This Mexican POZOLE recipe is a brothy, hearty soup built on a base of hominy and tender pork or chicken, flavored with a homemade red chile sauce and garnished with shredded cabbage and thinly sliced radishes. It’s also known as Pozole Rojo.
Talk about Mexican soul food; you can’t get more quintessential than Pozole! This is a Mesoamerican dish and was an Aztec favorite long before Columbus ever sailed the ocean blue. There are even restaurants specializing in it, called pozolerías! It was one of the first real Mexican dishes I fell in love with while living in Puebla, Mexico. Various cooks in Mexico shared their methods with me, and this is my version, created using the ingredients I’m able to find at my local grocery store. Everyone makes it their own by sprinkling on their favorite crunchy, fresh and aromatic toppings before digging into this steamy bowl of yumminess.
About the Ingredients:
- Pork shoulder or butt roast. I usually buy a couple pounds extra to compensate for the all the fat I trim off. Traditional pozole also includes pork bones (neck bones, ham hocks, or foot bones). These are very inexpensive and add great flavor to the broth!
- Aromatics: Garlic cloves divided and a yellow onion quartered (these will be used to flavor the broth then removed).
- Spices: Bay leaves, oregano, ground cumin.
- Chiles: Gaujillo, ancho and, for extra heat, chile de árbol. Dried chiles can be found in the Mexican aisle or online. OR cheat by subbing one 28-ounce can of Las Palmas Red Chile Sauce in place of the chilies and tomato sauce. Prepping the chiles: To keep from accidentally setting your face on fire, put on gloves! For dried chilies, rehydrate by soaking in boiling water for 15 minutes. For fresh or re-hydrated chilies, chop off the head, slit up one side and remove the seeds. If skin is separating (especially with dried) scrape out the pulp with a spoon and discard the skin.
- The Broth Base: Better Than Bouillon chicken flavor, or chicken bouillon granules and tomato sauce.
- Canned white hominy.
- Thinly shredded cabbage
- Diced yellow or white onion
- Lime wedges
- Avocado (optional)
- A few thinly sliced radishes (optional)
- Warm corn or flour tortillas, for serving
How to make Pozole:
Trim and cube the pork.
Make Broth: In a stockpot, bring pork and water to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the top and then add onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt and chicken bouillon. Simmer for 1 ½ hours.
Meanwhile, boil chilies (deseeded and deveined) in a saucepan with water for 15 minutes and set aside.
Blend the chilies and a few cloves of garlic in a little of the chilie’s cooking water.
Empty the chili saucepan, add a little oil and strain chili mixture back into pan. Simmer for 10 minutes.
From stockpot, strain out aromatics (bay leaves, onion, garlic cloves, and neck bones if used).
Add remaining ingredients to stockpot and simmer for 30 minutes. (Chili sauce mixture, tomato sauce, oregano, cumin, white vinegar, hominy, plus salt and pepper to taste)
Ladle soup into bowls, apply toppings: Shredded cabbage, chopped onion, fresh cilantro, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, plus, optionally, avocado and thinly sliced radishes. Serve with warm tortillas. Also make sure to try my Pozole Verde!
- Spice level: This pozole is pretty mild (my young kids eat it!) as the guajillo and ancho chilies are not very spicy. If you like more spice, add árbol chilies, or simply season your portion with crushed red pepper flakes or hot sauce at the end.
- Pork substitutes: You can make pozole with beef chuck roast and beef bouillon instead of pork and chicken bouillon. Or use bone-in chicken thighs, but only cook the chicken for about 30 minutes to an hour, until tender. (Chicken is typically used in Pozole Verde, and Pork is traditional for this pozole, Pozole Rojo).
- Instant Pot Pozole: Add pork, water, onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt and buollion to the instant pot and pressure cook for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the chile sauce according to instructions. Once timer is up on instant pot, strain the broth (discarding onion, bay leaf, etc) and return broth to the pot. Add chile sauce, remaining seasonings and hominy. Pressure cook for 10 more minutes.
- Slow Cooker Pozole: Cook broth in slow cooker on low for 6-7 hours. Strain the broth (discarding onion, bay leaf, etc) and return broth to the pot. Make and add red chile sauce, hominy and remaining ingredients and cook on low for 1-2 more hours.
Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions:
To Make Ahead: Pozole can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for about a week. The toppings are best prepared fresh but the sliced radishes can be stored wrapped in moist paper towels or in water. Shredded cabbage can be kept from browning by tossing it thoroughly in lime juice.
To Freeze: Once cooled, pozole can be stored in freezer-friendly containers or freezer bags for several months. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Thaw in the fridge overnight, and warm over low heat.
If you love Latin-inspired recipes, be sure to try:
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- 5 lb pork shoulder or butt roast*
- 10 cloves garlic , divided
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 yellow onion , quartered
- 4 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons better than bouillon chicken flavor , or chicken bouillon granules
- 6 dried gaujillo chiles*
- 6 dried ancho chiles*
- 1-3 dried chiles de arbol , optional, for spicier/hotter soup*
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 2 25oz cans white hominy , drained and rinsed
- salt and pepper , to taste
- Thinly shredded Cabbage (required)
- diced yellow or white onion (required)
- fresh cilantro (required)
- lime wedges (required)
- avocado (optional)
- A few thinly sliced radishes (optional)
- Warm corn or flour tortillas , for serving
- Cut pork roast into 1 inch cubes, trimming and discarding any big pieces of fat. Add to a large stock pot with enough water to cover the meat by around 2 inches (8-10 cups water). Bring pot to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
- Add to the pot one quartered onion, 5 whole garlic cloves, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt and chicken bouillon and simmer for 1 ½ hours.
- Meanwhile, remove seeds and veins from chilies and add to a small pot with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Use a slotted spoon to spoon the chilies into a blender. Add 1 cup liquid rom the saucepan that boiled them, along with 5 peeled garlic cloves. Blend well until smooth.
- Discard any remaining water from the small saucepan that cooked the chilies. Add 2 tablespoons oil to it over medium heat. Pour the blended chilies mixture through a fine mesh strainer into the pot and cook for 10 minutes over medium low heat, stirring often.
- From the stockpot with the meat, remove bay leaves, onion, garlic cloves, and neck bones (if used). Pour in the chili sauce mixture, tomato sauce, oregano, cumin, white vinegar, and hominy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a slow boil and then simmer for 30 minutes, or until pork is very tender.
- Taste and adjust seasonings (add more salt, chicken bouillon paste or oregano, to taste).
- The toppings added really make or break the soups end result! Ladle soup into bowl and top with a handful of shredded cabbage, chopped onion, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. You could also top with avocado and thinly sliced radishes. Serve with a tortilla on the side.
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I originally shared this recipe January 2021. Updated April 2023.
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