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20-Minute Mole Sauce

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The quick mole sauce recipe celebrates all of the delicious flavors traditional Mexican mole sauce. But thanks to a few shortcuts, it’s easy to make in about 20 minutes yet tastes like it has been simmering all day. Perfect for drizzling on tacos, enchiladas, burritos, nachos, chicken, poblanos, veggies and more.

20-Minute Mole Sauce Recipe

For years and years now, you guys have been asking for a mole sauce recipe here on the blog. And for years and years now, I have referred you onto other sources because this famously delicious but super-labor-intensive sauce has never really been my style.

Don’t get me wrong — I’ve been a big fan of Mexican mole sauce (pronounced moh-leh) ever since I was first introduced to it in high school. I’ve actually even taken two Oaxacan cooking classes over the years specifically to study the authentic art of mole, and have tremendous respect for the tradition behind the sauce and the cooks who so patiently and lovingly make it. But as much as I love mole, I’ve gotta be honest — any sauce that requires dozens of ingredients and many hours (or even days!) of work is realistically just not going to be an everyday recipe in kitchen.

However, a 20-minute version that still tastes amazing that I can easily whip up on a weeknight?!

Game-changer. ♡

Friends, allow me to introduce you to my new 20-minute mole sauce recipe. It’s features all of the rich, layered, nutty, chocolate-y, savory, and slightly sweet flavors that I love in a good authentic mole. But thanks to a dozen shortcuts, it can magically come together on the stovetop in record time. It’s also naturally vegan and can be made gluten-free, if you’d like. It’s easy to customize with your desired level of spiciness and sweetness. It can be drizzled on everything from tacos to enchiladas, nachos, burritos, poblanos, baked proteins, veggies, rices and more. And it is downright irresistible.

Now, I’ll be the first to say it — 20-minute mole will never be truly authentic mole. (I would recommend this recipe if you would like a more authentic mole.)  But if you’re looking for a quick new mole-inspired sauce to add to your repertoire, I recommend that you gather the ingredients and make this one soon. I think you’re going to love it.

20-Minute Mole Sauce Ingredients in Saucepan

Easy Mole Sauce Ingredients:

So speaking of, let’s talk about your ingredient list. To make this 20-minute mole sauce recipe, you will need:

  • Cooking oil: Whatever kind you prefer to sauté the veggies.
  • Onion, garlic, jalapeño: Said veggies. If you prefer your sauce not to be spicy, you can omit the jalapeño.
  • Chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, oregano: Instead of working with dried chiles, cinnamon sticks, whole cumin seeds and fresh oregano, these pantry staples will be our shortcuts to season the sauce. (Please note that the chili powder is American chili powder, which is a milder blend and completely different than cayenne pepper.)
  • Flour: To thicken the sauce. If making this gluten-free, you can either use a GF all-purpose flour blend. Or thicken the sauce instead with cornstarch. (See instructions below.)
  • Vegetable stock: Or chicken stock, whichever you have on hand.
  • Almond butter: Instead of blanching and toasting and pureeing the nuts, this is our easy shortcut! I have tested this recipe with both peanut butter and almond butter, and either are delicious. Or if you have a nut allergy, feel free to substitute sunflower seed butter or tahini.
  • Tomato paste: To add some rich tomato flavor.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder: I prefer this to adding chopped chocolate bars, so as to control the amount of sweetness. But if you prefer a sweeter mole sauce, you can add in a drizzle of maple syrup or honey.
  • Sea salt: Absolutely essential.

How To Make Mole Sauce

How To Make Mole Sauce:

This mole sauce will have you moving and multi-tasking. But if you have your ingredients ready to go, and move quickly, it can easily be made in less than 20 minutes. Simply:

  1. Sauté your veggies. Chop your onion, the sauté it for 5 minutes until soft. Meanwhile, chop your garlic and jalapeño. Then add them to the pan and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes. Meanwhile, measure out your dry seasonings and flour then…
  2. Add dry seasonings and flour to the veggies.  And stir until evenly mixed. Continue to cook for 1-2 more minutes, which will help to toast and bring out the flavor of the seasonings.
  3. Remove pan from heat and add veggie stock. Then stir to combine. At this point, the mixture should be warm but not hot.
  4. Puree.  Either puree the mixture until smooth using an immersion blender (my preference). Or alternately, you can transfer the mixture in half batches to a blender and puree until smooth. The caution as always is to be incredibly careful when blending warm/hot liquids. They expand when blending, so you want to be sure that your blender is not too full. I like to cover/vent the top of my blender with a kitchen towel instead of the snug plastic lid, just to be careful. Return the pureed mixture to the saucepan.
  5. Add remaining ingredients. And whisk until evenly combined.
  6. Simmer until thickened. Continue to cook the sauce until it comes to a simmer and thickens.
  7. Taste and season. Adding any extra salt (or more of any other ingredients you prefer) as needed.
  8. Serve warm. Or transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Chicken Mole Enchiladas Recipe

Mole Chicken Enchiladas

Customize Your Mole Sauce:

Everyone has their preferences about what makes the perfect mole sauce. So feel free to experiment and find what you love best! For example, if you…

  • Want a sweeter mole? Feel free to add in a drizzle of maple syrup or honey to sweeten.
  • Want a spicier mole? Add in an extra jalapeño pepper (and/or include the seeds, where most of the heat resides).
  • Want a milder mole? Nix the jalapeño pepper altogether.
  • Want a smokier mole? Sub in chipotle powder for half of the chili powder. Or, add in a chipotle pepper in adobe sauce.
  • Want a more chocolate-y mole? Double the cocoa powder.
  • Want to make it gluten-free? Either use a GF all-purpose flour blend that performs well with a roux (like this one). Or nix the flour altogether and whisk 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch into the lukewarm veggie stock before adding it to the recipe.
  • Want to add in some extra seasonings? If you want your mole to taste even more complex and authentic, feel free to add in a bay leaf, a pinch of ground cloves, a pinch of ground coriander, and/or a pinch of ground anise.

Ways To Serve Mole Sauce:

This sauce can be used in so many ways. Some classics could include:

  • Tacos, enchiladas, burritos, nachos, etc. The sauce can be drizzled over or baked into a number of classic Mexican dishes.
  • Stuffed peppers: Mole poblano is one of my favorite dishes, made with stuffed roasted poblano peppers.
  • Baked proteins: Use mole as a simple finishing sauce for baked chicken, steak, pork, tofu, etc.
  • Veggies: Drizzle your roasted or sautéed veggies with mole for extra flavor.
  • Rice and beans: Stir a few spoonfuls of mole into rice or beans for delicious seasoning.
  • Soups and stews: Stir mole into soups for a rich and delicious broth.
  • Dips, salsas, queso and guacamole: Stir a spoonful of mole into various dips for extra seasoning.

How To Store Mole Sauce:

I highly recommend making a double batch of this sauce while you’re at it to have for leftovers! But either way, if you have leftovers or are making this sauce in advance, you can either store it in a sealed container and:

  • Refrigerate: For up to 3-4 days
  • Freeze: For up to 3 months. (*The texture of the sauce won’t be exactly the same, but it will still be delicious.)
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20-Minute Mole Sauce

20-Minute Mole Sauce

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.8 from 51 reviews
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 0 About 3 cups 1x


This easy mole sauce celebrates all of the flavors of traditional Mexican mole.  Yet thanks to a few shortcuts, it can be made in about 20 minutes.  See notes above for tips on how to customize your mole sauce.


  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup diced white onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • (optional) 1 jalapeño, cored and diced
  • 1/4 cup chili powder*
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons smooth almond butter (or your preferred nut or seed butter)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent.  Add garlic and jalapeño (if using) and sauté for 1-2 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.  Add chili powder, flour, cinnamon, cumin, and oregano, and stir until everything is evenly mixed.  Continue sautéing for 1 more minute, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove pan from heat.  Add vegetable stock, and stir until combined.
  3. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture until smooth.  Or transfer it in two small batches to a traditional blender, and purée until smooth, being very careful (**see note below) since warm liquids expand when they are blended.
  4. Return the saucepan to medium-high heat.  Add almond butter, tomato paste, cocoa powder and sea salt, and whisk until combined.  Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a simmer and the sauce as thickened.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low.  Taste, and season the sauce with more salt if needed.
  6. Serve warm.  Or let the sauce cool to room temperature, then refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.


