Loaded with rice, black beans, corn, salsa, and spices, these Santa Fe chicken and rice bowls are made with pantry staples and perfect for make-ahead lunches that last all week long. Not only are they quick and easy to make but they are packed full of protein and fiber making them a healthy, filling, and well-balanced meal.
Ready in less than 30 minutes, these Santa Fe chicken bowls are a great way to get meal prep, lunch, or dinner cooked in a hurry. Just grill up the chicken, cook the rice, mix everything together in a bowl, and, voilà, it’s time to eat!
What is Santa Fe chicken?
Santa Fe chicken is a chicken dish inspired by Tex-Mex flavors. This Santa Fe chicken recipe is made with chicken breasts, black beans, corn, salsa, chilies, and spices, and is designed to be quick and easy to prepare, making it perfect for meal prep.
Ingredients for Santa Fe Chicken
Here’s what you’ll need to make these Santa Fe chicken and rice meal prep bowls:
Chicken Breasts: I used boneless, skinless chicken because they are quick to cook, however, you could use boneless, skinless chicken thighs or bone-in chicken breasts or thighs if you prefer. If using bone-in chicken, you will need to extend the cooking time.
Spices: A pinch of ground cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and salt to season the chicken and add some Tex-Mex flavor.
Cheese: I used orange cheddar cheese in these bowls; however, you can certainly use any type of melty cheese that you enjoy; Monterey Jack or Havarti would both work very well.
Rice: A source of complex carbohydrates to bulk up and balance out the meal. The recipe calls for white rice but you could use brown rice if you prefer, however, it will take longer to cook.
Black Beans: A can of black beans adds a boost of fiber and protein to the dish.
Corn: A little frozen corn for fiber, color, and a more traditional Tex-Mex flavor.
Bell Pepper: For more color and some extra veggies.
Salsa: To add a little spice! I used a chunky, spicy salsa but you could use any style of salsa that you enjoy. If you don’t have any salsa just dice up 3 fresh tomatoes or use a small can of diced tomatoes instead.
How to Make It
These Santa Fe chicken bowls are pretty easy to make and don’t require much cooking at all. If you can cook rice, mix spices, open a can of beans and a jar of salsa, and grill chicken, you can make these bowls without a problem. Here’s how to make them:
- Cook the rice. Begin by cooking the rice. The recipe calls for white rice, however, you could certainly use brown rice if you prefer.
- Mix the Sante Fe spice mixture. Combine the ground cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and salt. If you want to add some extra heat, a pinch of chili powder would make a great addition to the Santa Fe seasoning. If you’re in a pinch, you can use taco seasoning instead!
- Season the chicken. Slice the chicken breasts in half, widthwise, and then generously cover them with the Santa Fe spice mixture on all sides.
- Cook the chicken. Add the chicken breasts to a pan and cook for 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown and cooked through.
- Add the cheese. When the chicken is just about done, top each chicken breast piece with cheddar cheese, cover, and warm until the cheese is completely melted.
- Mix the rice, black beans, salsa, and corn. Once the rice is cooked, mix it with the black beans, corn, chopped bell pepper, and jar of salsa. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
- Fill the containers. When everything is ready to go, evenly divide the rice mixture across containers and top each bowl with a piece of cheesy Santa Fe chicken and a wedge of lime.
- Store and eat! Once the bowls are prepared, they can be stored in airtight containers in the fridge as ready-to-go meals for lunch or dinner. When you’re ready to eat, just reheat them and garlic them with a squeeze of fresh lime juice to serve.
How to Serve It/Variations
While this recipe is designed for meal prep, it could certainly be made for dinner.
Make it for dinner. Instead of portioning the recipe into containers, serve the Sante Fe chicken with a portion of the bean and rice mixture, and feel free to add a side of steamed vegetables or green salad for an extra dose of fiber.
Use it for tacos. The chicken could also be sliced and used as a filling for tortillas or tacos with toppings of sour cream, avocado, or fresh cilantro for additional flavor.
Turn it into a burrito bowl salad. Combine the rice mixture with chopped lettuce and top it with chicken for a hearty and high-protein salad! Feel free to add some tortilla chips for extra crunch.
Storage and Reheating
To Store: The prepared bowls or leftovers can be cooled completely and then stored in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 5 days.
To Freeze: Allow the bowls to cool completely and then store individual portions in airtight containers for up to 3 months. If freezing, do not include lime wedges, these can be added when ready to eat.
To Reheat: While the bowls can be eaten cold, they can be reheated in microwave-safe containers for 1-2 minutes. If frozen, allow to thaw completely and then reheat the same way. If you find the rice or chicken dry, just add a splash of water to the bowls and reheat for another 30 seconds.
More Chicken Bowls:Print
Sante Fe Chicken Bowls
These high-protein Santa Fe chicken and rice bowls are a great meal prep idea, perfect for a week’s worth of healthy lunches.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4 bowls 1x
- Category: Mains
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 2 chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 cup white rice, dry
- 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
- 14oz can black beans, strained and rinsed
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup salsa, of your choice
- 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- In a pot, combine the rice with 2 cups of water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and allow to cook covered for 15 minutes, or as per package directions, until it can be fluffed with a fork.
- In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and salt, and stir to combine. Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board and slice them in half lengthwise so you have 4 thin cutlets, then season both sides with the spice mixture.
- In a large skillet on medium-high heat, warm the olive oil, then add seasoned chicken cutlets and cook for 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown.
- Once cooked through, sprinkle the top of each chicken breast with a quarter of the shredded cheese, reduce heat to low-medium, cover the pan with a lid, and continue cooking for an additional minute or so until the cheese is melted. Once complete, remove the chicken from the pan, transfer it to a plate or cutting board, and set it aside.
- In the same pan, add the bell pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes until tender. Once cooked, remove from the heat, and set aside.
- Once the rice is cooked, transfer the rice to a large bowl, add thawed corn, strained, and rinsed black beans, bell pepper, and salsa, and mix gently with a spoon or spatula until well combined.
- Once complete, divide the rice mixture evenly across four bowls and top each bowl with a chicken breast.
- These bowls can be served immediately or stored in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 489 calories
- Sugar: 5 grams
- Fat: 10 grams
- Carbohydrates: 67 grams
- Fiber: 10 grams
- Protein: 33 grams
Keywords: santa fe chicken, santa fe chicken recipe