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The Essential Guide to Buddha Bowls

This vibrant, plant-based dish strikes a perfect balance of flavor and texture.

While the phrase “Buddha Bowl” is relatively contemporary, grain bowls have been a dietary staple for centuries. In 2017, Epicurious writer Katherine Sacks sought to unpack the origin of the name, and found that the dish—which consists of a grain base, vegetables, and a decadent sauce—has no literal or symbolic tie to Buddha. While Buddha did carry a bowl in which villagers placed food as a donation, Buddhist dietary principles are more focused on when we eat, versus what we eat. 

This flexibility in composition might be the most important tenet of the Buddha Bowl: Put simply, fill it with whatever you like! Buddha Bowls are traditionally vegan, colorful, and mix textures and flavors that complement one another, but there are no real rules! Here’s a breakdown of how you could start to fill your bowl.  


Try filling your bowl with brown rice, farro, or quinoa. If you’re feeling like plants over grains, give zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice, or a root vegetable mash a shot! 


Anything goes, here! Pick what’s in season, or go with your regular favorites. Mix warm roasted veggies with some raw varieties to play with texture. 


If you’re craving a bit more protein, tofu, beans, tempeh, and seitan are great options for plant-based protein. 


Choose any kind of sauce that you prefer. Whether it’s a green goddess, a garlic aioli, or a simple lemon vinaigrette, you can’t go wrong. 


Don’t forget the crunch! Adding sunflower seeds, almonds, or cashews will add a lot to any bowl. Or go the acidic route by topping with vegetable pickles or picked ginger. Cashew cheese can satisfy any dairy craving, too.

Looking for side-dish inspiration? Here are the five of the top sides Grubhub customers have ordered alongside Buddha Bowls this year: 

  • sweet potato fries
  • chicken wings
  • spicy cauliflower dippers
  • thai coconut salad
  • french fries

Ready to order a Buddha Bowl?