Posole Rojo

Years ago when I spent a summer studying Spanish in Cuernavaca, Mexico, my Mexican teacher told me that it was much easier to pronounce the language properly if you smiled as you spoke it. She was right! Good thing Mexican food is so delicioso, because just thinking about dishes like this posole makes me smile.

It’s somewhat of a feast, posole. I guess you could make smaller batches, but since you have to cook it for several hours, it just makes sense to make a large amount, and then have lots of friends over with whom to enjoy it. Posole (or pozole) is a traditional soup in Mexico, often served Christmas eve, and in many parts of the country on Thursdays and Saturdays all year round.

This posole rojo, or “red” posole, is made with pork shoulder or shanks, red chiles, and lots of hominy corn. I made this for my parents, and they loved it. Mom told me she hadn’t had posole since she was a kid in Tucson. Lots of smiley faces around the table tonight.

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Typically just the simple soup with pork and hominy is served, and the add-ins, or garnishes are set at the table for all to pick and put in their soup as they wish. The soup itself should be rather thin, or brothy, because you are going to load it up quickly with shredded cabbage, thinly sliced radishes, chopped avocados, cilantro, onions, and wedges of lime.

More hot sauce or chiles can be added for more heat. Posole is all about the garnishes. So good! Many thanks to my good friend Arturo from Guerrero Mexico for showing me how to make this wonderful soup.

Posole Rojo Recipe

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours
  • Yield: Serves 12, plus plenty for leftovers.

We haven't made this in a slow cooker, but I'm guessing that step 6 could easily be done in a slow cooker.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces guajillo, ancho, or a combination of both, chili pods
  • Salt

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  • 1 large (108 ounce, 6 lb 12 oz, 3 kg) can white hominy, drained and rinsed
  • 3 lbs pork shoulder (preferably with bone), cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes (can also use pork shanks), make sure to use a cut well marbled with fat
  • 8 cloves garlic, 4 cloves roughly chopped, and 4 whole cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp of dry oregano (Mexican oregano if available)

Garnishes (can prep while pozole is cooking):

  • Half a small cabbage, thinly sliced
  • One bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 2 avocados, chopped
  • 4 limes, quartered
  • A bunch of red radishes, sliced thin
  • A couple dozen tostada shells*

*Tostadas are crispy fried corn tortillas. They are sold packaged and can often be found in the same section of your grocery store as fresh tortillas, or can be found at Mexican markets. You can make your own by frying stale corn tortillas (or tortillas that have dried out a bit in a warm oven), in hot vegetable oil until stiff.

Method

1 Fill a large 10-12 quart stockpot with 5 quarts of water. Set on heat to bring to a boil while you proceed with the next steps.

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2 Remove and discard the stems, seeds, and large veins from the chili pods. Heat a cast iron pan on medium high and lightly roast the chili pods for a couple minutes, until they begin to soften. Do not let them burn. While the chilies are heating, bring a medium pot with 3 cups of water to a boil. Once the chiles have softened, submerge them in the pot with the 3 cups of hot water, cover the pot and remove from heat. Let the chiles soak in the hot water for 15 to 20 minutes.

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3 Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Pat the pork pieces dry with paper towels. Sprinkle them generously with salt. Working in batches, taking care not to crowd the pan or stir the meat much, brown the meat on all sides. Right at the end of browning the meat, add 4 cloves of roughly chopped garlic to the pan with the meat, let cook with the meat for about a minute.

4 Once the meat has browned, transfer it to the large stockpot of boiling water. Scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan, and any garlic, and add those to the pot as well. Add the rinsed hominy. Add bay leaves, cumin, and oregano. When you put the oregano in, smoosh together with your hands so that the oregano breaks up more as it goes in. Add a tablespoons of salt. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and cook for 15 minutes.

5 Prepare the red sauce by puréeing in a blender the chilies, 2 1/2 cups or so of their soaking liquid, a teaspoon of salt, and 4 cloves of garlic. (To prevent the blender from creating too much pressure, it's probably best to start with the chiles and garlic and only a cup of the liquid in the blender, and then adding the rest of the liquid.) Strain the red sauce through a sieve, discarding the tough bits of the sauce.

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6 Add the red chili sauce to the pot with the pork and hominy. Add another couple teaspoons of of salt. Return to a simmer, lower the heat to just high enough to maintain a simmer, partially covered. Cook for 2-3 hours until the pork is completely tender. Skim away excess fat. Taste for seasoning and add more salt to taste (you will likely need more than you expect, perhaps a tablespoon or more.) The resulting soup should be rather brothy, as you will be adding a lot garnishes. Add more water if necessary.

7 When getting ready to serve the pozole, you can prep the garnishes (slice the cabbage, chop the cilantro, etc.) To serve, arrange the garnishes in bowls on the table and serve the pozole soup into bowls. Let your guests pick and choose which garnishes they would like on their pozole. Serve with tostada shells (or tortilla chips if you can't find tostada shells).

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Links:

Red posole for New Year's Day from Lisa Fain, the Homesick Texan
Posole, Pork, and Hominy Soup from Chaos in the Kitchen
Vegetarian posole from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks
Posole with roasted green chiles from Use Real Butter

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56 Comments

  1. Jo@jocooks

    This looks delicious, similar to a Romanian dish we make with beans, makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

    • bogdan

      haha :)
      i tried it when i went to mexico :)
      tastes just like ours because of the smoked chillies

  2. kaela

    I keep meaning to pick some hominy up from Rancho Gordo and try it. I think you’ve inspired me!

    Gorgeous photos on this one, Elise; it’s early, early in the morning and I’m suddenly craving pozole for breakfast.

  3. Katie

    This looks wonderful! I’m in need of a recipe that serves a lot of people for a dinner party, and I think this would be perfect!

  4. doodles

    Years ago my sister and I went on a trip to Taos New Mexico along the way we stopped at many places we knew the food would be delicioso. On that trip we discovered posole………needless to say we fell in love with the dish. Tried it at every place we stopped, some better than others but none were bad. We now make this often and especially at Christmas. Oh we also checked out sopapillas (sp) on that trip. Posole is the ultimate comfort food…………….Gracias!!

  5. Kalyn

    My dad loved this dish and he’d often it order it at a little Mexican restaurant we used to go to. Your version looks perfect!

  6. Edith

    Just saw pork stew meat in the Mexican market and wondered what recipe would be good for that cut of meat. OK, back to the supermercado for pork, chilies and hominy!

  7. Heather @opgastronomia

    This post is making me smile and think of New Mexico! Love posole – my go to recipe is from the big Gourmet cookbook, but I’ll definitely try yours next time.

  8. Giulia

    Thanks so much for the recipe, now i know how to cook posole rojo! ;)I hope I can get this posole past my kids without much whining.

  9. Chandra

    If you use dry hominy (available at Mexican groceries), beware! You will need to boil it for 2-3 hours. Probably best to put it in with the meat at the beginning.

    Yes, dried hominy will require extra cooking. Culinate has a recipe for Rick Bayless’ Posole Rojo that starts with dry hominy, which would be a good guide. ~Elise

  10. Sylvie

    A perfect excuse to have plenty of friends round for a feast.

    Indeed! ~Elise

  11. Robert E

    I’ve found Mexican oregano to lose it’s flavor if cooked too long. I’d suggest adding an additional teaspoon during the last 15 minutes of cooking.

    And tostada shells? Really? I’ve always preferred buttered toast points or fresh tortillas to chips or shells.

    Tostada shells are traditionally served with posole. The quality depends on the brand or if you are making them yourself. ~Elise

  12. Elizabeth

    But… Pozole is spelled with a Z!!! Have you tried “pozole negro”?? They make it further south, in Guerrero, and the base is black beans. Very good.

    From what I can tell, the spellings “posole” and “pozole” are interchangeable. Both are well in use. ~Elise

    • Mary

      Maybe it’s just regional. I’ve seen it spelled both ways. I usually go with posole with an “S”.

  13. monty

    A friend of mine was “guest” of the Mexican government for 4 years back in the late 70’s and learned how to make this while working in the kitchen. This is my family’s go-to winter soup. He makes his with dried hominy which requires precooking. He also uses pork shoulder but throws in a couple of pig feet for added flavor and of course more chilies. Thanks for posting your version. This is really good. Everyone should try it.

