Burrito Bowls

Burrito bowls are one of my favorite things to serve to guests. It is simple, inexpensive, and delicious, and I think it will please every type of eater, from the pickiest to the most adventurous.

I am always looking for meals I can serve several guests that are healthy and simple, yet satisfying. I try to cook meals that are not terribly different from what we eat every day so I can make them last minute without having to run to the store for specific ingredients, and I know we will always eat whatever is leftover.

Burrito bowls are pretty self-explanatory by the name: it is a burrito in a bowl instead of a tortilla. Options for your bowl are endless, but here are a few of our favorites.


I either brown ground beef or make shredded chicken, or both if we are having a big crowd. For the beef I simply brown it in a big pan on the stove, seasoned only with salt, in case one of my guests does not like Mexican seasonings.

For the chicken I either boil it on the stove or cook it all day in the crock pot (depending on how much time I have), then shred it, saving the broth for soup another day.

How much meat you cook depends on how many guests you are feeding, but you don’t have to cook as much as you would if you were serving whole pieces of beef or steak. Since the bowls will be filled with rice and all the other toppings, you can get by with cooking less meat, making the meal less expensive.

(Side note: I am happy to cook expensive meals for my guests, but if I can find ways to save money we can feed more people and have more people into our homes. I try not to skimp in ways that are obvious, just in ways that are practical.)


Cook lots of rice! You can do either white or brown rice, whichever you normally eat and have on hand. We will always eat leftover rice, so I try to cook more than I think we’ll need. Yet there have still been times that we ran out of rice! Even if I cook brown rice for the meal, I like having white rice on hand so I can cook up extra in a few minutes.

Sometimes I cook the rice in tomato juice and cooked veggies and spices, but usually I keep it plain, again in case there are guests who do not prefer Mexican flavors.


I either cook refried beans or black beans, or both if we are having lots of guests. It is best to get them dry and soak them the night before, but I have definitely used canned beans in a pinch and they are still great! I will go ahead and season these beans with cumin, chili powder, and other Mexican spices because I think they taste so much better that way, and guests can choose to bypass the beans if they prefer.

Other Toppings

I try to have as many of these extra toppings as possible, but often I just stick to what we keep on hand. Ideas for extra toppings include: salsa, taco sauce, hot sauce, guacamole or sliced avocado, corn, cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips or strips, shredded lettuce or cilantro-lime slaw.


This will make enough burrito bowls for at least 8 people, perhaps with some leftover as well.


1-1.5 lbs beef
1 onion, diced

3 cups uncooked white rice
7 cups water
Salt, to taste

Refried Beans
2 cups dried pinto beans or 3 15oz cans pinto beans
1 TBS chili powder
1 TBS cumin
2 tsp salt
1 onion, diced

2 avocados
1 lime

Additional Toppings
1 16oz jar salsa, any type
1 16oz container sour cream
16oz shredded cheese
Shredded lettuce
Tortilla chips

If using ground beef, begin by sautéing the diced onion in a large pan with a drizzle of olive oil.
When the onion is turning translucent, add your meat and continue to cook until the meat is fully cooked.
Carefully drain the meat and transfer to a serving bowl

Place water, rice, and salt in a large pot and bring to a boil.
Lower to a simmer and put lid on the pot; let steam for 15 minutes.
Fluff the rice with a fork and transfer to a serving dish, or just leave it in the pot on a hot pad

Refried Beans
If you are using dried beans, place them in a large bowl the night before and cover with water. The next day drain and rinse the beans.
Put beans in a large pot and cover with several inches of water. Bring to a boil, then lower to medium heat and let the beans gently boil for around 45 minutes. Test your beans every so often for softness because it may take more or less time.
If you are using canned beans start here! Drain the liquid from your beans (whether from your cooking pot or from a can), but SAVE the liquid.
Brown the diced onion in an oiled pan until soft and fully cooked. Add seasonings.
Add the onion to your beans and mash everything together with a potato masher. You can also use a hand-mixer, adding your saved bean liquid as necessary to get the desired consistency.

Mash all the ingredients together in a bowl with a fork, adding lime juice and salt to taste.