Best Rice & Buddha Bowls To Order in 2021

It’s no longer impossible to find healthy food when you eat out – and not only that, but you can find dishes that accomodate even the strictest of diets. Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, keto, or paleo, bowls are usually the best way to go if you want to be able to customize all the ingredients in your dish. So, what the heck is a “bowl” anyway? It’s pretty much a modge podge of rice, beans, veggies, protein, and toppings like sauces and cheese, depending on the kind you order.

And fortunately, rice and Buddha bowls are grown in popularity over the past couple of years to a point where you can find that at almost any fast casual restaurant. The best part? You can substitute and add ingredients so you’re getting the perfect bowl for your cravings and your diet. Here’s the best places you can order rice and Buddha bowls in the New Year.

Chipotle Burrito Bowl

12 Healthy Fast Food Options | Chipotle Burrito Bowl | Fast Food Menu
Chipotle Burrito Bowl / Photo Courtesy of Chipotle

Chipotle’s Burrito Bowl is the OG rice bowl. It may not be Instagram worthy or filled with superfoods, but it’s still a delicious option if you’re in the mood for a cleaner takeout meal. You get to choose whatever protein you’d like, as well as rice, beans, fajita veggies, cheese, sour cream, guac, and more. I love getting guac or queso on the side with chips and dipping them in my bowl, and you can also ask for extra tortillas to make your own burrito or tacos. If you want to keep things low-carb, order your bowl as a salad without rice and with more greens.


Freshii Mediterranean Bowl

Calories: 420

Freshii specializes in serving nutritious and filling meals like salads, wraps, burritos, soups, and of course – bowls. There are six different bowls on their menu, but the Mediterranean Bowl is by far one of my favorites. This one is more of a Buddha bowl because it’s vegetarian, and it’s got quinoa, field greens, feta cheese, kalamata olives, almonds, red onions, cucumber, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, and red pepper sauce – all the classic Mediterranean necessities. If you want to add some protein, you can always get chicken or steak added to your bowl.


Baja Fresh Baja Bowl

Baja Fresh Baja Bowl
Baja Fresh Baja Bowl / Photo by sxates under the license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Calories: 700

Baja Fresh is a Mexican Grill that’s pretty similar to Chipotle or Qdoba in the fact that you can choose your ingredients when you order things like a bowl, salad, or burrito. They have more traditional options like enchiladas, tacos, and taquitos. As for their bowls, I always opt for the Baja Bowl, which is basically the same concept as Chipotle’s. You pick your choice of protein (steak, carnitas, white meat chicken, wild caught crispy wahoo, wild caught grilled wahoo, fire grilled shrimp), along with their classic Baja rice, black or pinto bean, roasted veggies, onions, cilantro and salsa verde. You can customize it however you’d like and top it with one of their many salsa bar offerings – 6 Chiles, Baja, Pico de Gallo, Mango, Molcajete, and Verde.


Panera Baja Bowl with Chicken

Calories: 630

When Panera came out with a line of warm grain bowls, it was game over. They’re all made with quinoa and rice, along with fresh and delicious veggies and protein. I’m a nut about looking at ingredients in the things I eat, and I have to say that Panera’s bowls are some of the cleanest options you can find when it comes to eating out. My go-to is the Baja Bowl with Chicken (but you can order it without the protein, too). It comes with cilantro lime brown rice and quinoa, chicken raised without antibiotics, black bean and corn salsa, salsa verde, red grape tomatoes, avocado, feta crumbles and Greek yogurt.

You can also get the bowl with steak or roasted turkey.


Starbucks Chicken & Quinoa Protein Bowl with Black Beans and Greens

Starbucks - Quinoa & Chicken Protein Bowl with Black Beans and Greens
Starbucks – Quinoa & Chicken Protein Bowl with Black Beans and Greens / Photo Courtesy of Starbucks

Calories: 420

I’ve always been a huge fan of Starbucks’ food, and their chicken & quinoa bowl never disappoints. It’s not made fresh like Panera’s or Chipotle’s, but it’s still a great option if you need a quick lunch or afternoon pick-me-up alongside your latte. The title pretty much says it all but this buddha bowl contains grilled chicken  with a chile vinaigrette, mixed with fresh greens, tomatoes, roasted corn, black beans, jicama, paprika and cotija. It’s on the smaller side, but it’s still pretty filling.


