Harvest Bowl

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This flavor-packed and nutritious Harvest Bowl is loaded with grilled garlic-herb chicken, seasoned grilled butternut squash, tender brown rice, and a quick kale salad. These delicious bowls are topped with a sweet honey-Dijon sauce that perfectly complements all the bowl components. Whether you grill or cook indoors, this is a fantastic cozy blend of fall flavors!

Overhead image of the Harvest Bowl

Harvest Bowl

This Harvest Bowl has become my go-to choice the last few weeks as the weather has been cooling down. I got a new grill and haven’t stopped using it!

I had the idea to try grilling butternut squash on it, and truthfully, I haven’t turned on the oven again to roast squash! You won’t believe how caramelized and delicious butternut squash gets when it’s grilled. Plus it’s done in a fraction of the time.

Harvest Bowls also have deliciously seasoned grilled chicken, a quick kale salad, and tender brown rice. Drizzle everything in an irresistible honey-Dijon sauce and you’ve basically got fall in a bowl. Yum! 

Process shot-- Cooking the brown rice for Harvest Bowl

Brown Rice

We start these Harvest Bowls with brown rice, but feel free to use any grain you’d like. Some other ideas:

Process shots--Making the dressing; assembling salad ingredients; adding dressing; toss to coat.

The quick kale salad for these Harvest Bowls

This kale salad has only four ingredients and takes just minutes to assemble. The same sauce that we drizzle over the Harvest Bowls also tops this salad. If you’re hesitant about kale, you can certainly use a different variety of lettuce here, but the kale is a great complement to the squash and chicken. 

So what is the secret method? Massaging the kale. Strange? Yes, a little. Effective? Absolutely. Here’s how we do it:

  • Start by removing the thick stems and then very thinly slice (into ribbons) the kale. I think the smaller the pieces or shreds of kale, the better it tastes.
  • Once it’s all chopped, throw it in a colander (or for a quicker preparation time, use the base of a salad spinner!) and give it a quick rinse.
  • Next, sprinkle some fine sea salt on top and, using your hands, rub and massage the salt into the kale. 
  • Massage the kale for about a minute or until it turns a deep green color and then give it another quick rinse. (That darker color shows you that the kale is breaking down and becoming tender.)
  • Allow the kale to dry completely before adding it to the salad (a salad spinner speeds that process quite a bit). If the kale is wet, the dressing won’t adhere as nicely.


Rubbing the leaves with salt creates friction that breaks down the tough fibers and mellows out the flavor. It’s not an old wives’ tale; there’s real science to it! Read a bit more about it in this article.

Process shots--images of the butternut squash being prepped and grilled for the Harvest Bowl

Harvest Bowl Honey Dijon Sauce

The sauce has only four ingredients (plus salt & pepper) and it’s as easy as throwing it into a blender and letting it go! Below I break down the ingredients.

  • Apple cider vinegar. This is a vinegar made by crushing apples, squeezing out the juice, and then fermenting that juice. It’s the perfect fall flavor we’re looking for in the sauce! I wouldn’t recommend using any other vinegar in this recipe.
  • Dijon mustard. Don’t confuse Dijon with regular mustard or grainy/brown mustard. While it seems like there is a lot of Dijon in this dressing, the flavors are balanced nicely with the honey and mayo.
  • Honey. This dressing is sweet, but I wouldn’t recommend reducing the amount of honey too much — it is what balances the tang from the vinegar and Dijon mustard.
  • Mayo. Use a good full-fat mayonnaise for ultimate creaminess in this sauce.
  • Salt and pepper. Add to taste; if the sauce isn’t as potent as you’d like it may just need an extra dash of seasoning!

Butternut Squash

Get your grill fired up—- you’re never going to want to eat butternut squash any other way! 

Before you even get to the grilling, make sure to pick out a good squash. Look for butternut squash with a solid beige color and one that feels heavy for its size. In the U.S., the best time to buy ripe local squash is September through November. You can tell a squash is ripe by the color and texture of the outer rind. If there are any green spots, the squash isn’t ready to cook. The skin should be hard (not glossy) and have an even color throughout.


Cutting a butternut squash for these Harvest Bowls can be tricky with a dull knife. You’ll want a very sharp knife to cut it to avoid any possible injury and to make the process easier.

Image of the fire of the grill coming up on the butternut squash slices

Preparing the squash for grilling

  • Remove the stems at both ends and then peel the entire squash with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.
  • Cut the squash in half where the thinner end begins to widen around the middle.
  • Thinly slice the entire squash into 1/2-inch thick slices. These aren’t very thick and that is intended because any thicker and the squash will burn on the outside before it’s tender on the inside.
  • When you get to the end with seeds, continue to cut into 1/2-inch thick slices and just pull out the seeds.
  • Cut evenly — the more equal the pieces, the more perfectly the squash will grill!
  • Brush a mixture of olive oil, salt and pepper on all sides of the squash and lay them on the preheated grill.
  • Grill 4-5 minutes per side (at 450 degrees F) and you’ll be ready to enjoy perfectly crisp tender butternut squash with delicious caramelized edges.

Process shots--Combining seasonings for the chicken; add olive oil; spread over the chicken; grill until cooked through; tent with foil before slicing.

