Pre-dinner hours are always a cyclone of chaos, but with the help of the slow cooker you might actually have the time to help with homework, make it to a PTA meeting, or take that class at the gym instead of standing over the stove.
That's right — these zesty, flavorful steak burrito bowls are made in the slow cooker. There's no fuss with wrangling tortillas or careful layering. Instead, fill a bowl with a generous helping of tender steak, toothsome rice, and smoky veggies before topping it off with your favorite burrito fixings and you'll have a dinner that's better than Chipotle's (and certainly a fraction of the cost!).
Steak Burrito Bowls: Watch the Video
When a Bowl Is Better than a Wrap
Burritos are great for grab-and-go lunches, and burrito bowls are a natural extension of that, providing an alternative burrito delivery mechanism for those days when you need dinner to mostly come together without you standing at the stove. With the slow cooker, you're just dicing and tossing things in a pot!
For Your Information
- Smoky salsa is the foundation for this steak burrito bowl. You'll need 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans of diced, fire-roasted tomatoes, a can of chopped green chiles, a head of garlic, a small red onion, a lime, and cilantro.
- Stop by the meat department for 2 pounds of flank steak. You'll cut the steaks into 1-inch pieces.
- The total cook time is 7 to 8 hours, but broken into 2 stages. The steak and salsa simmer for the first half of the cooking time before adding the rice, beans, and bell pepper. The steak needs the full time to tenderize, while the rice needs half as much to soften and soak up the flavors.
Key Steps for the Best Burrito Bowl
- Prepare pantry salsa. While fresh pico de gallo has its place on light fish tacos, canned, fire-roasted tomatoes stand in for fresh in a rich and smoky homemade salsa. Strain the cans of fire-roasted tomatoes over the slow cooker to capture the juice. After that, chop the smoky tomatoes until they are bite-sized. Mix the tomatoes with green chiles, chopped garlic, lime juice, red onion, and cilantro. The salsa does double duty, so pour some into the slow cooker and reserve the rest for topping the burrito bowls.
- Slow cook steak. Cut the flank steak into 1-inch pieces. Move the meat to the slow cooker and season with cumin, chili powder, salt, and oregano. Stir the seasonings, steak, and salsa together before popping on the lid and cooking for 3 hours. The steak, seasonings, and salsa need the jump-start in the slow cooker to give the flank steak and salsa time to mingle and render liquid, essential for cooking rice in the next step.
- Stir in rice, beans, and bell peppers. After a 3-hour head-start, it's time to stir in the rice. Brown rice is the smart choice here since it retains its shape and chewy texture even during the long and low heat of the slow cooker. Some beans and chopped bell peppers make this burrito bowl a meal. The rice plumps to a toothsome tender texture, while the steak finishes succulent and fork-tender, thanks to slow cooking in the spiced broth.
Need an Even Faster Version?
Two words: jarred salsa. Substitute 1 1/4 cups of your favorite salsa plus 1 cup of broth or water for the homemade salsa, leaving the canned tomatoes, chiles, garlic, onion, lime, and cilantro on the shelf.
Serving Steak Burrito Bowls
Scoop the rice, veggies, and steak into a bowl, or if it doesn't say burrito without a tortilla, roll up the filling. However you serve it, don't forget to spoon on the smoky, homemade salsa. Finish with your favorite burrito toppings like diced avocado, minced red onion, and chopped cilantro, and use thick tortilla chips to transfer the savory rice and meat directly to your mouth.
How To Make Slow Cooker Steak Burrito Bowls
Serves 4 to 6
What You Need
(14 1/2-ounce) cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
(4-ounce) can mild chopped green chiles
finely diced red onion
freshly squeezed lime juice (from 1 lime)
chopped fresh cilantro
kosher salt, divided
flank steak, cut into 1-inch pieces
uncooked brown rice
(15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
chopped red bell pepper
For serving: tortilla chips, lime wedges, diced avocado, chopped lettuce, hot sauce, chopped cilantro
3 1/2- to 4 1/2-quart slow cooker
Spatula or wooden spoon
Knife and cutting board
Measuring cups and spoons
Citrus juicer or reamer
Drain the tomatoes. Drain the tomatoes into a 3 1/2- to 4 1/2-quart slow cooker, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible.
Make the salsa. Coarsely chop the drained tomatoes and transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the green chiles, onion, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Transfer 1 1/4 cups of this salsa into the slow cooker. Refrigerate the remaining salsa until ready to serve.
Season and cook the steak for 3 hours. Add the steak to the slow cooker. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 teaspoons salt, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Stir, then cover and cook on the LOW setting for 3 hours.
Add the rice, beans, and bell pepper, and cook 3 to 4 hours. Uncover; add the rice, beans, and bell pepper; and stir to combine, making sure that the rice is completely submerged. Cover and continue cooking on the LOW setting for 3 to 4 more hours.
Check rice for doneness. Start checking the rice in the last hour of cooking, stirring occasionally to ensure the rice cooks evenly. Cooking is done when the rice is tender. If there is still liquid left in the slow cooker, uncover and cook on the HIGH setting for 5 to 10 minutes to let the liquid evaporate.
Serve. Serve burrito bowls with reserved salsa and desired toppings.
Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Jarred salsa variation: Substitute 1 1/4 cups salsa plus 1 cup broth or water for the homemade salsa, omitting the canned fire-roasted tomatoes, green chiles, garlic, onion, lime, and cilantro.