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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 15 2011

Mexican Mole Sauce

By Worker Bee

This particular recipe is a cross between red and black mole (pronounced MOLE-lay); the flavor and color influenced by a blend of dried chiles, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and chocolate. This is the type of mole people outside of Mexico tend to be most familiar with and unfortunately, many versions are overly sweet and heavy, especially store-bought versions. When made well, the sweetness in mole is balanced by the spicy, smoky flavor of chiles, and the toasted and slightly bitter flavor of roasted nuts and seeds.

There’s no denying that mole is a labor-intensive sauce, but we’ve done our best to make this version as straightforward as possible. Although it takes effort to gather and prepare the ingredients, the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when it all comes together into an amazing Primal meal is worth it. Also, a little bit of mole goes a long way, so it’s likely you can make a batch and freeze half for another meal.

Mole is usually served with chicken or turkey, which can be cooked any way you please then topped with mole, or simmered in the sauce as it cooks.


Makes about 2 cups of sauce

  • 6 dried ancho chiles
  • 2 dried pasilla chiles
  • 2 dried mulato chiles
  • 1/2 cup oil or lard
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup whole blanched almonds
  • 3 tablespoons raisins or dried, unsweetened blueberries
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (use Mexican cinnamon if you can find it)
  • 3 tomatillos, husked and roughly chopped
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped dark chocolate (look for brands with 70-80% cocoa)


Pull the stems out of the chiles and open the chiles (a scissor works well for this) so you can pour or scrape out the seeds. Reserve one tablespoon of seeds and set aside. The seeds will make the sauce spicier; if you prefer a less-spicy sauce, then simply discard all the seeds. If you prefer a really spicy sauce, set aside two tablespoons of seeds instead of one.

Heat 1/4 cup of oil or lard in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Quickly fry the chiles for 30-40 seconds, until they unfurl a little and become slightly darker. Turn once or twice while frying so the chiles don’t burn.

Set the chiles on a paper towel so some oil drains off then put the chiles in a bowl, cover with hot water (about 6 cups) and set aside for 30 minutes.

While the chiles are soaking, add the reserved tablespoon of chile seeds and the garlic cloves to the heated skillet. Fry until noticeably browned, 3-5 minutes. Set aside in a bowl.

Add the pumpkin seeds to the skillet and cook until they pop and begin to brown, about 1 minute. Combine with the chile seeds and garlic.

Add the sesame seeds to the skillet and cook until golden, 2-3 minutes. Combine with the seeds and garlic.

Add the almonds to the skillet, cooking until golden, about 3 minutes. Combine with the seeds and garlic.

Add the raisins or dried blueberries to the skillet until they puff up, about 1 minute. Combine with the seeds, garlic and almonds and set the bowl aside.

Now remove the chiles from the soaking water, reserving 3/4 cup of the water. Put the chiles in the blender with the 3/4 cup of soaking water. Blend into a smooth puree. You’ll probably have to stop the blender and scrape down the sides several times.

Heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil or lard in a deep pot over medium heat. Add the chile puree and simmer for fifteen minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Turn the heat down to medium-low if the paste begins to burn.

While the chile puree is simmering, pour the bowl of seeds, garlic and almonds into the blender. Add the cloves, black pepper, cinnamon and tomatillo plus 1 cup of chicken broth. Puree until smooth, stopping the blender as needed to scrape down the sides.

After the chile puree has simmered for 15 minutes, add the puree of seeds, nuts and tomatillos and simmer another 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the chocolate and remaining broth and simmer at least 20-25 minutes. Finish by adding salt to taste.

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47 thoughts on “Mexican Mole Sauce”

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  1. Mole is amazing. I spent an evening making it from fresh tomatoes once. Chocolate + chile + nuts + tomatoes seems like an unlikely grouping but it is so, so, good.

  2. I grew with kids whose grandmothers made authentic moles – this one looks like a keeper! Can’t wait to make it!

    1. This does sound like a keeper and highly authentico. Anyone want to try it?

      Seems well worth the effort for the product.

  3. Looks great. I love mole. Going to make a shopping list and try making it since it is a long weekend. We’ve got a bunch of good Mexican grocery stores.


  4. I Admit that I have never made a mole before, but it looks like I am going to start soon! I am going to put thi on a bistro menu. What a better way to start it off?

  5. YES! I love mole sauce! I was always a little skeptical when ordering it from a restaurant, not knowing what was put in it exactly. I can’t wait to make my own. This is gonna take a lot of work but soooo worth it.

  6. That looks SO GOOD Mark. I’ll make it and keep it on hand for chicken and burgers, yum.

    I made a version of “No-atmeal” inspired by your reader’s recipe and mentioned you in my blog post. 🙂 My site’s pretty popular with the low carb crowd, and you can always sub coconut milk in for the cream in my recipes. Thanks for inspiring me to stay primal (or at least close to it).

    1. I would like to look at your blog.
      Please give me the address. I am a
      senior lady trying out low carb as I would like to feel better and lose weight. Thanks.

  7. Wow that’s a lot of ingredients, but well worth the effort if you ask me. I know you didn’t ask me but I’m going to make this sauce for myself. Anything else it goes good with, anyone?

  8. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    Great post! keep up the good work Mark!

