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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Vegan Pozole Rojo

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This easy vegan pozole with pinto beans is a delicious Mexican stew that has so much flavor. Ready in just 30 minutes, with rich spices, crunchy veggies, and chewy hominy – this healthy soup is perfect for a quick one-pot meal.

My Instant Pot has been a lifesaver on busy weeknights, when I want something hearty, filling, and flavorful but do not have time to spend standing in front of a stove all day.

And while traditional pozole is not typically a vegetarian or vegan friendly dish, I love the deep spices that give pozole such a satisfying and warming feel. Since the base of posole (spices + hominy) are vegetarian friendly, I figured why not replace the traditional meat with healthier beans and create an Instant Pot vegan pozole! Don’t worry, I included stove top instructions too.

Top it with diced red onions, diced tomatoes, fresh cilantro, lime wedges, guacamole, crushed tortilla chips (or for a non-vegan option: plain Greek yogurt or shredded cheese) – and you have got yourself an easy weeknight meal that feels like it’s been cooking all day! While it’s easy enough to make any night, this delicious soup is also great for special occasions.

The great thing about this vegan pinto bean pozole: It makes for amazing leftovers and tastes even better the next day because the flavors have more time to blend together! The next time you make it (and you’ll want to make it again), you might want to make a double batch and freeze some for easy meals in the future.

👩🏽‍🍳 Why You’ll Love This Vegan Pozole

  • The Ultimate Comfort Food: This is one big cozy bowl of soup here! Whether it’s soup season or not, this delicious vegetarian pozole (vegan friendly too!) will keep you satisfied (and warm in the cold weather!). You’re going to want to add this great recipe into your meal rotation!
  • Healthier Ingredients: This vegan pozole in the Instant pot uses pinto beans instead of pork (traditional pozole often includes pork shoulder) for protein and satiety. If you’ve been wondering how to make a pozole recipe vegan, beans are a great alternative to meat and have great texture. This soup is high in fiber and plant protein: 8 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein in every serving!
  • Tons Of Flavor: This vegan soup still has plenty of big flavors, so if you’re worried let me tell you right now that this soup is super flavorful and yummy. Once you’ve loaded it up with your favorite toppings, you’ll have a truly delicious meal to enjoy.
  • Easy To Customize: Not all recipes are easy to customize (like baking recipes) but it’s really easy to change up this vegan posole recipe and add what you have on hand! Check out the ingredient substitution section below for ideas.

🥘 Ingredients

This vegan version of pozole can easily be made with simple ingredients found at your local grocery store! See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for nutritional information.

Ingredients for vegan pozole recipe on a white background.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Red Or White Onion, And Garlic: You’ll saute onion and a few cloves of garlic in olive oil to start this recipe.
  • Yellow Bell Peppers: I love using yellow bell peppers in this pinto pozole.
  • Baby Spinach: For some added greens!
  • Spices: Cumin, chile powder, ancho chili powder, coconut sugar, sea salt, and bay leaves.
  • Pinto Beans: I used canned pinto beans to save time, but you can make your beans from scratch ahead of time if you like! You could also use black beans or red kidney beans if you don’t have pinto!
  • Can Of Hominy: This might be the most important ingredient in this vegan posole recipe, because hominy is what makes posole, posole!
  • Vegetable Broth And Tomato Paste: Combine these together to get the base of your vegan pozole rojo broth!

🍲 Ingredient Substitutions

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Red Or White Onion, And Garlic: You can use a different oil if that’s all you have. Avocado oil or grapeseed oil would work well here.
  • Yellow Bell Peppers: You can use any peppers you like in this vegan recipe – orange peppers, red peppers, green bell peppers, or even poblano peppers (for an extra kick!) would all taste great. 
  • Baby Spinach: Baby kale would also work well.
  • Spices: Feel free to adjust the spices depending on how much heat you want in your pozole with beans. Or for a bolder (but not necessarily spicier) flavor, add an extra half tsp cumin and ancho chili powder. You can also use different spices if you have some other ones you like. Mexican oregano would be a lovely choice.
  • Pinto Beans: You could also use black beans or red kidney beans if you don’t have pinto in this healthy pozole recipe!
  • Can Of Hominy: Hominy is one of the main ingredients in this recipe, however if you are unable to find any cans of white hominy (check the Mexican section of your local grocery store), try a can of white corn kernels (or yellow corn) instead.
  • Vegetable Broth And Tomato Paste: You can also use vegan beef broth or vegan chicken broth for a deeper flavor. Buy one of the popular bouillon pastes and add 4 cups of water with 4 teaspoons of bouillon paste to achieve a flavorful broth (you can also change the ratio of the bouillon to water mix to suit your palate). You can also use 4 cups of broth that you buy in a carton at the grocery store.
  • Other Ingredients: If you’d like to add a meat replacement, jackfruit, oyster mushrooms, soy curls, or a store bought vegan meat alternative are all nice options. Some recipes use enchilada sauce, but this recipe does not. If you want a lot of spicy flavors, try adding some red chiles or you can use your favorite chile paste or chile sauce.

