These colorful and vibrant vegan chickpea bowls with peanut sauce pack a big punch in the flavor department. The chickpeas sear in the skillet in a sticky sauce with delicious Thai flavors. After adding plenty of vegetables, the peanut sauce on top brings everything together into a savory, satisfying bowl. We like our bowl with fresh cooked hot rice, shredded carrots, finely shredded cabbage for crunch, cilantro and lime juice on the side for squeezing.
When I need a hearty chickpea rice bowl with so much flavor that I want to dance for joy, this is what I make. My chickpea bowls with peanut sauce are absolutely craveable.
The chickpea marinade is full of Thai flavors, and everything is topped with a delicious creamy peanut sauce. It's such an incredible flavor combination!
The recipe uses canned chickpeas, so it's super easy, but you can always use my instant pot chickpeas, if you prefer. We soak the chickpeas in a sauce full of Thai flavors, like fresh ginger, sambal oelek (a fresh chili paste), brown sugar, and lime juice. Then, they are quickly seared in a pan where they develop a sticky coating, thanks to cornstarch.
Each bowl contains freshly cooked hot rice, a spoonful of sticky chickpeas with Thai flavors, crunchy raw cabbage and carrots, and a creamy peanut butter sauce on top. Honestly, what's not to love here?
- Rice. Any type of rice or grain will work in these chickpea bowls. Sometimes we use white or brown rice, but other times we use quinoa or even farro. Anything warm and starchy is great here.
- Olive Oil.
- Garlic. Fresh garlic is always more flavorful than the stuff in the jar, but use what you prefer.
- Ginger. Every few months, I buy a large chunk of fresh ginger. I peel it using the back of a spoon and then store it in a mason jar in my freezer. When I need some, I pull it out and use a microplane to grate it right from frozen.
- Sambal Oelek. This is a ground chili paste that is a bit looser than Sriracha sauce, if you're familiar with that. It's widely available in any well-stocked super market, but you can always use one fresh red chili pepper instead.
- Brown Sugar.
- Lime Juice. Freshly squeezed lime juice is always best, however, we don't need the zest so you may use bottled.
- Cornstarch. A small amount of cornstarch in the chickpea marinade makes the sauce thick and sticky during cooking. It's so delicious, but if you lack cornstarch, you can leave it out because it doesn't impact the flavor of this dish at all.
- Soy Sauce. I'm opting to use soy sauce instead of salt here. Plus, soy sauce has extra umami flavors that regular salt lacks.
- Chickpeas. We need one 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 1 ¾ cups of freshly cooked chickpeas.
- Peanut Butter. For a savory dish, I always reach for natural-style peanut butter without additional sugar.
- Crunchy Raw Vegetables. Truthfully, any raw vegetables are great in this dish. In the photos, I use thinly shredded cabbage (sometimes called angel hair cabbage), grated carrots and fresh cilantro sprigs. A fast swap is a bag of coleslaw mix!
How to Make Chickpea Bowls with Peanut Sauce
First, we'll marinate the chickpeas, and then sear them in a hot skillet. While they cook, we will whisk together the peanut sauce. Finally, make the chickpea bowls by adding a scoop of rice, a scoop of chickpeas, vegetables, and a drizzle of peanut sauce.
First, cook the grain for your chickpea bowls. This is freshly cooked brown rice, but white rice or any other starchy grain is acceptable here.
Next, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Set the chickpeas aside. Whisk together the chickpea marinade: olive oil, garlic, ginger, sambal oelek, brown sugar, lime juice, and soy sauce. Finally, whisk in the cornstarch.
Pour the marinade over the chickpeas. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, stir in the chickpeas and all of the juice from the bowl. Cook while stirring occasionally. The sauce will reduce and start to become sticky around the chickpeas. A bit of browning on the chickpeas is fine, too!
Finally, whisk together the peanut sauce ingredients: peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, warm water and more sambal oelek. If you want to reduce the heat in this chickpea bowls recipe, omit the sambal oelek from the peanut sauce.
To serve, place a scoop of hot rice in a bowl, followed by a big scoop of the saucy chickpeas on top. Surround the chickpeas and rice with the raw veggies of your choice, and then top everything with a drizzle of the peanut sauce. It's great to garnish with lime juice and fresh cilantro, too!
- Beans - While you can technically use any kind of bean here, chickpeas are the most common because this is similar to a buddha bowl. Check out my basic Buddha Bowl Recipe here.
- Vegetables - Any type of raw vegetables are great here, plus you can even use a bag of coleslaw mix to make this easier. You can also add mushrooms to the chickpeas while they cook (both dried mushrooms that you soak in water and slice or fresh small mushrooms, like enoki).
- Condiments - If you have trouble finding sambal oelek, try using sriracha or a fresh red chili, finely diced. Brown sugar can be replaced with rock sugar or black sugar.
Meal Prep for Chickpea Bowls
This is a great make-ahead meal that can be packed for lunches. It's perfect for lunch because the vegetables should be eaten cold or room temperature with everything else.
To store it for meal prep, add a scoop of cooked rice to a microwave-safe dish along with a scoop of the cooked chickpeas. In a separate bowl, add the fresh vegetables, cilantro, and a small lidded container with the peanut sauce. Keep seperate until serving. To serve, heat the rice and chickpeas, and then add the cold vegetables and peanut sauce on top.
Other Chickpea Recipes
- 1 cup white or brown long-grained rice
For the Chickpeas:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon sambal oelek*
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
For the Spicy Peanut Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons sambal oelek
For the bowls:
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- First, combine the rice with 2 cups of water in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to LOW, place the lid on the pan and cook for 18 minutes for white rice (37 minutes for brown rice). After the timer goes off, turn off the heat, lift the pan lid, place a kitchen towel on top quickly, and replace the lid back on the pan. Remove to a cool burner and let rest until you need the rice.
- Then make the chickpeas: in a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, ginger, sambal oelek, brown sugar, lime juice, and soy sauce in a small bowl, Whisk in the cornstarch to dissolve very well. Finally, rinse, drain and pat dry the chickpeas before adding them to the bowl and stir to combine with the sauce.
- Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until hot, and then pour in the chickpeas mixture (including all of the juices) all at once. Lower the heat and let simmer until the sauce reduces, about 5 minutes. The chickpeas will start to stick to the pan and get golden brown in places. The sauce will reduce into a sticky, sweet coating on the chickpeas.
- Finally, whisk together the peanut sauce: whisk the peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, sambal oelek, and 3 tablespoons of warm water until smooth.
- To serve, divide the rice between 4 bowls, add a scoop of chickpeas, and surround with the shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, and fresh cilantro. Drizzle the peanut sauce on top and serve.
Rice: Any type of rice or grain will work in these chickpea bowls. Sometimes we use white or brown rice, but other times we use quinoa or even farro grains. Anything warm and starchy is great here.
Sambal Oelek: If you can't find it, use a minced fresh red chili or sriracha (a reduced amount).
Peanut Butter: For a savory dish, I always reach for natural-style peanut butter without additional sugar.
Crunchy Raw Vegetables: Any raw vegetables are great, but I like thinly shredded cabbage (sometimes called angel hair cabbage), grated carrots and fresh cilantro sprigs. A bag of coleslaw mix is a good substitution.
For Meal Prep: Add a scoop of cooked rice and cooked chickpeas to a microwave-safe dish. In a separate container, add the fresh vegetables, cilantro, and a small lidded container with the peanut sauce. Keep seperate until serving. To serve, heat the rice and chickpeas, and then add the cold vegetables and peanut sauce on top.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 395Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 659mgCarbohydrates: 59gFiber: 11gSugar: 15gProtein: 15g