans – Rinsed and drained.
  • Sweet corn kernels – Or fire-roasted corn; canned or frozen is fine.
  • Cherry tomatoes – Halved
  • Avocadoes – Peeled and diced.
  • Fresh cilantro – Chopped.
  • Radishes – Sliced thinly.

special sauce on quinoa bowls

To make the Chipotle Southwest Sauce:

  • Greek yogurt – Plain.
  • Mayonnaise – Any kind will work.
  • Olive oil – I like using extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Adobo sauce – From canned chipotles in adobo sauce.
  • Lime juice and zest – From a fresh lime.
  • Maple syrup – Real, not artificial syrup.
  • Kosher salt
  • Garlic powder
  • quinoa bowls

    How to make Southwest Bowls

    • Combine the dry quinoa, chicken broth, adobo sauce, cumin, garlic powder, minced garlic, and salt in a pan and bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the quinoa is fluffy and cooked. Let cool slightly.
    • Make the Chipotle Southwest Sauce by combining the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, olive oil, adobo sauce, lime juice and zest, maple syrup, salt and garlic powder in a bowl. Whisk well.
    • Add the quinoa, black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and a few slices of radish to each bowl. Top with a drizzle of the Chipotle Southwest Suace and enjoy warm, chilled, or at room temperature.

    how to make southwest bowls

    How to serve Southwest Bowls on a Big Board:

    • Fill a large bowl with the cooked and slightly cooled quinoa.
    • Add the black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, and radish to smaller bowls and set them around the board. 
    • Fill in the open areas of the board with a mix of blue and yellow corn chips.
    • Garnish the board with sprigs of cilantro.

    a bite of southwest bowls

    Tips & substitutions

    • Make these vegetarian Southwest Bowls by swapping the chicken stock with vegetable stock.
    • Use honey instead of maple syrup for a slightly different flavor profile.
    • Add whatever toppings you like! Diced jalapeno will add some kick, tortilla strips will add a bit of crunch, and sliced jicama will add a burst of freshness.
    • You can prep all of this ahead of time and then just assemble the bowls before serving.
    • Adobo sauce can be spicy – if you don’t like spicy food, start with half the adobo sauce and add more as needed.

    a bite of quinoa, veggies, sauce

    Serving suggestions

    Serving build-your-own-bowls is terrific and everything looks stunning on a Big Board! You don’t have to be quite so fancy, however. Instead, just serve your bowls along with Pineapple Mango Grilled Chicken Skewers for a bit more protein, or grilled tri-tip for a beefy addition.

    These bowls can be served hot, chilled, or at room temperature! And, they make a great to-go lunch. Just pack a serving up and take it to work and be the envy of your co-workers! Another veggie option is this Vegetarian Burrito Bowl Board!

     southwest bowls on big board


    Store any leftover ingredients in the fridge for 3-4 days. Keep all the components separate, if you can, for the best freshness and flavor. Once cut, the avocado won’t last more than 30 minutes without turning brown.


    More bowl recipes you may want to try:

    Acorn Squash Sprouted Rice Bowls

    Healthy Korean Beef Bowls

    Build your own Buddah Bowl

    Vegetarian Ramen Noodle Bowl

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    Southwest Bowls

    Optional to serve ingredients on the BIG BOARD.
    Brimming with flavor, texture, and big, bold spices, these Southwest Bowls are a hearty meal made with quinoa, that’s ready in no time!
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 20 minutes
    Total Time: 40 minutes
    Yield: 8
    Print Recipe Pin Recipe


    • 1 ½ cup dry, uncooked quinoa (we buy Trader Joe’s organic Red Quinoa)
    • 3 cups chicken broth, sub veg broth
    • 2 Tbsp. adobo sauce, from canned chipotle chiles in adobo
    • 2 Tbsp. ground cumin
    • 2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1 tsp. dried minced garlic
    • ½ tsp. kosher salt
    • 2 15 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 2 cups sweet corn or fire-roasted corn, canned or frozen
    • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 2 large ripe avocado, peeled and diced
    • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

    Chipotle Southwest Sauce

    • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
    • ¼ cup mayonnaise
    • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 Tbsp. adobo sauce, from canned chipotle chiles in adobo
    • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, juice from 1 large lime + 2 tsp zest
    • 3 tsp. maple syrup, you can use honey
    • 1 tsp. kosher salt
    • ½ tsp. garlic powder


    • Combine quinoa, chicken broth, adobo sauce, cumin, garlic powder, minced garlic, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low, and gently simmer, covered,16-20 minutes. The quinoa should be fluffy; fluff with a fork. Allow the quinoa to cool for 10 minutes.
    • Prepare Chipotle Southwest Sauce by combining all dressing ingredients and whisking together; set aside. Don’t forget to add the lime zest.
    • Prepare the remaining “bowl” ingredients in individual bowls. Optional to serve on a BIG BOARD for a “make your own bowl” dinner.
    • If serving on a big board, fill with a large bowl of quinoa, smaller bowls of beans, corn, avocados. You can lay the cherry tomatoes on the board, along with the chopped cilantro.
    • Fill in the open area of the board with a mix of blue and yellow corn chips.

    To make individual bowl:

    • To each bowl add quinoa, black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, and a few slices of radish. Drizzle Chipotle Southwest Sauce over each bowl. Enjoy warm, chilled, or closer to room temperature.
    Cuisine: southwest
    Course: Main Course
    Did you make this recipe?Tag @reluctantentertainer on Instagram and hashtag it #reluctantentertainer!

    bite of southwest bowls