This delicious tofu quinoa bowl features pan-fried sweet chili tofu, chewy quinoa, fresh mango, cucumber and avocado. It is easy to make and great for meal prep, it makes for a filling lunch or dinner everyone will love. Vegan and easy to make gluten-free.
Plant-based bowls are my go-to meals for when I need something fresh, filling and healthy. I like how bowls don't follow solid rules and you can pretty much make them just the way you feel. This makes them easy to whip up together and accessible for everyone, whether you like to cook or not.
And this tofu quinoa bowl pairs so many of my favorite foods, I had to share, absolutely delicious!
It is like a Buddha bowl and combines quinoa, sweet chili tofu, mango salsa, cucumber and avocado. It feels so fresh with tons of vibrant color and yummy flavors, yet makes for a satisfying and filling meal without leaving you with a heavy feeling.
I like using quinoa instead of rice when making bowls, such as seen in this quinoa poke bowl and Mediterranean quinoa bowl. It adds a fun texture but more importantly, quinoa is packed with nutrition. You might already know that quinoa is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but also, quinoa is packed with a surprising amount of plant-based protein. It truly is a superfood!
Also, if you don't like tofu that much, then wait to try the sweet chili tofu. It is really easy to make and pretty simple, but the combo of chili paste, maple syrup, garlic and rice vinegar makes for the best saucy tofu you will have in a while.
Let me know if you gave it a try! ❤️
Why you will love this recipe
- Easy recipe suitable for meal prep
- Nutrient-dense meal packed with whole foods, rich in fiber and loaded with plant-based protein
- Great energizing power bowl recipe that's perfect for lunch or dinner
- Loaded with fresh ingredients featuring both sweet and spicy flavors
- Features a delicious saucy tofu
- Very versatile
- Vegan, vegetarian and healthy
Ingredients you will need
See below in the recipe card for the measurements.
For the bowl
- Quinoa: I like white quinoa, but you can use any color that you have or prefer. White quinoa tends to become softer after cooking while black or red quinoa usually gives a chewier bite to recipes.
- Tofu: I recommend using extra firm tofu for this recipe. Firm tofu would be fine too.
- Avocado: optional, adds more healthy fats and a nice creamy texture to your bowl.
- Cucumber: gives a nice crunch and freshness to the bowl!
For the sweet chili sauce
- Soy sauce: not the predominant flavor of the sauce, you will only need a little bit to add umami and salty flavor.
- Rice vinegar: or swap for lime juice.
- Maple syrup: or swap for agave nectar. I haven't tried making it with brown sugar, but I think it would work.
- Garlic: I used one large clove.
- Chili paste (also called sambal oelek): you can easily find chili paste in most grocery stores (check in the Asian aisle). Add as much chili paste as you want for a more or less spicy sauce.
- Cornstarch: to thicken the sauce lightly, arrowroot powder works too.
You can play around with the ingredients of the sauce to make it spicier or sweeter, depending on your taste. Feel free to add some sesame oil, sriracha sauce or lime juice.
For the mango salsa
- Fresh mango: I used a large red mango, but Ataulfo mango (sweeter) is great too for making salsa. The mango that I used was actually not completely ripe, but I was eager to make this bowl so I used it and it still turned out great.
- Tomato or red bell pepper: use what you prefer, both work.
- Lime juice: adds an amazing tangy flavor to the salsa. Lemon juice works too.
- Red onion: I like red onion better than yellow onion for raw salsa for its milder flavor. Green onion is great too.
- Cilantro: or swap for fresh mint if you don't like cilantro.
How to make a tofu quinoa bowl
See below in the recipe card for the full recipe.
Cook the quinoa
Rinse the quinoa using a fine mesh colander and then, transfer to a medium saucepan. Add the water, make sure all the quinoa is submerged and then cover.
Bring to a simmer, and then turn it to medium-low heat. Keep simmering for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat without removing the cover. Let the quinoa sit for another 5-6 minutes.
Fluff the quinoa using a fork and set aside.
Prepare the mango salsa
Chop the fresh produce (mango, pepper or tomatoes, red onion and cilantro) and combine them in a medium bowl. Juice the lime over (start with half a lime) and add salt. Stir to combine and adjust lime juice/salt to your taste. Set aside to marinate.
Make the sweet chili tofu
While the quinoa is cooking and the salsa marinating, make the sweet chili tofu. Drain the tofu and pat dry as well as you can. I like to do a quick tofu press by wrapping the block of tofu in a towel and placing something heavy on it for a few minutes. Then cube the tofu.
In a small bowl, combine the water, soy sauce, maple syrup, rice vinegar, garlic, cornstarch and sambal oelek. Whisk until uniform.
Warm up a large skillet or non-stick pan with a little olive oil (I like using oil spray) over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and disperse them in a single layer all over the pan. Cook for 8-10 minutes flipping the pieces once in a while until they turn golden brown on most sides.
Then, turn the heat to low, and pour the sauce over the crispy tofu (careful with hot splashes). Stir right away and keep simmering on medium heat until saucy and thicker, then remove from the heat.
Assemble and enjoy
To serve, add some cooked quinoa to your serving bowl, then top it off with the chili tofu and some of the mango salsa. Garnish with cucumbers, avocado and more crunchy toppings that you like, such as peanuts, sesame seeds and sliced radishes.
