Chicken Quinoa Bowl

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Easy and nutritious Chicken Quinoa Bowl brings together cilantro lime quinoa, marinated chicken, and a fresh mango black bean salsa.

Love bowl type meals? Us too! Try these banh mi bowls, sweet potato couscous bowls, or taco bowls next!

Overhead image of Quinoa Chicken Bowl with fresh mango salsa and cilantro on the side.

Chicken Quinoa Bowl

Marinate some chicken, prep some quinoa, and toss together a simple mango salsa for a seriously flavorful meal! Chicken Quinoa Bowls are one of my family’s favorite meals. They’re fresh, tasty, and packed with good-for-you ingredients.

They’ve also got tons of protein, thanks to the chicken, black beans, and quinoa! While there are a few steps to this meal, these bowls come together nicely since you’ll do half the work in advance by marinating the chicken. The rest of the meal can be prepared right before dinnertime. For me, breaking up dinner time prep always feels like it makes things easier.

Process shots-- images of the marinade being made and the chicken being added to it.

How to make Chicken Quinoa Bowls

  • Whisk together the marinade ingredients. This marinade is delicious and so quick to whip together! It has Sprite® (or any lemon lime soda), soy sauce, olive oil, lime juice, garlic powder, honey, and salt. Don’t forget to reserve some of the marinade to brush on top of the chicken later as it grills.
  • Marinate. Place the chicken in the marinade mixture and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 6 hours. Why not longer? The acidity from the lime can begin to “cook” and dry out the chicken.
  • Cook. Grill, bake, or saute the chicken until it reaches 165 degrees F. (I like to take the guesswork out by using a digital meat thermometer.)
    • Cooking times will vary, depending on several factors so I always recommend using a thermometer to test your chicken as it cooks. Aim to hit 165 degrees Fahrenheit. (Under-cooked = unsafe; Over-cooked = dry chicken)
  • Baste. As you grill the chicken, brush it occasionally with the reserved marinade. This is going to amp up the flavor and make sure you get  to taste all those delicious flavors.
  • Make the mango salsa. While the chicken is cooking, it’s the perfect time to get the rice going and start on the salsa. More on the salsa below.

Mango salsa process shots-- images of all the ingredients in a bowl; then an image of it all mixed together.

Mango salsa

There are few things I love as much as mango salsa, and it’s the best possible addition to these chicken quinoa bowls. This salsa is a bit different from my usual mango salsa recipe, since it’s got some corn and black beans in it and no avocado (although feel free to add one if you’d like). Below are a few salsa tips:

  • Make sure the mango is fully ripe. This ensures peak flavor, texture, and sweetness. We want a good sweet mango to complement the chicken.
  • I recommend honey mangoes for these chicken quinoa bowls (also called Ataulfo mangoes). They’re sweeter and creamier than regular mangoes and don’t have the typical fibers throughout.
  • Chop the ingredients into even sizes for a congruent salsa. The more even the sizes of everything, the more coherent the salsa is. Check out this guide for how to cut a mango!
  • If you like a little more spice in your salsa, add a bit more jalapeño and/or sprinkle of red pepper flakes. If you’d prefer the salsa to stay on the mild side, reduce or leave out the jalapeño.
  • Juicer: This recipe calls for fresh lime and lemon juice in the marinade and salsa, which can be a pain to juice by hand. I recommend a small juicer or citrus reamer — you don’t need anything special or crazy expensive. This one is inexpensive and a great investment if you juice a lot of citrus. 

Overhead image of the quinoa chicken on a plate with a fork on the side ready to be eaten.

Chicken Quinoa Bowl tips

  • If you have extra thick/large chicken breasts, slice the chicken in half, and/or pound the breasts (this is best accomplished by a meat mallet). Aim to have the chicken into an even thickness before marinating. This allows the chicken to soak up more flavor from the marinade, improving taste. The even thickness will allow them to cook evenly and quicker.
  • As the chicken is cooking, brush the reserved marinade on the meat. This will enhance the flavor. You can even leave some marinade (untouched by the meat) to drizzle over everything after it’s finished, as a sort of dressing.
  • Once it’s finished, let the cooked chicken rest, tented with foil, for 5-10 minutes before cutting in. This allows for the juices to redistribute (here’s the science on that.

Overhead image of the Chicken Quinoa Bowl with the grilled chicken cut up and the fresh salsa and cilantro on the side.

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Quinoa Chicken Bowls

5 from 1 vote
Easy and nutritious Chicken Quinoa Bowl brings together cilantro lime quinoa, marinated chicken, and a fresh mango black bean salsa!
Print Recipe

Quinoa Chicken Bowls

5 from 1 vote
Easy and nutritious Chicken Quinoa Bowl brings together cilantro lime quinoa, marinated chicken, and a fresh mango black bean salsa!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken quinoa bowl
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Marinating Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 544kcal
Cost $10.64

Ingredients

Chicken (See Note 1)

  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (~1.5 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup Sprite or lemon lime soda (not diet soda)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup regular soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Quinoa

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth (can use water)
  • Optional: fresh lime and 1/4 cup diced cilantro

