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! To keep them vegetarian, simply swap for tofu or chickpeas.
- 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!
- Make it grain free with homemade cauliflower rice
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
- Add it to this Street Corn Pasta Salad with Cilantro Pesto + Goat Cheese
- Or this Fiesta Mango Black Bean Quinoa Salad
- Cheesy BBQ Chicken Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- Southwest Chicken Salad with Chipotle Greek Yogurt Dressing
- Better Than Chipotle DIY Chicken Burrito Bowls
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
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!
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
This post was originally published on July 21, 2020, and republished on March 8th, 2022.
Thank you so much for including slow cooker instructions as well. I’m making this tonight.
Absolutely! I love using the slow cooker in the summer (so easy). Enjoy!
This looks absolutely devine!!! Love Quinoa and this has a great mix of veggies and chicken:))
Absolutely! New fav 🙂
This was so easy and so good. My non health conscious husband didn’t even notice the different bbq sauce and found this so dish to be very good. I didn’t have cabbage or jalapeño and used canned corn. I also forgot to top it cilantro and ranch. My husband did regular ranch on top of his. I also used a yellow onion cause that’s just what I keep in the house and it was just so good. Can’t wait for leftovers for lunch tomorrow! My 22 month old ate it up too. A win for all!
Amazing! I’m glad everyone loved it! Perfect for customizing with what you have on-hand, too 🙂
Just made these as I had leftover bbq pulled chicken that I made using your separate recipe on Monday. Topped it with leftover mango salsa (also your recipe) and your homemade ranch dressing! You could say I’m a fan of your recipes 😂 these were delish!
Perfect! Wow best combinations ever 🙂
Delicious meal!! I didn’t modify other than using chicken broth to cook the quinoa, The only thing that didn’t turn out as expected was the slow cooked bbq chicken. I had to add more bb
Hmmm did you find the BBQ flavor lacking? It could depend on the sauce brand you were using, but absolutely feel free to add some more next time. Glad you enjoyed regardless!
Looks super yummy
One of my favorites!
These were absolutely amazing! Thank you for yet another amazing recipe, Monique!
So glad you loved these!!
Glad you like it!
Easy, delicious, perfect for lunch through the week.
Absolutely! Glad you loved 🙂
My adult sons loved it. I didn’t have the ingredients to make the dressing so I made a lime-balsamic vinaigrette. Every recipe I’ve made from this site has been delicious. My family liked the varied ingredients and that it didn’t taste healthy even though it was! Follow the recipe exactly except for the dressing. Very colorful presentation.
Perfect! So happy to hear that!
LOVED IT!!! Perfect healthy dinner after all of the holiday indulging!! I may eat it again tonight.
This was delicious!! Flavourful and very satisfying. Made as directed. Used frozen corn, and baked the chicken with the BBQ sauce in the oven. Turned out great! Definitely ‘make again’ for this family. Thank you Monique! I’ve made many of your recipes and they are winners!
Perfect! So glad you loved them 🙂
I make these so often I figured it was time to give it the 5 star rating it very much deserves. This is a perfect feel good meal because it’s majorly delicious and you feel good about eating it. The textures and flavors are perfect. I make the bbq chicken in the instant pot so it’s a quick meal to throw together. High recommend that you make this as soon as possible. 😊
Thanks so much for your comment & rating! Glad you love this one 🙂
This is one of my favorite recipes because it’s easy but has a ton of flavor. I also love that you can pretty much use any vegetable you have on hand. I used Stubb’s bbq sauce and Tessemae’s ranch, and it was delicious. This has become a go-to meal for busy week days.
Absolutely love this recipe – so good as is, but also easy to add in whatever other toppings you might have a taste for!
Love making this for lunch! My partner and I will have it over several days for lunch. It’s easy, healthy and delicious.
Absolutely loved these BBQ Ranch Chicken Quinoa Bowls! I used the slow cooker option for the chicken, made the recipe as instructed and topped with the avocado lime sauce, and store bought ranch dressing. Planning on make this again soon! I’d even like to try the vegetarian variations, and the chipotle ranch. Thanks for the recipe Monique!
Love it! Glad you enjoyed!
