With lots of delicious, vibrant flavor, juicy, tender chicken and a boatload of fresh healthy veggies, these Peruvian Chicken Rice Bowls take the humble chicken breast from ordinary to super extraordinary!
If you’re feeling a little “meh” about chicken right now, these Peruvian Chicken Rice Bowls will turn your chicken world upside down!
Although we have a ton of favorite recipes in The Café archives, our Peruvian Grilled Chicken Skewers recipe is definitely up there in the top ten.
We enjoy this chicken recipe all summer long and guests always rave about the wonderful flavor. Lots of readers have also written to say it’s one of their favorites too. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that we serve it with a fabulous, herby Peruvian Green Sauce (aka Aji Verde) that’s so bright and vibrant you want to eat it with a spoon.
A recipe for any time of year!
The problem with the Peruvian skewer recipe is the fact that there are lots of cold, windy, rainy, sometimes snowy days here in the mountains of North Carolina during late fall and winter months. That makes it unsuitable for grilling dinner outdoors. So, while we were hunkered inside during this 2019/2020 cold-weather season, I came up with these Peruvian Chicken Rice Bowls which capture the wonderful flavor of the beloved skewers in a one-pan recipe that’s easy to make any time of year!
This recipe starts with a delicious, Peruvian-inspired rub. It’s made from ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and ones that are easily available at any grocery store. The simple but magical combination of garlic salt, brown sugar, sweet and smoked paprika, dried oregano, cumin and black pepper is way more than the sum of its parts!
Keep the rub on hand at all times
We enjoy the rub so much that I usually make a triple or quadruple batch and store it in a small mason jar. Having this smoky, sweet, garlicky rub on hand makes this chicken rice bowl recipe so simple. And sometimes, on busy days when I have less than 15 minutes to prepare dinner, I throw some veggies in the oven to roast and use the rub to make Scott and myself some super flavorful, super easy chicken breasts – a delicious, healthy dinner 1-2-3!
I use the technique from our Juicy, Tender Chicken Breasts post to prepare the chicken for these Peruvian Chicken Rice Bowls. It’s easy, quick and, as the name suggests, produces amazing tender chicken breasts, every time! The rub adds fabulous flavor so it’s definitely “bye-bye dry, boring chicken breasts”!
There’s also a simple sauce that you’ll need to put together for these Peruvian Chicken Rice Bowls. It’s made up, again, of simple pantry ingredients (soy sauce, honey and ginger). The sweet, tangy sauce is added to the pan after the chicken is cooked and removed to a plate to rest.
The sauce is reduced to a somewhat sticky syrup and then combined with black beans and lots of diced bell pepper, red onion, jalapeños and chopped fresh herbs. This veggie medley pairs wonderfully with the tender chicken breasts.
Peru – a fusion of flavor!
When I studied the culinary history of Peru a while back, it was quite fascinating. Peru’s cuisine has been influenced over the years by both Asian and Latin American cultures producing a wonderful fusion of flavors. That’s why you find things like ginger and soy combined with cumin and other Latin American-inspired ingredients. If you’re interested, you can read more about the history of Peruvian cuisine in this Peruvian Grilled Chicken Skewers post.
So put these delicious, flavorful Peruvian Chicken Rice Bowls on your menu ASAP. You will be thanking yourself and your family/friends will be requesting this easy dinner again and again.
Café Tips for making these Peruvian Chicken Rice Bowls
- Try to find fairly uniform sized chicken breasts. If you have large variances in weight, the breasts will be finished at different times. The recipe will still work but you’ll have to watch the chicken a little more carefully towards the end.
- I’ve served this meal often without the Peruvian Green Sauce and it’s delicious. But the vibrant sauce does add another layer of fabulous flavor as well as a really pretty presentation. I like to pass it at the table rather than serving it on the rice bowls.
- After you cook the chicken, remove it from the pan and add the sauce mixture. Be sure to stir well and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. This is called “the fond” which is a French word meaning base. It’s where all the wonderful flavor accumulates and you definitely want that in your sauce. Don’t you feel fancy?
- You can use one or two cans of black beans for this recipe, depending on your taste. If you use one, you’ll have a little more sauce and less veggies. If you use two, each serving will have more beans/veggies. It’s delicious either way! In the picture above, I used 1½ cans of beans.
- Use an instant thermometer to determine when the chicken is finished. You want to remove it from the pan at 160˚F (71˚C). Chicken is actually done at 165˚F (74˚C) but it will finish up cooking as it rests. Instant thermometers aren’t expensive, but do ensure juicy, tender meat. This Kizen model is super fast and has a lifetime warranty.
- After the chicken rests, there may be juice on the plate. Don’t throw this out as it has lots of flavor. Just add it to the pan with the beans.
- You can use any color bell pepper for this recipe. Rather than one large pepper, I like to use 5-6 of the mini peppers in a variety of colors. I think it makes a pretty presentation.
- I mentioned above that I love to make a triple or quadruple batch of the rub. This is so nice to have on hand for meals in a hurry. I don’t add the lemon zest though until right before cooking.
- The rub is actually delicious on any meat as well as on roasted veggies, tortilla chips, quesadillas, Homemade Naan and sprinkled on y0gurt for a savory sauce.
- Don’t like cilantro? Not a problem, use basil and/or parsley instead.
- You’ll need a large, heavy-duty skillet for this Peruvian Chicken Rice Bowls recipe. I love my Staub Cast Iron skillet. It’s definitely a beloved workhorse in my kitchen! (pssst… this would make a wonderful Mother’s Day gift!)
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- finely grated zest from 1 medium lemon
- ½ cup low sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 ½-2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts 4 medium-size breasts
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 to 2 14 1/2 ounce cans black beans
- 1 large bell pepper finely chopped
- ½ medium red onion finely chopped
- 1 medium jalapeño seeded and finely chopped
- cooked jasmine rice
- fresh cilantro and/or basil
- Peruvian Green Sauce optional
- sliced avocado optional
- lemon wedges
- basil and/or cilantro leaves
- For the rub:
Combine brown sugar, garlic salt, cumin, both paprikas, oregano, pepper and lemon zest in a small bowl. Set aside.
- For the sauce:
Combine soy sauce, honey and ginger in a small bowl and whisk well to combine. Set aside.
- For the chicken:
- Sprinkle the rub liberally on both sides of the chicken, Rub in with your fingers to coat well.
Heat a medium large sauté pan (with a lid) over medium heat. Add the oil and butter and heat until it starts to sizzle just a bit. Add the chicken, smooth side down and cook for 3 minutes or until a nice golden brown. Flip to opposite side, cover the pan and lower the heat slightly. Cook for 3-8 minutes (depending on the size of the breasts) or until internal temperature reaches 160˚F. If the breasts vary in size, the smaller ones will be done sooner. Remove the breasts from the pan as they reach 160˚F. Tent with foil to keep warm.
- For the sauce/beans:
- Add the sauce mixture to the pan, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes scraping the bottom of the pan to stir up any brown residual (the fond). When the sauce thickens and gets more syrupy, add the beans and bring to a simmer. Cook for one minute then add the bell pepper, red onion, jalapeño and herbs. Stir well to combine.
Serve the chicken in bowls with the rice and black bean mixture. Garnish with fresh cilantro and/or basil and lemon wedges. Sometimes I also add avocado slices.
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