Copycat CAVA bowls with honey harissa chicken on a orange tile surface.

This Copycat Cava bowl is a high-protein and low-carb version of the popular restaurant chain’s signature dish. It combines sweet honey and spicy harissa paste in both the chicken marinade and the tasty vinaigrette! I use my Kaizen low-carb rice to create a high-protein option that will keep you full for hours.

Copycat CAVA bowls with pickled red onions and harissa vinaigrette on a tile surface.

Delicious & Easy At-Home Cava Bowls

I love making copycat recipes. From my Thomas Keller Zucchini to my Low-Carb Taco Burger (Copycat In-N-Out Animal Style), I find that making healthier versions of my favorite restaurant dishes at home saves me money and keeps me on track with my nutrition goals.

This copycat Cava bowl was something I’ve been wanting to create for a while now. I love the combination of Mediterranean flavors in the original dish, but I wanted to make it lower in carbs while still keeping that bold flavor that every Cava lover knows and craves.

If you’re unfamiliar with Cava bowls, they are basically the Mediterranean version of Chipotle bowls. These delicious bowls are layered with my Kaizen low-carb rice, fresh greens, flavorful marinated chicken thighs, fresh vegetables, and a hot harissa vinaigrette that’ll have your tastebuds partying like it’s 1999.

Don’t have my Kaizen low-carb rice? Use code SHREDHAPPENS to save 20% on any purchase!

Make these for meal prep or fix them up for the whole family. When you make your own Cava bowls, it’s healthy food done right.

Why You’ll Love It

  • A great way for those on a low-carb diet to feel full for hours.
  • Enjoy all your favorite Mediterranean food flavors in one bowl.
  • A protein-packed meal that’s great for meal prep or feeding a crowd.
  • Healthier and more affordable than going out to eat!

Homemade Cava Bowl – Main Ingredients

(Note: These are the recipe’s starring ingredients, but you can find all the ingredients in the recipe card below!)

  • Olive oil: I use extra-virgin olive oil as a base for both the marinade and the vinaigrette.
  • Harissa paste: The star of the show, harissa paste is used for the marinade and vinaigrette for a spicy kick.
  • Greek yogurt: Marinating the chicken in Greek yogurt helps to tenderize the meat and adds a tangy flavor.
  • Honey: Honey adds sweetness to the chicken and vinaigrette, balancing out the spicy harissa. If you can’t use honey, feel free to sub in a sugar-free honey substitute or monkfruit sweetener.
  • Lemon juice: A good marinade and vinaigrette always has an element of acidity!
  • Chicken thighs: Make sure you use boneless and skinless thighs for easier marinating and cooking.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Gives the vinaigrette a tangy kick and helps to balance out the flavors.
  • Kaizen rice: My Kaizen low-carb rice is the perfect base for this bowl and adds great texture.
  • Power greens: Use any greens of choice. I like to use a mix of baby kale and baby spinach!
  • Persian cucumber: Use any variety of cucumber, but the Persian variety has fewer seeds and a nice crunch.
  • Avocado: I can’t resist adding avocado to my Cava bowls for a creamy and healthy fat.
  • Pickled red onions: These add a pop of color and tangy flavor to the bowl. Check the tips section for how to make them.
  • Feta cheese: One of my favorite things to add to any Mediterranean dish for a salty and tangy flavor.
Ingredients for copycat CAVA bowl recipe.

Substitutions

Protein: If you’d rather have lean protein, swap the chicken thighs for chicken breasts. Or use your favorite protein — beef, lamb, and shrimp are all great options. Just note the cooking time will vary.

Dressing: I love this copycat Cava bowl with the hot harissa vinaigrette, but feel free to use your favorite dressing. Other great options are tzatziki, balsamic vinaigrette, and lemon tahini dressing.

Rice: If you can’t get a hold of my Kaizen low-carb rice, you can use another rice alternative. If you aren’t low-carb, white rice, brown rice, or quinoa are all great options. 

How to Make Your Own Copycat Cava Bowls

The steps are simple, and I’m outlining them below, but be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to view the full, printable recipe card.

STEP 1 – MARINATE CHICKEN

In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for the chicken marinade. Whisk well, then add the chicken thighs and toss to coat them. Let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes, preferably 1-2 hours. 

