Chicken mole takes tender pieces of chicken and coats it in Mole Poblano sauce made from dried chiles, thickened with lightly fried almonds, pistachios, and sesame seeds and accented with Mexican chocolate.
Chicken Mole, this dish is so comforting and exploding with complex flavor. It is emblematic of Mexican cuisine and a foundational recipe from Puebla, Mexico, the home to many of Mexico’s most famous foods.
Authentically the chicken is poached until meltingly tender but I prefer to braise the chicken, giving it a darker, richer flavor before simmering the chicken in mole sauce.
Braising the chicken with onion, garlic, and carrots also results in a gorgeous, flavorful chicken broth that you can use to make the mole sauce if you’d like.
What Is Chicken Mole?
Chicken mole is a celebratory dish of succulent chicken simmered in mole sauce. Mole (pronounced moh leh) is a rich, wistfully complex sauce with many variations across Mexico. The famous sauce from Oaxaca is Mole Negro, but the mole we are using here is Mole Poblano, from the central state of Puebla, Mexico.
This version of mole is made from dried chile, cinnamon, tomatoes, and spices then finished with a small piece of Mexican chocolate. It is neither sweet, nor tastes like chocolate but is a delicate dance of all the ingredients seamlessly melding together to create a heady sauce.
Traditionally all the ingredients are mashed into a fine puree on a metate but the process is a bit easier with help from a blender.
There are a number of dried chiles that are used in mole sauces. This Mole Poblano recipe uses a combination of pasilla, ancho, and dried chipotle peppers for heat. The spices include a cinnamon stick, dried oregano, anise, and coriander seeds.
You can either make the sauce ahead of time, or use the chicken broth from braising the chicken instead of the chile soaking liquid the recipe calls for.
Ingredients To Make Chicken Mole
Make the homemade mole sauce up to a week in advance and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.
- 1 recipe Homemade Mole Poblano Sauce
- 10 pieces chicken
- 1 white onion
- 1 carrot
- 3 cloves garlic
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Avocado oil
How To Make Chicken Mole
Season chicken. Generously sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. I cut a whole chicken into 10 pieces, but you could use 10 chicken thighs or any combination you’d like. Just make sure they are not boneless, skinless chicken.
Sear chicken. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet, dutch oven, or large pot big enough to hold all the chicken over medium-high heat (I use this 5 quart Le Creuset Braiser). Once shimmering, add the chicken and cook, undisturbed, until it is golden brown on the bottom. Turn and continue cooking until golden brown on the other side. This should take between 8-10 minutes.
Brown the vegetables. Remove the chicken to a baking sheet and add the onion, carrot, and garlic. Season again with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are browned, about 5 minutes.
Add water. Pour water into the pan and stir, scraping up the browned bits stuck to the bottom. This process of deglazing adds a ton of flavor to the sauce.
Return the chicken. Place the chicken back in the pan, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook until chicken is tender and cooked through, about an hour.
Strain. Remove the chicken to a serving dish and strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl. Discard the vegetables.
Heat mole. Add the mole sauce to the skillet over medium heat, add a cup or so of the reserved broth to thin the sauce if it is too thick. Bring to a simmer, stirring until smooth.
Combine together. Add chicken pieces to the mole sauce and turn to coat in the sauce. Let simmer together until the flavors have melded, about 20 minutes.
Serve. Spoon chicken mole into a serving dish and garnish with thinly sliced white onion and sliced almonds or sesame seeds for a tasty nutty note. Serve the chicken with generous spoonfuls of the mole sauce over steamed rice and warm corn tortillas or one of the suggestions below.
Any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (it gets better the longer it sits) or pack into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Let defrost overnight in the refrigerator before reheating on the stove or in the microwave.
What To Serve With It
Chicken mole has so many flavors going on that is doesn’t need anything complicated to serve with it, sometimes even a stack of warm corn tortillas is plenty. If you want something more, here are my suggestions to round out the meal.
- Simple Cilantro Lime Rice (if you want to add a little zip)
- Best Ever Canned Black Beans (this is how you doctor a can of beans)
- Pickled Red Onions (make ahead and have ready in the fridge)
- Mexican Green Rice (to soak up all that delicious mole sauce)
- Crockpot Borracho Beans (the mole is amazing with a big pot of beans)
More Authentic Mexican Recipes To Try
- Homemade Flour Tortillas (the ultimate recipe)
- How To Make Mexican Chorizo From Scratch
- Pork Pozole Recipe (a classic recipe)
- Easy Chamoy Sauce Recipe
- Authentic Tres Leches Cake
- Chicharrones de Harina
- Black Bean and Cheese Vegetarian Tamales
The Chicken Mole Recipe Everyone Will Love
If you’ve never made chicken mole from scratch with homemade mole sauce you must give this recipe a try. Let me know when you do by snapping a pic and tagging me on Instagram @holajalapeno and #holajalapeno so I can see or leave me a comment below (don’t forget to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating) ! Also, sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!
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