Are you ready for a simple-to-make soup that's full of toasty red chiles, tender hominy, and bold flavors? Lucky for you, this pozole rojo recipe is here to answer your prayers!
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This delicious and hearty soup delivers in so many ways. It's bursting with earthy, sweet, and spicy ingredients. You can easily throw this pozole rojo together for a weeknight dinner.
Want to know the best part? The flavors meld together as the soup sits in your fridge, so leftovers will be even better!
What is pozole rojo?
One of the most iconic dishes in Mexico, pozole (also spelled posole) is kind of like a cross between a soup and a stew.
It comes in three different colors and flavors: rojo (red), verde (green), and blanco (white). If you haven't noticed, they match the colors of the Mexican flag!
Today, we'll be focusing on a vegan pozole rojo (red pozole).
In pretty much every pozole rojo recipe, you'll find three key ingredients: pork, garlic, and hominy (a large corn kernel... find more details in our key ingredient section).
After that, every recipe has its own creative way of bringing this special dish together.
The word pozole originates from the Nahuatl word "pozilli", meaning "foam," and refers to the foam created by the corn kernels as they cook.
Pozole originated with the Aztecs in Mesoamerica and has a religious and holy significance.
This sacred dish was traditionally made with carne humana. Yes, you read that right.
Aztec priests made human sacrifices of captured prisoners, offering their hearts during these gruesome rituals. The rest of the body was stewed and eaten in the ceremonial pozole.
After the Spaniards settled in the 1500s, cannibalism was outlawed and pork replaced the human flesh.
Isn't the pork version the same sort of idea though? It's time to switch to shrooms!
Is pozole rojo vegan?
Traditionally, pozole rojo isn't vegan due to the pork or chicken, but we've retained the taste, texture, and overall look of the dish by using oyster mushrooms instead!
If you haven't eaten oyster mushrooms before, you're in for a real treat. They're meaty, earthy, and chewy, making them the perfect meat replacement.
You can also make a delicious recipe with jackfruit, pinto, bayo, or black beans. Whichever way you make it, vegan pozole rojo is where it's at.
This Mexican soup is commonly served as a celebratory dish on New Year's Eve, Independence Day, Christmas, and birthdays.
But don't worry, pozole can be enjoyed on any occasion (like when you're just plain hungry).
Although this vegan pozole rojo is spectacular without anything added, it's really all about the condiments.
Common toppings include diced white onion (don't miss this one), shredded cabbage or lettuce, sliced radish, avocado, lime, and crispy totopos (tortilla chips).
It's time you give this gluten-free and vegan pozole a try to see how good it tastes. We bet you'll love this version!
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
After a quick read, you'll have all the info you need to cook with this special grain.
What is it?
Hominy is corn, specifically field corn, that's undergone chemical processing.
It's not as crazy as it sounds. The corn is soaked in an alkali solution (like lime water) to remove the germ and the hull.
The corn kernel swells up, softens, and is ready to be dried or cooked further for canning.
This process is called nixtamalization, and its main purpose is to change the protein and carb structure of the corn to help it stick together once it's ground and mixed with water.
For more information, check out our detailed guide on hominy.
Canned vs dried
We prefer canned hominy because it reduces the amount of cook time in this pozole recipe. If you want to try making hominy from dry, it needs to be soaked first, then cooked for about an hour or more on the stove.
Hominy tastes like a nutty, earthier version of the sweet corn you're probably used to. Pozole just isn't pozole without it. Unlike beans, which take on the broth flavor, hominy retains its distinct corn flavor in this dish. You have to try it to understand!
Because of its special processing, hominy releases vitamin B3 (or niacin) and allows us to reap the benefits. What benefits? How about helping keep our skin and digestive tract healthy as well as aiding in energy production in our body. Yeah, pretty important.
Where to buy
You can find canned hominy at most grocery stores worldwide, especially if you have a Latin American market in the area. You can also order it online from places like Amazon.
