Chicken and Wild Rice

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Chicken and Wild Rice bowls combine seasoned wild rice, grilled chicken, tender sweet potatoes, and the most addictive cilantro-lime sauce.

Overhead view of Chicken and Wild Rice in a bowl.

Chicken and Wild Rice

Say hello to my latest meal prep obsession! The last few months, I’ve gotten out of the habit of meal prepping so a few Sundays ago I made this recipe with meal prep in mind. And since then, it has been on repeat three weeks in a row–which is pretty unlike me, since I like to change out my meal prep quite a bit.

But I cannot get enough of these Chicken and Wild Rice bowls! That, and, my sister who just moved here for school (but is waiting things out due to Covid) keeps stealing a few prepped meal bowls from my fridge — ha! So what is supposed to last most of the week has only been lasting me one or two days. 

I don’t blame her though; these are so addictive. Plus, they’re a meal you just feel great eating, since they’re loaded with nutritious ingredients.

The original inspiration for this recipe came from a lunch at Aubergine and Company cafe here in Utah– their wild rice chicken bowls are delicious! They have a few more components, so I’ve simplified things and will share some ways to streamline this recipe even more. Let’s get started!

QUICK TIP

If you’re unfamiliar with meal prepping, it’s simply cooking ahead to have meals ready when you need them. Many people like to meal prep lunches for the whole work week, and create five identical meals, package them in individual containers, and refrigerate them until needed. Meal prepping is a great timesaver for busy people! 

Process shots of making the wild rice: combine the ingredients in a pan; simmer until rice is tender.

Wild rice

While I don’t use too many boxed ingredients for meals, I’ll admit I do enjoy packaged wild rice mix. It’s convenient, tasty, and fast to make (particularly when making these bowls that have quite a few of components). I use two boxes of wild rice for this recipe, but I’ve also made wild rice from scratch. If you prefer to make the wild rice from scratch, here’s my go to recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup wild rice*
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil)
  • 1 and 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: salt and dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH: cracked pepper, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar

Instructions

  1. In a fine-mesh sieve, thoroughly rinse the wild rice.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a low simmer (a few notches above lowest temperature).
  3. Cover the pot, simmer for about 45 minutes, and then check. If tender, stop cooking; if not, cook for another 10-15 minutes or until it is tender. Add additional broth as needed (if the liquid has all evaporated but rice is not yet tender).
  4. When the rice is cooked through, drain off any additional liquid and fluff it with a fork.

*Alternatively, you could use 1/3 cup wild rice and 1/3 cup parboiled long white rice. It has to be the parboiled long white rice to cook evenly with the wild rice.

Wild rice can be tricky sometimes, since cooking time varies by the brand. Until you know how your brand of rice cooks, you’ll want to keep an eye on it to know when it’s ready.

QUICK TIP

Why the regular rice along with the wild rice? Wild rice is quite dense, and eaten alone, is very chewy and perhaps not what you have in mind. It’s certainly edible, yet most packaged wild rice pilaf mixes contain a mixture of wild rice and another grain, as well as a variety of seasonings. This creates a flavorful, lighter dish.

Process shots of making the cilantro-lime sauce: add ingredients to blender; blend to combine; drizzle in olive oil; pulse to emulsify.

Cilantro-lime sauce

This sauce is the ultimate chicken-sweet potato-wild rice topping. It’s tangy, acidic, a little spicy, and packed with flavor. I started out aiming to copy the sauce at Aubergine, but have to admit, we like this sauce even better! 

A few ingredient notes:

  • Lime juice and zest: Use about four or five big, juicy limes for this sauce. I like using this electric juicer to make juicing a breeze. This microplane is my favorite for zesting. These two tools make the sauce for Chicken and Wild Rice bowls come together in a cinch.
  • Olive oil: The better your olive oil, the more flavorful the sauce, so be sure to use good quality, extra virgin olive oil.  
  • Cilantro: To get 1/2 cup, you’ll need about one bunch (unless you have an especially large bunch!). To prepare for this sauce, I simply hold the base of the bunch with one hand and use my other hand to twist off the leafy tops. It’s fine to get some smaller stems in the sauce as well — they have loads of flavor.
  • Jalapeño: I only add in 1 tablespoon, but if you like it spicy, add more jalapeños– as much as you want!
  • Honey: This ingredient adds some much-needed sweetness to offset all of the acidity going on.
  • Almond butter: It sounds weird, I know, but almond butter adds the perfect balancing flavor and a nice thickness to the sauce. If you don’t have almond butter, it will be okay without it. I would not recommend using peanut butter, though, as that will overpower the sauce.
  • Cumin: Cumin is a great spice for this sauce that complements the flavors in the chicken.
  • Dijon mustard: Make sure to use Dijon, not yellow mustard. There’s a big flavor difference!
  • Garlic: There’s no need to mince the garlic before adding it to the blender. Just give a few coarse chops to make sure it integrates nicely into the sauce.

