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How is mole cooked?

Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce that is made from a variety of ingredients including chili peppers, spices, nuts, seeds, and chocolate. It can take on many complex flavors and has a rich, thick consistency. Cooking mole is an extensive process that involves preparing and then blending multiple components together. There are many types of mole from different regions of Mexico but mole poblano is one of the most popular and well known. Here is an overview of how to cook authentic mole poblano.


The main ingredients needed to cook mole poblano are:

  • Dried chilis – Mulato, pasilla, ancho and chipotle chilis are commonly used. They provide a rich chili flavor.
  • Spices – Cumin, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, oregano
  • Nuts – Peanuts, almonds, sesame seeds
  • Seeds – Pumpkin seeds are traditionally used
  • Fruit – Plantains and raisins add sweetness
  • Herbs – Thyme and marjoram
  • Chocolate – Adds depth of flavor and thickens the sauce
  • Stock – Chicken or turkey stock provides the base

Exact amounts can vary based on personal preference but a classic mole poblano uses around 6-12 different dried chilis, along with generous portions of the other ingredients.

Cooking the Chilis

The first step in making mole is to prepare the dried chilis:

  1. Remove stems, seeds and veins from dried chilis. This reduces spiciness.
  2. Toast chilis in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Add chilis to a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes until chilis are very soft.
  4. Transfer chilis and water to a blender. Puree until very smooth, adding more water if needed.

This pureed chili base provides the deep reddish-brown color and flavor foundation for the mole.

Sautéeing Vegetables & Spices

Next, ingredients like vegetables, spices and herbs are sautéed to add flavor:

  1. Dice 1 medium onion and 2-3 garlic cloves.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add spices like cumin, cinnamon, cloves, oregano and peppercorns. Cook for 2-3 more minutes.
  4. Optional – Add diced tomatoes, plantains or other vegetables. Cook for another 5-10 minutes.

This step blooms the spices and adds sweetness.

Toasting Nuts & Seeds

Toasting nuts and seeds enhances their flavors in the mole:

  1. Place peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds and/or sesame seeds in a dry skillet.
  2. Toast over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes until fragrant and lightly browned.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside.

Be careful not to burn the nuts.

Simmering the Mole

Now it’s time to bring all the components together in one pot:

  1. In a large pot, combine the pureed chilis, sautéed vegetables and spices, toasted nuts and seeds, chocolate, herbs, and stock.
  2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  3. Let simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, until thickened and flavors have blended.
  4. Season to taste with salt.
  5. The mole should have a very thick, sauce-like consistency. Add a little more stock or water if it becomes too thick.

The mole is done once the chocolate melts in fully and all the rich flavors have come together.

Serving the Mole

Traditionally, mole poblano is served over turkey or chicken:

  • Shred cooked turkey or chicken meat.
  • Place meat in a bowl or plate.
  • Ladle warm mole sauce generously over the top.
  • Garnish with sliced onions, radishes, cilantro, and queso fresco or crema.
  • Serve with rice and beans.

The mole helps create a complex, delicious dish and brings out the flavor of the poultry even more. Enjoy this traditional Mexican sauce!

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Here are some common pitfalls when cooking mole and how to prevent them:

  • Not toasting the chilis enough – Make sure they are very fragrant and soft before pureeing.
  • Burning the nuts and seeds – Cook them over medium heat and stir frequently.
  • Adding too much chocolate – Use a small amount and blend it in slowly until desired consistency is reached.
  • Making the mole too thin or watery – Cook it down until thickened before serving.
  • Letting it cook too long – Remove from heat once chocolate is melted in and flavors meld.

Cooking Variations

While mole poblano is the most renowned, there are many regional mole variations in Mexico:

Type of Mole Main Ingredients Origins
Mole poblano Mulato, pasilla, ancho & chipotle chilis, chocolate Puebla
Mole negro Chilhuacle, guajillo & pasilla chilis, chocolate Oaxaca
Mole verde Tomatillos, cilantro, jalapenos, pepitas Veracruz
Mole amarillo Guajillo chilis, tomatillos, costeño chilis San Pedro Amuzgos
Mole chichilo Guajillo, pasilla & mulato chilis, avocado leaf San Luis Potosi


Mole poblano is high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from all the chili peppers, nuts, seeds, vegetables, spices and herbs used in the sauce. It provides protein from poultry, nuts and seeds as well as fiber from the peppers and chocolate. The chilis also contain capsaicin which gives mole its signature heat and has anti-inflammatory effects. When served with rice and beans, mole makes for a nutritious, well-balanced Mexican dish.


Mole poblano is an iconic, beloved sauce in Mexican cuisine. Creating authentic mole from scratch is labor intensive but worth the effort. By properly preparing and layering chilis, spices, nuts, seeds, vegetables and chocolate, you can achieve a complex mole with unbelievable depth of flavor. With its unique chocolately, spicy taste and silky texture, mole poblano takes poultry and other ingredients to new heights. Follow the steps outlined here for making sensational mole you would find in Mexico. ¡Buen provecho!