Taste: this reddish-brown chile is one of the most utilized peppers in Mexican cuisine. Guajillo (pronounced gwaa·hee·ow) chiles have fruity, somewhat sweet characteristics. They lend a hand in balancing the flavor of this spicy red soup.
Health: as a source of vitamin B, C, iron, and magnesium, guajillo chiles pack a healthy punch. They also contain the powerful antioxidant capsaicin, which is has been shown to help reduce hunger and increase metabolism.
Taste: named after the width of the pepper (ancho means wide in Spanish), this pepper is known for its smoky, sweet-heat flavor it provides to soups, sauces, and stews.
Fact: originating in the state of Puebla, ancho chiles are the dried form of poblano peppers (Puebla - poblano, get it?). The poblano pepper is left on the vine until it turns red, and then the drying process begins.
Taste: since this dish traditionally uses pork, we've included oyster mushrooms to give a similar earthy, umami flavor with a meaty texture. They make a great addition to this vegan pozole recipe!
Health: unlike pork, oyster mushrooms are free from cholesterol, full of fiber, and contain a fraction of the fat. It's also worth noting they're extremely low in calories, which just means you can eat more for less!
If you have questions about this pozole rojo recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: preheat your oven to 425°F and grab out a couple of baking sheets. Remove the bottom portion of the oyster mushrooms, then shred them with your hands into small strips.
Step 2: toss the shredded mushrooms in some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then, spread them out evenly on 2 baking sheets and roast for 20-25 minutes, mixing halfway.
Step 3: drain and rinse the hominy. Then, transfer it all to a large stockpot with the vegetable broth and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a low boil, then turn the heat down to simmer.
Note: you can blend about 1 cup of hominy with some broth and add it back to the pot if you prefer a slightly thicker soup.
Step 4: de-stem and shake the seeds out of all the dried chiles. Toast them in a skillet over medium-low for 3-5 minutes, making sure to frequently turn them so they don't burn.
Step 5: once the chiles are toasted, add them to a pot with the roughly chopped onion and garlic cloves. Cover with some water and bring it to a low boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the chiles are soft and pliable.
Step 6: add the cooked chiles, onion, and garlic to a blender along with about 1 ½ cups of the cooking water, cumin, and Mexican oregano. Blend on high until smooth.
Step 7: heat a little olive oil in a saucepan over medium. Pour your salsa into the pan, bring it to a low boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Note: you can pour your salsa through a strainer if there are small chunks, but we don’t find it necessary with our Vitamix.
Step 8: once the salsa has reduced, add it to the large stockpot with the hominy and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Lastly, add in the baked mushrooms and simmer for another few minutes.
Step 9: season the pozole with salt, then serve with your choice of garnishes. Our favorites include shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, fresh white onion, lime, homemade tortilla chips, Mexican oregano, or cilantro!
This recipe gets better the longer it stays in your fridge. Follow these tips to keep it tasting as fresh as possible!
In an airtight container, vegan pozole rojo will last up to 4-5 days in your fridge.
Vegan pozole freezes quite well, lasting at least 3 months in an airtight container, freezer-safe bag, or mason jar.
If you use a mason jar, let the soup freeze before screwing on the lid. Make sure you leave some room at the top for the soup to expand.
If you're using a freezer bag, ensure you remove all the air so you can lay it flat and save space.
If you have a busy household, this soup will make your life easier. We usually make a big batch and freeze it in single portions to heat up during our busy weeks.
This also works great to send your kids to school with!
Thaw the soup overnight in your fridge, then reheat it over low-medium on the stove for 5-10 minutes or microwave in 30-second bursts.
💭 Pro tips
Time to share the tips and tricks we learned while experimenting with this pozole recipe:
- Save time with cans. Not often do we recommend canned over fresh, but canned hominy is easier and faster to work with.
