Spicy Thai Chicken and Brown Rice Bowls

updated Feb 5, 2020
Spicy Thai Chicken and Brown Rice Bowls

These vibrant Thai chicken and brown rice bowls are topped with a rainbow of crunchy vegetables and drizzled with curried peanut sauce.


Prep10 minutes to 15 minutes

Cook34 minutes

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Credit: Joe Lingeman

I first picked up a pack of ground chicken a few years ago on a whim, and boy did I wish I’d been cooking with it all along. It’s a leaner alternative to beef, lamb, and pork, with a mild flavor that’s all too willing to partner with any herb, sauce, or vegetable. These days it’s my top pick for bulking up rice bowls for dinner. If you regularly cook with ground turkey, ground chicken is a nice way to change things up.

When I can get the meat freshly ground at the butcher, I opt for a mix of light and dark meat. The light breast meat keeps the mixture lean, while the dark leg meat adds a boost of fat and flavor. For this bowl, the ground chicken is quickly browned and broken into crumbles on the stovetop, then mixed with a Thai red curry peanut sauce.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Meal Prep This Bowl

Not only is this vibrant bowl your ticket to a balanced and nourishing lunch or dinner, but it also lends itself to being made in advance during a weekend meal prep session. Everything from the rice and chicken to the veggies and sauce can be prepped and assembled in advance. To make the most of your time, stir together the peanut sauce and chop the vegetables while the brown rice and chicken are cooking. When prepping ahead, it’s a good idea to swap the bowl for a lidded container, like the kind you use for meal prep (this one is our favorite meal prep container!).

Portion the brown rice between the containers, add a scoop of the chicken to each, and follow up with the rainbow of vegetables. While the recipe calls for ground chicken, you can certainly use ground turkey as an alternative with the same results.

Keep the curried-peanut sauce stored in a separate container, and drizzle it over the bowl before heading out in the morning (if you’re taking it for lunch) or just before serving. To keep them crunchy, sprinkle the peanuts on top right before you dig in.

More About Buddha Bowls

The Buddha Bowls cookbook features 100 one-bowl recipes (including plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free bowls!), 13 essential sauce recipes (with variations for each one), and tons of tips and make-ahead moments. It will help you stock your week with wholesome, nourishing meals, get more veggies on the table, and fill your belly with delicious food. The book is currently available in bookstores and on Amazon.

Spicy Thai Chicken and Brown Rice Bowls

These vibrant Thai chicken and brown rice bowls are topped with a rainbow of crunchy vegetables and drizzled with curried peanut sauce.

Prep time 10 minutes to 15 minutes

Cook time 34 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


For the Curried Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup

    creamy peanut butter

  • 3 tablespoons

    tamari or soy sauce

  • 3 tablespoons


  • 2 tablespoons

    rice vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons

    toasted (Asian) sesame oil

  • 1 tablespoon

    Thai red curry paste

  • 1 tablespoon

    finely grated peeled fresh ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper (optional)

For the bowls:

  • 1 cup

    short-grain brown rice

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 tablespons

    coconut oil, divided

  • 1

    medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pound

    ground chicken

  • 2 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper

  • 2

    medium scallions, thinly sliced, divided

  • 2 cups

    finely shredded red cabbage

  • 1 cup

    shredded carrot

  • Chopped fresh Thai basil leaves, for garnish

  • Chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish


Make the peanut sauce:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment or blender. Process continuously until smooth, about 2 minutes; set aside.

Make the bowls:

  1. Place the rice, 2 cups of water, and a generous pinch of salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice is tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to steam, covered, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the bell pepper and chicken.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the bell pepper, season with a salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

  3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, garlic, and cayenne, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in 1/2 of the scallions and 2 tablespoons of the reserved peanut sauce, and cook for 1 minute more.

  4. To serve, divide the cabbage and carrots among 4 bowls. Divide the brown rice, ground chicken mixture, and bell pepper among the bowls. Drizzle with the peanut sauce and sprinkle with the basil, remaining scallions, and peanuts.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: Ground turkey can be substituted for ground chicken.

Make ahead: The sauce, rice, bell pepper, and chicken can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated in separate airtight containers.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Reprinted with permission from Buddha Bowls by Kelli Foster, copyright (c) 2018. Published by Harvard Common Press.