Holy Mole! This Chicken Mole recipe is out of this world, boasting a thick, rich, chocolate-tinged, mildly spicy sauce. This particular recipe is a fusion of my Grandma and my Mom’s recipes, and if I’m being honest, it is the perfect combination of both. Make some today and enjoy many meals to come.
Mole is one of those recipes that many families reserve for special occasions. Now that the holiday season is upon us, there are plenty of occasions to make this yummy, authentic Mexican dish.
Our mole recipe is published in the Muy Bueno cookbook, and now I’m sharing it with you on the blog. Exciting, right?!
What is “Mole?”
Mole (pronounced “MOH-lay”) is a sauce and marinade that is native to Mexico. In archaic Spanish, mole means “mix,” similar to Indian “masala.” While there are almost as many recipes and versions of mole as there are Mexican families, all moles share some common elements.
Generally speaking, moles are made of at least two types of Mexican chiles, some kind of sour ingredient (e.g. tomatillos), sweet (e.g. sugar, fruit, or chocolate), nuts and thickeners (e.g. peanut butter, bread, tortillas) and spices. These ingredients are first toasted to enhance the flavor intensity, then blended into a thick sauce that is served with different meats, tamales, or even enchiladas.
The states of Oaxaca (best known for mole negro) and Puebla (best known for mole poblano) both claim that they are the original source of mole, but there are so many different types of mole that we might never learn the origin. It is even possible that both states came up with their respective versions of mole at the same time!
Mole Poblano is perhaps the best known of the moles, and my recipe for chicken mole is probably most similar to this style. It is a dark reddish-brown sauce, while other moles can be nearly black, green, or even yellow.
Preparing most moles can be very time consuming, labor intensive, and require many ingredients. Some mole recipes contain ten different varieties of chiles alone! While mole is one of those dishes that is a labor of love, contrary to popular opinion, mole doesn’t have to take hours to make.
This mole recipe is a fusion of my Grandma’s and Mom’s recipes, and is fairly simple to make, so that even the most inexperienced home cook can enjoy it. This flavorful mole recipe gives you the soul of traditional mole without all the hard work.
How to Poach Chicken
Poaching is one of the easiest ways to prepare boneless, skinless chicken breasts and it results in tender and juicy meat that is perfect for shredding.
In a large pot, heat water, salt, onion, chicken, and a bay leaf. Once it starts to boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate to cool off, and then shred. While you can discard the bay leaf, be sure to reserve broth and onion.
How to Make Homemade Mole Sauce
First up, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, bolillo, chiles, tomatillos, tomato, and sesame seeds and sauté for 10 minutes, until soft.
TIP: Don’t rush this toasting step! It is responsible for enhancing the flavors of all of the ingredients, making the resulting mole sauce rich and delicious.
Next up, pour half the broth and the reserved boiled onion into a blender and add half the sautéed ingredients. Add peanut butter, chocolate pieces, cocoa powder, mole paste, and salt and blend until very smooth. Transfer the sauce to a large skillet. Repeat with the remaining broth and sautéed ingredients.
Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. The sauce should be quite thick by this time. Add two cups of the shredded chicken and stir to coat. Continue simmering while stirring continuously for 10 minutes.
TIP: Be sure to constantly stir the mole while it cooks.
Plate some mole on a serving plate and toss a handful of sesame seeds on top for garnish and to be extra fancy some marigold petals for a festive Día de los Muertos meal.
Frequently Asked Questions
How should I serve chicken mole?
What meat goes with mole?
Mole isn’t just delicious on chicken. You can also use mole with pork, lamb, beef, or turkey.
Did you know that turkeys are native to Mexico? Use that leftover Thanksgiving turkey to make some delicious authentic turkey mole!
Can I make a vegetarian mole?
Heck yeah you can! Simply swap in a vegetable broth for the chicken broth, omit the shredded chicken, and drizzle the sauce over roasted vegetables or use the sauce to make these vegetarian enchiladas or breakfast sopes.
Can I make this chicken mole gluten free?
Yes! Just substitute two corn tortillas for the bolillo.
I’m allergic to nuts… is there a substitute for the peanut butter?
You can use tahini (sesame seed purée) or sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) instead, though the taste will be slightly different.
I’m short on time… anyway I can speed this mole recipe up?
I’m a sucker for a rotisserie chicken when I’m short on time for dinner. This recipe is no exception! You can also use any leftover cooked turkey or chicken.
Can I make this mole spicy?
While this particular recipe for mole is mild, you can absolutely spice it up. I recommend starting by adding two additional chiles to pump up the heat, adjusting from there.
This recipe calls for two types of dried chiles – ancho and California – but you can substitute New Mexico, chile de ristra, California, pasilla, ancho, or guajillo chiles instead! Check out this post on the different types of Mexican chiles to see which heat level is right for you.
Do I have to use mole paste?
While my Grandma always used Doña Maria mole paste in her mole, you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to. I just find that it adds a lot of flavor. Feel free to use the mole paste, mole poblano of your choice, or omit. If you buy mole paste, it should keep for about six months in the refrigerator once opened, or up to a year in the freezer.
Need more Mexican recipes? Check out these family favorites:
- Huevos Rancheros
- Black Bean and Bacon Flautas
- Mexican Jambalaya
- Spicy Lemon Garlic Skillet Rice with Shrimp and Chicken
- Slow Cooker Lamb Barbacoa
Did you try this easy chicken mole recipe? If so, please rate and review it below, or post it to Instagram and tag me @muybuenocookbook so I know how it turned out for you.
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1-2 pounds chicken breasts
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bolillo, substitute small French roll, cut into1-inch pieces
- 2 dried ancho chiles, rinsed, stemmed, seeded, and diced
- 2 California red chile pods, rinsed, stemmed, seeded, diced
- 2 small tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed, and chopped
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
- 1.5 ounces Mexican chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons Dona Maria mole paste
- 2 teaspoons salt
- In a large pot, heat water, salt, onion, chicken, and bay leaf. Once it starts to boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate to cool off, and then shred. Discard bay leaf. Reserve broth and onion.
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, bolillo, chiles, tomatillos, tomato, and sesame seeds and sauté for 10 minutes, until soft.
- Pour half the broth and boiled onion into a blender and add half the sautéed ingredients. Add peanut butter, chocolate pieces, cocoa powder, mole paste, and salt and blend until very smooth. Transfer the sauce to a large skillet.
- Pour the other half of the broth and sautéed ingredients into blender. Puree and add to the mixture in the large skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add 2 cups of the shredded chicken and stir until chicken is covered with the sauce.
- Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring continuously to keep it from sticking to skillet. Plate some mole on a serving plate and toss a handful of sesame seeds on top for garnish.
- Make ahead. Make the sauce ahead of time. It tastes even better the next day.
- Save time. Use 2 cups of shredded store-bought rotisserie chicken and low-sodium chicken broth.
- Like spicy mole? This mole sauce is mild, if you want to add some heat to the sauce, add 2 additional dried chile peppers.
- Like sweet mole? If you like sweet mole, add more chocolate.
- Gluten free? Replace bolillo with two corn tortillas.
- Leftover mole paste. Leftover Dona Maria paste should keep for about six months in the refrigerator once opened, or up to a year in the freezer.
- Chicken mole leftovers. Leftovers can be refrigerated for five days.
Photography by Jenna Sparks