This easy Mexican-inspired rice bowl has 3 simple components that are all packed with lots of flavor and texture. The chicken gets cooked with tomato paste, onion, garlic and some spices to create a super saucy, delicious result. Simple brown rice gets brightened up with some cilantro and a basic cabbage slaw adds that fresh crunch! Avocado is the final topper that adds a nice rich, creamy element. Go the extra mile and make some guac!

P.S. If you’re making pickled red onions, highly recommend adding them to these bowls!

Ingredient highlight

Brown rice! My favorite and most used rice variety because it’s easy to cook and has a nice chewy texture. Since it’s a whole grain, the bran has not been removed, which contains most of the nutritional benefits. It’s a great source of B vitamins, iron, selenium, magnesium and other trace minerals. It also contains some protein (about 5g in 1 cup cooked).

Servings 4 People
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 19 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


For the chicken:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-1 ½ lb chicken breast (cut in half lengthwise if very thick)

For the rice:

  • 3 cups cooked short grain brown rice (1 cup dry)
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro (leaves and stems!)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 avocado sliced

For the slaw:

  • ½ purple cabbage (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice (or apple cider vinegar)
  • ½ tsp kosher salt


  • Cook your rice if you don’t have it prepped. Simmer it in a pot of water for 25-30 minutes, drain and set aside.
  • In a medium pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt and sauté until softened, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, cumin, oregano and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add a splash of oil if it looks too dry in the pot (this will help bloom the spices and caramelize the tomato paste).
  • Stir in the water and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Nestle the chicken into the liquid, spooning some of the liquid/onions on top of each breast. Bring to a rapid simmer, then reduce the heat and simmer gently, covered, for 10-15 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through to cook evenly. This may take shorter or longer depending on the thickness of your breast.
  • Once cooked through, transfer chicken breasts to a cutting board and use two forks to shred them. Return to the pot and simmer for another minute, or until the liquid is reduced and thickened (you want it saucy, but not watery).
  • Add the cooked rice to a medium bowl along with the cilantro, olive oil, and salt. Toss to coat.
  • For the slaw, add all ingredients to that same bowl and toss to coat. Add rice, chicken and slaw to your bowls and top with avocado slices and a sprinkle of salt.

Items you can prep ahead (optional)

  • Cook 1 cup brown rice + make cilantro rice
  • Cook chicken mixture
  • Prep cabbage + make slaw


  • To make vegetarian: use chickpeas or tofu in place of the chicken. Add it in at the same time the chicken is added, but reduce the liquid to ¼ cup (add more water if needed). Cook until the liquid reduces into a thick sauce. OR sub with the beans from this stuffed sweet potato recipe!
  • Substitute any grain for the brown rice.
  • Skip the rice and roast some veggies in oil and salt, then toss with cilantro.
  • Any crunchy veg works for the cabbage: carrot, radish, fennel, etc… OR do a mix! I like using up leftover raw veggies in slaw.


  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge
    • Cilantro rice: up to 4 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer
    • Chicken: up to 4 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer
    • Slaw: up to 5 days in the fridge

Leftovers + Repurposing:

  • Warm up the chicken and rice. Serve with slaw and avocado.
  • Add pickled red onions!
  • Top with a fried egg
  • Add plenty of fresh cilantro 
  • Turn it into a mexican salad by tossing with some greens. Drizzle everything with olive oil and lime juice or vinegar and sprinkle with salt.

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