What Is Mole Sauce?

Outside of Mexico, mole sauce refers to a dark red or brown sauce typically served over meat. The specifics vary, but classic mole sauce contains chiles, sour and sweet ingredients, spices, and thickeners. Chocolate is another common ingredient. In Mexico, mole sauce refers to a number of sauces, including black, red, yellow and green moles, depending on the region.

Dried chili peppers are a common ingredient in all mole sauces. Classic mole sauce also contains sour fruits such as tomatoes or tomatillos, sweet dried fruit such as raisins, spices such as cinnamon, thickeners such as almonds, and chocolate, which gives the sauce its dark color. Cooks roast and grind the ingredients into a paste before mixing them with watering and simmering the mixture until it thickens.

Mole sauce is thicker than most sauces, but is never eaten on its own. Cooks serve classic mole sauce with turkey, chicken, pork or lamb.

Variations on the classic mole sauce use spices such as cloves and cumin, nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds and walnuts, and fresh and dried fruit and vegetables, including pineapples or celery.

In Mexico, cooks grind mole ingredients by hand and serve it on special occasions, such as weddings and the Day of the Dead, and as a topping for a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes.