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Mole Con Pollo (Mexican Chicken in Mole Sauce)

Juicy and coated in a thick chile and chocolate-based sauce, Mexican Mole con Pollo is sweet, spicy, earthy, and smoky. Once the chicken is fork-tender, it’s served with lots of sauce and drizzled with crema.

Mole con pollo drizzled with Mexican crema, served with a side of Mexican rice.

Do you love tender, flavorful chicken dinners? Then today I have a treat for you: mole con pollo.

This traditional Mexican recipe features chicken thighs and drumsticks simmered in a richly spiced chocolate sauce. The meat becomes fall-off-the-bone tender, while the sauce develops a spicy, smoky-sweet flavor.

If the idea of using chocolate in a savory dish sounds strange, I urge you to give it a try. The combination of chiles, aromatics, and spices makes mole’s flavor profile much more complex than a simple chocolate sauce. Make sure you serve this dish with extra tortillas on the side so that you can use them to scoop up every last bite!

Mole con pollo sprinkled with sesame seeds.

What is Mole Con Pollo?

Mole con pollo is a traditional Mexican dish with pre-hispanic origins. It was prepared by grinding dried chiles, seeds, and cacao to prepare “mulli.” The sauce was used to cook wild turkeys in as an offering to the gods.

Today, the sauce is no longer an offering but a popular recipe to cook juicy chicken with. Simmered in a heavily spiced chile and chocolate sauce for hours until it falls off the bone, it’s often served with sesame seeds and Mexican crema on top.

What is Mexican Mole Made Of?

Depending on the region, Mexican mole is made with a variety of ingredients.

Dried chiles like guajillo and ancho, Mexican chocolate, pumpkin seeds, and spices like cumin and cloves, are the most common ingredients for the sauce. Tortillas, crushed galletas María, and seeds are typically used as thickeners.

Landscape image of mole con pollo for social media.

What Does Mole Chicken Taste Like?

Mole chicken, or “mole con pollo,” tastes like juicy chicken that’s absorbed some of the sweetness and heat from the heavily spiced but perfectly balanced chile and chocolate sauce.

The chocolate is not too in-your-face, being mellowed out by lots of smokiness and bitterness from the chiles. The seeds and spices add earthiness and nuttiness. There are also subtle hints of ash from the charred tomatoes.

When bitten into, it’s earthy and spicy, reminiscent of a savory coffee or chocolate rub on grilled meats.

Is Mole Sauce Spicy?

It doesn’t necessarily have to be. There are different kinds of mole, some of which tend to be on the sweeter or spicier side. It depends on the recipe and how many chiles you decide to incorporate into the sauce.

This recipe is quite mild, but you can make it spicier by adding more chiles de arbol to taste.

Ingredients for mole con pollo.

Recipe Ingredients

Homemade mole is not a recipe for the faint of heart. It requires more than a handful of ingredients, but it’ll be worth it. Check out the recipe card at the bottom of this post for exact ingredient amounts.

  • Chicken thighs and drumsticks – Make sure they’re bone-in for extra juicy chicken.
  • Vegetable oil – Use any kind of neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point like canola, corn, or rapeseed.
  • Guajillo chiles – There is no substitute for these. Find them at most Mexican supermarkets or online.
  • Ancho chiles – Please don’t replace them with other kinds of dried chile.
  • Chile de arbol – If you can’t find it, swap it out for chili powder to taste.
  • Lard – You can use vegetable oil instead if you want.
  • Galletas María These are typical Mexican cookies, but you can also use plain breadcrumbs. They are used to thicken the sauce and add a hint of sweetness.
  • Corn tortillas – Also used to thicken the sauce. Don’t flour tortillas because they won’t thicken the sauce.
  • White onion – Feel free to use yellow onion too.
  • Garlic cloves – Substitute for 1/2 tsp garlic powder for every clove in the recipe.
  • White sesame seeds – White seeds add a pop of color, but black sesame seeds work too.
  • Unsalted pumpkin seeds – You can also use peeled sunflower seeds. Regardless, reduce the salt in the recipe if they’re salted.
  • Ground cloves
  • Ground cumin
  • Unsalted peanuts – Make sure they’re peeled, otherwise the mole won’t be as smooth.
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Piloncillo – Dark brown sugar is also fine to use.
  • Low-sodium chicken broth – If you use regular chicken broth, adjust the amount of salt in the recipe to taste. Veggie broth and water work as well.
  • Chicken bouillon powder
  • Mexican hot chocolate – I prefer the Ibarra brand (affiliate link) because it’s not as heavily spiced. You can use Abuelita chocolate too but it’s very sweet and spiced so you’ll have to adjust the spices and seasoning to taste.
  • Salt and black pepper

For serving:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Mexican crema – Sour cream thinned with a bit of milk also works well.
Mole con pollo sprinkled with sesame in a pan.

How to Make Mole con Pollo

Take a deep breath and get started. It’s not difficult, there are just lots of parts to this recipe.

  • Sear the chicken. Add about 1 tbsp of oil into a pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken in batches and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. It should not be fully cooked at this point. Transfer to a plate and set it aside.
  • Toast the chiles. Melt the lard over medium heat in a separate pan. Add the guajillo and ancho chiles, stirring them often to avoid burning. Cook them for up to a minute. Remove from the heat and set them aside but don’t discard the melted lard.
  • Hydrate the chiles. Place the toasted chiles in a heat-proof bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let them rest for at least 15 minutes.
  • Fry the tortillas. Use the leftover lard to fry the tortillas over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes or until crispy. Lower the heat and add the crushed galletas María. Stir well to toast the crushed cookies for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the crumbs and tortillas to a bowl. Set them aside.
  • Add the aromatics and spices. Add another tbsp of oil to the same pan and place it over medium heat. Add the onion, let it cook for 2-3 minutes, and then add the garlic. Stir well and cook for an extra minute. Add the pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, ground cloves, and ground cumin. Stir constantly to avoid burning and cook for another 6-7 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in the pan and let them char for 5-6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Transfer to a blender. Add all of the fried ingredients in the pan, crushed galletas María, and tortillas to a blender. Drain the chiles and add them too. Pour in 1 cup of their cooking liquid and reserve the rest.
  • Blend the sauce. Process the ingredients until you get a chunky mixture. Add the piloncillo, chicken bouillon powder, and half of the chicken broth. Blend again until smooth. Season with salt to taste and adjust the sauce’s consistency to taste with more broth.
  • Add the chocolate. Pour the remaining broth into the pot you cooked the chicken in. Place it over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to gently scrape the bottom of the pot once it simmers. Strain the blended sauce into the pot and stir to combine. Add the chocolate and stir continuously until fully dissolved.
  • Simmer the mole. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste. Add the seared chicken and chile de arbol into the pot. Mix to combine. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 1-2 hours.
  • Serve. Serve and ladle some extra mole sauce on top. Drizzle with Mexican crema and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.

Tips for Making the Best Mexican Chicken Mole

Follow these tips to simplify the process and make your life easier:

  • Use salted peanuts. Don’t fret if they’re all you can find, just make sure they’re peeled and give them a good rinse before incorporating them to the recipe.
  • Use rotisserie chicken. This is great for when you’re in a rush because all you’ll have to make is the sauce. Add the chicken to the mole and let it heat for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  • Add more tortillas. If you can’t find Galletas María, just add 2-3 more tortillas to the recipe. You can also use breadcrumbs instead.
  • Use tortilla chips. Store-bought tortilla chips are a great hack when you want to cut down on cooking time, just reduce the amount of salt in the recipe to taste.
  • Use tomato puree. Substitute the roma tomatoes for 1 1/4 cups tomato puree.

Serving Suggestions

Mole is usually eaten with a side of red Mexican rice, refried beans, or guacamole. Frijoles de la olla are a soupy, protein-packed option too.

Even if you choose to eat it on its own, make sure to drizzle it with lots of Mexican crema. A sprinkle of sesame seeds adds crunch and a nice bitter earthiness. Sliced avocado and chopped onion are also great toppings. For more heat, try drizzling a little bit of my salsa macha on top.

