Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowls

I recently heard the word “flexitarian” used to describe a fellow food blogger’s eating habits. After learning more about the word, it seems to describe my diet perfectly. I eat vegetarian most of the time, reserving meat only for when I really crave it. In my case, that means I’m eating meat once or twice a week (sometimes less). My husband is the same way. Growing up in Israel, his mom cooked lots of vegetarian dishes like eggplant, hummus, and shakshuka. One of his favorite snacks was a simple slice of freshly baked bread toasted on the stovetop and dipped in olive oil and salt. We’re happiest with a simple dinner of eggplant stew or lentils with rice. Our eating habits change around the holidays, when we tend to splurge a bit. I love cholent or a well-cooked brisket on occasion. But generally speaking, being a flexitarian feels right to my body. I don’t have trouble staying at a healthy weight, my cholesterol tests always come back perfect, I have lots of energy and I feel great.

While I love eating flexitarian-style, I can’t eat too much soy, which is a major meat-free protein source. Soy negatively effects my hormones, so I can only eat it sparingly. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been trying to work more quinoa into my diet; it’s a clean and healthy vegetarian source of protein. Native to South America, this ancient seed was once called “the gold of the Incas,” and was fed to their warriors to increase stamina. It’s been cultivated in the Andes for centuries, and was a major agricultural commodity in Inca and Aztec society. Only recently, quinoa has been “rediscovered” here in America, showing up on health food market shelves across the country. Quinoa is closely related to spinach; much like spinach, it is packed with nutrients. It is a terrific source of protein, amino acids, insoluble fiber, magnesium, riboflavin, and phytonutrients. Regular consumption of quinoa can improve your cardiovascular health, reduce the frequency of migraine headaches, and even decrease your risk of certain cancers. It’s also gluten free, which is helpful to people with Celiac disease and those who are on gluten-free diets.

With Cinco de Mayo coming up, I decided to feature a few Mexican-style dishes this week. This Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowl is the perfect flexitarian lunch or dinner. It’s a deconstructed burrito, loosely based on Chipotle’s burrito bowl. I’ve replaced rice with cilantro lime quinoa to add protein and nutrients. Black beans are simmered with onions, garlic, and spices for added flavor. I’ve listed several optional toppings, so you can make this bowl your own. Make it vegan-style with toppings like pico de gallo, tomatoes, corn, or guacamole. If you don’t mind adding dairy, try shredded jack or cheddar cheese, lowfat sour cream, or even Greek yogurt. Spice it up with hot sauce or sriracha. It’s good stuff, and loaded with nutrients… a simple, tasty meal you can feel good about!

Recommended Products:

Citrus Juicer

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Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowls


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (mild)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (spicy)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • Salt

Optional Topping Ingredients

  • Grated cheddar or jack cheese
  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • Pico de gallo or salsa
  • Diced seeded tomatoes
  • Hot sauce or sriracha
  • Sliced avocado
  • Guacamole
  • Corn
Servings: 4
Kosher Key: Pareve or Dairy
  • Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a mesh strainer or sieve, drain.
  • Pour quinoa into a saucepan along with 2 cups of water. Bring the quinoa to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover the pot. Let the quinoa simmer for about 20 minutes till it becomes tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. Keep a close eye to make sure the quinoa doesn't burn.
  • While quinoa is cooking, heat 1 tbsp of oil in another saucepan over medium heat. Pour minced onion into the saucepan and saute for a few minutes till it softens and begins to turn brown. Add the minced garlic to the pot and let it saute for 1-2 minutes longer till aromatic.
  • Add the black beans to the pot of onions along with 1/2 cup water, 2 tbsp of chopped fresh cilantro, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Let the beans simmer for 15 minutes till the liquid is mostly evaporated. Stir in 2 tbsp of fresh lime juice. Season with salt to taste.
  • When the quinoa is fully cooked, remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Use the fork to mix in 2 tbsp of chopped cilantro and 2 tbsp fresh lime juice. Season with salt to taste.
  • Assemble your burrito bowls. Divide the cilantro lime quinoa between four bowls.
  • Top each portion of quinoa with 1/4 cup of shredded lettuce.
  • Top each portion of lettuce with simmered black beans.
  • Top the black beans with your choice of Optional Topping Ingredients (ideas listed above).
  • Serve warm.

Comments (138)Post a Comment

    1. Yay Em! A margarita will absolutely make this meal. :) So sorry to hear about 7Live. Do keep in touch and let me know where you land! xo

    2. Agreed ; can’t wait to try this ! I was looking for something other than soy for protein

  1. Perfect idea at just the right time too. I think my husband will be happy with it. And maybe even a child or two. I have an obstacle race in 2 weeks and was thinking up ideas of what might be good for a “day-before-the-race” meal – this sounds just right.

  2. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Made this tonight – delicious! I used spinach instead of lettuce and topped it with tofu I pan fried with taco seasoning.

  3. This sounds like such a perfect meal! Not too heavy, but with tons of nutrients. I’ll definitely be making this at some point – I’m a huge quinoa fan as well! It’s so good.

  4. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I love this. I bought some quinoa during Pesach and have been staring at it not sure what to do with it first. The introductory dish of a new food in my house has to be good as my kids and hubby do not allow for second impressions. This is a great first recipe. Thank you!

