Pozole is a traditional Mexican stew defined by its rich, dried chile-infused broth, namesake hominy, and slow-cooked meat–in this case tender cubes of pork shoulder. This recipe is based on one average-sized pork shoulder and makes a large batch, which is great for company or the freezer. Pile the garnishes tall and enjoy this classic cold-weather / under-the-weather / hangover comfort food.
What is Pozole
Pozole is a hearty soup or stew that typically consists of hominy (a type of dried corn), meat, and a variety of seasonings. Pozole has a rich history that dates back to pre-Hispanic times and was considered a sacred dish by the Aztecs. Today, pozole is a popular dish in Mexico and is often served during special occasions and celebrations such as Mexican Independence Day or Christmas.
There are different types of pozole, and the color of the soup can vary depending on the region and the type of meat used. Pork is a popular meat choice for pozole, but chicken and beef can also be used. The broth of pozole rojo is typically made from dried chiles and seasoned with garlic, onion, and cumin. Pozole Verde on the other hand is made with fresh green chiles and tomatillos.
When serving pozole, it’s common to garnish it with shredded lettuce or cabbage, diced onion, avocado, radishes, and cilantro. Whether you’re looking to try a new dish or are a fan of Mexican recipes, pozole is a delicious and satisfying comfort food that’s worth trying.
Pozole Recipe Ingredients
Also called Boston Butt, this cut of pork is perfect for a low and slow simmer.
Fresh bay leaves are more traditional, but you can also use dried. Find fresh bay leaves sold with the other fresh herbs.
Dried Red Chiles
You can use any dried variety though we prefer New Mexico, Ancho or Guajillo. All of these are mild yet flavorful. If you want to add some heat, add a couple chiles de arbol. The best place to find dried chiles is at your local Mexican market (though if you’re in a pinch or don’t have one nearby, you can order them online). Use any leftover dried chiles to make our Carne Adovada.
- Ancho chiles are mild and smoky.
- Guajillo chiles are slightly spicy, fruity and acidic.
- New Mexico chiles are earthy, sweet and acidic.
Onions & Garlic
You’ll need about one and half large yellow onions (3 cups diced) and a handful of fresh garlic cloves to build the base for the soup.
You’ll need two large cans of white hominy for this pozole recipe. Make sure you drain and rinse the hominy well before adding to the pozole. You can find hominy at more major grocery stores in the Mexican aisle or at your local Mexican market.
Chipotle in Adobo
Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are dried jalapeños that have been smoked and then rehydrated in a tangy and spicy tomato sauce. For this recipe you will need both the chipotle peppers and the adobo sauce it’s packed in. Look for chipotle peppers in the Mexican section of the grocery store or at any Mexican market. Use any leftover chipotles in adodo to make our Fresh Tomato Salsa.
Chopped fresh cilantro is stirred into the stew right before serving and is also needed for topping each serving.
Fresh lime juice brightens this super savory dish. Add a few tablespoons to the soup then serve with additional lime wedges.
How to Make Pozole
1. Start by browning the pork then add water to the pot with the pork and bring to a simmer. Add in the bay leaves and oregano and simmer.
2. Toast the dried chiles in a separate pot in oil.
3. Add the onions and garlic and sautée until softened.
4. Ladle some pork cooking liquid into pot with chiles and simmer until softened.
5. Blend the chile mixture with chipotle and adobo.
6. Add chile sauce and hominy to pork and bring to a simmer.
7. Cook the pozole until the pork and hominy is tender and the broth is rich and thick.
8. Stir in cilantro and lime juice and season to taste with salt.
Everyone has their favorite topping combination, so choose what works best for you. Here are some topping ideas for this pozole recipe.
- Thinly sliced cabbage
- Crumbled queso fresco or Cotija
- Broken tostadas or tortilla chips
- Thinly sliced radish
- Diced onion
- Sliced scallion
- Lime wedges
- Sliced serranos
How to Store and Freeze This Pozole Recipe
Store pozole in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To freeze pozole, store it in either an airtight container or a resealable zipper-lock freezer bag for up to 3 months. Allow the pozole to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating and serving.
Pozole Rojo Recipe Tips
- Taste test the pozole to determine when it is done cooking. Our simmer cooking time is a great guideline but to really determine if the pozole is done you need to taste the pork, hominy and broth. The pork should be super tender, the hominy should be toothsome yet soft, and the broth should be nicely thickened and luscious. If the broth is fairly thin, let the pozole simmer a bit longer. If the broth is too thick, thin in out with some water.
