Making authentic Mole Sauce from scratch doesn’t need to be complicated. Your blender or food processor will do most of the work. The sauce is delicious in chicken mole tacos or drizzled over enchiladas, nachos, veggies, and more.
The term ‘Mole’ (pronounced MOH-lay) means ‘sauce’ and it is a traditional sauce used in Mexican cooking. There are many different authentic variations of mole sauce, but they all typically contain at least two types of chiles, something acidic like tomatoes, something sweet like sugar or peanut butter, and spices. Mole sauce has a complex flavor that is spicy, smoky, and even slightly earthy-sweet.
Spices: Cinnamon, Dried Oregano, Ground Cloves, Salt
Low-Sodium Chicken Broth: Or you can use the chicken broth that we’ll make later when cooking the chicken
Chocolate: Abuelita chocolate or you can substitute another Mexican chocolate or even semi-sweet chocolate chips (if you use semi-sweet chocolate instead of the Abuelita chocolate, you may need to use more sugar depending on your taste preference).
For the Chicken: Skinless chicken legs, white onion, garlic cloves, and salt
Why is there Chocolate in Mole?
Chocolate is used in an authentic Mole sauce to help counteract the heat from the variety of chile peppers. But Mole sauce does not taste like chocolate. The flavor is not pronounced.
How to Make Mole from Scratch
Making Mole sauce from scratch requires a few extra steps, but it is not difficult. It is made by toasting the ingredients, blending into a sauce, and simmering on the stove.
How to Make Mole Sauce
Prep the Chile Peppers, Tomatoes, and Onion. You’ll start by toasting the peppers and then soaking them in water. While the toasted chilis are soaking, roast the tomatoes and sliced onion together on one baking sheet. The bottoms of both will be a dark brown, or even black color.
Puree the Mole Sauce. In a blender or food processor, puree the roasted tomatoes and onions, garlic, prunes, toasted tortillas, spices, and 3 cups of the chicken broth. You’ll blend for just a few minutes until smooth.
Cook the Mole Sauce. In the same pot that you cooked the chicken, heat up the oil over low heat. Strain the puréed sauce with a fine mesh strainer into the pot – you’ll leave about one cup of the sauce in the blender.
Puree the Chili Peppers. Add the prepared chilis to the blender (with the remaining sauce) and 3 more cups of the chicken broth – adding more as needed. Then blend until smooth and strain into the pot to combine with the sauce.
Simmer Mole Sauce. Turn up the heat and bring the sauce to a simmer for about 10 minutes, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30-45 minutes so it thickens. Add in the final ingredients – peanut butter, chocolate, and sugar. Stir it all together and simmer for a few then taste and adjust salt or sugar, if needed.
Serve and Enjoy. Add chicken to a large shallow bowl and pour the mole sauce over the chicken. Serve with Mexican rice, homemade flour tortillas, fresh cilantro, and toasted sesame seeds.
How to Cook Chicken for Mole
In a big pot of water, you’ll add salt, a whole onion, garlic cloves and the chicken then bring it all to a boil. The onion and garlic add SO much flavor to the chicken and broth.
Once boiling, reduce the heat, cover and allow the chicken to simmer for about 15 minutes until cooked through. The chicken should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. If the water level gets too low, you can add a few extra cups of water to the pot.
Finally, remove the cooked chicken from the broth. You can strain the broth and set aside to use in the mole sauce.
Use the same pot to make the mole sauce that you cook the chicken in… less clean up!
Reserve the broth from cooking the chicken to use in the sauce – no need to buy chicken broth for this recipe.
Mole stains everything so be careful what you wear and don’t use wooden utensils while cooking it.
If your blender or food processor is smaller, you’ll need to blend in batches. Overfilling your blender will make it harder to get a smooth texture.
Storage, Reheating, and Freezing
Storing leftovers – The mole sauce can be stored in an airtight container and in the fridge for up to 5 days. The chicken can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge.
Freezing – Mole sauce can also be frozen for longer storage by placing cooled sauce in airtight containers or freezer bags and freezing for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Reheating – Reheat either in the microwave, microwaving in 30 second intervals and stirring in between, or in a pot on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally until warmed. If needed, you can add a splash of chicken broth or water to smooth out the texture.
You can also double the recipe to feed a crowd or make the sauce up to 24 hours in advance.
Serving Suggestions for Mole
Serve the red chicken mole with Mexican rice or in homemade corn tortillas for chicken mole tacos. The mole sauce can also be drizzled on so many dishes such as tacos, enchiladas, burritos, nachos, veggies, or a protein such as broiled chicken, pork, or beef.
1tablet of Abuelita chocolateor about 3 ounces of Mexican chocolate ,or ¾ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips*
2tablespoonsof granulated sugar
Cook the chicken:
Add the chicken, the whole onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt and 8 cups of water to a large pot and bring it to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chicken has cooked through and the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F. Add a few extra cups of water if the water level gets too low.
Remove the chicken from the broth and set aside then strain the broth and save it for later.
Prepare the Mole sauce
While the chicken is cooking, heat the oven to 475 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with sides with nonstick aluminum foil.
Add the cleaned Guajillo, Ancho and Pasilla peppers to the pan and toast them for 6 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
Remove the pan from the oven and set aside while you fill a large bowl with warm water.
Soak the chilis in the water for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Drain the chilis from the water and set aside.
While the chilis are soaking, roast the tomatoes and sliced onion on the same baking sheet for 20 minutes, or until the bottoms of the tomatoes and onions turn a dark brown or black color.
Add tomatoes, onions, 8-10 garlic cloves, prunes, toasted tortillas, 2 teaspoons salt, oregano, cinnamon, cloves, and 3 cups of chicken broth (use the leftover from the chicken or store-bought broth) to a blender or food processor. Blend for 3 minutes or until smooth.
Coat the bottom of a large pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place over low heat (use the same one that you cooked the chicken in).
Strain the mole sauce through a fine mesh strainer directly into the pot, leaving about a cup of sauce in the blender.
Add the chilis to the blender along with at least 3 more cups of chicken broth or more as needed. Blend for 3-4 minutes, or until smooth. Strain the sauce through the mesh strainer directly into the pot and stir to combine.
Bring the heat up to medium and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until it reaches your desired thickness. The longer it simmers, the thicker it will be.
Add in the chocolate, peanut butter and sugar and stir until dissolved. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt or sugar as needed.
Place chicken in a large shallow bowl or deep platter and pour the mole sauce over. Serve with Mexican rice, garnished with fresh cilantro and toasted sesame seeds.
The mole sauce can be stored in an airtight container and in the fridge for up to 5 days.
The chicken can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge.Note: Mole stains everything so be careful what you wear and don’t use wooden utensils while cooking it. *If you are using chocolate chips instead of the Abuelita chocolate, you may need to use more sugar depending on your taste preference.
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Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.