Sweet Green Crispy Rice Bowl

Calories: 635

If you ask me, Sweet Green is God’s gift to the Earth. It’s a smaller franchise mostly located on the west coast with a few locations in Chicago, Miami, Boston, and Philly. They’re all about fresh and clean ingredients, and their concise menu includes things like warm bowls, salads, and plates. The Crispy Rice Bowl is the perfect option if you’re craving Asian food but don’t want all the calories of traditional takeout. The dish features cabbage, cucumbers, basil, roasted almonds, crispy rice, warm wild rice, arugula, lime squeeze, and spicy cashew dressing, making it one of the most flavorful (and healthy!) options on this list.


Taco Bell Power Menu Bowl

Taco Bell Power Bowl
Taco Bell Power Bowl / Photo by The Impulsive Buy under LICENSE CC 2.0

Calories: 500

I know what you’re thinking – why is Taco Bell on a list with a bunch of other healthy fast food joints? I won’t claim that the Power Menu Bowl is as fresh and clean as something you can order at Sweet Green, but it is a great option if you’re looking for a healthy alternative from your regular Toasted Cheddar Chalupa. The Taco Bell Power Menu Bowl comes with chicken, cheese, seasoned rice, avocado ranch sauce, tomatoes, reduced fat sour cream, guacamole, black beans, lettuce, and it is fully customizable.


PF Chang’s Sweet & Sour Chicken Bowl

Calories: 860

PF Chang’s has nearly 10 rice bowls on their lunch menu, so it’s pretty hard for me to choose just one, but the Sweet & Sour Chicken Bowl hits the spot every single time. It contains Sweet & sour sauce, pineapple, onion, bell peppers, and ginger and is the perfect portion size for a mid-day meal. Similar to the Sweet & Sour option, the other bowls on the menu include protein, rice, veggies, and a traditional Asian sauce. Other rice bowls on the menu include:

  • Chang’s Spicy Chicken Bowl
  • Mongolian Beef Bowl
  • Crispy Honey Chicken Bowl
  • Crispy Honey Shrimp Bowl
  • Beef with Broccoli Bowl
  • Sesame Chicken Bowl
  • Ginger Chicken with Broccoli Bowl
  • Kung Pao Chicken Bowl
  • Kung Pao Shrimp Bowl


Qdoba Cauli-Mash Low-Carb Chicken Bowl

QDOBA Cauli-Mash Low-Carb Chicken Bowl
QDOBA Cauli-Mash Low-Carb Chicken Bowl

Calories: 500

The Cauli-Mash Low-Carb Chicken Bowl is a brand new item on Qdobas menu featuring the cauliflower-mash rice alternative, which contains fresh, roasted cauliflower, sour cream, fresh cilantro and pico de gallo. The warm bowl is also packed with grilled adobo chicken, fajita veggies, and additional toppings of your choice. It’s super flavorful but perfect for anyone watching their carb intake or on a keto diet. If you’ve tried this new dish, let me know what you think in the comments!


Moe’s Homewrecker Bowl

Calories: 733

This rice bowl isn’t for anyone who’s counting calories or wanting a light lunch. It’s a giant, savory dish with the choice of protein (Sirloin Steak, Natural White Meat Chicken, Adobo Chicken, Ground Beef, Pork, or organic Tofu), as well as rice, beans, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream and guac. You can add or sub toppings, but either way – you’re in for a treat.


Panda Express Bowl

Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken Recipe
Panda Express Bowl

Calories: Depends

Okay, so this isn’t your health-food buddha or rice bowl, but Panda Express’ entree bowl is the perfect portion size if you want to fill up without feeling stuffed. You get to select your favorite dish and side, like Orange Chicken and rice or Mushroom Chicken and lo mein noodles. I couldn’t pick just one combo since they’re all bomb, but drop me a note in the comments with your favorite Panda order.

CoreLife Eatery Korean BBQ Pork Warm Rice Bowl

Calories: 770

CoreLife Eatery is another fast casual dining place that’s whole-heartedly focused on serving clean, fresh ingredients. The newer franchise specializes in warm rice bowls, salads, and soups, and I usually order the Korean BBQ Pork Warm Rice Bowl when I want something healthy but super filling. It comes with purple rice, kimchi, cucumbers, spicy broccoli, carrots, sriracha sprouts, fried egg, slow-roasted pork. Get it with the Korean BBQ sauce and you WON’T be disappointed.


For more low carb options, check out these keto fast food meals.

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