Chicken Mole Tradicional

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Chicken Mole Tradicional on a yellow plate

The story behind the making of Chicken Mole Tradicional


This recipe for Chicken Mole Tradicional comes from Rick Bayless, considered the foremost authority of Mexican cooking in America, and his book Mexico, One Plate at a Time, with just a couple of modifications. I did not fry the chilies, because I have found that there is a fine line between properly frying them and toasting them to the point of turning them bitter, and over time and making Chili Colorado, I found it doesn’t make that much if any, difference in the end product.


This is a great dish to make on a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon.


Best cooked at least a few days in advance to allow the flavors to fully blend, it is still excellent when served the same day. It is a bit work intensive, but so worth it. I cook the chicken with the skin on to maintain juiciness and then removed it because chicken skin generally turns rubbery when it sits in liquid, besides, I don’t need the extra fat.

This Chicken Mole Tradicional recipe is a great dish to make with someone you love on a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon.  A little music, perhaps a Margherita, chop chop,  whirl whirl, eat and enjoy!

Chicken Mole Tradicional


  • 5 ounces (3 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds, divided
  • 1/2 cup rich tasting pork lard or vegetable oil, or as needed (I used lard)*
  • 3 ounces (about 6) dried mulato chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 1/2 ounces (about 3) dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 1/2 ounces (about 5 medium) dried pasilla chilies, stemmed and seeded
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup unskinned almonds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 slice firm white bread, darkly toasted and broken into several pieces
  • 1 ounce Mexican chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder (my addition)
  • 4 - 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • *I got my lard from my local Mexican market. It does add to the dish, and really, fat is fat, and even though this is saturated fat, you aren't eating mole everyday now are you?


Step 1

Mise en place - the French cooking term that means, get everything ready before you begin. That's the first step, stem and seed your chilies, toast your bread, measure everything out and have everything in little piles or containers. Set out two bowls.

Step 2

Spread the tomatillos on a baking sheet and put under the broiler. Broil about 5 minutes, or until darkly roasted and blackened in spots. Turn them over and roast the other side, 4 - 5 minutes or until blackened, blistered and soft. Scrape them, juice and all into one of the bowls.

Set out a pair of tongs and a slotted spoon.

Step 3

If your sesame seeds aren't already toasted, toast them in a small skillet set over medium heat. Scrape 2/3's of them into the bowl with the tomatillos, reserve the rest for garnish.

Put the chilies in a large bowl, cover with 2 1/2 cups boiling water (place a plate on top of them to keep them submerged) allow them to soak for 30 minutes.

Step 4

Heat a large Dutch oven or Mexican cazuela over medium heat. Measure the lard or oil into the pot and heat over medium heat. Fry the garlic and almonds, stirring, until the garlic is soft and the almonds are browned throughout about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the tomatillos. Always try to leave as much of the fat in the pot as possible.

Add the raisins to the pot; stir for about 30 seconds, or until they are puffed up. Scoop them out and add to the tomatillos.

Step 5

Use tongs and put the chilies in a blender with soaking liquid. Blend until smooth; then put through the medium disk of a food mill, or force through a medium sieve to collect the skins, strain into the empty chile soaking bowl.

Without washing the blender, scrape the tomatillo mixture into it along with 1 cup water, the cinnamon, pepper, cloves, bread, and chocolate(s). Blend to a smooth paste; then put it through the same food mill or strainer, straining it back into its original bowl.

Step 6

Check the fat in the pot. If there is more than a light coating, remove some, if it is not coated, add a little. Set the heat to medium-high; scrape in the chile puree and stir nearly constantly until the mixture has darkened considerably and to the consistency of tomato paste, 10 to 15 minutes. (Here the stirring is very important, otherwise, the mixture will bubble and send drops of hot chili all over the stove, it's a mess, trust me.) When it's reached this point, add the tomatillo mixture and stir again for another 10 or 15 minutes, until quite thick.

Step 7

Add 6 cups water and stir to combine thoroughly. Partially cover; reduce the heat to medium-low and cook 45 minutes. Check the consistency; the mole should be thick enough to coat a spoon, but not too thickly. If too thin, simmer uncovered until it reaches the right consistency, if too thick, add a little water. Add the sugar and stir well.

Step 8

Heat the oven to 375º F.

While the mole cooks, heat a fry pan with a little oil over medium heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper; and put skin side down in the hot pan, allow to brown, then turn and brown the other side. Turn skin side up, and if the frying pan is oven safe, put it into the oven and cook the chicken, about 30 minutes. (If the frying pan is not oven safe transfer the chicken to a baking dish.) Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle remove the skin.

Step 9

Place the chicken pieces in a baking dish and spoon enough mole over to cover completely. (Make to this point up to 3 days in advance, the mole improves when it has a few days to sit.)

When ready to serve, remove the mole and bake, covered, in the oven for 45 minutes or until hot. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve. (or you could use pepitas, toasted pumpkin seeds)


I served this as one of the courses for my “Dinner around the World” dinner party. Because it was one of many courses, I used chicken drumettes rather than large whole chicken pieces. It was perfect in size and flavor. 

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Recipe Comments

  1. posted by Poppy on April 16, 2013

    You lost me at lard and this is way to complicated for my meager culinary skills, but I wouldn’t complain if you fed it to me 🙂

  2. posted by LindySez on April 16, 2013

    Well, you can use vegetable oil. And granted it is time intensive, but it’s darn good!

    • posted by chello on April 21, 2018

      Made this for a Spring Birthday Party – it was devoured! I made it with Coconut Oil, a saturated fat. Added a little less sugar, because the coconut oil tends to have a sweet affect. Gave that rich mouthfeel, but pleased the lard adverse crowd. Thank you!

      • posted by LindySez on April 21, 2018

        I would think coconut oil, while not traditional,would lend a nice taste to the dish. Glad you and your guests enjoyed it.

        Cheers ~ Lindy

  3. posted by G-man! on April 16, 2013

    OMG this looks so good!

    • posted by LindySez on April 16, 2013

      A great afternoon project to impress your friends. You can make extra chicken too there’s a bit extra sauce…

  4. posted by suplementos para ganar masa muscular on October 8, 2015

    Olá, addorei muito do seu web-blog! achei o conteúdo muito bem escrito.
    estou escrevendo uum blog no mesmo tipo de conteúdo e gostaria de
    ver se você tem alguma sugestão para quem está começando a postar arrigos sobre
    isso. valeu!!

    • posted by LindySez on October 8, 2015

      Use photos and color. Use links to show information. Write and improve. Learn and improve. It’s a process. Good luck.


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