Learn how to make authentic mole sauce (mole poblano) from scratch! This unique and beloved traditional Mexican dish is made from a combination of various ingredients, including dried chiles, nuts and seeds, spices, chocolate, and dried fruit. Serve it over chicken or turkey, as a sauce for enchiladas, or in tamales for a showstopping meal.
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Making your own mole sauce at home can be a little intimidating, but once you see just how easy it is, you’ll be a pro in no time!
I’m not going to lie – making mole sauce (specifically mole poblano) from scratch takes a little bit of time, but it’s not difficult or complicated. As long as you have all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go, you can totally do it. And the end result is so worth it!
What is Mole?
Mole is a traditional Mexican dish known for its rich and complex flavors that have been around for decades. The word mole comes from the Nahuatl word mōlli, which means “milled” or “pounded”, and is the term often used to refer to a variety of sauces that are typically chile-based.
There are many different types of mole across Mexico, and one of the most popular versions is mole poblano. The birthplace of this iconic, world-renowned dish is traced back to Puebla and Oaxaca.
Mole poblano is made from a unique combination of over 10 ingredients, including dried chiles, spices, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and even chocolate.
Each ingredient fits into one of these four categories – sweet, sour, chile, or thickener.
After being toasted and fried, they’re all blended together to create a deep, rich, and flavorful reddish-brown sauce that’s absolutely delicious!
Mole Sauce Ingredients
- Dried chiles: A combination of ancho and pasilla chiles. You can find them in the international foods aisle of your local grocery store or in a specialty Mexican grocer. If you can’t find them in your area, buying them online is always a great option.
- Nuts and seeds: Raw almonds, unroasted and unsalted peanuts, raw pumpkin seeds, coriander seeds, and sesame seeds. Make sure to get the raw and unsalted variety if possible.
- Black peppercorns: Adds a surprising touch of heat to the dish.
- Corn tortilla: 1 plain store-bought corn tortilla is perfect.
- White bread: 1 slice of white bread or French bread. This, along with the tortilla, acts as a thickener.
- Raisins: Adds a nice fruity element to the sauce without making it overly sweet.
- Mexican chocolate: 1 round disc of Mexican chocolate adds a beautiful depth of flavor to the mole sauce and some sweetness that pairs perfectly with the chiles. You can find Mexican chocolate in the international foods aisle of your local grocery store or in a specialty Mexican grocer. If you can’t find it in your area, you can buy it online.
- Mexican cinnamon stick: If you can’t find Mexican cinnamon sticks (also known as Ceylon cinnamon sticks), you can use 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon.
Did You Know?
There are actually over 7 types of common mole recipes – manchamantel, chichillo, verde, negro, coloradito, amarillo, and mole poblano! Even within these familiar recipes, there are infinite variations to them.
How to Make Mole
Cook the chicken: Add the chicken to a large pot and cover it with water. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
Toast ingredients: In a large Dutch oven, add oil and dried chiles, separate into two batches, cook for 1 minute until fragrant, and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Do this with the second batch of dried chiles, all nuts, seeds, tortilla, bread, cinnamon stick, and onions.
Soak: Once all ingredients are toasted and in a large mixing bowl, add 7 cups of chicken broth. Allow it to soak for 15 minutes.
Blend: Working in two batches, place half of the soaked ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the blended mixture through a fine mesh strainer and into the same large Dutch oven used for frying. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and liquid.
Heating: Add Mexican chocolate, chicken bouillon, and salt in the large Dutch oven, mixing it with the mole sauce. Heat over medium heat and cook for 8 minutes.
Serve: Add in cooked chicken and heat for 2 minutes. Place a piece of chicken with sauce on a plate and enjoy!
Tips and Tricks
- Watch the chiles closely when frying, and try not to burn them. This can happen quickly and taste bitter if burned.
- If you just want to make the sauce and not the chicken that goes along with it, you’ll need 7 cups of chicken broth.
- Strain the sauce for a silky smooth consistency.
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Dutch oven: This is one of my most-used kitchen tools and is oven safe!
- Slotted spoon: I use this often when transferring rehydrated chiles to a blender for all my Mexican sauces.
- Blender: A powerful blender is a must when blending chiles to make Mexican sauces.
- Strainer: If you don’t have a powerful blender, a strainer is a great tool to help remove any solids in the mole sauce to make it silky smooth.
Mole is often served with some traditional Mexican sides that complement its rich and complex flavor. Here are a few suggestions:
Storing and Reheating
Mole poblano can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
To reheat, rewarm it on the stove and add additional chicken broth to reach desired consistency.