If you’re looking for a healthy meal prep lunch or dinner that’s easy, delicious, nourishing, protein-packed and full of flavor… like always, I’ve got you.
I started making these BBQ chicken quinoa bowls as an easy dinner when Sidney was a newborn. They remind me of Panera’s BBQ chicken salad with southwest flavors, bbq sauce and a simple ranch dressing. Just throw the chicken in the slow cooker (or pop in on the grill), cook your quinoa in 15 minutes, chop your veggies while the quinoa cooks, and that’s it! Dinner is served.
Bonus: you can use any ranch dressing you’d like or try my go-to greek yogurt ranch that’s filled with flavor and SO easy to make!
Ingredients in BBQ chicken quinoa bowls
These easy & delicious BBQ chicken quinoa bowls are filled with a rainbow of veggies for tons of different flavors and textures. To make them you’ll need:
- Chicken breast: options to grill or cook your chicken in the slow cooker below for ease!
- BBQ sauce: I like to use a low sugar BBQ sauce and love Stubb’s Spicy or Primal Kitchen’s Mango Habanero. These are other great ones from Primal Kitchen!
- Quinoa: add a boost of protein from one of my favorite grains. You can also use regular, brown or cauliflower rice if you’d like.
- Black beans: the beans add plenty of fiber and protein to these bowls and give them that burrito bowl flavor.
- Veggies: these bowls are packed with a true rainbow of veggies. I like to add shredded red cabbage for crunch, sweet corn cut off the cob (or thaw some from frozen), red onion for some zing, juicy roma tomatoes and a kick of heat from jalapeño. Don’t forget to top your bowls with creamy avocado!
- Ranch: feel free to drizzle with your favorite ranch, or try my greek yogurt ranch or chipotle ranch!
- To garnish: for additional freshness, I like to add chopped cilantro & scallions on top.
Two ways to cook your BBQ chicken
See below for simple ways to cook your BBQ chicken, and be sure to check out all of our go-to ways to cook chicken here!
- Slow cooker chicken: Place chicken and BBQ sauce in a slow cooker and stir so the BBQ sauce coats the chicken. Cook on high for 2.5-3 hours. Then remove chicken from the slow cooker, shred with two forks and then place back in the slow cooker, stir and turn the heat to warm until you are ready to serve.
- Grill your chicken: marinate chicken in a bowl with BBQ sauce for 1 hour, then grill chicken over medium high heat for 6-9 minutes per side, or until the meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F. Remove from grill and allow chicken to sit for 5 minutes to retain juices, then cut into strips or dice into bite sized pieces.
How to cook the best fluffy quinoa
Remember to get all of our best tips & tricks for cooking quinoa here! For the basics:
- Use a 1:2 ratio for quinoa to liquid. In this recipe, you’ll cook 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups of water, which will make about 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
- Bring the water to a boil then stir in quinoa. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for exactly 15 minutes. Remove the saucepan from heat and let stand covered for another 5-10 minutes.
- Quinoa will pop upon cooking and expand. To help separate the grains, use a fork and fluff the quinoa.
Customize your BBQ chicken quinoa bowls
- Make it vegetarian by using tofu or chickpeas
- Grill some BBQ shrimp or salmon to swap the chicken
- Keep it dairy free by using a dairy free greek yogurt or ranch
- Top with this delicious avocado lime sauce, guacamole or fruity salsa
- Get wild with a chipotle ranch instead of regular ranch!
- Make it grain free with homemade cauliflower rice, or use your fav grain like rice, farro, or pearl couscous
I recommend storing the chicken, quinoa, veggies & ranch dressing separately in airtight containers in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble your bowl and enjoy it. That way everything stays nice and fresh!
More ways to use this BBQ chicken
If you make these healthy chicken quinoa bowls, be sure to tag #ambitiouskitchen on Instagram. We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below and rate the recipe. We appreciate you! xo.
BBQ Ranch Chicken Quinoa Bowls
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Delicious BBQ ranch chicken quinoa bowls loaded with black beans, crunchy red cabbage, sweet corn, tomato, onion, jalapeño, avocado and your choice of creamy ranch dressing. The BBQ chicken for these healthy chicken quinoa bowls can be made in the slow cooker or grilled for the perfect meal prep dinner or lunch!
- For the slow cooker:
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 cup low sugar BBQ sauce (I love Stubb’s spicy or Primal Kitchen Mango Habanero)
- Optional: 1/4 cup water if you have a thicker bbq sauce
- For the quinoa:
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups water
- For the bowls:
- 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
- 2 cups shredded red cabbage
- 1 cup sweet corn (can use fresh or frozen but I love it off the cob)
- ¼ cup finely diced red onion
- 2 roma tomatoes, diced
- 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, diced or sliced
- For the dressing:
- 1 batch healthy greek yogurt ranch (or ranch of choice)
- To garnish:
- Fresh chopped cilantro
SLOW COOKER CHICKEN: Place chicken and BBQ sauce in a slow cooker and stir so the BBQ sauce coats the chicken. Cook on high for 2.5-3 hours. Then remove chicken from the slow cooker, shred with two forks and then place back in the slow cooker, stir and turn the heat to warm until you are ready to serve.
TO GRILL CHICKEN: marinate chicken in a bowl with BBQ sauce for 1 hour, then grill chicken over medium high heat for 6-8 minutes per side, or until the meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F. Remove from grill and allow chicken to sit for 5 minutes to retain juices, then cut into strips or dice into bite sized pieces.
Once chicken is done cooking or close to it, you can cook your quinoa: add water and quinoa to a medium pot and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Once quinoa is done cooking, remove from heat, fluff with a fork and place the lid back on to allow the quinoa to stay warm and steam in the pot for 10 more minutes while you chop your veggies and make the greek yogurt ranch dressing (or feel free to use store bought ranch).
To prepare bowls: add about 3/4 cup quinoa to each bowl, top with about 1/4 of the shredded chicken, 1/3 cup black beans, 1/2 cup shredded cabbage, 1/4 cup corn, 1 tablespoon diced red onion, diced roma tomatoes, a few sliced jalapenos and avocado. Drizzle the bowls with 1-2 tablespoons ranch dressing. Garnish with fresh cilantro and scallions. Enjoy!
See the full post for easy ways to customize your BBQ chicken quinoa bowls!
Servings: 4 servings
Serving size: 1 bowl with all toppings
Saturated fat: 1.5g
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
This post was originally published on July 21, 2020, republished on March 8th, 2022, and republished on April 24th, 2023.