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Thai Burrito Bowl

Thai Burrito Bowl

The key to a good grain bowl or burrito bowl is having more than one super flavorful component. Because of that, these instructions look long and complicated, but in reality they are just adjusting for preparing a ground beef mixture and a butternut squash-apple "salsa" for adding to the bowl. You could certainly make one or both of this components in advance. The recipe may make more than you would use, but that is ok because both dishes are also fantastic in Thai Fried Rice (recipe below).

Course Entree
Cuisine grain bowl, Thai
Author The Spiced Life


For the butternut squash:

  • 2-4 T extra virgin coconut oil, melted, plus more later
  • 1 medium-large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the ground beef:

  • 1-2 T extra virgin coconut oil
  • 2-4 T Thai red curry paste, preferably homemade (a range is suggested because commercial paste will be hot, so you may not be able to use 4 tablespoons--obviously the more you use, the more flavor you will have)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 T garam masala
  • 8-9 oz full fat coconut milk
  • 1-3 T fish sauce, to taste
  • 1 red onion, diced, half of it soaked in cold water and reserved

For the salsa:

  • Cold roasted butternut squash from above
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 2-3 sweet or sweet-tart apples, diced (use 3 for smaller apples, 2 for larger)
  • soaked red onion from above
  • Juice of 2 to 4 fresh limes, to taste and depending on juiciness of limes and tartness of apples
  • 1 T fish sauce, to taste
  • 1 bunch basil, preferably Thai but any basil will work, sliced into slivers

For burrito bowl:

  • Chopped cilantro
  • Jasmine rice
  • Lime wedges
  • Sririacha sauce


For the butternut squash:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss the diced butternut squash in the melted coconut oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

  2. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in the 400 F oven and roast until tender and browned, 20-30 minutes depending on size of your dice.

  3. Remove from oven and set aside to be used later.

While the butternut squash is roasting, begin the ground beef:

  1. Heat the coconut oil over medium heat. When it is melted and shimmering, add the curry paste. Roast the curry paste for 2-3 minutes, stirring to prevent scorching.

  2. Add the chopped yellow onion with a small pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until the onions begin to go translucent.

  3. Add the ground beef. Break up the clumps and stir to incorporate it into the curry paste-onion mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the ground beef is browned, about 8 minutes.

  4. Add the garam masala and stir, letting it roast for 1-2 minutes. Then add the coconut milk and 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. Stir and let gently cook for 5 minutes--reduce heat of it is simmering too hard.

  5. Mix in half of the diced red onion. Let cook another 1-2 minutes and then taste for more fish sauce. The ground beef should have a quite pronounced flavor; keep in mind it will be diluted by the rice and balanced by the sweet and sour "salsa."

  6. When you have the flavor right, turn the heat off and set the ground beef mixture aside. It can be made ahead too, in which case warm it gently back up before using.

Make the salsa:

  1. Place the now cool roasted butternut squash in a large bowl. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime over it and gently toss.

  2. Chop the apples and add them to the butternut squash. Immediately toss so the lime juice prevents browning. Drain the soaking diced red onion and add it as well.

  3. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste and a small pinch (remember the fish sauce!) of salt. Toss. Add the juice of another lime as well as 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and toss again. Toss in the basil slivers and taste for more fish sauce (salty) or lime juice (sour). The salsa should be more sweet and sour than salty, as the ground beef provides a more salty umami flavor.

  4. Set the salsa aside.

Assemble the burrito bowl:

  1. Place Jasmine rice in the bottom of each individual serving. Top with the ground beef mixture, the butternut squash-apple salsa, and a healthy handful of chopped cilantro.

  2. Serve with lime wedges and Sriracha sauce on the side.