🔪 How To Make Vegan Pozole

Even if this is your first time making pozole vegan, there is no need to stress! Using the instructions below, you can make Instant Pot pozole or stovetop pozole.

With simple steps and minimal effort, this vegan red pozole (AKA pozole vegano rojo) might just become your new favorite soup. Here is how to make this healthy vegan posole recipe:

How To Make Instant Pot Vegan Pozole

Sauté Veggies: Turn the Instant Pot to saute on low. Add olive oil through garlic, sauté 5–10 minutes.

Peppers and onions added to the instant pot

Add Spices: Add the cumin, chili powder, ancho chili powder, coconut sugar, and salt. Saute another 2-3 minutes.

Spices for the vegan posole added to the instant pot

Add Remaining Ingredients: Add tomato paste, bay leaf, pinto beans, hominy and vegetable broth. Stir to combine.

The rest of the dry ingredients for the vegan posole added to the instant pot

Cook The Pozole: Secure lid of the Instant Pot. Press “pressure cook” and set the timer to 15 minutes (you’ll be cooking at high pressure this whole time). Natural release. Turn off your instant pot and open the lid. Give your pozole a good stir and let it sit uncovered for about 5 minutes.

vegan posole on a ladle

Serve: Ladle the soup into bowls and top with anything you like! (e.g. cilantro, lime, avocado, etc)

A bowl of Instant Pot Pinto Beans Vegan Posole in front of an Instant pot

How To Make Stovetop Vegan Pozole

  • Sauté The Veggies: Heat oil (about a tablespoon) in a large soup pot (or any large pot) over medium-high heat or medium heat. Add the onion, peppers, spinach, garlic, tomato paste and spices. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions have caramelized slightly. 
  • Add Remaining Ingredients And Simmer: Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, simmer for about 30 minutes until all of the flavors have combined.
  • Serve: Serve this delicious meal with warm corn tortillas or any other toppings you like!

Vegan Pozole In The Slow Cooker

Sauté the veggies in a skillet as described in the stovetop method, then transfer that with the other ingredients to your slow cooked. Stir and cook covered on low for 6–8 hours until the beans are tender. 

Top shot of Instant Pot pinto bean vegan pozole in a white bowl.

💭 Expert Tips

  • Slow Cooker Or Stovetop Pozole Works Just As Well: The Instant Pot helps you save a bit of time with this recipe. If you don’t have an instant pot or pressure cooker, you can make pozole on the stove top, it will just take a little longer.
  • Where To Buy Hominy: Ready-to-eat Hominy is sold in the canned section of the supermarket. Sometimes it can be in the Mexican section. You can also cook it yourself but it takes much longer! If you choose to cook dried hominy on your own, follow the same process as you would for dried beans.
  • If You Want To Use Dried Beans: Soak your dried pinto beans in plain water overnight and rinse well, discarding the soaking liquid. You can cook soaked pinto beans in the Instant Pot for 15 minutes (or 50 minutes for unsoaked beans). You can also cook them on the stovetop (don’t skip soaking them for this method): bring beans and water to a boil and then simmer covered on low for 2 to 2 ½ hours.
  • Vegan Pozole For Kids: This posole is a great way to get your kids to eat some extra veggies (since they are pretty hidden amidst the beans, hominy and toppings!) I recommend putting out a “toppings bar” for kids – so they can pick whatever they want to go on top of this posole. If you have kids that are particularly sensitive to spice, you can always make a more mild soup without too much heat  and cut the quantity of spices in half before you make this dish. And for kids who don’t even like the look of veggies, you can puree all the veggies together and add them into the “broth” – so they are completely hidden!