Really liked this bowl, very easy to make tasted great the day after too. I used my left over Wingstop ranch and took out the seeds from the jalapeño, can’t handle the heat
Perfect! Glad you enjoyed 🙂
Super easy and delicious recipe – would make again!
This salad is amazing! So flavorful, and different from a lot of the bowls I feel like I have been making lately. And love the ability to throw the chicken and BBQ sauce in the slow cooker, just makes it even easier to put this together for dinner.
Absolutely! Glad you enjoyed 🙂
This was such a delicious, healthy, easy meal. I used the crockpot method to cook the chicken and it was amazing.
Perfect! Glad you enjoyed!
Easy delicious dinner! Fun to make it into breakfast burritos the next morning.
Love that idea!!
This was one of my favorites of yours! Loved it- and so healthy! I ate it without chicken but still very filling. Thanks Monique!
So happy to hear that! One of my favs to meal prep, too 🙂
Easily one of my favorites to meal prep!
I’m so glad!
I have made this a number of times and has quickly become a family favorite. I don’t have any chicken breast available, only boneless chicken thighs. I hope this will still work and taste good, but how long should I cook the chicken in the slow cooker? Thanks in advance!
So happy to hear that! Chicken thighs will work just as well. You can cook them on low for about 6 hours or on high for about 3!
This BBQ bowl is bomb. The different textures from the veggies are great,, the to-die for homemade ranch, easily meal-prepable, filling, and healthy! Thank you!
Absolutely! So glad you love it!
Trying this tomorrow night with shredded hearts of palm instead of chicken! If you’ve never tried, it’s a great vegetarian sub for “pulled” meats!
Such a brilliant idea! Love hearts of palm 🙂 Hope you enjoy it!
Love this! It reminds me of making a taco bowl, but with a bbq spin! I love the variety of veggies and how easy it is to make. It felt super nutritious but also fun and filling. This one will definitely in the regular rotation.
You’re so right! I’m glad you’re loving them, Nicole 🙂
This recipe is so filling and so good!! I did the grill option rather than the slow cooker, and we ate it cold. It’s seriously so delicious! Thank you for the recipe!
Woohooo! So happy you loved it. Great call on the grilled chicken–perfect for summer!
Great, easy recipe to pull together for a dinner. A lot of different flavors and textures. You can also customize some of the extras and it still tastes great.
We were surprised that we enjoyed these so much! Prep was easy – we used a George Foreman grill for the chicken – and the leftovers were perfect for meal prep.
This recip was so easy to make and great for meals during the week. The bbq chicken was so good!
This looks SOOO delish! Question: any suggestions for substitutions for the beans (can we use cannellini or pinto beans? or even edamame?)? How about the grain – bulgur maybe? Or couscous? I don’t want take it too far from the original, just taking the preferences of the mouths I intend to feed into consideration, LOL!
These are all great subs! I think any of those would be fabulous 🙂
I made the quick version of this–pan fried BBQ chicken, store bought dressing. And it was amazing. Excellent combination of flavors, and the perfect salad to pack for the few days a week I am going into the office. It holds up well in the fridge, and I looked forward to eating it each day at lunch. I will be certainly adding this to the rotation.
Nice! I’m so happy you’re loving it. Such a great lunch, right??
This was so good! Can I freeze the bbq chicken?
Glad you loved it! And yes definitely 🙂
This is absolutely fabulous! Really enjoyed it.
So happy you loved these! Thanks for the review 🙂
I made this as a meal prep for a couple lunches. Had it for dinner first abd wow, it’s so good! I loved having it chilled, like a salad. I used a mandolin to slice the cabbage, onion and jalapeño super thin and it was perfect. I pressure cooked like 2-3lbs of chicken tenderloins in some olive oil and simple seasoning for 25 min and it shredded perfectly. Loved every ingredient – even corn cooked on the cob was worth the added effort. I served this also to some lds missionaries who needed dinner and they loved it.
Such a great one to meal prep! Thanks so much for sharing all this. I’m glad you loved it!
We all really enjoyed this! Simple but delicious!
Note: I actually almost forgot to serve the chicken because it isn’t mentioned in the final step about preparing the bowls! haha
Oh thank you for noticing — sorry about that! We’ll update that right now 🙂 So happy you loved them!