Pork Posole
Main Dishes, Recipes, Side Dishes, Soups

Holiday Pork Posole — Preserving a Mexican Christmas Tradition


Christmas just isn’t Christmas for me without my dad’s homemade tamales.  My dad is the only living child or grandchild of my Mexican-born great-grandma, Nana, who knows how to make Nana’s tamales.  I have promised myself that next Christmas, I will document and photograph (or video) the entire multi-day process to share.

As a child, and again for the last 7 or 8 years, my extended Mexican side of the family has gotten together every December for a big holiday tamale-making party.  Although we weren’t able to get the extended family together for tamales this year, my immediate family did do tamales for our Christmas evening dinner at my parents’ house.

For me, homemade tamales are a MUST for Christmas.
Our family Christmas party and dinner usually includes tamales, posole, rice, beans and often other dishes like chicken mole or enchiladas, as well as a ton of sweets and adult beverages.

Pork posole is another one of those Mexican family Christmas traditions.  Yet, no one in my family learned or wrote down my Nana’s posole recipe to pass down to her descendants.  So, posole was often missing at my family’s tamale parties until I started buying it from a local carniceria about 6 years ago.  But a few years ago, I became determined to make it myself.  And after a year of scouring recipes, I finally stumbled upon one — amazingly, from Epicurious — that my dad said sounded very similar to what Nana made.  For the last 3 years, my husband Jeff and I have made this fabulous pork posole for my side of the family’s annual tamale dinner (confession time…Jeff does most of the work).  And it it always a hit — even with the kids.

So, although I wish that my Nana’s recipe had been preserved and passed down to me, it does at least bring me — the family historian — some joy and comfort to know that I have been able to reintroduce a traditional Mexican holiday dish to my family…one that actually passes the high traditional Mexican cuisine standards of my huge loving Mexican side of the family.  We’ve also learned how to make my dad’s red chile sauce to add to the posole, which adds an extra spicy bite that we just love!

Making traditional posole is a long process, but so worth the time and work.

Holiday Posole
Saute the onions in oil until softened, adding chili powder and oregano.
Holiday Posole
Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper, add to pot on top of onions, and broth and bring to a boil.
Holiday Posole
Cover and braise pork in the oven about 2 hours, until tender enough to be shredded with a fork.
Holiday Posole
Transfer pork to a large bowl, and the juices to another large bowl.
Holiday Posole
Store each bowl in the fridge, uncovered, until cooled.
Holiday Posole
Once cooled, cover and chill overnight.
Holiday Posole
Skim fat off chilled juices.
Holiday Posole
Chop pork into 1/2 inch cubes, cutting away any fat.
Holiday Posole
Saute sliced onions in the last of the oil, then add the remaining chili powder, oregano, canned chilies, cumin and garlic.
Holiday Posole
Heat and stir for 30 seconds, until the seasonings are mixed well.
Holiday Posole
Stir in the pork and the reserved juices.
Holiday Posole
Add the hominy.
Holiday Posole
Stir in the red chili sauce and bring to a boil, then simmer on low, covered, with lid slightly ajar for 30 minutes.
Holiday Posole
A bit ol’ pot of Mexican goodness.
Holiday Pork Posole
Perfect tender flavorful posole.
Holiday Pork Posole
Ladle soup into bowls and garnish as desired.
Holiday Pork Posole
Recipe type: Main Course or Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
  • 4 medium onions, divided
  • 7 tablespoons canola oil or vegetable oil, divided
  • 4½ tablespoons ancho chile powder, divided
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican), divided
  • 1 6-to 6½-pound bone-in pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 4- to 5-inch pieces, some meat left on bone
  • 5 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
  • 4 7-ounce cans diced green chiles, drained
  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 15-ounce cans golden or white hominy, drained
  • 1 batch of Dad’s Red Chili Sauce (our addition)
  • 4 limes, each cut into 4 wedges
  • Thinly sliced green onion
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Tortilla shells or chips, head of cabbage (chopped), 5-10 radishes (thinly sliced), all optional for garnish at end.
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Thinly slice 2 onions. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions to pot and sauté until onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add 1½ tablespoons ancho chile powder and 1½ tablespoons oregano; stir to coat. Sprinkle pork with salt and add to pot. Add 5 cups broth. Bring to boil. Cover and transfer to oven.
  2. Braise pork until tender enough to shred easily, about 2 hours. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to large bowl. Pour juices into another large bowl. Refrigerate separately uncovered until cool, then cover and keep chilled overnight.
  3. Discard fat from top of chilled juices; reserve juices. Chop pork into ½-inch cubes, discarding excess fat.
  4. Thinly slice remaining 2 onions. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until soft, stirring often, about 7 minutes. Add remaining 3 tablespoons ancho chile powder, remaining 1½ tablespoons oregano, diced chiles, garlic, and cumin; stir 30 seconds. Add pork, reserved juices, hominy and red chili sauce. Bring to boil; reduce heat to low.
  5. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend, adding more broth to thin, if desired. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cool. Cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing.
  6. Ladle posole into bowls. Garnish with lime wedges, green onion, cilantro, and tortilla shells or chips, cabbage, and radish slices, as desired.
The pork and juices must be started at least one day before serving. Do yourself a favor, and have the butcher cut up the pork butt into three large pieces. We often make the complete dish at our home, and then take it to a party and reheat in a slowcooker there with fresh garnishes on the side.


  1. Looks like our kind of recipe! We keep hearing your rave reviews, so we’ll have to try this next month sometime (after we’re done with our no-meat and no-alcohol detox). 🙂

    Happy New Year!


  2. Why is it necessary to leave the prepared juice and bowl of meat overnight before finishing the Posole the 2nd day?

  3. I’d like to try this out for my small family of 3 but your recipe serves 12. Can I just half everything in the recipe? Is this recipe freezer friendly?

  4. Hi I just made pozole over the weekend, but I use the dried chile ancho and reconstituted the chile and made a paste. It’s great to be able to make those traditional dishes that bring back so many childhood memories.


  5. Pingback: World Peas: What’s everyone having for Christmas dinner? ⋆ New York city blog

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