- Adjust your spice level. If you want to spice things up (which is recommended) add more arbol chiles!
- Try beans. If you're looking for a cheaper alternative to oyster mushrooms, beans are a great substitute in this recipe!
- Mix in more veggies. To make this an even heartier meal, try adding in chopped summer squash, sweet potatoes, etc.
🍴 Tasting notes
We are big fans of red pozole, and we know you will be too. It's:
If you try this pozole recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Pozole Rojo Recipe
- Baking sheets
- 27 oz oyster mushrooms ($3.99)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil ($0.11)
- Salt and pepper to taste ($0.02)
- 2 30 oz cans hominy, drained and rinsed ($2.59)
- 8 cups vegetable broth ($0.37)
- 3 bay leaves ($0.02)
- 5 guajillo chiles ($0.20)
- 4 ancho chiles ($0.20)
- 3 arbol chiles optional ($0.06)
- 1 large white onion ($0.24)
- 8-10 cloves garlic ($0.40)
- 1 tablespoon cumin ($0.03)
- 2 teaspoon Mexican oregano ($0.06)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil ($0.12)
- 2-4 teaspoon salt to taste ($0.01)
- Shredded cabbage or lettuce
- Sliced radishes
- Diced white onion
- Avocado cubes
- Lime wedges
- Tostadas or tortilla chips
- Mexican oregano
- Preheat your oven to 425°F and grab out 2 baking sheets. Remove the bottom portion of the oyster mushrooms, then shred them with your hands into small strips.
- Toss the shredded mushrooms in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread them out evenly on 2 baking sheets and roast for 20-25 minutes, mixing halfway.
- In the meantime, drain and rinse both cans of hominy. Transfer to a large stockpot with the vegetable broth and bay leaves. Bring to a low boil, then turn the heat down to simmer.
- Optional: you can blend about 1 cup of hominy with some broth and add it back to the pot if you prefer a slightly thicker broth.
- De-stem and shake the seeds out of all the dried chiles. Toast them in a skillet over medium-low for 3-5 minutes, making sure to frequently turn them so they don't burn.
- Once the chiles are toasted, add them to a pot with the roughly chopped onion and garlic cloves. Cover with water and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the chiles are soft and pliable.
- Then, add the chiles, onion, and garlic to a blender along with 1 ½ cups of the cooking water, cumin, and Mexican oregano. Blend on high until smooth.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium. Pour your salsa into the pan, bring it to a low boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Note: you can pour your salsa through a strainer if there are small chunks, but we don’t find it necessary with our Vitamix.
- When the salsa has reduced, add it to the large stockpot with the hominy and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Lastly, add in the cooked mushrooms and simmer for another 5-6 minutes.
- Season the pozole with salt, then serve with your choice of garnishes. Our favorites include shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, fresh white onion, lime, homemade tortilla chips, Mexican oregano, or cilantro. Enjoy!
- If you don’t like spicy food, make sure you omit the arbol chiles.
- You will need quite a bit of salt for this recipe. Start with the 2 tsp, and work your way up from there.
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty Mexican meals, check out our:
- Mexican black bean soup for an easy weeknight soup filled with hearty ingredients.
- Sopa de coditos for a quick, easy, and comforting sopita with elbow macaroni and hearty vegetables.
- Jackfruit carnitas if you want another great meat replacement to blow your tastebuds away.
- Quesabirria tacos to try a new and unique take on traditional birria stew
- Tacos al pastor for an authentic taco recipe that's sweet, fruity, and completely vegan.
- Crispy black bean tacos to have a no-fuss dinner that's full of vibrant flavors your whole family will love.
Yes, this vegan pozole rojo recipe is completely gluten-free.
We rarely ever strain our salsa thanks to the power of our Vitamix, but if your blender can't get rid of all the chunks, it's best to strain it.
Try using jackfruit, black beans, pinto beans, or bayo beans as great alternatives to the meat served in pozole.