What is a Mole Sauce Anyway?

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Ever wondered what a mole sauce was?

Moles are Mexican dishes, but they are nothing more than a sauce – a very complex, delicious sauce. The mole is definitely more refined and has tons of flavors – because of the items that are used to meld together into this luscious, thick concoction. Most of us living in the United States have never experienced a good, traditional mole. Even restaurants that sell what they call a “mole” are whipping up a generic sauce. A true mole takes time, tradition and some serious experience – and often comes from legit Mexican restaurants or Mexico itself (if you have the luxury enough to visit).

Where Did It Come From?

The Mexican mole came from the southern region of Mexico. Here is where there is a heavy Amerindian influence and where chocolate was used in both sweet and savory applications. Yes, you heard right…chocolate.

Chocolate is a critical component in a mole sauce. That is what helps create the rich, brown and sultry flavor of the sauce. Most moles will also contain nuts, chiles, seeds and vegetables. Some variations have been found with tomatoes and raisins too. But, not all moles have chocolate – it is just the more common mole recipes do include unsweetened chocolate.

What is the Mole Used For?

Moles can be used as a base to create a Mexican stew or they can be used as a sauce and poured over meat or poultry. However, the point of the mole is the sauce – and anything it is served with is considered secondary. So, even though it is served with chicken, the highlight of the dish is not the meat – it is the intricacy of the mole sauce itself.

Most moles are served in Mexico for fancy occasions, but local eateries serve it year round. During the Days of the Dead in November, moles are served as an offering to ancestors.

Every region in Mexico has their own version of the mole – and some are so intricate they have more than 100 ingredients.

There are some basic types of moles, which include:

  • Mole de almendra – this is a red mole made with almonds
  • Mole coloradito – a little red mole with a brick-red color.
  • Mole negro – a black mole featuring a spicy flavor and chocolate.
  • Mole rojo – red mole with chiles.
  • Mole verde – green mole made from chiles like the jalapeno.
  • Mole chichilo – a dark colored mole that is more gravy-like in texture and uses dark roasted chiles as the base.
  • Mole mancha manteles – this is called the “tablecloth stainer” and is a fruity red mole that is used more for stews than sauces.
  • Mole amarilo – this is the yellow form of a mole sauce, but it is more orange than yellow.
  • Hungry for Mole?

    You could make your own mole sauce at home, but it is all about authenticity. Now that you know the types, you can search for recipes that suit them – and avoid those recipes that claim to be “authentic”, but only label themselves as “mole.” A true authentic recipe would use the full name, such as Mole Negro.

    Talking about mole sauces makes me hungry for chocolate – and possibly you too. To satisfy your craving, we suggest looking into our reviews of chocolate of the month clubs. While they can’t help you with a traditional Mexican mole, they can give you some awesome sugary sweets to munch on after you bask in a mole dinner.



    Shailynn is a word slinger, chef, Pinterest addict and adult coloring book collector. As our Operations Manager and Senior Researcher/Editor, you will find Shailynn busy finding new companies and topics to research, but also handling the crazy day-to-day on the backend – and by crazy…we mean all of us. She attended the International Culinary Institute, where she studied pastry arts and she worked as an executive pastry chef before hanging up her chef’s hat and decided to work from home as a writer. She is a fanatic for a great cup of coffee or wonderful glass of wine! Shailynn is a mother of three and married to a handsome firefighter.

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