Menudo vs. Pozole: What’s the difference?

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Soup dishes are a favorite cold weather dish no matter what part of the world you’re in. Menudo vs. Pozole are two of the most popular soup dishes from Mexico. These traditional Mexican soups appear to be almost indistinguishable at first glance, but there are some key differences.

What Is Menudo?

Originally a Mexican dish, Menudo has since spread to other parts of the world, including the USA. The main ingredient in Menudo is beef (cow) stomach, also called tripe, earning it the nicknames pancita (“the little guy”) or mole de Panza (“stomach sauce”). Traditionally, Menudo is a family meal, mostly reserved for family gatherings and occasions. Menudo is notorious for taking a long time to prepare. Under normal circumstances, it can take as long as seven hours. Menudo should taste a bit like tortilla soup without the smoky flavor associated with tortillas. 

Menudo’s long cook time is due to the beef stomach or tripe, and harder options may take a longer time to soften. Menudo has varieties where other meat types are used in place of the beef stomach. Other varieties of Menudo take longer than seven hours, for example, pig trotters. Regardless of the variety, there are common ingredients you can expect to find in Menudo, like onions, chili, and garlic.

Menudo is believed by some to be an excellent hangover cure. With no further evidence to prove or disprove this belief, you are free to try it if you like. At the very least, soup is good for you, hangover or not.

What Is Pozole? 

Just like Menudo, Pozole is also a traditional Mexican dish, a cross between a soup and stew. Pozole happens to be one of Mexico’s most famous soups, popularly used to celebrate milestone holidays. The main ingredient you can expect to see in most or all Pozoles are pork, garlic, and Hominy kernels. Some recipes substitute the Hominy for other meats like chicken. Pozole is mostly popular for its “rainbow of tastes” as it comes in many colors, and each color pozole tastes different.

Pozole comes in three colors, just like the Mexican flag, green, red, and white. Each type of Pozole is made by making subtle changes that influence the final appearance of the Pozole. Red pepper, green pepper, or no pepper are the most common ways to get the Pozole color you want. Pozole dates back to ancient Mexico and is still prepared largely in many states.

One interesting but creepy fact about Pozole is that some lore claim that it was once made with human flesh as the meat. The lore goes on to state that prisoners were executed and their flesh used to prepare Pozole. Whatever the case, Pozole is human-free at the moment and is said to be the reason why pork is now the main ingredient currently. The taste of pork is believed to be similar to that of human flesh. There isn’t much evidence to support the human flesh theory, so you can enjoy your Pozole worry-free.

Key Differences

Both Pozole and Menudo are soup-based Mexican dishes that are largely similar, but they have a few key differences. Some of the key differences between Menudo and Pozole include:

Main Meat Ingredient 

The main source of meat is usually the ingredient most associated with both dishes. Menudo uses beef stomach, which is where it gets its name from, while Pozole, on the other hand, uses pork. Both Pozole and Menudo can have other meat ingredients, so you may find versions that contain some other meats. 

Preparation Time

Perhaps the greatest difference between Pozole and Menudo is the time it takes to prepare either of them. Pozole is a typical soup dish and doesn’t take long to prepare, while Menudo is notoriously time insensitive. With up to 7 hours needed to prepare Menudo, you can prepare Pozole several times before Menudo is ready. 

Surrounding Myths

Most dishes that are as old as Pozole and Menudo usually have some back story to them, and this is the case here. Both Pozole and Menudo have contrasting stories surrounding their origins and use. Where Menudo is said to be a cure for a hangover, Pozole is said to have once been made with human flesh. There may be no proof to support either claim, but the myths can influence the way people view both soup dishes. 


Despite their differences, both Menudo and Pozole have some similarities between them. Some notable similarities between Pozole and Menudo include:

Soup Dishes

Regardless of whatever ingredients are used in making them, in the end, both Pozole and Menudo are soup dishes. They are both broths filled with meat, hominy, and vegetables. Different meats also make both soups taste differently.

Country Of Origin

Most times, the reason for different types of dishes is nationality and culture, but it isn’t the case with Pozole and Menudo. Both Pozole and Menudo originate from Mexico and have a rich culture to show. They also happen to be very popular both among the locals and internationally.

Common Ingredient 

It is common to have two meals featuring common ingredients, especially when they are both soups, as in this case. Both Pozole and Menudo are made using Hominy and other spices and ingredients that could also be common. The main reason why both soups both look and taste different is the main meat ingredient.

Pozole and Menudo are two of the most popular soup dishes in Mexico, and they are both rich in history. Mostly associated with some celebration or event, everyone should try any of these dishes, even if you are ever in Mexico. Thankfully, the world is a global village, and you don’t have to travel to Mexico to enjoy either of these soup meals. 

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