What is Mole Sauce?

What is mole sauce? Mole is not a chocolate sauce, though chocolate is an ingredient of some mole recipes. Mole is a traditional authentic Mexican sauce. Since “mole” literally means “sauce”, the mole can be one of many recipes. The most well-known mole is Mole Negro from the state of Oaxaca – sometimes called the “Land of the Seven Moles”. Another well-known recipe is Mole Poblano hailing from the state of Puebla. The debate continues over the origin of the first mole recipe and which of the many sauces is the best. You have to taste them all to decide.

Whether you are eating mole negro or mole verde, a recipe from Oaxaca, or a recipe from Puebla, what you will find in common between is sauce is that each sauce is made of a mix of many ingredients and a good amount of patience. Mole isn’t necessarily difficult, but it does take time and attention to each ingredient to build the layers of nuanced flavor found in a mole.

The word “mole” has its roots in the Nahuatl word “milli” meaning “concoction” or “mixture”. We find the root of this word as well in a favorite Mexican recipe, “guacamole“. But we aren’t talking about delicious mashed avocados, we are talking about a thick, rich sauce made from a wide variety of ingredients. Though mole recipes vary greatly by types, region and family you will usually find a combination of fresh and dried chiles, aromatic herbs, zesty spices, fruits, vegetables, and sometimes even things like animal crackers or burnt tortillas. They are known sometimes by the region, the color, or both.

There are many different types of mole: