• Moles (pronounced mo-lays) belong to the salsa family.
  • There are more than seventy kinds of moles, and each one has local and family variations.

Although some sources give the origin of the word as the Spanish verb moler (to grind), in reality it is derived from the Nahuatl mulli, which means salsa. So, the simplest description of a mole is that it is a thick salsa containing three to thirty ingredients. 

Traditionally it has a base of dried or fresh chiles; spices such as cumin, cloves or cinnamon; dried nuts—pecans, walnuts, peanuts, and almonds—and vegetables such as tomatoes and chayote. All these ingredients are ground to form a liquid whose color, texture, and flavor will depend on the number and type of ingredients from which it was made.


It is common for a protein to be immersed in or served alongside the mole: egg, chicken, turkey, beef, pork, goat, or even duck. Although moles are served in several states, the greatest variety is concentrated in Puebla, Oaxaca, and Tlaxcala. The best known is undoubtedly the dark Puebla mole that is called mole poblano.

A type of mole with its own variations is pipián, distinguished because it is thickened with toasted squash seeds. It can be green when made with herbs and tomatillos (Mexican green tomatoes) or red when made with tomatoes.

The word mole covers hearty soups sometimes thickened with corn; this is the case of mole de olla or michmole. 

Mole is a legacy of pre-Hispanic cuisine, although a great number of its variations boast obvious mestizo seasoning.

Relevant Facts: 

What is curious about mole

  • Most moles contain chile
  • Mole is a festive food
  • A molera is the clay pot used for preparing the mole.
  • Molito is a colloquial way to refer to mole.