    I noticed you used canned beans. I keep a few cans in the pantry (we call them “emergency beans”) but I discovered the joy of an electric pressure cooker about 2 years ago and rarely have to use them. I make a big pot of beans weekly. Dried beans to yummy goodness in 55 minutes. I’m wondering if the quinoa can also go in a pressure cooker. Ever tried it?

    1. Hi Cassandra, my husband is anti-pressure cooker so I’ve never bought one– they can be dangerous if you don’t keep a close eye on the cooking time. I do love the idea of a pressure cooker, and I probably would have bought one by now if he wasn’t so against it. I do like the idea of using dried beans, if you have the time that’s definitely the way to go. Since this is a quick lunch-type meal or weekday dinner I usually use canned. I try to buy organic beans in cans that are BPA-free, though, and I always rinse the beans to get rid of excess salt.

    1. How did I not see this comment till just now?? Haha thanks Lori! Neat to see this a year later, now that we’re not just blogging acquaintances but friends. :)

  5. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    YUM!! I didn’t know all the health benefits to quinoa … I’ve just been eating it because it’s delicious :) This is a great dish … so bright and festive … and even better it’s so healthy. LOVE IT!

  6. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Cassandra, I have a vegetarian pressure cooker cookbook, “Cooking Under Pressure” I followed the directions in it for the quinoa and it came out great: 1 min on high pressure then 10 min of natural pressure release.

    I adapted the recipe for a pot luck at Temple tonight. Doubled it and put it in an aluminum Lasagna pan with most of the optional additions on the side. Looks beautiful!! We have a Gluten intolerant congregant, so I’m always on the look out for good gluten free recipes.

    1. Elaine, see my comment above. It was a major success at the potluck. I just layered everything in an aluminum lasagna pan and had optionals on or next to the pans. I served it a room temp because I had Romaine lettuce as a layer and would wilt too much.

      Very yummy. Making it again tonight.

  7. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Made the quinoa black bean bowls. It was terrific, even though I didn’t have any lettuce. Added fruit salsa to the top. Delicious. Next time I will try some of your other topping options. Re: the comment about cooking quinoa in the pressure cooker. Of course you can, but it really doesn’t take long in a pot on the stove, and you can even do it in the microwave.

  8. I made this for dinner tonight, and it was FANTASTIC! Thanks for sharing yet another great recipe; I already can’t wait to make it again :)

  9. I make something similar to this all the time!!!!! I absolutely love it! And if I have tofu, I throw that it in there too! Top it off with some hot sauce, perfect. :)

  10. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I started out as a “flexitarian” many years ago, before becoming a full-on vegetarian. There are so many great foods out there that meat really can be an afterthought.

    And I’ve loved quinoa for a long, long time, but I had no idea it was closely related to spinach. Thanks, as always, for the education!

  11. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I very much enjoy your blog. Another great addition to this bowl is cubed sweet potatoes. The flavors of the chili powder and cayenne pepper are really nice with sweet potato.

  12. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I have seen so many recipes this Spring that included black beans, which are so good for you. This one really looks yummy! Can’t wait to try it!

  13. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hi! I found your site on Pinterest last night. This meal was delicious and easy. I’ve been looking through your recipes and they are fantastic. Can’t wait to try more! Lani

  14. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I stumbled across this recipe from a Facebook post of a friend of a friend of a friend (gotta love that ticker thing on the side of FB, ha!) Anyway, I bought all the goods last night, and we practically inhaled our dinner yesterday. We had leftovers this evening and it was just as good. This will definitely be a staple in our house. So quick, easy, inexpensive, and most important, healthy! Thank you so much for such a great meal!

    1. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
      My daughter made this and it was fantastic!!!! Love this recipe – reminds me a bit of the Chipotle burrito bowls. Perfect meal for summer lunch or dinner.

  15. Thank you for recipes like this. I need to avoid soy too, so I really appreciate vegetarian recipes that don’t have tofu in them. I’m looking forward to trying this!

  16. I am looking forward to making this tonight. I will use baby organic arugula in place of lettuce. I can’t wait to try it.

  17. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    My husband and I tried these a few weeks ago and we LOVE the combination of flavors. So delicious! I love how Quinoa takes on the flavor of whatever seasonings you put with it, especially in this dish — it soaks up that lime and cilantro wonderfully!

  18. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I am eating this right now and I’m having to force myself not to inhale it! The cilantro adds so much flavor and it is just an amazingly good dish! So clean and healthy..just what I was looking for!

  19. Thank you so much for this refreshing recipe! I love Chipotle burrito bowls and I have made them at home in the past, but the quinoa is the perfect upgrade from rice as a gluten-free pescaterian– I am always seeking additional protein in my diet.

  20. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Just made this and am loving it. I originally thought this recipe had the added bonus of yummy quinoa for my one year old (she loves it) but she actually ended up loving the black beans. When I’ve tried to give them to her before, she just spit them right out. But she ate these ones. Thank you!

  21. Just made this tonight for my family. It was light and refreshing. I just found your website last night and this dish caught my eye. Thanks for sharing.

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