September 3, 2023

Crispy Tofu Buddha Bowl with Sweet Chili Sauce

Short on time and don’t feel like making a big deal about dinner? Try whipping up a buddha bowl. More likely than not, you already have all of the ingredients stocked in your fridge and pantry. Really, any mix of both raw and cooked veggies can work to create a buddha bowl. 

Now, you’re probably asking yourself why it’s called a buddha bowl. Interestingly enough, today’s macrobiotic grain bowls have appropriated a concept originated by the young prince Siddhartha Gautama (aka Buddha) – the teacher, philosopher and spiritual leader who is considered the founder of Buddhism (1).

After living a life of decadence and over indulgence, the young prince began to practice unrealistic abstinence living as a wandering ascetic. He quite literally could have been the world’s first yo-yo dieter. Believing there had to be a better way to live nourished, he sought to find a “middle ground.” During a moment of enlightenment he discovered that it was more important to care more about when or how much to eat, rather than what to eat.

Buddha’s window for eating was limited to a 9-hour eating window. As lore goes, Buddha woke up before dawn every morning and carried his bowl through the roads or paths wherever he was staying. Villagers would place food in the bowl and at the end of the day Buddha would eat what was donated. You could say that this was the original Buddha bowl; however it wouldn’t have been called that for thousands of years.

In the current millenia, Buddha bowls have been used by influencers and lifestyle bloggers to describe deep-rimmed dishes overflowing with vibrant nutrient dense food. The term “buddha bowl” originated around the year 2013 and typically has been used to describe vegan fare – think, whole grains, veggies, and plant proteins. That last bit really is the formula to making your own version of a buddha bowl.

What we love about these bowls – whatever, you call them – is that they contain little bites of nourishment. Powering up these bowls with nutrient dense foods is such an easy way to create a balanced meal – a portion of grain or starch (rice, barley, millet, quinoa, sweet potatoes, or corn), a smattering of protein (tofu, chickpeas, or beans), and an assortment of various vegetables, both raw and cooked.

And while we all aren’t food stylists, assembling the bowl in a way that compliments all of the vibrant colors of the food  helps us to “eat with our eyes,” stimulating our appetite. So if you’re doing the dinner dance and are stuck in front of the fridge wondering what to eat, a buddha can be the solution to your dilemma. Check out this recipe or get creative and prepare a bowl with whatever you have in your fridge.

This buddha bowl recipe is a splendid mix of nutrient dense foods sure to keep you satiated and full of energy. We’ve pulled together crispy tofu, blanched broccoli, fresh radish slices and shredded carrots, along with sauté mushrooms and cabbage and have layered it all on top of a bed of soft jasmine rice. The whole bowl is tied together with a sweet chili glaze you are sure to be licking off the plate when all is said and done!

Crispy Tofu Buddha Bowl

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten-free, plant based, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 4
Calories: 669kcal
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Tofu Marinade
  • 14 oz tofu drained, pressed, cut into 1" cubes
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil for cooking
For Bowl
  • 2 c jasmine rice uncooked
  • 1 tbsp olive oil divided
  • broccoli florets
  • white cabbage shredded
  • 8 oz beech mushrooms
  • 1 bunch radishes sliced
  • 1 c carrots shredded
  • 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • green onions for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
Sweet Chili Sauce
  • 3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup grade A
  • 1 tbsp sambal oelek
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • remaining tofu marinade


  • Prepare rice following package directions. Set aside.
  • Blanch Broccoli. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add a heaping tablespoon of salt. Add the broccoli florets and cook until crisp-tender, 1 – 1 1/2 minutes. Plunge broccoli into an ice water bath to stop cooking.
  • Make Tofu Marinade. Add tofu marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk together to combine. Add tofu to the bowl and let marinate for one hour.
  • Cook Tofu. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu to the pan and reserve leftover marinade for chili sauce. Cook, occasionally turning, until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes. Remove tofu from the pan; set aside.
  • Sauté Cabbage. Wipe out the pan, and add an additional ½ tbsp of olive oil, place back over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the cabbage and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until softened, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside
  • Sauté Mushrooms. Place skillet back on the stove and add one last ½ tbsp of olive oil. Once hot, add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until softened, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.
  • Prepare Sauce. Add chili glaze ingredients to a small bowl; whisk to combine. In a large saucepan, heat sweet chili sauce and leftover marinade over medium heat. Add tofu and stir to coat.
  • To Serve. Assemble tofu, broccoli, mushrooms, shredded carrots, sliced radishes over rice. Garnish with chopped green onions, sesame seeds. Drizzle leftover sweet chili sauce over top. Enjoy!


Calories: 669kcalCarbohydrates: 101gProtein: 22gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gSodium: 1965mgPotassium: 902mgFiber: 7gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 5691IUVitamin C: 58mgCalcium: 168mgIron: 4mg
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