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How Many Types of Mexican Moles are There?

  • Joel CZ 
  • 6 min read
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Mole is one of the most representative dishes of Mexican cuisine.

Its origin dates back to pre-Hispanic times when the original inhabitants mixed several chiles with pumpkin seeds, hierba Santa, and tomato to create a type of sauce called “mulli,” which they accompanied with turkey, duck, or armadillo meat.

This was an exclusive preparation to be offered to the gods in ceremonial acts.

Although there are more than 50 types of Mexican Mole, it is practically impossible to have an inventory of all the varieties of moles that exist in the country.

Because, as I have already said, new recipes continue to be created year after year.

Nevertheless, I will focus on seven of the most popular ones.

Mexican Mole history

mexican mole types
Clay pot with powder to prepare Mexican mole – Source: Cris_mh / shutterstock.com

The word mole comes from the Nahuatl word “mulli,” which means sauce.

The first mentions of mole are found in Bernardino de Sahagún’s “Historia general de las Cosas de la Nueva España,” where he mentions how it was prepared before the colony.

With the colonization process, new ingredients were added, and each region of the country added its unique touch, creating different styles of moles.

To this day, there are fairs and competitions that keep creating varieties of this preparation with innovative ingredients. Thus, this is a very much trendy food in Mexican culture.

Mexican Mole: The 7 classics and traditionals

mexican mole types
Typical Mole Poblano with chicken – Source: Inspired By Maps / shutterstock.com

1. Mole Poblano

Mole poblano is a representative dish of the city of Puebla. There are several legends about the origin of this dish.

On the one hand, there is the story of San Pascual Bailón, who attributed the creation of mole thanks to a culinary miracle.

On the other hand, the writer Artemio de Valle Arizpe is the creator of the most famous account of the “history” of mole. It is mentioned that Sister Andrea de la Asunción, from the Santa Rosa convent, obtained the divine inspiration to create mole.

However, according to José Luis Curiel Monteagudo in his text “Construcción y evolución del mole virreinal,” there are a series of historical inconsistencies in this story.

Its origin is undoubtedly pre-Hispanic. The mole de guajalote (turkey) or “Totolmole” is documented by Francisco de Burgoa in colonial times. This dish was made in indigenous ceremonies as an offering to the deceased.

The dish consisted of guajolotes seasoned with a mixture of chilhuaucle chiles, smoked or black dried chiles, pumpkin seeds, hierba Santa leaves, or avocado.

Later, the ingredients that came with the colony were incorporated, and the guajolote was substituted by chicken and other proteins.

2. Mole Prieto

In Tlaxcala, the preparation of mole Prieto is a ritual. To begin with, the “molenderas” remove the tails of the chipotle chile, toast it and grind it in a metate.

After other processes, several holes are opened in the ground to heat the pots, and, preventing the mole from spoiling, a bottle of liquor is buried, and a cross is made with the chipotle chile and nopales (cactus paddle).

This is made for carnivals, saints’ days, and in the past, it was made for weddings.

3. Mole Negro: A typical Mexican Mole from Oaxaca

mexican mole types
Source: Chad Zuber / shutterstock.com

Oaxacan mole negro is the typical dish served on the Day of the Dead.

More than 30 ingredients are necessary to prepare it, among which the toasted black, red, mulato, and pasilla chihuacle chiles stand out.

It also includes burnt tortilla, plantain, pumpkin seeds, chocolate, etc.

4. Mole Amarillo (yellow)

This Mexican mole, also from Oaxaca, has more versatile protein options than the others, as they are usually meats of personal choice.

The ingredients included are chile ancho, guajillo, chilcostle and costeño amarillo. Although there are versions that also include the yellow chilhuacle.

5. Mole de San Pedro Atocpan

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A woman in San Pedro Atocpan preparing mole in a large clay pot – Source: Joseph Sorrentino / shutterstock.com

In San Pedro Atocpan (Mexico City), 90% of the population is dedicated to elaborating and selling a wide variety of moles.

San Pedro is a town within the Milpa Alta delegation, whose primary economic source is mole preparation.

During October, the traditional mole fair is held.

Many families prepare different types of moles but add their personal touch. There are even those who continue to make it on a traditional metate.

6. Mole Chichilo

It is one of the least common of the moles but with a great flavor due to the combination of meats and vegetables and the avocado leaves.

Ingredients include black chihuacle chile, pasilla, mulato (some recipes only have black chihuacle and guajillo chile), miltomate, tomato, spices (such as marjoram, pepper, cloves), and toasted tortillas (this will give it its particular color).

7. Mole Manchamanteles (tablecloth-stainer)

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Manchamanteles with chicken – Source: Fanfo / shutterstock.com

The Manchamanteles is a controversial Mexican mole, as it is not considered a mole as such.

Its main characteristic is that its recipe includes fruits, although they vary depending on the recipe. However, a key element is the ancho chiles.

Some people say that this exquisite delicacy originated somewhere in between the state of Puebla and Oaxaca.

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