  9. OMG! I’ve always wanted a straight forward Mole Recipe, thank you *excited*

  10. Or, you can buy already made mole paste in the grocery store and doctor it up a bit like I do. Sooo much easier and still tastes great.

  11. the first look at some of the ingredients made me iffy, but after i read the cooking descrption it came together really well.
    sauces are tricky, but we should have more, or an entire selection of sauces on the recipe page.
    because, ya know, sauces can move mountains 😀

  12. Yum! Thank you! That stuff is certainly going on the list for my next shopping run. What a great winter sauce.

  13. I’m married to a displaced Texan, so he would LOVE a homemade mole. The different chiles kinda scare me (can’t recall ever seeing them at the store before…would the be in the Mexican foods aisle?) but I’ll do my best to find them!

  14. Have it all the time, because I live in Mexico, the real stuff. It is good once in a while for a change of taste. I call it Mexican poo poo.

  15. I’ve never even heard of Mole before- what exactly do you do with it?!

    1. use as a condiment to meats or veggies, too thick for a sauce category

  16. Hmm, wonder if typical Mole (found at a Mexican Restaurant) would be a good primal choice when eating out? Or do you think it might have wheat or gluten??

    1. Traditional Mexican mole usually has bread in it as a thickener… it’s definitely glutenous and non-primal!

  17. Hm…would love to make this and have my parents over, as my mom loves mole & it’s hard to get her to eat anything sans carbs (she’s a bread/pasta addict). Only problem is that my son’s sensitive to tree nuts…do you think I could just sub extra pumpkin/sesame seeds? Any ideas anyone? (Side note: all the yummy looking paleo recipes feature almonds or coconuts…bummer!!)

  18. I love(d) mole. 33 years ago,I shared some with my now wife of 30yrs. I did not know it contained nuts and did not know she had a nut allergy. Off we went to the ER. Is there a nut substitute? More seeds perhaps.It would be different, but maybe that’s OK. I’d like to try it again.Restaurants should list ingredients when nuts are used.

  19. Heard about it, made some up from dried chilli, cocoa powder & vegetable shortening. still gets added to the pan, for eggs, or sprinkled onto baked root vegetables…adding nuts means gathering nuts locally, to me: almonds, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts. Rose hip could be interesting. { yes locally grown chilli, ten minutes walk to the Orchard up the road.}

  20. I call this “Faux-lay”…I whipped it up one night when I was Jones-ing for the Mole’ Poblano at Red Iguana restaurant.

    In a saucepan I put a can of tomato sauce, and eye-balled the rest….
    about 2-3 T Chile powder, 2-3 T ground cumin, 2-3 T cocoa powder, some agave (you could use stevia) a couple T’s of light olive oil and a little salt to taste, simmered it a bit, and voila’! It satisfied that craving, and was actually pretty tasty.
    So easy and all in one small pot. I used it over shredded roast beef and sauteed onions topped with melted cheese. It would be great over anything.

  21. I made this recently and have to say that it is outrageously good. I didn’t have the specific chiles mentioned in the recipe because they aren’t available where I live, but I substituted with other dried chiles and the results were absolutely incredible! Am going to make again this again and again! Thank you for posting the recipe.

  22. While you do try to be very traditional with your recipe, the one beef I have is with the pronunciation… its not pronounced MOLE-lay, its pronounced Moh-leh. Other than that, it looks just like my grandmother used to make.

  23. Could you make this ahead of time and freeze it? or would it need to be eaten fairly quickly? thanks

  24. The is a disgrace to humanity and is disgusting in every aspect. I like the rain.

  25. this is awful what about the local moles? They might get jelous of the moles that are jared and want to be lazered of its host.

  26. Great recipe. I’ve made it three times now with slight variations of ingredients but it’s always good. My only beef (so to speak) is the perpetuation of the spicy chilli seed myth. The main source of capsaicin in a chilli is in “veins” that run through the flesh. The seeds and pith actually have very little capsaicin. I’m afraid the red pepper shakers at pizza places have given people the idea that the seeds are spicy but it’s simply not the case.

  27. I definitely want to give this recipe a try and then pass the knowledge on to some of my clients. I do have one question though, do you know about how long the sauce will last in a sealed container in the fridge, and do you recommend making large batches and freezing them for storage or will that affect the taste?


    1. Was curious about the say thing. Did you hear any responses about refrigeration/freezing?

  28. I don’t know why people in the US insist it’s pronounced mo-lay, if you pronounce it that way here in mexico people won’t know what you are talking about. It’s mo-leh.

  29. I just made this and omg. I almost didn’t put the chocolate in because just the toasted nuts and pepper purée was amazing. (I did end up adding the chocolate, and am very happy about this…)

    Wonderful recipe. Totally worth the time. It’s the mole I read about but had never tasted from a jar or a restaurant.


  30. I’m confused by parts of this recipe. I used a 12″ steel skillet, and I couldn’t figure out how to get the small ingredients, e.g., chile seeds, sesame seeds out of the skillet. I ended up leaving some of the chile seeds in the pan, and then adding the other ingredients at 30-second intervals until they sopped most of the lard and looked toasted.

    Also, the recipe says it yields about 2 C of sauce. But if my math is right, 3/4 C of chile soaking water + 3 C of chicken broth + the water absorbed by the chiles yields about 4 C. I thought the sauce looked like the proper consistency with about 2 C of liquid.

    Did anyone else have these issues?