Buddha Bowls, also known as Macro Bowls, have appeared on food trend lists for several years now. So what exactly is a Buddha Bowl?

The all-in-one meal typically features greens, raw or roasted vegetables, a cooked grain, some sort of protein, nuts or seeds, and a dressing.

The combinations are endless and can take you around the world and probably six or seven continents, all in a bowl. Whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of veggies make this a healthy meal option for a packable lunch or a nourishing and satisfying dinner at the end of a busy day.

Buddha Bowls are typically vegetarian or vegan, but some prefer to add fish, chicken, or beef. Here’s a look at the foundations of Buddha Bowls.


Most Buddha Bowls include dark leafy greens such as spinach, mixed leaf lettuce, or kale. The greens may be raw or lightly cooked. Greens are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and phytochemicals such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. Eating just one serving per day can help support heart health.

The magnesium content and low glycemic index of leafy greens make them ideal for helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. The vitamin K in greens supports bone health. In fact, osteocalcin present in dark leafy greens can help promote proper bone mineralization and can help reduce occasional bone discomfort.

Beta-carotene, which can be converted to vitamin A, supports immune function, while lutein, zeaxanthin, and carotenoids help support eye and vision health.

Bowls with different grains in them


Most Buddha Bowls contain some type of grain such as rice, quinoa, bulgur, or even an ancient grain such as fareek. Whole grains, unlike refined grains, have not been stripped of bran or fiber. This fiber is important for digestive health and helps delay the breakdown of starch into glucose, which can support healthy blood sugar levels.

Fiber can also support healthy cholesterol levels to maintain arterial health and proper circulatory function. In addition, whole grains are a source of phytochemicals and essential minerals, including magnesium, selenium, and copper, supporting heart, digestive, and liver health.

Cauliflower Rice

For those counting carbs or calories, cauliflower rice has become a popular alternative to grains.

Cauliflower contains several beneficial nutrients, such as fiber and numerous vitamins, including 77% of the RDI for vitamin C. Cauliflower is a nutrient-dense alternative to carbohydrates and contains several antioxidants.

Cauliflower is also a good source of choline, a hard-to-get mineral that supports heart, brain, and liver health, metabolism, maintains cell membranes, supports a healthy nervous system, and helps the body synthesize DNA.

Garbanzo beans

Garbanzo Beans

While Buddha Bowls may contain chicken or other animal-sourced protein, these all-in-one meals are commonly appropriate for vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based diets. Plant-based protein sources may include legumes such as lentils, tofu, tempeh, beans, hemp or chia seeds, or nuts.

Garbanzo beans or chickpeas are a popular ingredient in Buddha Bowls. One of the first legumes in history, these nutritional powerhouses are a good source of plant-based protein and one cup of 12.5 grams of fiber.

In the vitamin department, garbanzo beans are an excellent source of B vitamins, including folate and riboflavin, essential for the reproductive, cardiovascular, brain, and nervous systems, as well as red blood cell production. Just one cup of chickpeas gives you almost 90% of the recommended intake for folate.

Hummus is another popular addition to Buddha Bowls. The Middle Eastern dip or spread is typically made from cooked garbanzo beans blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon, garlic, and salt.


Tempeh is another healthy plant-based protein featured in many Buddha Bowls. It’s made from soybeans that have been fermented or broken down by microorganisms, which makes it a good source of probiotics as well as protein and other vitamins.

One cup of tempeh contains a quarter of the calcium in one glass of whole milk. The isoflavones in tempeh and other soy products may help support healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels already within normal range and reduce occasional oxidative stress.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

One of the favorite additions to Buddha Bowls, sweet potatoes provide over 100% of the daily recommended intake for beta-carotene. This carotenoid converts in the body to vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that can help support eye health. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium.


This versatile paste made from sesame seeds is a popular dressing ingredient for Buddha Bowls. Tahini is a good source of minerals, including phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium, iron, and methionine, which support the liver’s detoxification processes.

Tahini is also an excellent source of calcium, vitamin E, and B vitamins. In addition, the protein in tahini is 20% complete, which makes it better assimilated than most nuts.

The high alkaline mineral content makes tahini easy to digest, and the paste is high in unsaturated (beneficial) fat.

