Recipe: Poppy Seed Chicken Grain Bowls

published May 14, 2019
Poppy Seed Chicken Grain Bowls
Jump to Recipe
Post Image
Credit: Creative Studio

Inspired by Buddha bowls, here’s a quick way to pack a whole bunch of veggies, grains, and lean protein into one beautiful bowl. These Poppy Seed Chicken Grain Bowls start with a base of nutty brown rice and then get rounded out with thin slices of seared chicken breast, tender baby spinach, sweet blueberries, and a sprinkling of crunchy nuts. An easy poppy seed dressing ties the whole bowl together.

The Instant Pot makes for quicker cooking here, but the recipe has a few more time-saving tricks up its sleeve along the way thanks to Bounty paper towels. You’ll have tonight’s dinner or tomorrow’s lunch (or both!) done in a flash.

Poppy Seed Chicken Grain Bowls: Watch the Video

Quicker Grains

An Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker is key here for quicker cooking. Throw in brown rice and water, set it to high pressure, and walk away. This frees you up to cook the chicken, make the dressing, and prep the remaining ingredients, and you’ll come back to a perfect batch of fluffy, tender brown rice.

Credit: Creative Studio

A Quicker Prep Process

When you’re prepping the ingredients for these bowls, keep a roll of Bounty paper towels nearby. It’ll help at a few points on your bowl-building production line. The first instance is the produce. Place your rinsed blueberries onto one or two paper towels to dry so that no burst berries will stain your kitchen towels. Bounty paper towels are durable enough so you can then use those same sheets to pat dry the baby spinach after you’ve washed it. Then, use a new sheet of Bounty to pat the chicken breasts dry so that they brown up beautifully in the pan while avoiding cross-contamination. Keeping all these components dry before you assemble your bowls will ensure that the delicious poppy seed dressing sticks to everything when it’s time.

These bowls can be made ahead and even packed into containers if you like meal prepping—just pack the dressing separately. In fact, have one bowl for dinner tonight, pack the rest for lunch, and you’ll be the envy of the office lunchroom tomorrow!

Credit: Creative Studio

Poppy Seed Chicken Grain Bowls

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 27 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1 1/4 cups


  • 1 cup

    brown rice

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    red wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons


  • 1 tablespoon

    poppy seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    onion powder, divided

  • 1/4 cup

    plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 2

    boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound total)

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter

  • 2 cups

    baby spinach (1 1/2 ounces)

  • 1 cup


  • 1/2 cup

    coarsely chopped nuts, such as pecans or almonds


  1. Place the water, rice, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. Lock the lid into place and make sure the valve is set to seal. Set the pressure cooker to HIGH and set the timer for 22 minutes.

  2. When the cook time is complete, do not open the release valve but let the steam release naturally for 10 minutes. Quick release any remaining pressure. Open the pressure cooker and fluff the rice with a fork.

  3. Place the vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon of the onion powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt in a small jar. Seal and shake until the honey dissolves. Pour in 1/4 cup of the oil, seal again, and shake until the dressing is emulsified; set aside.

  4. Pat the chicken dry with a Bounty paper towel and season with the pepper, garlic powder, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon onion powder on all sides.

  5. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Swirl the pan to redistribute the oil, then add the chicken. Cook until the bottoms of the chicken are golden, crispy, and easily release from the pan, 5 to 7 minutes. If you try to flip the chicken and it feels stuck to the pan, wait until it is easy to flip.

  6. Flip the chicken and add the butter to the pan between the two chicken breasts. Swirl the pan to distribute the butter. Cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 165°F, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board lined with two layers of Bounty and let rest for 3 minutes. Thinly slice the chicken crosswise.

  7. Divide the brown rice between 4 bowls. Pat the spinach and blueberries dry with a Bounty paper towel. Top with the spinach, blueberries, nuts, and sliced chicken, then drizzle with the poppy seed dressing.

Recipe Notes

Make Ahead: The rice, poppy seed dressing, and chicken can be made up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate in separate containers.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Credit: Creative Studio