Whoever created the concept of a burrito bowl is a genius. Sure, I love a regular burrito as much as the next person, but sometimes the added carbohydrates (in the form of the tortilla) render me too sleepy post-lunch. A burrito bowl, however, is customizable so I can add in extra lettuce, vegetables, or protein to fill me up instead, and it can even be made gluten-free. So I set out on a mission to make a burrito bowl that would come together in just one pan, with minimal fuss.
I like my burrito bowls to have rice, beans, and protein, but don't really want to cook each thing separately — especially when I'm making the bowls to bring for lunch. My solution is to cook the tomato-flavored rice in a large frying pan (make sure it's nonstick) so that I can nestle boneless chicken right into the pan and cook both at the same time.
After the chicken and rice are cooked, stir in canned black beans and frozen corn to heat through, then toss the cooked chicken with your favorite barbecue sauce for some zing. All that's left to do is figure out what toppings you like on your burrito bowls — I like crunchy lettuce, diced avocado, and some shredded cheese — but the fun part is letting everyone build their own!
One-Pan BBQ Chicken Burrito Bowls
For the chicken and rice:
8 ounces Roma tomatoes (about 2 or 3), cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, or mixture of both
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
Optional toppings: Shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, sour cream, diced avocado, salsa, hot sauce, diced green onions, shredded lettuce, crushed tortilla chips
For the chicken and rice: Place the tomatoes, broth, garlic, onion, 1/4 teaspoon of the cumin, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Measure the amount of purée; you should have 2 cups. If you don't have enough, add more chicken broth or water.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is fragrant and starts to crackle, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato purée and bay leaf, stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any stuck grains of rice, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin on both sides.
Add the chicken to the pan, nestling it into the rice. Make sure all the rice around the edges is submerged in purée. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer undisturbed until the rice is tender and the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, use a rubber spatula to push the rice at the edges of the pan into the simmering liquid so that it cooks evenly.
To finish: Remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board, scraping off any stuck grains of rice back into the pan. Stir the rice, sprinkle the corn over it, then add the black beans over the corn in an even layer. Cover again and let sit undisturbed for 10 minutes for the corn and beans to heat through and the rice to finish steaming.
Meanwhile, when the chicken is cool enough to handle but still warm, cut it into bite-sized pieces. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the barbecue sauce, and toss to combine.
Stir the rice mixture to incorporate the beans and corn and remove the bay leaf. Taste and season with salt as needed. Serve with the chicken and toppings.
- Make ahead: If you're bringing these burrito bowls for lunch, pack the rice, beans, and chicken together in a container that can be heated in the microwave. Pack any crunchy or fresh toppings separately.
- Rice. This recipe was tested using white rice only. Brown rice has a longer cooking time and needs more liquid, so do not use it here.