Tantalize your taste buds with one or more of these delicious Buddha Bowl recipes. Maybe you'll even be inspired to create a few of your own!

Colorful buddha bowl with quinoa and garbanzo beans

1. Avocado Quinoa Harvest Bowl

♦ Arugula
♦ Cooked Quinoa
♦ Sautéed Brussels Sprouts
♦ Pepitas
♦ Avocado, Sliced
♦ Tahini

2. Sweet Potato Taco Bowl

♦ Chili powder, paprika, cumin, kosher salt, oregano, garlic, and onion powder
♦ Cayenne pepper, optional
♦ Sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
♦ Black beans
♦ Corn
♦ Cherry tomatoes
♦ Avocado, sliced

Optional Toppings: Sour cream, jalapeños, sliced green onion, chopped cilantro leaves, lime slices, crumbles feta, etc.

Masala chickpea bowl

3. Masala Chickpea Bowl

♦ Masala chickpeas
♦ Coconut oil 
♦ Onions, sliced
♦ Garlic, minced
♦ Carrot, chopped into 2-inch pieces
♦ Red bell pepper, chopped
♦ Grated ginger
♦ Garam masala, turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika
♦ Cooked chickpeas
♦ Quinoa
♦ Cooked spinach leaves

Optional Toppings: Red cabbage Cashews Parsley Coriander Crushed red pepper

4. Easy Southwest Buddha Bowl

♦ Baby kale
♦ Black beans
♦ Corn
♦ Bell pepper, sliced
♦ Pumpkin seeds
♦ Tomatillo salsa
♦ Whole milk plain Greek yogurt
♦ Crushed corn tortilla chips

VARIATION: Add crumbled feta cheese or shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Or add sliced avocado and cooked whole grains such as quinoa, bulgur or wild rice.

Buddha bowl

5. Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Chickpea Bowl

♦ Cooked quinoa
♦ Butternut squash, roasted
♦ Broccoli, roasted
♦ Brussels sprouts, roasted
♦ Chickpeas
♦ Cumin
♦ Shelled edamame beans
♦ Sauteed or cooked spinach
♦ Purple cabbage
♦ Shredded carrots
♦ Toasted sesame seeds, for garnishing


♦ Avocado
♦ Full fat coconut milk (canned)
♦ Freshly squeezed lime juice 
♦ Sea salt

6. Thai Tempeh Bowl

♦ Mixed greens
♦ Seasoned, cooked tempeh
♦ Freekah (or quinoa, wild rice)
♦ Red bell pepper
♦ Shredded purple cabbage
♦ Roasted sweet potato
♦ Chopped avocado


♦ Cashew butter
♦ Coconut milk
♦ Coconut aminos (or soy sauce, tamari)
♦ Rice vinegar
♦ Red curry paste

For tempeh: Chop into cubes and marinate in coconut aminos, sesame oil, rice vinegar for 10 minutes. Cook in a medium frying pan on medium heat for about 10 minutes until golden and crispy.

For freekah: Place 1/2 cup freekeh and 1 1/2 cups of water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. 

For sauce: Add cashew butter, coconut milk, coconut aminos, rice vinegar, and red curry paste in a small bowl. Whisk vigorously till combined.

Thai tempeh bowl

7. Coconut Jasmine Rice and Sesame Tofu Bowl


♦ Jasmine rice
♦ Light coconut milk
♦ Water


♦ Organic tofu
♦ Sesame oil
♦ Soy sauce
♦ Rice wine vinegar
♦ Maple syrup
♦ Oil for cooking


♦ Thinly sliced cabbage
♦ Thinly sliced radishes
♦ White vinegar
♦ Water
♦ Salt
♦ Sugar

Other Toppings: Sliced avocado, sliced cucumber, shredded carrots, edamame 

8. Buddha Bowl with Almond Turmeric Aioli

♦ Cooked quinoa or brown rice
♦ Dark leafy greens like chopped kale, spinach or arugula
♦ Radish, sliced
♦ English cucumber
♦ Cooked, diced sweet potato or butternut squash (can be frozen and defrosted)
♦ Shredded carrots
♦ Roasted, diced beets
♦ Shredded cabbage
♦ Black sesame seeds
♦ Chopped, roasted almonds
♦ Sliced scallions
♦ Aioli
♦ Lime wedge