*I used American-style chili powder, which is not the same as cayenne chili powder.

**Since the mixture should still be pretty lukewarm at this point, it should be ok to blend in small batches.  But if it feels hot, let the mixture cool for 10 minutes before blending.  As an extra precaution when blending warm liquids, I always recommend covering the tiny cap opening on the lid of the blender with a kitchen towel or paper towel, instead of the cap.)

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77 comments on “20-Minute Mole Sauce”

  1. This sounds delicious! Can’t wait to make this asap x

    Shannon |

  2. Ali this looks AMAZING!!! I just went through your recipe for taco mix and together with this sauce I will make Tacos for sure :)

  3. Interesting take on mole. I’m sure you know that to say “mole sauce” is redundant, since mole is the Spanish word for sauce. I will also comment (and you probably know this, too, having taken Oaxacan cooking classes) , that there are many kinds of mole, and most of them don’t have chocolate as an ingredient. I have a recipe for mole with pecans and hibiscus (jamaica), which takes all the effort – I don’t make it very often, but it’s wonderful. I’m thinking that one could use a single chile powder, such as ancho – a mild chile – instead of the mix which always has cumin in it.

    • uh, no. there are MANY recipes of mole that do include chocolate. trying this tonight.

    • Mole is the Nahuatl word for sauce, not Spanish! The Spanish word is salsa. Nahuatl is an Indigenous Mexican language with no relation to Spanish whatsoever, though each language contains some loan words from the other as a result of cross-cultural contact. English has a good number of Nahuatl loan words too, actually: tomato, chocolate, and avocado, just to name a few!

    • Translate “salsa”

  4. This looks very tasty! I was just looking for a mole sauce that was simplified and then here was yours!
    Have you ever made Yam Enchiladas? A local restaurant has them and they are amazing, the sauce is mole. I’m going to try to copy the yam filling..any suggestions?

  5. Cannot WAIT to make this. Love mole!!!

  6. Oh my gosh…made this tonight–it was AMAZING. I have to say I am not a person who knows a lot about mole. My husband and I really liked this recipe. I had shredded chicken, black beans and roasted cauliflower wrapped in flour tortillas and topped it with this sauce. It’s beautiful, too!
    It’s a keeper, thanks! Love your website.

  7. I don’t usually comment on these but I made this tonight and it was amazing and so easy! ?

  8. I made this tonight and thought it was very good. We grilled chicken breasts and cut them into chunks, let the chicken pieces simmer in the sauce for a few minutes to soak up the sauce, and served it over rice. Will definitely put this on the supper rotation. Thanks for posting!

  9. My daughter has a nut and tree nut allergy. Is it necessary to use the almond butter? What is a good substitute?

    • Could you use tahini? or make a paste out of pumpkin seeds? sun butter?

    • Hey! Maybe you could try some type of seed or seed butter instead. I bet sunflower butter, or maybe tahini could be great in this! I usually make a labor-intensive mole involving pumpkin seeds (pepitos specifically since they’re shelled), puréed right into the mix. Yum!

  10. Great sauce! I went a little heavy on the spices for extra umph, and also added some dried onion and garlic for complexity. I use off the shelf paste, but never again. Big props.

    • Also, I used it on enchiladas stuffed with mashed black beans, shredded sweet potatoes and kale, topped with shredded cabbage, toasted pumpkin seeds, sour cream, and crumbled panela.

  11. I made this today; a half-batch (because I am the only one in the house who will eat it) with a few slight changes.

    Instead of using vegetable broth, I used a small container of chicken bone broth.

    I doubled the tomato paste using a full tablespoon for the half-recipe.

    I added 1/4 teaspoon of cardamon and coriander (these are in a recipe that I like for chili along with allspice which I did not have).

