How to Make Mole Sauce

Master this basic mole sauce and then get creative with your own.

Traditional mole sauce is a complex mixture of chile peppers, nuts, tomatoes, chocolate, and a variety of other unique ingredients that can make each chef's sauce his own. Follow these steps to make a basic mole sauce, which you can then build upon and personalize to make your own secret mole sauce.

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1 Toast & Soak Your Chiles

Toast five or six dried ancho or guajillo chile peppers in a dry skillet over medium heat, just until they become fragrant. For a more complex flavor, use a mix of both varieties of chile pepper. Once toasted, submerge the peppers in a bowl of hot water and allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes to soften. The rest of the sauce can be prepared as the peppers soak.


2 Toast Your Nuts & Seeds

To the same dry skillet, add 1/3 cup sliced almonds and 1 tablespoon sesame seeds. Toast the seeds over medium-low heat while constantly stirring, until they take on a slightly golden hue. Toasting the seeds intensifies their nutty flavor. Transfer the sesame seeds and almonds to a bowl to cool.

3 Toast Your Bread

Add two tablespoons of lard to the skillet. Tear one large white roll or two slices of white bread into pieces, then fry them in the skillet with the lard until golden brown. Transfer the bread to a paper towel to drain.

4 Add Your Spices

Add two more tablespoons of lard to the skillet, along with two cloves of minced garlic and 1/2 of a diced yellow onion. Sauté the onion and garlic in the lard until the onion are soft and transparent. To the onion and garlic add 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, and 1/4 tsp thyme. Continue to stir and sauté the spices with the onion and garlic for one minute more.


5 Add Tomatoes & Raisins

Add three diced tomatoes and 1/4 cup raisins to the skillet with the onions, garlic, and spices. Sauté the mixture for three to five minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to break down and the raisins plump up. Remove the skillet from the heat.

6 De-Seed Your Chiles

Once the peppers have softened, remove the stems and scrape out the seeds.

7 Purée

Place the stemmed and seeded peppers in a food processor along with the toasted nuts, bread, the tomato mixture from the skillet, and one cup of water. Purée the mixture until smooth, adding more water as needed. For a silkier mole sauce, pass the mixture through a sieve or food mill after puréeing.


8 Add Chocolate

Return the sauce to the skillet to warm through over medium-low heat. Add 2 ounces of chopped unsweetened chocolate and one teaspoon of sugar. Melt the chocolate into the warm sauce and stir to dissolve the sugar. Taste the sauce and adjust the salt or sugar as needed.

9 Serve & Enjoy!

The deep, earthy sauce is now complete and ready to drench your favorite dish in complex flavor. Mole sauce pairs wonderfully with slow-cooked meat, but can also be used to smother enchiladas and burritos, or as a condiment on tacos and huevos rancheros.

About Budget Bytes

Beth from Budget Bytes is a food lover and a number cruncher who dishes up  healthy recipes on her blog that won't put a huge dent in your wallet. She is the author of the cookbook, Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half, and she also works as a microbiologist in a hospital laboratory. Follow her on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.