What Is Mole Sauce?

To order chicken mole is to be transported into a new galaxy of palate-pleasing flavor. In fact, you don’t even need the chicken—mole sauce is a meal in its own right. But what is mole sauce? What makes it so special? Hot sauce and salsa verde, it’s been real! Today, mole goes to the head of the class. Let’s get to it! 

What’s mole sauce?

Mole (pronounced mo-lay, we’re not talking about a sauce fashioned from the yard pest…yet) is a Mexican sauce made with chiles, spices, and often certain types of nuts and chocolate. It can be used on pretty much anything—enchiladas, burritos, meat. You can just use it as a dip. Or you can just serve it with some tortillas for people to sop up.

What is in a mole sauce?

It depends what type of mole you are making, but most mole sauce includes dried chiles, nuts, seeds, and sometimes chocolate. From there, you can add all manner of other ingredients like dried fruit, tomatoes, and even bread or tortillas. In fact, some traditional moles require 30 to 100 ingredients. 

What are the types of mole?

There are famously seven different types of mole just from Oaxaca in Mexico. They are mole amarillo (made with chilies and dried fruit), mole chichilo (made with beef stock and crushed tortillas), mole coloradito (made with chilies, chocolate, seeds, and mashed plantains), mole manchamantel (made with chorizo), mole negro (probably the most well-known type of mole made with dark chocolate), mole rojo (made with red chilies, raisins, nuts, and a little bit of chocolate), and mole verde (made with cilantro, jalapenos, pumpkin seeds, and tomatillos). And those are just the types of mole native to Oaxaca. There’s also mole blanco, mole ranchero, chimole, and, of course, mole poblano, which is often called the national dish of Mexico. 

What does mole sauce taste like?

Each type of mole sauce tastes a bit different. Some are sweeter, others are spicier, and they have varying consistencies—but most all feature smoky, earthy-sweet notes contributed by ingredients such as chiles, nuts, and warm spices. As for texture, mole is velvety and smooth, much like the chocolate that’s often used in its production (and my voice).

Is mole sauce spicy?

Not all mole sauce is spicy, but some are! It varies from recipe to recipe, so be sure to seek out the heat factor before taking a big helping. We’ll have no burnt tongues on our consciences, we’ll have you know right now!

How to use store-bought mole sauce? 

You can use store bought mole sauce in all manner of Mexican cuisine. Serve it with tortillas, black beans or refried beans, and rice for a simple dinner. Going deeper, store bought mole can also be used to make homemade tamales (or upgrade frozen tamales), served in a bowl alongside tortillas or tortilla chips for dipping, or even drizzled over eggs. Or you can just use it to top some grilled chicken, steak, fish, shrimp, veggies—whatever you’re cooking. 

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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