Cooking With Confidence
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Chicken, Main Dishes, Stuffing Stuff

Holy Mole!

by Nick

For a very long time now I’ve had it on my list to try to make my own mole sauce.

The traditional Mexican sauce is known for taking a long time to make and it turns out all the rumors are true!  It really does take a while to make and is pretty complicated.

But you know what? I did it and you can too.

While it took me a day to make, the sauce ended up being very delicious.  A perfect mix of savory and sweet.  If you’ve ever had a desire to make it, here’s a walkthrough for you!

Yield
5-6 Cups sauce
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Traditional Mole Sauce

Ingredients

  • Veggie Base:
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 small tomatoes
  • Spice Blend:
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • Peppers:
  • 6 dried ancho peppers
  • 3 dried pasilla peppers
  • 2 cups hot water
  • Nut Mixture:
  • 2 tablespoons almonds
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • Other Ingredients:
  • 5-6 cups chicken stock (recipe below)
  • 1 plantain or unripe banana
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 3 ounces Mexican Chocolate (Ibarra is good)
  • 1/4 cup lard
  • Chicken Stock:
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 8-10 cups water
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 dried ancho peppers

Helpful Equipment

Directions

1) Add all the stock ingredients to a large stock pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, for 2-3 hours. Strain stock and set aside. Discard veggies. Let chicken cool for later.

2) For sauce, roast dried peppers at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until fragrant. Then add peppers to a bowl with 2 cups boiling water. Let side for 30 minutes.

3) Toast spices in a large skillet over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant. Then grind spices into a powder and set aside.

4) Roughly chop veggies for base and roast for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

5) Add roasted veggies to a blender with 1 cup chicken stock and blend until smooth. Strain and add veggie base to a large pot.

6) Cook nuts in melted lard over medium heat until they are lightly browned. Then add raisins and cook for another minute until they are soft. Be careful not to burn raisins.

7) Add nuts and raisins to blender with 1 cup stock and puree. Once smooth, add to veggie base.

8) Sautee diced banana (or plantain) in lard along with corn tortillas until lightly browned. Then add to blender with 1-2 cups stock and blend until smooth. Add mixture to sauce pot.

9) Add another two cups of chicken stock to sauce pot along with ground spices and chocolate.

10) Bring sauce to a simmer and simmer, on medium-low heat for 90-120 minutes, stirring regularly.

11) Season sauce with salt and pepper and serve over enchiladas or chicken or turkey.

12) Extra sauce will keep in the fridge for two weeks or you can also freeze it for later.

Recipe smashed together from 4-5 recipes online, none of which I can find again...

It Takes a Day to Make the Mole

Between shopping for all the ingredients, prepping the ingredients, and cooking everything, this sauce will no doubt take you an entire day to make.  There are no short cuts.

The flavors are so good and complicated because it has a lot of different things going on and also simmers for so long.

If you want to try it, just be sure to block off enough time so you don’t feel rushed.

While there are around twenty ingredients in this bad boy, I tried to break them up into groups so you an more easily see how they fit into the recipe.

Making Stock

The base of mole sauce is actually chicken stock.  I wouldn’t recommend using store-bought stock for this, but I guess you could.  Since I was making chicken enchiladas to serve with my sauce, it was easy to just cook the chicken while making the stock.

I just tossed all the stock ingredients above in a large pot and let it simmer for around three hours.

The finished stock was a dark color and had a great flavor.

stock

There’s a chicken in there.

The basics behind this sauce are preparing a few different groups of ingredients by either roasting them or cooking them in lard and then blending everything together and simmering it for a really long time.

As long as you keep that in mind, the recipe isn’t really hard. It just takes some time.

Dried Peppers

A lot of the savory flavors in the sauce comes from dried peppers.  Two kinds of peppers regularly popped up in the recipes that I researched and I was lucky enough to find both of them.

peppers

Pretty common peppers.

Roast these guys on a baking sheet for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees so they are fragrant.  Then add them to a bowl with about 2 cups of boiling water so the peppers reconstitute.

They will need to sit for about 30 minutes in the water.

soaked

Love the smell of these.

Once the peppers are reconstituted, remove the stems from the peppers and slice them open.  Scrape out all the seeds and add the peppers and steeping liquid to a blender.  Blend them until they are smooth and set the pepper paste aside for later.

The Spices

There are some great spices in this recipe and all of them really come through in the final sauce.  The key is to toast the spices well in a dry pan over medium heat for a few minutes until they are fragrant and lightly browned.  This will really bring out their flavors.

spices

Toasting is key.

Then just give them a whirl in a spice grinder and you’re all set in the spices department.

Just set this spice mixture aside for later.

spice

Great spice mix.

The Vegetable Base

Besides the chicken stock, a lot of the body in the sauce comes from a few simple vegetables that are roasted and then blended down.