📖 Variations 

  • Vegan Pozole Verde (Vegan Green Pozole): Use ½ to 1 cup of salsa verde instead of tomato paste when making your pozole. Or use a homemade tomatillo mixture with fresh tomatillos and green chiles.
  • Vegan Pozole Blanco (Vegan White Pozole): Skip the tomato paste. Add 10 ounces of cleaned and sliced white mushrooms while sautéing the veggies.
  • 4 Bean Pozole: Use pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, and navy beans for a hearty protein-packed vegan stew. This is similar to many chili recipes, however it will have more Mexican flavors. Or feel free to just use one type of beans – e.g. sub black beans for pinto beans to make black bean pozole.
  • Use Different Veggies: Feel free to mix up the veggies used in this dish. I used bell peppers and spinach primarily, but you can use anything you have in your fridge.

🍽 Serving Suggestions

There are many different ways to dress up a bowl of delicious pozole! If you’re serving kids or even a crowd, it’s really fun to set up a toppings bar! You can keep the soup simple and let people dress it up themselves. Good times will be had at any party where pozole is served. Here are our favorite toppings:

  • Fresh Herbs And Garnishes: Fresh cilantro, fresh lime juice, chopped radishes, chopped green onions, diced tomatoes
  • Crunchy Toppings: Crushed tortilla chips, pumpkin seeds
  • Creamy Toppings: Avocado or guacamole, vegan sour cream, or a vegan yogurt
  • Your Favorite Salsa: salsa verde or even a pico de gallo makes a great addition
  • Non-Vegan Toppings: If you don’t need to make this recipe vegan, you can use a shredded Mexican cheese blend, sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt!

🙌 Dietary Adaptations

This recipe is already vegan, vegetarian and nut free! Gluten-Free Note: This vegan pozole recipe is already gluten-free, but if you or someone you love has a gluten allergy, just make sure everything with a label is certified gluten-free.

🫙 Storage Directions

Here is how to store and keep this delicious vegan Mexican pozole:

  • Refrigerating: Let leftovers cool completely. The leftovers will keep, refrigerated, in an airtight container for about 5 days.
  • Freezing: Transfer the posole to freezer-safe, airtight containers or bags with as little air as possible to prevent freezer burn. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. 
  • Reheating: Thaw overnight in the fridge, and warm over low heat on the stovetop or microwave.

❓Recipe FAQs

What is Pozole?

Pozole, or posole, is a traditional Mexican soup or stew with a rich broth. It is an important dish in Mexican Cuisine. Typically it is made with pork, but my vegan version makes pinto beans the star of the show. Pozole is typically served during the holiday season in Mexico, and is a popular dish at New Years Eve and Christmas Eve as well as other large celebrations throughout Mexico. Like most Mexican food, it has a lot of beautifully complex flavors.

Is it Pozole or Posole?

You have probably seen different ways to spell the word pozole. “Pozole” seems to be the preferred way in Mexican culture, while “posole” often shows up more in adapted or recipes originating outside of Mexico proper. Sometimes versions originating in the United States are referred to as New Mexico posole.

Is pozole vegan?

No, pozole is not traditionally vegan. This traditional Mexican stew is typically made with meat. It is often served with dairy toppings as well.

What is the difference between corn and hominy?

Hominy is whole corn kernels that have been soaked in a lye or lime solution, and are then washed to remove the hulls and excess solution. The result is a puffy, giant corn that has a meaty, chewy texture. Corn, on the other hand, is just fresh corn kernels that haven’t been soaked or processed.

Vegan pozole rojo served in a white bowl, garnished with lime and cilantro.

🥣 More Vegan Soup Recipes!

Love this plant based mexican recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating 🌟 in the recipe below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page!

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📋 Recipe Card

🎥 Watch How to Make It

Print Recipe
5 from 24 votes

Vegan Pozole Rojo

This easy vegan pozole with pinto beans is a delicious Mexican stew that has so much flavor. Ready in just 30 minutes, with rich spices, crunchy veggies, and chewy hominy – this healthy soup is perfect for a quick one-pot meal.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Mexican, Vegan, vegetarian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 207kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 3 yellow bell peppers diced
  • 6 oz fresh baby spinach chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic minced
  • tbsp ground cumin
  • tbsp mild chili powder
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt more to taste – I added about 1/2 tsp more
  • ½ cup tomato paste (4 ounces)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 15oz cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15oz can hominy, rinsed and drained
  • 32 oz vegetable broth (4 cups)
  • optional toppings: ¼ cup chopped cilantro, divided, squeeze of lime juice, diced avocado or guacamole, chopped radishes, shredded mexican cheese blend, crushed tortilla chips

Instructions

To Make In The Instant Pot

  • Turn the Instant Pot to saute on low. Add olive oil through garlic, saute 5-10 minutes.
  • Add the cumin, chili powder, ancho chili powder, coconut sugar and salt. Saute another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add tomato paste, bay leaf, pinto beans, hominy and vegetable broth. Stir to combine.
  • Secure lid of the instant pot. Press "pressure cook" and set timer to 15 minutes. Natural release.

