If you like Panera’s Baja bowl, you’re going to love this copycat recipe! This Baja bowl with chicken is packed full of protein, fiber, and flavor. You can enjoy it for dinner, lunch, or as a healthy meal prep idea.
As it turns out, these little babies are super easy to make at home! While they do require quite a few ingredients, they are relatively simple to prepare. Although I opted to make almost everything from scratch, you could simplify things by using a store-bought rice and quinoa blend and corn salsa if you like.
Regardless of what option you choose these Baja bowls with chicken are a hearty and healthy meal that is packed full of protein and fiber and is sure to be a hit with the whole family.
What is a Baja Bowl?
A Baja bowl is a Mexican-inspired grain bowl from Panera restaurants. It is made with a rice and quinoa grain mixture, grilled chicken, avocado, corn, black beans, tomatoes, yogurt, and salsa verde.
This recipe is a simplified version of the oh-so-popular restaurant dish.
Baja Bowl Ingredients & Substitutions
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this copycat Panera Baja grain bowl recipe:
- Brown Rice – To make the cilantro lime grain mixture, you can also use white rice.
- Quinoa – The second half of the grain mixture. I used white quinoa, but you can use any color you like.
- Lime – Some lime juice and zest to flavor the grain mixture.
- Coriander – To flavor the rice and quinoa.
- Fresh Cilantro – To flavor the grains and finish the bowls.
- Chicken – To add some protein.
- Black Bean – To make the corn and black bean salad, canned beans are fine.
- Corn – Frozen or canned corn will work.
- Tomatoes – You can use grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, or chop up some whole tomatoes.
- Avocado – To add some healthy fats. If you don’t have a ripe avocado, guacamole will also work.
- Salsa Verde – To add a bit of spice and extra flavor. If you can’t find salsa verde, feel free to use any salsa you like.
- Greek Yogurt – To balance the spice from the salsa and add some more protein and healthy fats. You can also use sour cream.
Although the recipe does not call for it, you can finish the bowls with a sprinkle of Cotija or feta cheese for a boost of protein and additional flavor.
To Make them Gluten-Free: No adaptations are needed, these bowls are gluten-free.
To Make them Dairy-Free: Omit the Greek yogurt.
How to Make the Panera Baja Bowl
Here’s how to make the Panera Baja grain bowls with chicken at home:
- Cook the grains. Cook the rice and quinoa with coriander and lime juice until fluffy.
- Grill the chicken. Season the chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper and grill to perfection.
- Make the salsa. Combine the black beans, corn, olive oil, lime juice, garlic powder, paprika, and cumin and toss until well combined.
- Assemble the bowls. Filled bowls with the grain mixture and top with chicken, black bean, and corn salsa, tomatoes, sliced avocado, salsa verde, Greek yogurt, and cilantro.
You can find the detailed step-by-step instructions in the recipe card below.
Red’s Nutrition Tip
If you want to cut down on prep time, look for pre-cooked brown rice and quinoa mixture in grocery stores. You can often find a prepared option in the grain aisle, next to the microwavable rice, that you can quickly reheat and eat.
Best Chicken for a Baja Bowl
The recipe calls for salt and pepper grilled chicken breasts, but you can really use any sliced chicken you like. If you’re looking to add some flavor, try my cilantro lime chicken, lemon pepper chicken, or lemon garlic chicken thighs.
Can I make Baja bowls ahead of time?
Yes! Baja grain bowls stay fresh in the fridge for up to 4 days, so you can make them ahead of time and enjoy them as a quick and easy lunch for days to come.
Storage + Reheating
To Refrigerate: Once assembled, the bowls can be stored in airtight containers in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. You can also prepare all components of the bowls, store them separately in the fridge in airtight containers for up to 4 days, and assemble the bowls when you are ready to eat.
To Freeze: The cilantro lime brown rice and quinoa mixture and grilled chicken can be frozen once prepared. Allow them to cool completely and then store them in airtight containers in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, allow them to thaw completely, then assemble them with the other freshly prepared components of the bowls. The black bean and corn salsa should not be frozen.
To Reheat: If you prefer to eat the bowls warm, the rice and quinoa mixture and chicken can be warmed in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. The other components of the bowls should be consumed cold.
More Delicious Bowl Recipes:Print
Baja Bowl with Chicken
These copycat Panera Baja bowls with chicken are easy to make and packed full of protein and fiber. Enjoy them for dinner or make them as meal prep for healthy homemade lunches.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 4 bowls 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Cilantro Lime Brown Rice and Quinoa:
- 1 cup brown rice, raw
- 1/2 cup quinoa, raw
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Black Bean and Corn Salsa:
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, strained and rinsed
- 1 cup corn kernels, thawed if frozen
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/4 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup salsa verde
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, or sour cream
- 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- In a small pot or saucepan, combine the brown rice, 3 cups of water, lime zest, juice of one lime, and ground coriander. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes, add quinoa, stir to combine with the brown rice, cover, and continue to cook on low-medium heat for 15 minutes or until cooked and can be fluffed with a fork.
- While the grain mixture is cooking, prepare the chicken. Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board and season them generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
- In a grill pan or cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat, warm the olive oil, then add the seasoned chicken and cook for 5-6 minutes per side until cooked through or they reach an internal temperature of 165°F. Once cooked, remove them from the pan and set aside for at least 5 minutes before slicing them into thin strips or cubes.
- While the chicken is cooking, prepare the black bean and corn salsa. In a medium bowl, add the olive oil, lime juice, garlic powder, paprika, ground cumin, and a pinch of salt and whisk until well combined. Add the strained and rinsed black beans and corn and toss until well coated in the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
- Once the grain mixture and chicken are ready, assemble the bowls. Split the cooked quinoa and rice mixture evenly across four bowls, then top with grilled chicken, black bean and corn salsa, tomatoes, avocado, a dollop of Greek yogurt, a drizzle of salsa verde, a sprinkle of chopped cilantro, and a wedge of lime.
- These bowls can be served immediately or stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. If making them ahead of time, it is best to wait and add the avocado, Greek yogurt, and salsa verde when you are ready to serve.
Although the recipe does not call for it, as it’s not part of the original Panera version, a sprinkle of Cotija cheese or feta cheese on top would be a delicious addition!
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 664 calories
- Sugar: 5 grams
- Fat: 23 grams
- Carbohydrates: 82 grams
- Fiber: 15 grams
- Protein: 36 grams