♦ Almond butter
♦ Olive oil
♦ Garlic
♦ Turmeric 
♦ Pinch cayenne pepper
♦ Lime juice
♦ Pinch sea salt

Sweet potato Chickpea Bowl

9. Sweet Potato Chickpea Bowl


♦ Olive, melted coconut, or grapeseed oil
♦ Red onion, sliced in wedges
♦ Sweet potatoes, halved
♦ Broccolini
♦ Kale


♦ Chickpeas
♦ Cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt & pepper, oregano, turmeric


♦ Tahini
♦ Maple syrup
♦ Lemon, juiced
♦ Hot water to thin

10. Wild Rice, Squash, and Mushroom Bowl


♦ Butternut squash
♦ Delicata squash
♦ Crimini or button mushroom caps
♦ Olive oil spray
♦ Liquid aminos
♦ Thyme, rosemary, salt & pepper


♦ Great northern white beans
♦ Liquid aminos
♦ Pepper


♦ Tahini
♦ Non-dairy milk
♦ Lemon juice
Maple syrup
Liquid aminos
♦ Ground ginger
♦ Garlic powder


♦ Cooked wild rice
♦ Greens of choice
♦ Avocado, diced
♦ Pickled red cabbage

Falafels on a plate

11. Falafel, Cauliflower, and Carrot Bowl


♦ Carrots
♦ Cauliflower
♦ Olive oil
♦ Cumin
♦ Salt and pepper to taste


♦ Simple 5 Ingredient Baked Falafel
♦ Spinach
♦ Chopped red cabbage
Jalapeño, cut into slices
♦ Crushed pistachios
♦ Tahini, lemon juice, honey, and/or olive oil for drizzling


♦ Cooked lentils
♦ Fresh cilantro leaves and stems
♦ Fresh parsley leaves and stems
♦ Half a jalapeño (if you like spicy – leave ribs and seeds!)
♦ Olive oil
♦ Garlic
♦ Lemon juice
♦ Salt
♦ Flour


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse all ingredients except flour in a food processor until combined. The mixture should form semi-dry crumbles that stick together when you press them.

Stir in the flour – just one tablespoon at a time, until it’s just dry enough to handle. Form into 9 patties and bake for 18 minutes. Remove from oven and use in salads, sandwiches, bowls, etc. Refrigerate for a few days or freeze.

A glass jar with lemons and a bowl of herbs

12. Moroccan Couscous, Chickpeas, and Olives Bowl

♦ Uncooked couscous or quinoa 
♦ Cooked chickpeas
♦ Cherry tomatoes, quartered
♦ Cucumber
♦ Zucchini, sliced thickly
♦ Eggplant, sliced thickly
♦ Black olives
♦ Fresh mint, chopped thinly
♦ Pomegranate seeds only
♦ Garlic cloves, finely chopped
♦ Salt & pepper
♦ Olive oil
♦ Chili
Sweet paprika
Preserved lemons

QUICK-PRESERVED LEMONS (Make at least a day ahead)

♦ Unwaxed lemons
♦ Lemon juice
♦ Crushed garlic clove
♦ Chili
♦ Sea salt
♦ Sugar


Scrub lemons very well. If they have a wax coating, immerse them in boiling water for a few minutes to dissolve it. Cut them into half lengthwise and then into very thin slices, as thin as you can.

Pound 1 tsp of salt and chili in a pestle and mortar until you get a thick paste.
Place chili paste, the rest of the salt, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Add lemon slices and rub the sugar-salt mixture into them. Stick crushed garlic clove into the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least one day prior to use.

A delicious vegetarian buddha bowl

The Bottom Line

Buddha Bowls are a healthy trendsetter and can be adjusted to suit a variety of tastes, as well as dietary preferences. By switching out ingredients, these all-in-one meals can work for a range of diets, from Paleo and ketogenic to plant-based and gluten-free.

Filled with greens, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, Buddha Bowls are typically an excellent source of antioxidants, micro- and macronutrients. These meals may be prepped ahead of time by cleaning and chopping vegetables, preparing grains ahead of time, and getting dressings or other ingredients ready to go.