To Make On The Stove Top

  • Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, peppers, spinach, garlic, tomato paste and spices. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions have caramelized slightly. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, simmer for about 30 minutes until all of the flavors have combined. Serve this delicious meal with warm corn tortillas or any other toppings you like!

Notes

  • If you don’t have an instant pot or pressure cooker, you can make pozole on the stove top, it will just take a little longer.
  • Ready-to-eat Hominy is sold in the canned section of the supermarket. You can also cook it yourself but it takes much longer! If you choose to cook dried hominy on your own, follow the same process as you would for dried beans.
  • You can experiment with different types of beans in this recipe: black beans, kidney beans, even navy beans would all work well. Or you could do a combination of beans and make this a 4 bean pozole!
  • If you’re making this for kids or for people sensitive to spice, use 1/3-1/2 of the amount of spices (or even less if needed) and adjust to taste. This soup should be moderately spicy, but not overly “hot spicy” – so make sure you’re using a mild chili powder to achieve that flavor. You can always use a hotter chili powder if you like for a spicier dish too!
  • Feel free to mix up the veggies used in this dish. I used bell peppers and spinach primarily, but you can use anything you have in your fridge. You can even make this a vegan pozole verde by using 1/2-1 cup of salsa verde along instead of tomato paste when making your pozole.
  • Don’t forget the toppings! Our favorites include: Cilantro, Lime juice, Avocado or guacamole, Chopped radishes, Chopped green onions, Diced tomatoes, Crushed tortilla chips.
  • Modified from this Cookie and Kate recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 207kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1667mg | Potassium: 827mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 8g

38 responses to “Vegan Pozole Rojo”

  1. I love the hearty chewiness of hominy. I’ve made posole verde but never posole rojo. Thanks for this recipe, love that it’s vegan!5 stars

  2. I just love pozole, but I don’t think I have had a vegan version of it before. Loving all of the veggies in this 🙂5 stars

  3. Now this sounds like a perfect weeknight dinner for the family! We love Mexican food and with this cold weather, this soup would be absolutely perfect! Can’t wait to try it! 🙂5 stars

  4. This was really delicious, and so easy! My whole family, including the somewhat picky 7 year old loved it! Thank you!5 stars

  5. Yummy! My family is going to love this for dinner! Looks so delicious! I wish I could have a bowl right about now.5 stars

  6. Such a flavorful stew! I love the addition of all those spices and the minimal prep with the instant pot. Yum!5 stars

  7. I love all the flavors in this and its so hearty perfect for the cooler weather we are having5 stars

  8. This was an easy, flavorful dinner. I’m looking forward to leftovers for lunch! I really like the hominy and plan to add it to soup more often.5 stars

  9. Love this!! This is my favorite instant pot recipe. Make it for our plant based eating family including little kids, and meat eating friends, and everyone I’ve made it for loves it! Thank you!!5 stars

  10. I don’t see in the recipe when to add the spinach. I’m afraid it will disintegrate in the instant pot, so does it get added after cooking?

    • Hi Deanna! You can add it after cooking and just let it warm through, or you can add it before cooking and let it “disintegrate” into the broth of the posole! Either way works honestly, it just depends on what you prefer. Typically if I’m talking to a parent of a picky eater, I’ll tell them to let it disintegrate because then at least the child gets the benefits of spinach (even if they can’t really see it). But for adults and non-picky eaters, because I love the bright color spinach retains, I recommend adding it at the end of cooking and just simmer in the instant pot on low for a couple minutes! Hope that helps!

  11. I’m trying to introduce more beans to my kids and can’t wait to try this recipe. I also love to use my instant pot whenever I can, so this is perfect!5 stars

  12. Loving this recipe! I’m such a sucker for posole, and making it from scratch too so darn long until I found this recipe. If you don’t own an Instant Pot, it’s worth it for this recipe alone!5 stars

  13. This is everything a gourmet soup should be, and then some! Looking forward to warming up with this on a cold night this week!5 stars

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