Mole Poblano Recipe

It's time to simplify and demystify this classic Mexican sauce.
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin

Makes about 12 cups
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 2 hours and 30 minutes


12 ancho chilies
12 guajillo chilies
6 pasilla chilies
4 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon star anise
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
½ teaspoon whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, broken up
2 cups|500 ml canola oil
8 cups vegetable dashi or chicken stock
½ cup|75 grams almonds
½ cup|75 grams Spanish peanuts
⅓ cup50 grams pumpkin seeds
⅓ cup|40 grams raisins
3 fresh avocado leaves
3 fresh bay leaves
2 corn tortillas, torn
2 slices stale bread, torn
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
2 tomatillos, husked and quartered
1 tomato, quartered
1 cup|155 grams finely chopped Mexican chocolate
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
3 tablespoons granulated sugar


  1. Stem the chilies and shake seeds into a small bowl. Tear the chiles into large pieces and set aside.
  2. Transfer 4 tablespoons of the reserved chile seeds and the sesame seeds to a small cast iron skillet set over medium heat. Toast, stirring occasionally, until lightly brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer seeds to a spice grinder along with the star anise, thyme, peppercorns, marjoram, cloves, and cinnamon stick and grind to a fine powder. Transfer to the bowl of a blender and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a medium saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reaches 350°F. Working in batches, fry the chilies until slightly darkened, 1 to 2 minutes per batch. Transfer the chilies to a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. Fry the almonds until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the chiles, then do the same thing with the pumpkin seeds, peanuts, raisins, avocado and bay leaves, the tortillas, and bread (do them all in separate batches).
  5. Add the garlic to the oil and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then transfer to a separate plate. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 3 minutes, then transfer to the plate. Lastly, fry the tomatillos and tomatoes until they burst (be careful they don’t burst at your face!), then transfer to the plate.
  6. Working in batches, add the ingredients from the plate of chiles to the blender with the spices, along with some stock and purée until smooth. Set a chinois over a large bowl and strain, pushing through as much of the mixture as possible. Discard solids and transfer the mixture to a large Dutch oven. Repeat with remaining chile mixture, then repeat with the plate of garlic, onions, and vegetables, using stock as needed to help you purée.
  7. Heat the Dutch oven over medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chocolate and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Stir in the salt and sugar. Mole freezes well, or dip heated corn tortillas in to serve.

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