Authentic Mole Recipe

If you're looking for a way to seriously up your dinner game when it comes to everyone's favorite Mexican dishes, we've got you covered with this mole recipe from Bake it With Love's Angela Latimer.

First, the basics. What exactly is mole? (And that's pronounced moh-lay, incidentally.) It's a sauce that's as traditional as traditional can possibly get, with roots that go all the way back to the Aztec and other pre-Columbian groups living in South America. There's a few different versions of how mole came about, so that's really as close as we can get, but we do know what makes a mole, mole.

While there's a lot more that goes into it, a mole is — on a most basic level — the combination of Mexican chocolate and a variety of chili peppers into a sauce. Latimer says, "'Authentic' these days really varies depending on who's making it, but I did a lot of digging, and asked for family recipes from friends. This is my favorite version, including all of the wonderful things that would contribute to an 'authentic' flavor."

While some versions of a mole can take dozens upon dozens of ingredients and even a day or more to cook, Latimer has streamlined the process to give us this brilliant, delicious sauce that's a must-have addition for the next time you make your favorite enchiladas.

Gather your ingredients

Mole is a complicated sauce, so our ingredient list is going to look a little long. But don't worry — you'll end up with enough mole that you can freeze some for your next Mexican meal, and most of these things you probably have on hand already.

Let's break this down a bit, and start with the seasonings. It's time to dig through your spice cabinet for cumin, ground coriander, thyme, oregano, anise seeds, bay leaves, whole cloves, and a cinnamon stick. You'll also want some salt and pepper, to taste.

Then, here are some basics that are pretty straightforward: you'll need olive oil, an onion (white or yellow), garlic cloves, crushed roasted almonds, chicken broth, raisins, and tomato paste.

And finally, here are the ingredients that are more specialty items, and it might take a visit to a grocery store with an impressive international section. You'll need pepitas (which are a variety of pumpkin seeds, but you can also use sesame seeds), chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce (or dried chipotle peppers), dried guajillo chile peppers, dried ancho chile peppers, and Mexican dark chocolate.

Prep your ingredients

Some of your ingredients are going to need a little extra prep work, so let's talk about that now.

Take a look at those dried chile peppers, and here's where a decision needs to be made. Does your family like things hot and spicy, or a little more mellow but still flavorful? Latimer says that if you like, remove the seeds and hand-tear the peppers. She explains, "[Mole] is not necessarily hot, as long as the chile seeds were removed. [On the other hand, they] can make it spicier for those that like a little heat."

You can also go ahead and chop your chocolate, too. If you're wondering why Latimer uses Mexican chocolate and what the difference is, it's got a little extra spice. Mexican chocolate is typically infused with things like cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice, and while it definitely adds an extra kick, she says you can use dark chocolate as an alternative.

Caramelize those onions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the onions and sauté. Be sure to stir frequently, until the onions begin to caramelize — it should take about 10 minutes.

Looking for a tip that will make this much easier? Make sure you cut the onion into sections that are at least ⅛ of an inch thick. While it might be tempting to cut them thinner and speed up the process a bit, thinner slices will burn instead of caramelize. Taking a few extra minutes will give you that wonderful brown color that will taste as good as it smells.

Reduce heat and start adding ingredients

Reduce the heat to medium and add the pepitas, crushed almonds, and garlic (peeled and crushed). Continue to sauté, stirring frequently, for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant.

It's important to keep an eye on things here. Burning garlic is incredibly easy to do, and it will absolutely ruin your final product. That, in fact, is why garlic isn't added earlier: when you add garlic a bit later with other ingredients, it's going to be easier to avoid burning.

Add your dried chiles

Add the dried chiles to the skillet and stir to combine, and here's what might be the best thing about working with dried chiles: they're a low-calorie, low-fat way to add a ton of flavor to a dish. Healthline says that a single tablespoon of dried chiles averages just 6 calories and 1/10 gram of fat, so if you're trying to make healthier decisions for your family, you might want to buy these in bulk! If you're using dried chipotle chiles instead of chiles in adobo sauce, add them now too.

Continue to sauté, stirring frequently, for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Once the chiles are softened slightly, you are ready to add more ingredients.