- The ratio for cooking quinoa differs depending on where you look. I used to follow the recommendation of cooking together 1 part quinoa for 2 parts water, but I found that this would often give me a quinoa a little overcooked and that tends to be mushy. I realized that to get the best quinoa that remains crumbly yet tender, you have to use a little less water, about 1 part quinoa for 1 ¾ (not 2) part water.
- Super firm tofu will work better to give a nice chewy bite to this bowl. If not using firm tofu, then the cubes can break in the pan while cooking.
- You can slice the tofu bigger vs larger, which should not matter much for this recipe. I like it on the smaller side in this bowl as it makes for a better texture and so the sauce can grab on more surfaces.
Serving suggestions and variations
Bowls are the perfect meal to personalize! You can add your favorite ingredients and make it your own, there is no wrong way to make it. Here are a few ideas:
- Base: swap the quinoa for other healthy whole grains that you like, such as brown rice, couscous or even noodles. You can also turn this meal into a tofu quinoa salad and add lots of leafy greens as well.
- Veggies: you can add more veggies to this bowl, such as broccoli, mushroom, cauliflower or green beans. You can roast them in the oven while making the other ingredients. Or, you can also add more fresh veggies, especially crunchy veggies, such as red bell peppers, shaved purple cabbage, green onions, shredded carrots, etc.
- Protein: don't want to use tofu? then you can swap for tempeh or chickpeas, which would also work great with the sweet chili sauce. You can also add some edamame to boost your bowl with even more plant-based protein!
- Spicy: you can play around with how spicy you want your meal to be simply by adding more sambal oelek (chili paste).
- Toppings: this bowl is great with a crunchy garnish to add more texture, such as peanuts, radishes, pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds.
Storage and meal prep tips
I recommend assembling the grain bowl just when ready to eat. That way the ingredients stay fresh and you get that pleasant cold and warm combination of texture.
That being said, you can meal prep this recipe ahead of time, keep each component apart from each other in different containers and reheat/assemble when ready to eat. This makes for a great recipe to batch prep in the weekend to have a few lunches ready to whip up ahead of a busy week!
The sweet chili tofu stores well for up to 4-5 days, simply reheat using the microwave before serving. You can batch-prep quinoa and keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days. Just reheat in the microwave as well. As for the salsa, I find it to be best when enjoyed within 2 days for the best fresh flavor.
Do I have to press the tofu?
I did a speedy tofu press (without a tofu press) for this recipe: I like to drain the tofu block, then wrap it in a towel (or a few layers of paper towels) and place something heavy on it. Meanwhile, you can get the quinoa started and whisk the sauce ingredients. Then unwrap and slice the tofu.
How to make this recipe gluten-free?
This recipe can easily be made gluten-free: simply swap the soy sauce for a GF tamari or coconut aminos sauce.
More plant-based bowl recipes you might like
- Ancient grain bowl
- Vegan vermicelli tofu bowl
- Vegan taco bowl
- Edamame poke bowl
- Chimichurri bowl
- Greek marinated tofu
- Vegan fajita bowl
- Tofu teriyaki buddha bowl
- Tofu peanut butter bowl
I hope you like this tofu quinoa bowl recipe as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Sweet Chili Tofu Quinoa Bowl with Mango Salsa (Vegan)
- 1 cup quinoa - white or multicolor
- 1¾ cup water
- 1 block extra firm tofu
- 1 avocado - sliced
- ½ cup cucumber - chopped
Quick mango salsa
- 1 mango
- ½ cup fresh tomatoes or red bell pepper - diced
- 2 tbsp red onion - diced
- small handful cilantro - chopped
- 1 lime - juiced
- salt to taste
Sweet Chili Sauce
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- ⅓ cup water
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1-3 tsp sambal oelek - adjust depending on how spicy you want it to be
- 1 clove of garlic - crushed
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- Rinse the quinoa and transfer to a medium saucepan. Add the water, cover and bring to a simmer. Then, turn down the heat and keep simmering for 15 minutes. Once done, remove from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff the quinoa using a fork. Set aside.
- Drain the block of tofu and wrap in a clean towel or a few layers of paper towels. Place something heavy over and let it sit until ready to use.
- Add the sauce ingredients (water, rice vinegar, maple syrup, soy sauce, chili paste, garlic and cornstarch) to a bowl and whisk until uniform.
- Cube the tofu and warm up a large skillet with a little oil (I like using oil spray). Then, add the tofu and cook for 8-10 minutes flipping once in a while until golden brown on most sides. When the tofu looks done, then turn down the heat and pour the sauce over. Stir right away and cook until thicker, about 2 minutes.
- While the tofu is cooking, combine the mango salsa ingredients (mango, tomatoes or red pepper, red onion, cilantro, salt and lime juice) in a bowl.
- To serve, transfer some cooked quinoa to your serving bowl, top it off with the sweet chili tofu, mango salsa and garnish with cucumber and avocado. You can also top with sesame seeds and radishes. Enjoy!
- Storage tips: the bowl is best enjoyed right away once assembled. You can make the tofu and quinoa ahead of time and keep them in separate containers (in the fridge, up to 4-5 days). Reheat them before serving. The mango salsa is best when enjoyed within 2 days.
- This bowl recipe is so versatile! You can add edamame, more vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower and even swap the quinoa for rice or leafy greens. More ideas in the blog post!