Just roughly chop all the veggies and add them to a baking sheet.  Bake them at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

veggies roasting

Roasted!

Again, once the veggies are roasted, add them to your blender along with 1.5 cups of the chicken stock and blend until they are smooth.

Then strain the veggie mixture to remove any seeds.

Add the veggie base to a large pot where you can start building your mole sauce.

The Nuts

This recipe has a few different kinds of nuts in them.  I think the almonds and peanuts are pretty important but I think you could also use walnuts instead of pecans or just leave them out.

Anyway, cook the nuts over medium heat for a few minutes in LARD.

Yep.  That’s right. Lard.  Can you use veggie oil or something?  Sure.  But I was going for a traditional sauce here so lard is the only way to go.  You don’t need a lot of it.

nuts

This is nuts.

Once your nuts are lightly browned, add your raisins to the pan also and cook them until they are soft.  The raisins will only take about a minute to cook while the nuts will need 5-6 minutes so don’t add them at the same time.

As you might guess, once the nuts are done, add them and the raisins to the blender along with 1 cup of chicken stock.  Blend it up!

blended

Nuts?

Add the blended nuts to your master sauce pot where your veggie base is.  You can also add the blended pepper paste to the pot and the spice mixture as well.

Final Ingredients

There are a few finishing ingredients that go in the sauce now.

Traditionally, a plantain is cooked in the leftover lard from the nuts and added to the sauce.  The plantain was the only ingredient I couldn’t find so I just used a slightly unripe banana and it worked great.

Also, cook a few corn tortillas in the lard as well.

banana

The only ingredient I couldn’t find!

When the banana and tortillas are lightly browned from the lard, guess what you do?!

Add them to a blender with 1-2 cups of chicken stock and blend them up.  Then into the sauce pot they go!

Finally, there is the most famed ingredient of the mole sauce: CHOCOLATE.

Not just any chocolate, but Mexican chocolate.

chocolate

Mexican chocolate is different.

This chocolate is very different than what you might think of as chocolate.  It’s really hard and very sweet.  I’m not sure if I would recommend substituting it with normal chocolate.

You should be able to find this stuff at any Mexican market anywhere though.

The Long Simmer

You now should have a big pot of simmering sauce with all of your ingredients in.  It will be pretty thick though so add 2-3 cups of chicken stock to it to thin it out a bit and then bring it to a simmer.

I recommend tasting the sauce now although it won’t be very good at this point.  It’s just fun to see how the flavors change as it simmers.

simmer

Simmer simmer.

Simmer this bad boy over low heat for 90-120 minutes.  You need to stir it pretty consistently or it will stick and burn to the bottom of the pan.  If it ever gets really thick, add more stock.

When the sauce is done simmering, season it well with salt and you should be good to go.  This was my finished sauce which was done about 7 hours after I put my chicken stock on to boil.

stirring

LOTS of stirring.

What to do with the sauce?

You can put this stuff on tons of things, but it goes particularly well with poultry.

I made some really quick chicken enchiladas for my sauce by shredding the chicken from my stock and rolling it in some corn tortillas with cheese.  Then I smothered the whole thing in sauce and baked it until the cheese was melted.

enchilada

Get it?

You can get creative with the sauce though.  It would go great on grilled poultry or any sort of tex-mex dish really.

It’s really good stuff even if it is a bit of a pain in the butt to make.

hungry

Hungry!

While this sauce was completely delicious, there’s just no way that I will make it regularly.  It’s just too much work!

That said, if you are up for a challenge or have a special occasion that calls for really authentic Mexican food, it’s pretty hard to beat this sauce!

Has anyone else tried to make mole before?  If you have any tips to make it easier, leave a comment!

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28 comments on “Holy Mole!

  1. I always add coffee notes to my mole. Either with espresso or by substituting mexican instant espresso powder. It doesn’t take much but it does add an excellent wrinkle of complexity!

    Now that spring is here, I think it’s time to make mole!

    1. In straining the vegetables to get rid of the seeds. Do you keep the liquid and ingredients that are strained in the bowl or the remainder that’s in the strainer? I’m hoping the former? JW

      1. Hey JW, you want to keep the juices that gets strained. You can discard the seeds and stuff that you strain out! All the flavor is in the liquid. ;)

  2. I make mole at least once a year, but I make a mole paste instead of sauce. It’s the same process and takes the same amount of time (maybe a bit longer to cook it down to a proper paste), but you use about 4-5 times the ingredients, except for the stock, which you use about half or one quarter of. At the last stage, before adding the chocolate, cook it down to a very thick paste, then add the chocolate and cook over very low heat until it’s all melted. I then wait for it to cool and freeze it in portions. To make up, thaw (or not) and add to the appropriate amount of stock. Cook until it’s the right consistency.