STEP 2 – MAKE VINAIGRETTE

Next, combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a small dish or mason jar. Whisk well, taste, and adjust as needed. 

STEP 3 – GRILL CHICKEN

Preheat your grill to 425°F. Add the marinated chicken to the grill and cook each side for about 5-7 minutes, then flip and grill for another 5-7 minutes.

Repeat one more time, if needed, and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove from the grill and let it rest for 4-5 minutes. Slice into strips.

STEP 4 – ASSEMBLE

Now it’s time to create your powerbowl! Add the Kaizen rice and power greens to the base of your bowl, then top with the cucumber and sliced chicken

Arrange the avocado slices and pickled red onions on top and finish off with crumbled feta and the vinaigrette

Copycat CAVA bowl with chicken, pickled onions, avocado and harissa vinaigrette.

Pro Tips for Best Results

  • You can cook the chicken however you like, but I prefer it grilled for the best flavor. If you don’t have an outdoor grill, use a grill pan — my favorite is the Le Creuset grill pan!
  • To cook it in the oven, you can set it under the broiler for 5-7 minutes, flip it, and cook another 5-7 minutes on the other side. Flip and cook one more time, if needed. Note: The cook time may vary based on your oven and the size of your chicken pieces.
  • For a more mild vinaigrette, reduce the amount of harissa paste. 
  • To make quick pickled red onions, add 1 red onion (sliced) to a large jar. Pour in ½ cup apple cider vinegar and ¼ cup water. Add in ½ teaspoon salt and a few peppercorns. Mix well and let it sit for at least 15 minutes, preferably longer.

Storage

Any leftover cava bowl ingredients should be stored in separate containers in the fridge. Assemble the bowl right before eating for best results. Leftovers will last 3-4 days in the fridge.

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Yield: 2-3 servings

Copycat Cava Bowl with Harissa Chicken and Avocado

Copycat CAVA bowls with honey harissa chicken on a orange tile surface.

These copycat CAVA bowls are a homemade version of the Harissa Avocado bowls at the popular chain. Spicy marinated and grilled chicken is served on a bed of power greens with high-protein rice, pickled red onions, creamy avocado, feta, and a hot honey harissa vinaigrette.

Prep Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes

Ingredients

Harissa chicken marinade

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons harissa paste
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1-½ pounds chicken thighs, boneless and skinless

Harissa vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • ½ shallot, minced
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Power bowl ingredients

  • 1 cup Kaizen rice, prepared
  • 1-2 cups power greens or greens of choice
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, diced
  • 1 small avocado, sliced
  • Pickled red onions
  • 2-3 tablespoons crumbled feta

Instructions

  1. Marinate the chicken: In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for the chicken marinade: olive oil, garlic, harissa paste, Greek yogurt, honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Whisk well, then add the chicken thighs and toss to coat them. Let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes, preferably 1-2 hours. 
  2. Make the vinaigrette: Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a small dish or mason jar. Whisk well, taste, and adjust as needed. 
  3. Grill the chicken: Preheat your grill to 425°F. Add the marinated chicken to the grill and cook each side for about 5-7 minutes, then flip and grill for another 5-7 minutes. Repeat one more time, if needed, and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice into strips.
  4. Assemble: Create your power bowls. Add the Kaizen rice and power greens to the base of each bowl, then top with the cucumber and sliced chicken. Arrange the avocado slices and pickled red onions on top and finish off with crumbled feta and the vinaigrette. 

Notes

  • You can cook the chicken however you like, but I prefer it grilled for the best flavor. To cook it in the oven, you can set it under the broiler for 5-7 minutes, flip it, and cook another 5-7 minutes on the other side. The cook time may vary based on your oven and the size of your chicken pieces.
  • For a more mild vinaigrette, reduce the amount of harissa paste. The spiciness of harissa will vary from brand to brand so adjust this to taste.
  • To make quick pickled red onions: Add 1 red onion (sliced) to a large jar. Pour in ½ cup apple cider vinegar and 1/4 to 1/3 cup water. Add in ½ teaspoon salt and a few peppercorns. Mix well and let it sit for at least 15 minutes, preferably longer.

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2 Comments

  1. how many lbs chicken thighs for this recipe?

    1. You’ll need about 1-1/2 pounds!

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