If you’re feeling creative, shred the leftover chicken and mix it with the sauce to make mole tacos the next day.

Mole con pollo with Mexican crema and sesame seeds, served with red rice and lemon wedges.

How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

Refrigerate the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. To reheat, simply sprinkle 2-3 tsp of water into the sauce and stir briefly. This will prevent the mole from drying out.

Microwave for up to a minute or until warm. You can also heat it in a pan over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes.

Can You Freeze Mole Sauce?

Yes! Once fully cooled, transfer the mole sauce to a freezer-friendly bag or container and freeze for up to 4 months.

When you’re ready to eat it, transfer it to the fridge the night before. The next day let it finish thawing at room temperature for up to an hour. Pop it into a pan over medium-low heat and add more water or chicken broth as needed until you reach the desired consistency.

More Mexican Recipes To Try

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Mole con Pollo

Recipe card photo for mole con pollo.
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Mole con pollo is a juicy Mexican chicken simmered in a spiced chile and chocolate sauce. Served with lots of crema and rice on the side, it’s a hearty meal.

  • Author: Rustic Family Recipes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Category: Lunch
  • Method: Stove-top
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 lb chicken thighs and drumsticks, bone-in
  • Vegetable oil, for cooking
  • 14 guajillo chiles, seeded and stemmed
  • 5 ancho chiles, seeded and stemmed
  • 58 chile de arbol, seeded and stemmed
  • 1/3 cup lard (or vegetable oil)
  • 2/3 cup galletas María (Mexican cookies), finely crushed
  • 2 corn tortillas, roughly chopped
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 6 medium sized garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds (or salted but reduce salt in recipe accordingly)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, crushed
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp piloncillo (or dark brown sugar)
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp chicken bouillon powder
  • 1/21 disk Mexican hot chocolate
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

For serving:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Mexican crema

Instructions

Sear the chicken. Add about 1-2 tbsp of vegetable oil into a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken in batches, making sure not to over-crowd the pan. Cook it for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until it’s golden brown. It should still be a little bit raw. Transfer to a plate and set it aside.

Toast the chiles. In a separate pan, melt the lard over medium heat. Add the guajillo and ancho chiles. Cook the chiles for up to a minute, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. Don’t discard the lard. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Place the toasted chiles in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the boiling water over the chiles until they’re fully submerged. Let them rest for at least 15 minutes. Set them aside.

Fry the tortillas. In the same pan as the chiles, use the leftover lard to cook the tortillas over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until crispy. Lower the heat and add the crushed galletas María. Stir well. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set it aside.

Add the aromatics and spices. Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil into the pan and increase the heat to medium. Add the diced white onion and cook it for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until well combined. Cook the mixture for another minute. Add the pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, ground cloves, and ground cumin. Stir well. Cook the mixture for another 6-7 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the whole tomatoes into the pan and cook them for 5-6 minutes. Let them charr on all sides. Remove from the heat.

Blend the sauce. Transfer all of the fried ingredients into the blender, including the crispy tortillas and galletas María. Drain the chiles but reserve their cooking liquid. Add the chiles and 1 cup of cooking liquid into the blender. Process until you get a chunky mixture. Add the piloncillo, chicken bouillon powder, and half of the chicken broth. Blend again until you get a smooth mixture. Season with salt to taste. If the mole is too thick, add more broth until you reach your desired consistency.

Add chocolate. Add the remaining chicken broth into the same pot you cooked the chicken in. Place it over medium heat and when it comes to a simmer, gently scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula. Strain the blended mole sauce into the pot. Discard the pulp. Add half of a hot chocolate disk and stir it into the sauce until it has completely dissolved. Taste for sweetness. If you’d like it even sweeter, add the remaining half of the disk and dissolve it into the mixture. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer it. Add the seared chicken and chile de arbol into the mole sauce. Stir until completely coated and well combined. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 1-2 hours.

Serve. Serve the chicken and ladle some extra mole sauce on top. Drizzle it with Mexican crema and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top. Enjoy it with a side of rice.

Keywords: chicken mole, Mexican mole, mole sauce

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