    So… yeah, not really any EASIER, but it lasts a lot longer. :)

  3. I’m working on finding a good mole that’s nut free, because there are nut allergies in my house. Do you think your recipe would work out if you replaced the nuts with maybe sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds?

  4. Um. I must make this ASAP. What a great recipe. Love the grouping. Cant wait to try this. Thanks, Nick.

  5. This was one of my vacation projects a couple of weeks ago – I had to stop at two stores to get both kinds of peppers (and the first store has since started stocking pasillas – go figure!) – it did, indeed, take the better part of the day! We sauced some of my husband’s applewood-smoked pork, and it was fanTAStic! The best part, though, was tacos for breakfast the rest of the week!

    And I’ve stashed the rest of the sauce in 1/2 cups in the freezer for later enjoyment – thanks so much for the recipe!

  6. Your recipe for mole has too much garlic. We do not use that much garlic in Mexican cuisine.

    1. but does it make it better or worse? That’s the real question.. who cares what is done traditionally. Traditional biltong does not use apple cider vinegar, but ACV makes it taste better so we use it

        1. Who cares about tradition? You’re trying to replicate a mole sauce which has traditional conotations does it not? Why not put a good old Snickers bar in there…

    2. Scribalicious,
      I am half Mexican and have had my fair share of all kinds of mole and am a home cook and blogger myself. Typically 2-3 cloves of garlic are used BUT it really is all up to personal taste of the cook, the recipes are NOT set in stone and something as complex as mole sauce with many varieties (red, green,, poblano, oaxacan, almendrado, etc) varies from region, family, and creativity of the cook.

      In my opinion the basics of most mole sauces are simply onion, garlic, tomato, dried peppers, some kind of nut/ seed and spices with cinnamon being a must. A touch of sugar or chocolate or other dried or fresh fruit is often used depending and something to thicken it could be tortillas, bread, masa, etc. some people choose to grill all ingredients, fry all of them, etc. it leaves A LOT of room for creativity, and adjustment (types of peppers used, meat used, combination of spices, sweetner, chocolate no chocolate, etc.)

      Traditional I guess would be outdoors, clay pot, open fire, grinding everything in a stone metate, using pestle and mortar, etc. but things evolve with time, especially the modern kitchen.

      Nick,
      Good job :) I myself make mole, but with experience can be whipped up pretty fast (about 1-2 hrs depending), I tend to boil the meat with aromatics to make the stock, and while that’s going I de-vein and clean all chilies, set all my ingredients lined up, and shallow fry them (no more than 30 seconds or they become bitter), setting them aside in a large bowl, the ingredients I fry last are the bread if using because it absorbed most oil, and lastly I fry the onions, garlic and tomato then blend everything in a strong blender with spices, stock, empty it into a hot oiled pan (careful it will bubble and just quickly cover, and let it simmer on low stirring occasionally. Meat can be stewed in sauce for last 15 minutes, or served on plate with sauce over.

  7. We’re talking about cooking, aren’t we? Mole recioes are NOT carved in stone! Sure it’s a traditional dish but travel to Oaxaca or any other place in Mexico and try some “traditional” mole then go next door and try some more, they won’t be the same.

  8. I love MOLE! I have love it from the very first time I tasted it.
    While I was physically unable to take care of my family there was a wonderful woman from Mexico who stayed with us and took care of everything. When I was finally able to make it to the kitchen she taught me a very easy and quick way to make mole. She
    showed me a jar of mole paste and how to add the chicken stock and cook, blend and serve over rice. When ever I have a taste for Mole it only takes about an hour and my taste buds are satisfied. Sorry it isn’t from scratch but you said you wanted easy.

  9. Followed your recipe with a couple of changes…… Used different chillies as the ones required are not available here. Added star anise to the spices, did not use all the nuts either just sesame seed, almonds and raisins. Added crumbed fresh bread instead of tortillas.
    Have never tasted this sause before I made it but my son has and he said it tasted very much like what he had had in Acapulco. So cheers …. Thank you
    … Loved it.

  10. Wow! This looks absolutely delicious! We had yellow, green, and coloradito mole for dinner on Friday and we still wonder which one was the best! We’ll try your recipe next weekend and keep it in the freezer!

  11. I learned to make mole from two little Oaxacan ladies who liked it hot and spicy! They used special dried chili amarillo from their hometown village outside the city. The chili’s are a beautiful yellow orange color. I’ve never seen them except at their home. Your recipe and cooking methods sound very similar to the ladies. To add more heat I plan to toast the chili seeds with the dry spices. I can’t wait to make a batch for my upcoming Mexican Christmas. I plan to use the mole in my tamales! Thanks for the recipe and the inspiration to make mole again.

  12. Wow! Fantastic. Yeah, it takes a while, but you end up with a lot of great mole! I froze 3/4 of what I made for other days. This is wonderful. Big thanks for the Recipe!

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