- Our recipe is written using Morton Kosher Salt. If you are using Diamond Crystal, you will likely need more. For every one tablespoons of Morton kosher salt you will need about 4 teaspoons of Diamond Crystal. We’ve got an entire article that deep-dives into kosher salt and conversions between brands.
- A high-powered blender is ideal for puréeing the dried chiles mixture. If you’re using a standard blender, allow the mixture to blend as long as needed until the mixture is very smooth.
Pozole Recipe FAQ
Posole and pozole are actually the same dish, but the spelling differs depending on the region and the dialect of Spanish spoken. In Mexico, it’s typically spelled “pozole,” while in some parts of southwestern US, it’s more commonly spelled “posole.” So, whether you see it spelled with a “z” or an “s,” it’s referring to the same dish.
You can use all of one type or a mixture of: dried guajillo, ancho or New Mexican. All of these are mild yet flavorful. If you want to add some heat, add a couple chiles de arbol.
The best way to serve pozole is in a wide, shallow bowl topped with a variety of toppings.
We haven’t tested this, but you could most likely make this in an Instant Pot. Brown and simmer the pork on the sauté function in the IP and simmer the chiles on the stove top. Add the blended chile mixture and hominy to the IP with the pork and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Quick release pressure.
Absolutely! You can make this pozole rojo up to 3 days ahead of time. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat it gently over the stove top when ready to serve.
Yes, you can make this with beef (boneless beef chuck eye roast), chicken (boneless, skinless chicken thighs) or lamb (boneless leg or shoulder).
It is all dependent on how spicy the dried chiles you use are. As written, this pozole recipe is not that spicy.
Pozole rojo (red posole) is savory, acidic and mildly spicy. It has a tart dried chiles flavor and a savory pork flavor with pops of brightness from lime and cilantro.
More Mexican Soup Recipes to Try
Our Mexican Chicken Soup is more of a weeknight meal (compared to pozole) and is absolutely outstanding. It’s flavorful and savory and just what you want after a long day.
Another favorite around here is our Sopa de Fideo. This Mexican Noodle Soup is incredibly simple yet packs a ton of flavor. As written, it’s vegetarian, but we also have a chicken variation, Sopa de Pollo con Fideo.
Albóndigas Soup is a must-try if you’re looking for more Mexican-inspired soups. This meatball soup is chock full of chunky veggies and tender pork meatballs in a light tomato broth.
This one pot Carne en su Jugó is another meaty, slow-cooked soup. Tender bites of beef swim around in a tomatillo broth with beans before getting finishes with crispy bits of bacon.
Pozole Recipe (Posole Rojo)
- 1 (3 ½–4 pound) boneless pork shoulder (a.k.a. Boston butt)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- 1 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 ounces dried red chiles (about 10-12 chiles), such as New Mexico, Ancho or Guajillo, stems and seeds removed
- 3 cups diced yellow onion
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 (25-ounce) cans white hominy, drained and rinsed
- 1 whole chipotle in adobo + 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice + more to taste
- 2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
- 1 cup finely diced yellow onion
- ½ cup picked cilantro leaves
- ½ cup thinly sliced radish
- 1 cup crumbled queso fresco or Cotija cheese
- tostadas or tortilla chips
- Trim pork shoulder of excess fat and sinew. Cut into 1-inch pieces (you should have about 3 pounds cubed pork after trimming). Season meat with 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven (7–8 quart) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of pork and sear until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer pork to a bowl and repeat with remaining pork.
- Return all meat back to pot, add 12 cups water and bring to a simmer, skimming off most of foam that rises to surface. Add 3 fresh bay leaves and 2 tablespoons oregano and return to a gentle simmer while you make chile purée.
- Heat remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil in a separate medium (3-4 quart) heavy-duty pot over medium heat. Add 2 ounces dried chiles and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until blistered and beginning to blacken in spots, about 2 minutes. Add 3 cups diced onions and 4 cloves smashed garlic and sauté until fragrant and onions begin to soften, about 2–3 minutes. Ladle 3 cups simmering pork broth over top of chiles; cover pot and simmer until chiles and onions are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Remove pot with chiles from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Transfer chile mixture (with its liquid) to a high-powered blender with 1 chipotle and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce. Blend until very smooth, about 1 minute.
- Stir chile purée, 2 (25-ounce) cans drained hominy and 1 teaspoon salt into pot with simmering pork. Continue gently simmering until broth is rich and hominy and pork are tender, about 1 ½ hours.
- Remove bay leaves and stir in 2 tablespoons lime juice and ¼ cup chopped cilantro. Taste and season with additional salt and lime juice as needed.
- Ladle pozole into wide bowls and garnish generously with your choice of toppings and a crunchy tostada broken over top.