Mango Salsa

  • 1/2 cup frozen corn thawed
  • 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup red onion finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, diced
  • 2 ripe honey (Ataulfo) mangoes, peeled and diced (OR 1 large mango)
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon diced jalapeño
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Optional toppings: extra cilantro, an avocado, squeeze of fresh lime

Instructions

  • MARINATE THE CHICKEN: Prepare the chicken breasts by halving thick/large breasts horizontally. Cover chicken breasts with plastic wrap (to avoid splatter). Using a meat mallet or the bottom of your frying pan, pound breasts to even thickness (you don't want to flatten the meat, just even the thickness throughout). If you don't have super-thick chicken breasts, simply pound breasts to even thickness. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. Place in a large zipper bag. Combine the Sprite, olive oil, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic powder, honey, and salt. Stir together and pour the marinade into the bag, reserving 1/2 cup of the marinade. Knead chicken to ensure it's well covered in the marinade. Let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes up to 6 hours; avoid longer marinating time as the acid from the marinade will start to dry out the chicken.
  • GRILL: Preheat grill to medium heat (400 degrees F). Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard any remaining marinade. Prepare the grill by cleaning, and then generously oil the grill (I drench a rolled-up paper towel in vegetable oil and, holding it with tongs, rub it over the grill grates). Heat grill to 400 degrees F. Add the chicken to the grill. Cook for 4-5 minutes per side or until it registers 160 degrees F (carryover heat will take it to the safe temperature of 165 degrees F). Remove grilled chicken to a plate and cover with foil. While grilling, brush most of the reserved marinade over the chicken. Leave about 3 tablespoons marinade to "dress" the chicken once it's grilled.
  • QUINOA: Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. Add the quinoa and chicken broth(or water) and salt to a small pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, and cover the pot. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed. Remove the pot from the heat, and keeping the pot still covered, let the quinoa stand and steam for 10-15 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. If desired, add in some fresh lime juice to taste (1-2 tablespoons) and diced cilantro.
  • MANGO SALSA: Place the thawed corn, drained and rinsed black beans, finely diced red onion, finely diced red pepper, diced mangoes, finely chopped cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, diced jalapeño, and cumin in a large bowl. Salt and pepper the salsa to taste. Stir the salsa and then taste and adjust any flavors to personal preference.
  • SERVE: Divide the quinoa evenly onto 4 plates. Chop or thinly slice the chicken and add on top. Drizzle reserved 3 tablespoons marinade over the chicken. Divide salsa evenly onto plates. Optionally, garnish with cilantro and sliced avocado. Squeeze a wedge of fresh lime over the dish.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: The marinade is separated into three parts, so don't add it all to the raw chicken or you won't be able to use it later on. We use the mixture to marinate the chicken in, then as the chicken is cooking, we brush the reserved marinade on the meat. We'll also leave out some marinade to drizzle over everything after it's finished as a sort of dressing.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 544kcal

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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Nutrition facts in chicken quinoa bowls

A bed of quinoa with marinated and grilled chicken breast topped with a fresh and healthy mango salsa.
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45 Comments

    1. Thanks Rochelle! So I used soda in the marinade because the citric acid in the soda really tenderizes the meat! I usually use soda in all my meat marinades and love the results!

  1. What a funny story! That is my husband’s reoccurring nightmare though. He dreams that they take away his college degree because he forgot to go something in high school.

    Sprite in the marinade, how fun! Mexican flavored foods are my family’s favorite. Yum!

    1. Oh man I totally still have nightmares I didn’t finish school or forgot to submit a project! Thanks Jamie 🙂

  2. Oh yum! I love mangoes in pretty much anything and this salsa has my name written all over it!! This would be one delicious lunch or dinner… can’t wait to make it.

    Oh, and good luck on going back to school, ha! I have no doubt that that teacher lady will be impressed 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    These look gorgeous, delicious and healthy! I actually have all these ingredients at home, so guess what’s for dinner tomorrow. Good luck with your homework assignments. Submitting something to the teacher ought to really confuse her. Have fun!

  4. Quinoa, chicken, and mango salsa! What a summery dish. And it’s so pretty with all those colors! That is hilarious that a teacher is still emailing your husband, haha! Y’all should totally do an assignment and send it in. Then let us know what grade you got. 🙂

  5. Haha – that is too funny! Why won’t they stop emailing him?! I am loving these quinoa bowls! Mangoes were on sale at Whole Foods the other day, so I have like 6 in my fridge. Definitely going to whip this up for dinner!!

  6. Haha, too funny on the e-mails – good luck with the extra credit 🙂 These pretty quinoa bowls would surely get you an awesome grade – I love anything with mango 🙂 Everything looks so fresh and colorful – yum!

  7. Bowls like this are my favorite! I love how you can get a little bit of everything in one bite. This looks delicious!

  8. Haha! You two can submit one just for funsies! 😛

    This looks amazing! I would love to try a bowl of this. Mango salsa would definitely complete this bowl.

  9. Hi!! I ran across this on Healthy Eating Planner and it looks wonderful!! I love the idea of the salsa and have always wanted to make one, however, I am not a fan of mango. What else would you recommend in place of it? Pineapple?

  10. I made this for dinner earlier this week, and it became an instant favorite with my family. The flavor of the chicken was amazing, and the salsa was fresh and delicious. We loved it so much, we are having again tonight! Thanks for sharing this fantastic recipe!

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