Process shots for preparing sweet potatoes: pierce and microwave the potatoes; halve and remove skins; grill on both sides; cut into cubes.Sweet potatoes

Just like in this Ground Turkey Sweet Potato Skillet recipe, we use a shortcut on the sweet potatoes for these bowls. We use the microwave oven; it totally works, and the texture is still fantastic! Microwaved sweet potatoes have tender flesh and soft skins that peel off in a snap. 

  • The only prep needed is to poke a few small holes in the potato so the steam can escape. Use a fork to pierce the potato a few times.
  • An 8-ounce (1/2 pound) sweet potato takes about 5 minutes to cook on 100% power. Larger sweet potatoes will take longer, and when cooking multiple potatoes at the same time, you will need even more time. Continue to microwave the potatoes in 1-minute bursts until the potatoes are cooked through.
  • You’ll know the potatoes are ready when they pierce easily in the center with a fork.

Tip: When purchasing sweet potatoes, choose two or three of the smallest potatoes you can find. I try to pick 5-or-6-ounce potatoes. This will ensure they fully cook in a timely manner.

If you’re not microwaving the potatoes, I’d recommend cooking the potatoes according to this baked sweet potatoes recipe first. Once the potatoes are cooked, the skins peel off easily. I then like to place them on the grill alongside the chicken for a crispier exterior. Give them a quick spritz with olive oil cooking spray, a sprinkle of salt, and then grill for a couple of minutes per side.

Process shots of grilling chicken: halve chicken breasts and pound to even thickness; whisk together seasonins and olive oil; brush olive oil blend onto both sides of the chicken; grill, cool and slice.Chicken

Since there are quite a few other things going on, I wanted the chicken to be as simple as possible. Pick your favorite chicken seasoning and add it to the chicken liberally, along with some salt and pepper!

Although it’s technically a veggie rub, this seasoning is one of my favorites for quick grilled chicken. I also love Mrs. Dash’s® chicken grilling blend. (Neither brand is sponsored on this site.)

Final steps for making Chicken and Wild Rice: assemble the bowls; drizzle on cilantro-lime sauce.

Chicken and Wild Rice toppings

While these bowls are phenomenal with just the main components (chicken, wild rice, sweet potatoes, and sauce), a few tasty toppings take these Chicken and Wild Rice bowls to the next level.

  • Arugula/spinach blend: To get in a few more greens, I like to add a couple of handfuls of whatever lettuce I’ve got in my fridge; lately that’s been arugula and spinach, which work great in these bowls.
  • Avocado: I’m sure you’re not surprised this ingredient makes it in the bowl; I love avocados! A good, ripe avocado adds healthy fats to these bowls, as well as a nice creaminess.
  • Sliced almonds: For a crunch, add in some nuts! Any type will work, but I’m partial to sliced almonds in these Chicken and Wild Rice bowls.
  • Dried cranberries or dried tart cherries: Just a small handful goes a long way; dried fruit adds a touch of sweetness and a little extra tartness.

Close-up view of Chicken and Wild Rice, ready to eat.

Storing Chicken and Wild Rice 

  • As the sauce chills, it thickens quite a bit. Don’t be alarmed, but the sauce can also form clumps–it’s just the olive oil solidifying at the cold temps. Take the sauce out of the fridge for about 20-30 minutes or so before you need it, to bring it back to temperature, and then shake it up (or stir vigorously) to remix.
  • Portion for meal prep. After making all the components for this meal (chicken, rice, sweet potatoes, and sauce) I evenly separate everything into five meal prep containers. Start by layering even amounts of rice, then chopped chicken, and then chopped sweet potato. I spoon the sauce into five smaller containers. I add any other ingredients (like lettuce and toppings) to a small plastic bag. If adding avocado, I prefer to add that each day since pre-portioning it will cause it to brown and change texture.