    I almost got a pig’s foot for this last batch, but by the time I got working on it the store that sold them was closed. Pigs feet are traditionally included in pozole rojo, especially for the gelatin, like using chicken feet to help create gelatin for a chicken soup. ~Elise

  14. tobias kocht!

    I am a big fan of mexican food.

  15. Rhandi

    Your pictures are beautiful and this dish sounds fantastic. I think that hominy is completely underrated, I love seeing recipes with hominy. Lovely blog- I found it via another gal who had blogged about us both. I am excited to browse!

  16. Cheri

    I’ve eliminated/reduce pork & beef from my diet. Has anyone tried this using chicken thighs or breasts.

    We have a chicken pozole on the site which doesn’t use red chiles, but I don’t see why it could be adapted to do so. Thighs would work best, and you shouldn’t have to cook them nearly as long as the pork. ~Elise

    • Lisa

      I use the same recipe but replace the pork with chicken breasts. The Posole turns out just as tasty!

  17. g.

    delicioso indeed! i seriously think i could eat this every single night of the week – so many of my favorite flavor combos. stunning, elise!

  18. Mary

    this is the ultimate crowd pleaser – great recipe – thanks:)
    Mary

  19. JavelinWarrior

    This is completely different from foods I normally cook but so tempting all the same. I’ve never used hominy, but any suggestions for where one might find fresh hominy vs canned?

    You can find dried hominy, but you’ll have to cook it the same way you would have to cook dried beans. I haven’t seen dry hominy around here, but I’m guessing it is more available in the south, or in Mexican markets. ~Elise

  20. SpunkyL

    I LOVE Posole, but usually buy it – there’s a very good Taqueria near me that has it only on the weekends and I often stop by. Thanks sooo much for the recipe, I will definitely try it soon.

  21. Guillermo

    Pozole with a Z instead of an S is the right way of writting it. I’m Mexican and have lived all my life to this day enjoying this delicious dish. If you want to experience it in the traditional and original way, the dried oregano should be added to the pozole on the plate after serving just before eating (putting some dried oregano between your hands and rubbing them together applying some force), not on the heat. The tostada shells are generally served with a small bowl of cream to put on them with salt and fresh panela cheese (white and salty, the kind that won’t melt with heat). If you want to enjoy the flavor of the radish in the mix but it turns out to be very strong, you can submerge it in water for an hour or two before serving (the same goes for the onion). Good work Elise! Congratulations for this recipe and your blog, it’s great.

  22. Jamie

    Just wondering why you specify “with bone” for the pork shoulder – should I include it in the pot while the soup is boiling and remove it before serving? It doesn’t seem to be included in the recipe anywhere.

    Yes and yes. If you can get pork shoulder with the bone, just use it while the soup is cooking and remove it before serving. The bone will help create a rich broth. ~Elise

  23. Novelismo

    Yum! thank you … might make a posole for my birthday … or it might just be Texas Chili …. you might try stewing the chilis a bit longer, and then peeling them before pureeing.

  24. Edith

    I know how you feeel. Years agao whe I visited Belize, it was the very first time that I experienced latin and African influenced food. It was absolutely delicious. On top of that, I was hanging with this girl from Ethiopia who used a seasoning that her mom made on top of what we would eat. I still can’t figure out everything that was in that mixture!

  25. Mary

    What is hominy, please?
    Mary – in England

    A type of corn. You can learn more about it in the Wikipedia. ~Elise

  26. Damaris @KitchenCorners

    I had this for the first time at a friend’s house last year and loved it. I’m so glad you posted a recipe for this, it was just was I was craving.

  27. Ariadna

    I agree with Guillermo! Pozole is spelled with a Z, at least in Mexico. He’s also right about the oregano; it’s added on the plate. And the original garnishes are onion, radish and lettuce. Of course you can use all those other things, but the original ones are these. Love your blog!! Love and hugs from Mexico!

  28. Christina

    This was very good. ” A keeper!” according to the husband. We short-cutted by using pork loin, but the toasting, soaking, mincing and straining of the ancho peppers made this dish!!! Great depth of flavor and we loved the freshness of the toppings.

  29. jonathan

    que rico

  30. Erin

    Its so funny that you’ve just posted this recipe…my husband had been asking for pozole for weeks, so I made the pozole blanco on your site…he said it was very good, btw, but it looks like I’ll be making this one as well since he really wanted pork. I said “can’t I use chicken?” and he said “can you make chicken taste like pork? ” :) uhh, I guess he prefers pork. Thanks for all of your fabulous recipes!

  31. David

    I often use my pressure cooker to make dried beans in a hurry. (soak 1 hour then pressure at 15 lbs for 20 minutes.) I’m wondering if I could use this same method to cook dried hominy before including it in the soup? This looks like a great recipe and I’m going to try it for my next dinner party. Thanks so much. Great photos as well.

  32. Val from PA

    This looks awesome! I saw a similar recipe a while back and have been wanting to try it ever since… Thanks for the reminder – it looks like a great dish for the fall!

  33. Trish

    I made this yesterday for dinner. SO delicious! I have made posole with pork for years but this was the first time it was “rojo” – red. I really LOVE this version! I like a bit of heat to mine so I along with the 4 ancho chile I also added about 4 chile de arobl – I discarded all seeds and stems as without them it was just the right spice. For those that like it spicy HOT leave the seeds (to taste) in as a lot of the heat comes from the seeds. Just blend them into your rojo sauce.

    Anyway, this was a big WIN for my household.

    Thank you!

  34. marybeth lynn

    Im hoping to serve this to a group of friends – my one question: Are the dried chilis you mention spicy-hot? Two of my guests dont do SPICY . . . .a little bit is fine but much more and they wont enjoy. I would prefer it to be something very flavorful without too much heat and serve spicy add ins on the side ? ? ? ? This just sounds sooooooooooooooo fantastic! I bet the house will smell fantastic too!

    Hello Marybeth Lynn, this posole is made with dried red chiles, which are by default, spicy. If you want something less spicy, I suggest our chicken pozole recipe. ~Elise

  35. Katie | Healthnut Foodie

    Love pozole!!! I published a recipe for pozole rojo using the slow-cooker in my cookbook last spring, so I know it works well! I also have a brighter pozole verde recipe on my site! http://www.healthnutfoodie.com. Both are such lovely dishes and perfect for feeding a crowd on a shoestring! Pozole also freezes well, without the garnishments, of course!

  36. brlaub

    Saw this recipe and had to try it. The Food 4 Less in Coachella had all the ingredients, including pork shoulder already cut with a few bones labelled “for posole.” Cut recipe in half and used both ancho and guajillo chiles. The ancho added a little sweetness. It turned out perfect. I used both white and yellow hominy but both looked the same after cooking. Enough to feed 6 for a total cost under $23. Thanks for this great recipe. I will be making this often.

  37. Megan B

    I also studied in Cuernavaca two years ago and have been looking for an authentic and do-able posole recipe ever since! I can’t wait to try it out and I hope it turns out as good as my mama’s or Los Barcos!

  38. Kevin in Chicago

    I made this recipe last night and found it to be surprisingly easy to make. I have eaten pozole many times, but this was the first time I made it myself. Finally a recipe I didn’t have to double, which I often do when I have my family over for dinner. The children, well, actually everybody loved it. (Even my compadre, who is a pozole “expert”) I finished it in the morning and left it on a slow simmer all afternoon and by evening the meat just fell off the bone. Great recipe, Elise.

  39. drdirk

    Thanks for this recipe – I tried it and my kids loved it. I’ve never actually even heard of pozole, so I was afraid it would be a little too hot for our taste, but it was just right. Can’t wait to look at some of your other recipes!

  40. eli

    I make this with leftover turkey after thanksgiving. make stock with the carcass and add the shredded leftover meat after you cook the hominy and everything else. So good.

    Brilliant! ~Elise

  41. Ari Brown

    Here in NM, we spell posole just like you :) And when red chile comes into season and dries, we eat tons of it! When I make mine, pork is my favorite, but I’ll use whatever I have (lamb, beef, leftover turkey or chicken, or even make it without meat.) And yes, step 6 on can be done in a slow cooker. I serve ours up with sharp cheddar, chopped onions, sour cream and cilantro for those who like it.
    I love the diversity on your site. So many delicious recipes from so many backgrounds. And they are always amazing!

