Mole Sauce Recipe (Step-by-Step with pictures!)

step by step mole sauce

Step-by-Step Mole Sauce (with pictures)

This mole sauce recipe is a family favorite. I came up with this recipe after testing out several online recipes, plus using the knowledge I’d gained cooking with my suegra and the cooks at our home church.

Mole is one of my all-time favorite dishes.  I love the complexity of flavors, the smoothness of the mole sauce and overall decadence and richness that it brings to any plate.

Whenever I have mole sauce, I end up adding it to EVERYTHING.  I love covering my tortillas in it, pouring it over rice and tamales, and even putting it on my burgers and turkey sandwiches during Thanksgiving!

Making mole is absolutely a labor of love, but for all the flavor you get, it’s totally worth it.  There’s a reason that it’s one of the most beloved dishes in all of Mexico.

Mole During the Holidays

Mole is a traditional staple dish during the holidays.  We usually make it around Thanksgiving time or right before Christmas, but mole can be eaten at any time of the year.  It’s also served on special occasions, like quinceañeras or wedding receptions.

The dish, which perfectly blends the sweet, rich flavors chocolate, nuts, and Mexican spices, is a favorite in Mexico, as well as here in the U.S.

kids plate of chicken mole

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Kid-Friendly Mole Sauce Recipe

Mole is a great kid-friendly dish!  It’s something that almost anyone can eat (saving those with nut allergies).  The recipe below is my daughter’s absolute favorite.  She’s been eating it since she was just two.  And while it does have chiles in it, don’t worry…it’s not a spicy dish at all.  All of the stems and seeds are removed and the chiles are fully cooked and boiled out so that we get none of the heat and all of the rich, sweet and savory flavors of this dish.  Trust me, your kids will absolutely love mole!

What You’ll Need to Make Mole Sauce

To get started, you’ll need to make sure you have a few ingredients on hand.

Recipe Ingredients

  • 6 dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
  • 4 large dried colorado chiles, stems and seeds removed
  • Chicken drippings from your pollo asado or 2+ tablespoons manteca (lard)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (7 inch) flour tortilla
  • 2 (5 inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 plantain, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped/ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped/ground peanuts
  • 1/8 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 (14 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tablets of Mexican chocolate, like Ibarra
  • 1 whole roasted/seasoned chicken
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Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Start with a freshly baked or grilled chicken. For the best flavor, we smoke our chicken in a pit BBQ and then finish off baking in the oven.  I used to work for a deli that made fresh rotisserie chickens daily and I’ve developed my own recipe for chicken rotisserie seasonings, inspired by my time working there.  It consists primarily of salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper. Super easy.

TIME SAVER TIP: If you want to save time, pick up a hot and fresh rotisserie chicken from your local H-E-B or Walmart grocery store.  Pull the meat apart and place leg, thigh, breast and wing pieces into the pot with your sauce.

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2. Clean the chiles. Remove the stems, veins, and seeds from the chiles (you might want to wear gloves when you do this).

3. Warm the lard (or chicken drippings / fat) in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat.

4. Add the chiles, and cook and stir until the chiles are fragrant, about 1 minute, being careful not to burn them. Remove the chiles and place them in a large bowl.

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5. Stir in the chopped onion and minced garlic, and sauté on low until the onion is soft and translucent about 5 minutes. Remove and add to the bowl with the chiles. If you cover the pan with a lid, it will help prevent your garlic from burning. You can also wait to add minced garlic toward the end of the sauté process.

6. Break the flour and corn tortillas into pieces, and add them to the skillet.  If needed, melt a small amount of additional lard in the skillet.  These will act as a thickener for the sauce.  Toast on both sides, turning often, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove; add to the bowl.

7. Add the plantain pieces to the skillet.  Cook and stir until lightly browned (about 5 minutes). Remove plantain; add to the bowl.

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8. Stir the almonds and peanuts into the skillet, and cook on low and stir until warm and fragrant, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the sesame seeds and continue cooking until sesame seeds are lightly browned, 15-30 seconds. Remove; add to the bowl.

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9. Warm the tomatoes over medium heat in the skillet until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Break the chocolate into chunks and stir into the tomatoes until melted.  Pour the chocolate and tomato mixture into the bowl with the chile mixture; stir to combine.

10. We use Mexican chocolate because it adds a nice dark chocolate flavor and sweetness to our mole sauce recipe.  If you prefer to use unsweetened chocolate, you might want to also add a little light brown sugar and cinnamon to your mole sauce so that it takes on the same flavors.

making mole sauce, pureed mole ingredients

Now that you have all of your ingredients sauteed and toasted, you can begin mixing them.

11. Puree the mixture in a blender until smooth, working in small batches, adding a small amount of chicken stock if needed to make a smooth sauce.

Optional Steps: For extra smooth mole sauce, use a sieve to remove any smaller bits of ingredients.

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12. Place the pre-roasted and seasoned chicken into a large pot; pour the sauce over the chicken. Stir.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the chicken falls off the bone, approximately 2-3 hours.

13. Once done, serve in whole pieces or shred chicken meat and remove bones.  You can also remove the bones from the chicken before you add it to the pot if you prefer.  This is recommended for parents serving mole to small children who may not be used to eating boneless chicken. You can even use frozen and thawed chicken breasts in your recipe if you prefer.

Serve sprinkled with freshly toasted sesame seeds.

Ideas for Leftover Mole Sauce: Your leftover mole sauce can be frozen for later use.  Try drizzling it over tacos, tamales or enchiladas, as a gravy with your Thanksgiving turkey, as a sauce on tortas and sandwiches, or pour it over your favorite rice!

I hope you enjoy our mole sauce recipe!  If you try it, tag us at @biculturalfamilia on Instagram with the hashtag #FamiliaEats. We would love to see what you create!

This post was originally published in 2011 and has been republished for our current audience.

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South Texas Foodie, Traveler, Photographer, and Designer.