Build Your Own Buddha Bowl

Build Your Own Buddha BowlSo what is a BUDDHA BOWL anyway?
Well basically, it’s just a fun name for an Asian rice bowl that you can customize any way you like!

A “Build Your Own Buddha Bowl” buffet is a fun thing to create for your dinner guests because:
1. It’s different than the typical dinner party fare.
2. Everyone gets to customize their own bowl just the way they like it!
3. It’s adaptable for large or small groups, family get-togethers, reunions, church suppers, etc.
4. Since not many people have even heard of buddha bowls, they won’t have any preconceived ideas of what it’s supposed to taste like, and likely won’t even notice that it’s all plant-based!
5. If you’re on a tight budget, you can just cook up a big pot of rice, then ask each of your dinner guests to bring a topping to add to the bar to share with everyone.

Recently, I created a “Build Your Own Buddha Bowl” buffet for a family reunion with 32 people, and it was a huge HIT! (Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures, so the photos shown here are from another Buddha Bowl buffet that we did with a smaller group of 8 people, which was also a success!)
Build Your Own Buddha Bowl

I started with a large pot of  brown rice and a large pot of white rice. (I cooked one batch in my instant pot, and one batch in my daughter’s instant pot, then just left the lids closed to stay warm until all the extended family arrived.)
In my bar, I included steamed mixed veggies; pineapple tidbits; shelled edamame; shredded purple cabbage; sliced water chestnuts; and sliced green onions. (If you’ve got plenty of space, you can lay out each bowl of toppings in a row, so that guests can just go down the line, customizing which toppings they want with their rice.) 
Buddha Bowl Buffet

At the end of the line, I set out a variety of sauces,  such as teriyaki sauce; sweet chili sauce; Thai peanut sauce; General Tsao’s sauce; and soy sauce. I also included some fun toppers such as whole cashews, sesame seeds, ground peanuts, fresh bean sprouts, and chopped cilantro.Buddha Bowl Buffet

(If you don’t have enough room to lay everything out in a line, just cluster everything together on a small table or countertop, as shown here.)

I found this little Buddha Statue at Dollar Tree, and set it in the center of the counter top, along with a little silk orchid in a vase. It really set the stage for the theme of the evening.  *Note: (If you can’t find a little buddha statue at dollar tree, then you can get this Thai Buddha from,  and this lovely orchid would be a nice accent too. Be sure to include some relaxing ZEN music playing in the background to create a nice ambience.)Build a Buddha Bowl

Each guest had the option of using chopsticks, or a fork to use to eat their Buddha Bowl.
For dessert, I just set out a basket of individually wrapped fortune cookies. (Now how simple is that!)

I’m guessing even Buddha himself would approve of these whole, healing foods in bowl!
Build Your Own Buddha Bowl

Om Bekandze Bekandze
Maha Bekandze
Radza Samudgate Soha

Build Your Own Buddha Bowl

  • Servings: 1-100
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Your dinner guests will love customizing their own Buddha Bowls.

Build a Buddha Bowl


Set up your buffet, choosing from the following suggestions:

Starch Suggestions:

  • Hot cooked brown ice
  • Hot cooked white rice
  • Hot cooked quinoa

Vegetable Suggestions:

  • Hot steamed broccoli, cauliflower, carrots (I cooked from frozen)
  • Lightly steamed snow peas
  • Thinly sliced purple cabbage (raw)
  • Diagonal sliced green onions (raw)
  • Thinly sliced red pepper (raw)
  • Sliced water chestnuts (I used canned, and drained)
  • Pineapple tidbits (I used canned, and drained)

Protein Suggestions: 

  • Cooked and shelled edamame (I bought frozen, pre-shelled, then thawed)
  • Cubed and baked teriyaki tofu
  • Teriyaki Soy curls
  • Roasted whole cashews

Sauce Suggestions:

  • Thai peanut sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Sweet chili sauce
  • General Tsao’s sauce (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • Sriracha Sauce
  • Hawaiian Sauce
  • Soy sauce

Topping Suggestions:

  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Fresh bean sprouts
  • Coarse ground peanuts
  • Crispy wonton strips
  • Chopped cilantro



Find this recipe and other great plant-based recipes at

Buddha Bowl Buffet


Build a Buddha Bowl