The Real Difference Between Mole Poblano And Mole Negro

Mole, pronounced MOH-lay, is a complexly flavored sauce of Mexican origin that many people associate with the seemingly strange, yet wonderfully compelling combination of chocolate, hot peppers, and various other seeds, nuts, and spices. However, the truth about mole, which translates to English as "sauce" from the Nahuatl language of Mexico (via America's Test Kitchen), is that there are actually seven different varieties, all of which are believed to have originated in Southern Mexico, and not all of which even contain chocolate, according to Epicurious

That being said, the two mole sauces that are the most commonly known and loved in the U.S., according to Food Republic, are mole poblano and mole negro, both of which comprise a velvety smooth alchemy of dark, bitter chocolate; earthy, spicy chilis; sesame seeds; nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and peanuts; and spices such as garlic, onion, thyme, clove, cinnamon, cumin, black pepper, and oregano (via Real de Oaxaca). 

So, what is the real difference between mole poblano and mole negro? Well, the colors in the names are your first hint, but there's much more to it than that.

The difference between mole poblano and mole negro comes down to this one ingredient

Both mole poblano and mole negro are popular variations of Mexican mole that can be found throughout the U.S. Both make use of chocolate, chilis, nuts, seeds, and spices. However, mole poblano, or "mole rojo" is the less intensely flavored of the two. Mole poblano, which Epicurious identified as the national dish of Mexico, has been described as "subtle, spicy, slightly sweet," and, naturally, has a rustic red hue (via Real de Oaxaca). By contrast, mole negro is both sweet and savory, but it can't really be described as "subtle" in flavor. 

Although these two moles use many of the same ingredients, the real difference, according to Food Republic, comes down to just how much chocolate the recipe uses. Whereas mole negro uses a generous helping of the confection, mole poblano contains less. And it appears that in the place of more chocolate, mole poblano makes greater use of raisins for its sweetness.