Holy Mole … Sauce

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Ahh, the mole sauce, a staple of Mexican cuisine that is often feared by most at-home cooks. Given the immense complexity of the sauce (requiring upwards of 20 ingredients and quite a bit of time and effort), it is no wonder that there are short-cut mole recipes popping up all over the Internet these days. However, the old saying, “you get what you pay for”, can be applied here since these quick, easy, effortless mole sauces will most likely end up tasting rather bland and tasteless. Mole sauces should be rich and packed with more flavors than your taste buds can even begin to analyze. It is like a flavor extravaganza in your mouth. And, mole sauce is very versatile and thus can be used to top just about anything you can imagine (albeit, I do not know how well it would go over ice cream) or cook nearly every meat that you can find in your local grocer’s meat department (Mmmm, mole-braised lamb . . .).

While mole sauce originated in Mexico, we do not feel as though its only applications are in Mexican cuisine. The mole recipe below will take some time, but the yield is large enough that you can use it to cover some chile rellenos, braise some lamb shoulder, smother on a burger, or even as a dip for sweet potato fries. The possibilities are endless! We are confident that you will find a new, creative way to utilize this classic Mexican sauce (or, check out these other posts for some ideas that we have!). Even better, you could double the recipe below and use the sauce for a mole-themed party. The possibilities are absolutely endless.


Roasted almonds, raisins, and pumpkin seeds.

Toasted seeds and spices

Powdered seeds, spices, nuts, etc.

Smooth mixture of seeds, chilies, nuts, spices, raisins, tomatillos, tomatoes, onion, and garlic.

Mexican chocolate melting in the mole sauce.


Holy Mole ... Sauce
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr, 30 min


  • 2-2.5 ounces dried ancho chilies (depends on the size of the bag that your grocery sells)
  • 2 ounces dried New Mexico or guajillo chilies (guajillos are not always the easiest to find)
  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 2.5 tablespoons seeds from ancho and New Mexico/guajillo peppers
  • 7-8 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon marjoram
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup masa harina
  • 3 medium tomatillos
  • 1/4 lb plum/roma tomatoes (2-4 depending on the size)
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • 28 ounces chicken stock
  • 2 rounds of Ibarra Mexican chocolate
  • salt


  • Preheat your broiler to high.
  • Remove the tops of the dried chilies and remove all seeds (be careful not to throw the seeds away as we will need them a bit later). Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place the dried chilies on it, making sure that none of the peppers overlap. Then, spray the peppers with cooking spray. Place the baking sheet in the over for 5-7 minutes or until the peppers start to blacken. You should not smell burning peppers (if so, you need to start over). We want to just roast them a bit to bring out some caramel aromas. Once done, move the peppers to a bowl and fill with warm water to rehydrate. Set them aside for later.
  • Now, spray another baking sheet with cooking spray and then spread the pumpkin seeds, raisins, and almonds on it. Spray the seeds, raisins, and almonds and then place in the oven for 4-5 minutes, being careful again not to burn anything. We want a nice caramelization to occur on the raisins (they should puff up a bit too, see photo below). Remove from the oven and set aside.
  • Spray yet another baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the tomatillos and tomatoes on the sheet (scored so that they do not explode) along with the onion (sliced) and garlic (skin removed). Spray with cooking spray and place in the over until the tomatoes and tomatillos blacken. You ought to turn them once so that they roast evenly. Once black, remove from the oven and set aside.
  • Toast the chile seeds, sesame seeds, star anise, cloves, cinnamon and black pepper in a small saute pan over medium-high heat. Remove them from the pan when the sesame seeds just start to brown and become fragrant (see photo below). At this point, your kitchen ought to have an incredible aroma in the air.
  • Now, transfer the seeds and spices mixture to a food processer and pulse until they are ground into a coarse powder. Then, add the roasted almonds, pumpkin seeds, and raisins and again pulse until a coarse powder forms. Add the oregano, marjoram, bay leaves, and masa harina and process until a fine powder forms.
  • Add the roasted tomatillos, tomatoes, garlic, and onion along with 1 cup of the chicken stock to the food processor. Process until smooth (see photo below). Remove the mixture and transfer to a small bowl. Set aside.
  • In the cleaned food processor bowl, add the rehydrated chilies along with 3/4 cup of the soaking water. Process the chilies until smooth and paste like.
  • Place a high-walled skillet on medium-low heat. Press the processed chilies through a fine mesh strainer into the skillet. Once the processed peppers are hot, add the seed and spices mixture to the skillet and combine with the processed chilies. Once combined, add the remaining chicken stock and the 2 rounds of Mexican chocolate. Once the chocolate melts, turn the stove down to simmer and let simmer for 45-60 minutes, or until the sauce thickens substantially. Salt to taste.


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