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Chicken Wild Rice Bowls

5 from 7 votes
Chicken and Wild Rice bowls combine seasoned wild rice, grilled chicken, tender sweet potatoes, and the most addictive cilantro lime sauce.
Print Recipe

Chicken Wild Rice Bowls

5 from 7 votes
Chicken and Wild Rice bowls combine seasoned wild rice, grilled chicken, tender sweet potatoes, and the most addictive cilantro lime sauce.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword wild rice and chicken
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 servings
Calories 441kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $7.49

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons chicken grilling blend (See Note 1)
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH: ground cumin and freshly cracked pepper

Wild Rice, Sweet Potatoes, & Optional Bowl Toppings

  • 2 packages (6 oz each) Long Grain and Wild Rice packaged mix (See Note 2)
  • 2 pounds small sweet potatoes (7-8 oz. each)
  • Optional: handful of arugula spinach blend; 1 large avocado, sliced almonds, dried cranberries or dried tart cherries

Sauce

  • 1/2 cup EACH: freshly squeezed lime juice and olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/2 cup gently packed cilantro (about 1 bunch; some stems are fine, I just twist off the tops typically)
  • 1 tablespoon EACH: coarsely chopped jalapeño, honey, almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove coarsely chopped garlic clove

Instructions

  • SAUCE: In a small blender, combine all of the sauce ingredients except the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I add 1/4 teaspoon of each). Pulse to combine ingredients. Once combined, drizzle in the olive oil and pulse just to incorporate. Transfer sauce to a mason jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • WILD RICE: Follow package directions to prepare wild rice. Once cooked, fluff with a fork. Keep the lid on to keep warm while preparing the chicken and potatoes.
  • SWEET POTATOES: Wash and scrub four to five (2 pounds total) sweet potatoes. Use a fork to pierce the skin-- about 6-8 pierces per potato. Cook on a microwave-safe plate for 5 minutes. Flip and microwave for another 3-5 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and can easily be pierced by a fork in the center. The time will vary, depending on the size of the potatoes. I have tested this recipe with 6, 7, and 8-ounce sweet potatoes; larger potatoes take longer. Remove from the microwave and let cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Peel the skins off with your fingers (they should easily slip off). Spray both sides of the potatoes with cooking spray and lightly sprinkle both sides with salt.
  • CHICKEN: Stir together the olive oil, salt, pepper, chicken seasoning, and cumin in a small bowl and set aside. Slice large chicken breasts in half horizontally. Cover chicken breasts with plastic wrap (to avoid splatter). Using a meat mallet or the bottom of a frying pan, pound breasts to even thickness (you don't want to flatten the meat, just even it in thickness). Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. With a pastry brush (or your hands) brush both sides of all the chicken breast pieces with the seasoning and oil blend. Set aside.
  • GRILL: Preheat grill to medium high (400-450 degrees F.) Add chicken to cleaned and greased grill (I rub grill grates with a vegetable oil-drenched paper towel). Grill for 4-5 minutes per side, flipping over halfway in between or until chicken registers 160 degrees F. Remove to a plate and tent with foil. If needed, add an extra sprinkle of salt to the chicken breasts off the grill. Add the sweet potatoes to the grill and cook for 2 minutes per side, using tongs to flip potatoes halfway in between. Remove to a plate to slightly cool. Coarsely chop sweet potatoes. Thinly slice or chop chicken breasts.
  • ASSEMBLE: Set out even amounts of wild rice and top with chicken and sweet potatoes. Add any other optional toppings; I like a small handful of an arugula/spinach mix, sliced almonds, dried cranberries, and a thinly sliced (or chopped) ripe avocado. Drizzle with sauce and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Seasoning: I like Mrs. Dash's® chicken grilling blend, which does not have salt added. Whatever chicken seasoning blend you use, make sure it doesn't have salt added or you'll need to adjust the salt amount in the rub.
Note 2: Wild rice blend: Here's what I use when making wild rice; if you'd rather not used packaged wild rice, read the blog post for a homemade wild rice recipe.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 6g | Calories: 441kcal | Carbohydrates: 47.3g | Protein: 37.7g | Fat: 12.6g | Cholesterol: 110.3mg | Sodium: 162.7mg | Fiber: 4.9g | Sugar: 9.7g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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12 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thanks for another delicious meal Chelsea! Seasoning was perfect, sauce was awesome, and love the layering of ingredients and flavors. Couldn’t have been tastier 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    Absolutely love this dish! the flavor combination was so yummy. Perfect meal for after a long run.

  3. 5 stars
    my wife said she would put that sauce on her eggs in the morning if there was any left. We loved it to say the least!

    1. Haha!! 🙂 So happy to hear that, thank you so much for leaving a comment and letting me know, it means so much to me!

  4. 5 stars
    I should really leave a review for this recipe…. Its a favorite of mine. Woke up today thinking about it for dinner. Ha ha!
    So delicious and fresh.

  5. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe! My fiancé, his father and myself absolutely loved this dish! We loved all of the different flavors and the sauce is sooo tasty! I will definitely be making this again! Thank you for the recipe!

  6. 5 stars
    Hands down one of my favorite meals EVER! The flavors are crazy good from the chicken, to the toppings and the beyond delicious sauce! Honestly, I do a happy dance when I take my first bite. It’s that good!

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