Add your seasonings, broth, chiles in adobo, and raisins

Now it's time to add the seasonings — and that's the cumin, coriander, oregano, thyme, anise seeds, cloves, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick.

Also, add the chicken broth, chiles in adobo sauce, and raisins. Stir to combine thoroughly, and bring to a low boil.

Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for a minimum of 30 to 35 minutes. Latimer says that if you can simmer this for longer, do so: "Let your chiles cook longer, in order to better infuse the flavor." If you're going to go that route, you'll need to add an extra cup of broth to keep the sauce from drying out, but it's the only change you'll need to make.

Simmer, and add your chocolate

Uncover, and stir in the tomato paste. Then, continue to simmer uncovered for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Stir in the chocolate and set the sauce aside to allow the chocolate to finish melting. Latimer says that it's the chocolate that really makes mole a delicious sauce that your family is guaranteed to ask for again and again, even though you might not think of chocolate first when you think savory: "Mole is rich, smoky, and earth-toned. Chocolate adds to that richness, without being an overpowering flavor."

Let the sauce cool for 10 minutes before starting to blend.

Blend the mole

Blending your mole is the final step that guarantees it's going to come out rich, thick, and perfectly combined, without any remaining chunks of peppers. To blend your mole sauce, you will need to work in batches. But first, make sure you remove the bay leaves and the cinnamon stick. 

Add approximately ⅓ of the sauce to your blender at a time, then puree until smooth. Transfer the pureed sauce to a clean pot and finish the rest of the sauce. Stir all of the batches together, and here's where you can season to taste with salt and pepper when you're finished blending and mixing all of the mole. 

Here's how you can store leftover mole for later

Making mole from scratch can be a bit of a time investment, and even though it's totally worth it, finding the time can be tough. Fortunately, there's good news: Latimer says that you can absolutely plan ahead, and when you're making this batch, you can save some for later.

If you're looking at short-term storage, you can allow the sauce to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. There's a more long-term option, too: use a freezer-safe storage container, and this mole will keep in the freezer for up to six months. When you're packing it, just be sure to leave at least an inch of space at the top for expansion, and you'll have mole ready to go for the next time you make enchiladas or — as Latimer recommends — any Mexican dish you're making with chicken.

Authentic Mole Recipe
5 from 14 ratings
If you're looking to make your next homemade Mexican meal even tastier, try making this rich, flavorful mole sauce to top off your dish.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
45
minutes
Servings
10
Servings
authentic mole
Total time: 55 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion (white or yellow), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pepitas (or sesame seeds)
  • 3 tablespoons crushed roasted almonds (or blanched, slivered almonds)
  • 6 to 8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 ounces dried guajillo chile peppers (seeded if desired and rinsed, then hand-torn)
  • 2 ounces dried ancho chile peppers (seeded if desired and rinsed, then hand-torn)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon anise seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce (or 2 ounces dried chipotle peppers)
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 ½ to 2 ounces Mexican dark chocolate, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onions and sauté stirring frequently, until they begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the pepitas, almonds, and garlic. Continue to sauté, stirring frequently, for an additional 1 to 2 minutes or until the garlic is fragrant.
  4. Add the dried chiles to the skillet and stir to combine. Continue to sauté, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes and the chiles are just softened.
  5. Add the cumin, coriander, thyme, oregano, anise seeds, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, chicken broth, chile peppers in adobo sauce, and raisins. Stir to combine and bring to a low boil.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer covered for at least 30 to 35 minutes.
  7. Uncover and stir in the tomato paste, then continue to simmer uncovered for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Stir and set the sauce aside to allow the chocolate to finish melting.
  9. Let the sauce cool for 10 minutes.
  10. Add approximately ⅓ of the sauce at a time to the blender, then puree until smooth. Transfer the pureed sauce to a clean pot.
  11. Season to taste with salt and pepper when done with all the batches.
  12. Serve with any Mexican dish you choose!
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 146
Total Fat 7.2 g
Saturated Fat 1.9 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 1.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 18.5 g
Dietary Fiber 4.9 g
Total Sugars 8.0 g
Sodium 337.6 mg
Protein 4.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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