Vegan Pozole Verde

Welcome to vegan pozole verde, the recipe you need to spice up your winter soup collection. It’s the dead of winter, things are still gray and cold, and you’re tired of making the same soup over and over and over. That’s exactly when you need pozole verde, a burst of green in the middle of all that gray, with the heartiness of a winter stew but the bright flavors of fresh summer vegetables and the exact level of spice you crave. Easy to make vegan, this soup can be completed in under 45 minutes (less than 30 if you’ve finished the salsa in advance!) and has what I call a high yield-to-effort ratio…for less than an hour of work, you’ll have plenty of soup! Keep reading to learn all about vegan pozole verde and for the recipe.

Pozole Verde Origin Story

Pozole is a category of soups or stews in Mexican cuisine that are made from hominy. The dish originated from the Nahaus people, who you might know better as the founders of the Aztec Empire, and today they still comprise the largest indigenous group in Mexico. The word “pozole” (you might also see it spelled posole) comes from the Nahuatl word pozolli or posolli, which literally translates to “hominy” or “stew of corn kernels”. Green pozole specifically is attributed to Guerrero state on the southern Pacific coast.

It’s hard to know exactly how long the Nahaus were cooking pozole, but we do know that the conquistadors wrote about its existence when they arrived in Mexico. Pozole was a celebration meal and sacred dish, eaten by the privileged and elite in Aztec society. It contains maize, considered a sacred food, and was eaten to celebrate the gods and the harvest. Today pozole remains popular for holidays such as Mexican Independence Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and family gatherings. There are accounts that the original meat in pozole may have been human (the Aztecs did practice cannibalism on occasion), although there are alternative theories that it might have been dog or rodent.

Pozole is a category rather than a single dish, and while there are many variations, the most common are green, white, and red – like the Mexican flag! The primary distinction between them is the sauce used. Green pozole (verde) uses a salsa verde with tomatillos, green chili peppers, and cilantro; white pozole (blanco) has no salsa; and red pozole (rojo) uses a salsa roja with red chili peppers such as guajillo or ancho. The ingredient that brings them together is hominy, and they are typically made with pork (pozole blanco or rojo) or chicken (pozole verde), garlic, and lots and lots of garnishes.

What’s in pozole verde?

There are a few ingredients that define pozole verde, but one of my favorite aspects of the dish is that it’s highly customizable after that.

First, we have hominy. If you take dried corn kernels from white or yellow maize, soak them in an alkaline solution (a process known as nixtamalization), the kernels will shed their husk, plump up, and, as a bonus, release more nutrients. That’s hominy! You’ve probably eaten hominy products without knowing it – if you’ve eaten corn tortillas, pupusas, tamales, or arepas, then you have. Hominy is sold as dried kernels or canned, but if you buy them dry you’ll need to add a step to cook them.

Next is the salsa verde, a flavorful sauce made from tomatillos, green chili peppers, and cilantro with spices. I’ve written extensively about this sauce here. This sauce serves as the base for pozole, and it’s important to get it right because it is the main driver of flavor in your soup.

Shredded chicken is the protein in a traditional pozole verde, but I’ve replaced it with some hearty pinto beans. This also speeds up the recipe because instead of cooking and then shredding the chicken, you can skip all that and simply add canned beans. You can also cook your own beans for added flavor.

Another characteristic of pozole verde is a lot of garlic (yum). Not going to argue with that.

Finally we have the toppings or garnish. Pozole almost always comes with some toppings, the most common of which include lettuce or cabbage, radish, avocado, onions, chili peppers, limes, cilantro, tortilla chips or tostadas, even more salsa, and anything else you can think of. Get creative with it!

How do you make vegan pozole verde?

This dish is so easy and quick to make, and the vegan version is even easier than the meat one because you don’t have to cook the chicken. If you haven’t made your salsa verde yet, start there – this will take you about 20 minutes. Then begin the soup by sautéing lots of garlic and some spices in a large pot or Dutch oven, then add the beans, hominy, salsa verde, and water or vegetable broth. Bring it all to a boil and then simmer it for 20 minutes. Top it off with your favorite garnishes! This soup is weeknight friendly as it can be ready in under 45 minutes or less.

Sources: A Brief History of Pozole, Mexico’s Take on Traditional Stew; What is Hominy; Pozole; Nahuas; What is Mexican Pozole; Mexican Inspired Salsa Verde

Need more soup inspiration? Why not try a Burmese-Inspired Coconut Noodle Soup, One-Pot Vegan Zuppa Toscana, or Thai Hot & Soup Soup?

Vegan Pozole Verde

45 minutes


  • 1 batch salsa verde
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 bouillon cube*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (15.5 ounce) cans cooked pinto beans
  • 2 (15.5 ounce) cans cooked white hominy
  • 2 cups water*

*you can substitute 2 cups vegetable broth for the bouillon cube + water

  • Radish
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Avocado
  • Lime
  • Cilantro
  • Salsa verde / hot sauce
  • Raw jalapeños
  • Tortilla chips


  • Large pot or Dutch oven


  • Make the salsa verde.
  • Heat the oil to medium high in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add garlic, oregano, cumin, bouillon cube (if using), and salt and sauté until garlic is fragrant and just starting to brown, 1-2 minutes.
  • Add pinto beans and stir to mix with spices. Add salsa verde followed by hominy. Add two cups of water or vegetable broth, if using.
  • Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Serve hot with desired fixings on top.

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