Chicken Mole


Rich, warm, and well-balanced, this chicken mole recipe employs five types of chiles to add deep layers of heat, fruitiness, sweetness, and smokiness.

Active Time:
1 hr 15 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 5 mins

At La Guerrera's Kitchen in Oakland, this mole is inspired by chef Ofelia Barajas' grandmother Jovita Vargas' recipe from her restaurant in Guerrero, Mexico. It's rich, warm, and well-balanced, with a variety of chiles adding layers of heat, fruitiness, sweetness, and smokiness.

As you fry the individual ingredients, Barajas recommends smelling and tasting each one, including the chiles, to create a connection with each — and to learn how to build the flavors that make a great mole. The payoff is a luscious and complex sauce that drapes over tender chicken. Serve with rice and fresh tortillas to swipe up every drop of sauce.


  • 8 cups water

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken quarters (about 3 1/4 pounds)

  • 3 3/4 cups vegetable oil, divided

  • 12 garlic cloves, divided

  • 4 1/2 cups diced plum tomatoes

  • 3 1/2 cups diced yellow onion

  • 8 dried guajillo chiles (1 3/4 ounces), stemmed

  • 6 dried chiles de árbol (1/8 ounce), stemmed

  • 4 dried ancho chiles (2 1/2 ounces), stemmed

  • 3 dried pasilla negro chiles (3/4 ounce), stemmed

  • 2 dried mulato chiles (1 ounce), stemmed

  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds, plus more for garnish

  • 1/2 cup pepitas

  • 3 (6-inch) corn tortillas, plus more for serving

  • 1 (3 1/2-ounce) bolillo or demi baguette, torn into pieces (about 5 1/2 cups)

  • 1 (about 3-ounce) Mexican chocolate disk (such as Dandelion or Ibarra)

  • Cooked long-grain white rice, for serving


  1. Bring 8 cups of water and 1/2 tablespoon of salt to a boil in a large stockpot over high. Reduce heat to medium-low and add chicken. Cook until the chicken is tender and a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of the meat registers 155°F, about 30 minutes. Remove chicken; set aside on a large plate. Reserve 4 cups of the chicken cooking liquid in a large heatproof bowl; discard remaining cooking liquid.

  2. Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high. Add 8 garlic cloves; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, onions, and 1/2 tablespoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and softened, about 8 minutes. Transfer mixture to a blender. Secure lid on blender and remove center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a kitchen towel over opening on lid. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and set aside.

  3. Wipe skillet clean. Add 3 cups vegetable oil; heat over medium-high. Working with a few different types of chiles at a time, place in a spider and submerge in hot oil for 2 seconds per batch. Remove from oil using spider and place in a large heat-proof bowl. Repeat with remaining chiles and remaining four garlic cloves.

  4. Place sesame seeds and pepitas in a medium metal strainer; submerge in hot oil in skillet over medium-high. Cook, stirring mixture inside strainer and shaking occasionally, until seeds are golden brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer seed mixture to bowl with chile mixture.

  5. Working with one tortilla at a time, add to hot oil in skillet over medium-high. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer fried tortillas to a plate lined with paper towels; let cool 5 minutes. Break into 2-inch pieces. (Strained and cooled oil may be reused for frying.)

  6. Add chile mixture, tortilla pieces, and bolillo pieces to reserved 4 cups chicken cooking liquid in bowl. Let stand until liquid is almost absorbed and bolillo has softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a blender; process until smooth, about 1 minute.

  7. Heat remaining 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a large pot over medium. Add tomato mixture; cook, stirring constantly, until heated through, about 1 minute. Add blended chile mixture and chocolate disk. Bring to a simmer over medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chocolate has melted and mixture is well combined, about 20 minutes. Add cooked chicken and remaining 1 tablespoon salt; stir to submerge in mole. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until chicken is heated through, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with rice and tortillas; garnish with additional sesame seeds.

Chicken Mole
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

Make ahead

Chicken mole can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.


Find dried chiles, bolillo, and Mexican chocolate at Latin grocery stores or online.

Related Articles