Colors, Traditions, Ingredients

Chili peppers. Like many other dishes in Mexican cuisine, pozole exists in three colors. Red pozole is flavored with a sauce based on dry red chili peppers. Green one gets its color from a combination of charred green chili peppers and tomatillos, herbs (epasote and cilantro, and sometimes pepitas (pumpkin seeds). White pozole is not flavored by any sauce.

Pork. In pre-Hispanic Mexico, after the ritual sacrifices in which the victim’s hearts were offered to the deities, the rest of the body was cooked with corn and distributed among all the participants in a kind of communion act. (See “Recipe Notes” section for source information.) Later, after cannibalism was banned, pork substituted the human flesh because it tasted similar.

Today, to add more pork flavor and viscosity to the soup cooks use meat with bones and connective tissues, like pig’s feet or knuckles, which require long and slow cooking. For lighter versions of soup, a pork shoulder or butt is preferred.

Hominy. Nahuatl: pozolli, modern variants: pozolé, pozolli, pasole. There are a few versions of what the Nahuatl word pozolli means. Some translate it as “sparkling,” other say it’s “foam.” For many people of Mexican origin, pozole is another name of hominy.

From wiki: “Hominy is made in a process called nixtamalization. To make hominy, field corn (maize) grain is dried, then treated by soaking and cooking the mature (hard) grain in a dilute solution of lye, slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), or wood ash. The soaked maize is washed. Alkalinity helps dissolve hemicellulose, the major glue-like component of the maize cell walls, loosens the hulls from the kernels and softens the corn. Also, soaking the corn in lime kills the seed’s germ, which keeps it from sprouting while in storage. Finally, in addition to providing a source of dietary calcium, the lime reacts with the corn so that the nutrient niacin can be assimilated by the digestive tract.”

Even though hominy is one of the main ingredients, there are two established ways to use it when making this soup: 1) slowly cook dry hominy first and use the broth as a base, and 2) cook pork to make a broth and add cooked hominy to the soup at the end.

Soup-salad. Toppings are my favorite part of this soup. I think they are what makes this soup exceptional from the taste and texture point of view as well as its serving and eating experience. I like how some recipe authors refer to pozole as a “soup-salad,” because so many raw ingredients are added to a hot bowl of soup right before eating it.

Celebratory soup. Ritual significance of pozole transformed into a custom of serving it on some holidays and special occasions. It’s a typical communal food all over Mexico and in Mexican communities all over the world. It is part of the menu in many Mexican restaurants, including in Texas.

Red Pozole

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Main Dish, Soup
Cuisine: Mexican, Southern
Keyword: chili pepper, corn, pork, recipe, soup
Servings: 2 portions


for soup

  • 10 oz pork shoulder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 each onion white
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp oregano Mexican
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 each Ancho
  • 1 each Chipotle
  • 2 each Guajillo
  • 3 oz Hominy corn cooked or canned
  • 4 cups water or stock

for toppings to serve with soup

  • 2 leaves cabbage
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 each jalapeno
  • 1 each key lime
  • 2 each scallions
  • 2 each radishes


  • Prepare dry chili peppers. Remove stems, veins, and seeds. Cut them into small pieces, and quickly toast them on a hot, dry skillet, stirring. (For more portions of this soup, roast dry chiles in hot 350F for 5 minutes.) Place toasted chili peppers in a bowl of a blender, and pour about a cup of hot water over. Make them submerge by pressing down. Leave for 20-25 minutes to reconstitute.
  • Dice onion and garlic.
  • Cut pork into ~2-inch cubes. Heat oil (or pork fat) in a heavy skillet over high heat. Cook every batch separately for about 1 minute, constantly stirring, until pork surface becomes white.
  • Add onions and garlic and continue cooking for another 2 minutes, stirring. Add water or stock, oregano, cumin, season with salt and pepper. Bring to boiling, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • Blend chili peppers with their water and add the puree to the soup. Stir and continue simmering for another 10 minutes or until pork is fork-tender.
  • Prepare soup toppings. Thinly slice radishes, jalapeno, scallions, lime or key lime, chiffonade cabbage leaves, and pick cilantro leaves.
  • When pork is tender, add canned posole (hominy corn kernels) and bring the soup to final boiling. Serve toppings separately, buffet style, to be stirred into the bowl of hot soup individually.


Red Pozole with Pork by Mexican Authentic Recipes
Los mexicanos prehispánicos comían pozole con carne humana
"Like during the Neolithic period in Europe, cannibalism was a frequent activity in pre-Hispanic Mexico, according to a study by a team of anthropologists from UNAM, the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and the University of Granada, south of Spain. Miguel Botella, director of the Laboratory of Physical Anthropology at the University of Granada, pointed out that the more than 20 thousand skeletal remains studied by these experts had shown that cannibalism was 'systematic.' [...]
The anthropologist pointed out that in pre-Hispanic Mexico, after the ritual sacrifices in which the victim's hearts were offered to the deities, the rest of the body was cooked with corn and distributed among all the participants in a kind of communion act. [...]
Some recipes with human flesh as an ingredient were collected by the Spanish friars during their evangelizing work after the conquest. The recipes indicated that it was customary to add human flash to the pozole. According to one of the friars, human flesh 'tasted like pork' and was replaced by it after cannibalism of the natives was banned."