  42. alita

    I’m mexican and pozole is my favourite meal!!! i have to say this one is authentic the only thing i will do different is the toppings Puebla my state usually has lettuce, lime wedges, oregano, chopped onions.. and tostadas on the side that’s it!!! enjoy!!

  43. cynthia gavigan

    thanks for the inspiration!
    celebrated my 16 year old daughters and my birthdays last week and made this. I have to brag that my version was as beautiful as yours. this was so perfect as one never knows how many are going to show up and as it turned out we had a houseful with plenty for everyone.

  44. Margaret McFarland

    Delish! My stockpot is in storage so my cooking was done in the turkey roaster in the oven. Water was heated before adding. Cooked @ 225 for 3 hours. I don’t think crock pots come large enough for this generous meal. Love your web site.

  45. Wendy

    This recipe is delicious but I think 108 oz of hominy is far too much for 5 quarts of water. To meet the recipe requirements I added almost 4 cans of hominy (29 oz per can). Perhaps I read the recipe wrong Should I have added more water? I don’t see any instructions about adding more water after adding the meat to the 5 quarts of boiling water.

    In the future I will use half to one can of hominy.

    See the end of step 6. “Add more water if necessary.” ~Elise

  46. Kai

    My friend, Brandon, emailed me this and it looked so good I thought I had to try it. Man, am I glad I did! He used chicken broth instead of the water, I used water. He said his broth was good, mine was too. My wife prefers light tasting soups and this fits the bill perfectly. The pork was pretty well marbled and had a touch of fat on it, but I never saw enough fat to skim. I left the bone in, as suggested, during the entire cook. The broth I got was rich and tasty. The condiments, exactly as described except for the radishes, were perfect for this recipe. I saw the avocados diced small in the photo and got some that were semi-ripe so they didn’t mush when cut… excellent! I used chips, salty and thick tortilla chips. I love hominy and enjoyed it so much I am looking for another hominy recipe.
    Thanks for this recipe, it will be getting mileage at our house again soon.

  47. Christina

    This is the best posole recipe I’ve had in a long time. I’m pinning it on my “Feed the Face” board on pinterest. THANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING!

  48. Laura

    I don’t care how it’s spelled, if you think you should put the oregano in during or after or what you think the garnishes should be because I made my soup as instructed by this recipe and it was awesome!!! There are obviously many versions of it, I just want to say this version is so yummy! I have made it with chicken also and I had my hubby asking for more. Yum!! Thanks for sharing!!

  49. Joy

    Love this recipe. Because I have a new found love affair with my pressure cooker, I made my pork ahead of time in the cooker which only cooked for 20 minutes and it was perfection. I strained the broth and defatted it and then added the hominy, chilies, etc. It only took about 1 1/2 hours I also make a chili paste that my Mexican friend taught me to add with the garnishes. It allows anyone to spice up the dish at the table if they so desire. Muy saboroso!

  50. Dan I

    I just made this and it was pretty good. I thought it was missing something, and I realized there’s no pata in the recipe. Just for the heck of it, I put in an envelope of Knox gelatin and it brought back that “feel” of the broth. Next time I’m going to put a couple of pig’s feet into the mix, and it’ll be perfect. Thanks Elise.

  51. Dan

    I’ve made this about five times now. Really fantastic and flavorful. For those doubtful about adding that many spices, realize that Mexican food uses quite a bit of spice. I usually add more than called for and it turns out swell. I also tend to use a pork loin. It’s easier for me to cut up into small pieces without the bone. Thanks for the recipe, it will always be in my top ten.

  52. Nichole

    I’ve made pozole with pork spine in the past and was wondering what the difference would be? Is it the flavor or the toughness of the meat?

  53. natasha

    My boyfriend is from Mexico, and he absolutely loves pozole. I made this recipe for him, and he said it might be the best he has had! I did add pork neck bones. The pork shoulder I bought said bone in, but it only had a very little piece of bone. So while it was simmering I ran to grocery store to look for either pig feet or neck bones. Anyway, it turned out wonderful, and now my boyfriend asks for me to make it every week. He says he would eat the whole pot to himself all week long! Thank you for sharing such a good recipe!

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