Harvest Bowl Chicken Grilling Tips

  • Slice breasts in half before adding seasoning. Slice and/or pound your chicken breasts so the pieces are an even thickness. That way they’ll cook quicker and much more evenly. You can pound the chicken with a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy frying pan. We aren’t trying to flatten the chicken, but rather ensure even thickness throughout.
  • Season generously. Since these Harvest Bowls are fairly involved, I wanted to keep the chicken part simple, but also super flavorful. We do this by using a store-bought chicken blend (specifically intended for grilling). I use a garlic– herb seasoning blend and add plenty to the chicken. If you feel like it’s missing anything, just add a sprinkle more!
  • Generously oil your grill grates. I do this by rolling up a few paper towels, drenching them in oil (canola or vegetable), and using tongs, rubbing the drenched paper towels along the grill grates. Doing this will contribute to a beautiful sear, and ensure the chicken doesn’t stick to the grates.
  • Let the cooked chicken rest, tented with foil, for 5-10 minutes before slicing. This allows a redistribution of the juices inside the meat.

Up-close overhead image of the Harvest Bowl with dressing drizzled over it.

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Harvest Bowl

4.86 from 7 votes
This flavor-packed and nutritious Harvest Bowl is loaded with grilled garlic-herb chicken, seasoned grilled butternut squash, tender brown rice, and a quick kale salad. These bowls are topped with a sweet honey-Dijon sauce that perfectly complements all the bowl components.
Print Recipe

Harvest Bowl

4.86 from 7 votes
This flavor-packed and nutritious Harvest Bowl is loaded with grilled garlic-herb chicken, seasoned grilled butternut squash, tender brown rice, and a quick kale salad. These bowls are topped with a sweet honey-Dijon sauce that perfectly complements all the bowl components.
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword Harvest Bowl
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4 servings
Chelsea Lords
Calories 951kcal
Cost $7.82



  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons chicken grilling seasoning blend (See Note 1)
  • Fine sea salt and pepper

Butternut Squash

  • 1 small (1 and 1/2 lbs) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


  • 1 cup brown rice plus water, 1 tablespoon butter, & 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups finely sliced kale
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1/4 cup honey-roasted sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese


  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (not yellow mustard)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons regular, full fat mayo


  • BROWN RICE: Prepare brown rice according to package directions. Note 2
  • CHICKEN: Stir together the olive oil, chicken seasoning, and salt & pepper to taste (I add 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper) 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 an even thickness (you don't want to flatten the meat, just create an even 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 through, or until chicken registers 160 degrees F. Remove to a plate and tent with foil. If needed, add an extra sprinkle of salt and/or chicken seasoning to the chicken breasts off the grill. Thinly slice or chop chicken breasts.
  • BUTTERNUT SQUASH: Cut off both ends and then peel the squash. Using a very sharp knife, cut the squash into 1/2-inch thick slices. When you slice where there are seeds, cut around the center with a pairing knife and then press the center seedy section out to remove. In a small bowl, combine the oil and salt and pepper (to taste; I add 1/4 teaspoon of each). Use a pastry brush to spread the oil mixture over both all sides of the squash slices. Grease grill grates and then add squash directly to heated (450 degrees F) grill grates. Grill for 4-5 minutes per side or until tender. Remove and then chop for the bowls.
  • QUICK KALE SALAD:  In a medium-sized bowl combine kale, cranberries, almonds, and shaved Parmesan. Toss with some of the sauce (see next step) until well coated.
  • SAUCE: In a small blender, combine all of the sauce ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I add 1/8 teaspoon of salt and a small pinch of pepper). Pulse to combine ingredients. Transfer the sauce to a glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • ASSEMBLE: Divide even amounts of brown rice into 4 separate bowls and top with even amounts of chicken and butternut squash. Add kale salad in equal parts and drizzle everything with additional sauce. Enjoy!


Recipe Notes

Note 1: I use McCormick® chicken grilling blends (garlic and herb). Feel free to bump up this amount to personal preference, or sprinkle extra on chicken right off the grill.
Note 2: Brown rice: To prepare the brown rice,  bring 2 and 1/2 cups water to a boil then add in the brown rice, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45-50 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff, and set aside.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 951kcal | Carbohydrates: 103g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 23g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 606mg | Potassium: 1306mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 38g | Vitamin A: 12084IU | Vitamin C: 144mg | Calcium: 452mg | Iron: 6mg

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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Recipe Rating


  1. 4 stars
    Overall, this is a great bowl. I used delicata squash instead of butternut because it’s what I had on hand, and it worked perfectly. The dressing came across vinegar-heavy to me, but it’s easy enough to add a little more of this and that to adjust it to your specific taste. Will definitely make this again. Thanks!

  2. 5 stars
    I made this for dinner last night and it is definitely a keeper! My family and I all loved it! The dressing/sauce was super delicious – I would it on other salads or a dipping sauce for other recipes as well. Thanks for sharing such a yummy healthy recipe 🙂

  3. This looks fantastic! I am super eager to try it. My family isn’t big on squash–do you happen to have any suggestions for other vegetable substitutions that could work instead? Thanks so much!

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