    I used almond flour for the thickener for low-carb and sunflower seed butter.

    Instead of dealing with the jalapeno, I used Louisiana Gold Green Sauce to give it a bit of heat.

    I skipped the salt.

    I left it sitting on low heat for about 45-60 minutes to blend the seasonings.

    I plan to use it to make enchiladas and as “on demand” chili base for leftover meat.

    Thank you so much!

  12. Made this today as my first ever attempt at mole sauce. I doubled the cocoa powder and used 2 cubes of chicken bullion in warm water instead of vegetable stock because that’s what I had. I can’t tell if it’s authentic, but it tastes just like what the little local Mexican cantina makes and that’s good enough for me! Thanks!

  13. Just made this and I’m blown away!! I’m a big fan of mole and order it anytime I go out for mexican. Some slight changes I made: I used 1.5 serrano peppers instead of jalapeno cause I like the extra spice and prefer the flavor, used 2 cups of CHICKEN stock instead of the 2.5 vegetable stock to reduce the thickening time, and used sweetened cocoa powder cause it was what I had on hand. I used your suggestion and added the anise and clove. I ended up adding about 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon combined, equal portions. Loved it loved it loved it!

  14. I’m a huge fan of a legit mole, too, and loved your perspective on finding a middle ground on this sauce. This was so satisfying to make, thanks so much!

  15. I’ve tried many other mole sauces and this one is so easy and delicious! This is now a staple at our house.

  16. I just made this recipe – I used ancho chile powder, cacao, and pretty much followed the rest of your recipe. Well, it is amazing. Currently cooking up some pulled sofrito chicken which I will top with this blessed concoction!

  17. WOW!! If this is just a fraction as good as it sounds it’ll be “muy fantastico” …. truly incredible. I’ll be back with results.
    Mike Irish, Oregon

  18. Great recipe. Have always wanted to make mole but didn’t want to spend 2 days doing it. Highly recommend. We added two tablespoons of chipotle in Adobe sauce to bring it over the top.

  19. I LOVE a good mole sauce and since I live in a desert of good Mexican food, this recipe is the next best thing! I made it for a potluck and gave the recipe to just about everyone.

    This is the second time I’ve made this recipe. My preferences are to double the cocoa powder, add 1/2 a tsp of honey, 1/2 a tsp of chipotle chili powder, and a dash of cloves. I also used slightly less broth (2 cups) to make it a little thicker and more flavorful. It’s pretty awesome right out of the pot but it’s even better after melding in the refrigerator overnight.

  20. I’m always up for making something that I have never made before.
    My wife wanted Turkey Mole enchiladas. I found your quick recipe for mole. It took a bit longer than 20 minutes but a made a triple-sized batch.
    I used the sauce within and on top of the enchiladas, and needless to say my wife said they were the best enchiladas she has ever had, and mentioned some unspeakable act later on.
    I promptly did the dishes afterward.
    I also thought they were really good. Thanks.

  21. I cook a lot of Mexican/Latin-inspired meals but hadn’t ever attempted mole. It was as easy to prepare as advertised and the sauce was delicious. I cooked up some portobello mushrooms as well as chicken to go with the sauce, both paired well with it. That’s going into our regular rotation, thanks!

  22. I want to make this tonight… it looks so good. Does anyone know if there is an alternative to using the blender? I would appreciate any tips on this so I can avoid it if possible. Thanks!

  23. this Is a great mole! And I live in Central TX.

  24. I love mole chicken but don’t have a clue on how to make it until now! Definitely going to give this a shot! Thank you for sharing your recipe!!

  25. This was absolutely delicious! So easy to follow and an amazing upgrade for our veggie enchiladas. Will be making this again for sure!

  26. I loved this! It is so easy and tastes wonderful.

  27. The ingredients used in this mole are pretty easy to find at most grocery stores, which makes this an attractive alternate to a 20-30+ ingredient authentic mole. I’ve made this recipe and I’ve also made more complex traditional, from scratch, authentic moles. The savings in time required to make this vs. an authentic mole is maybe 20 minutes different for a 20 ingredient recipe, and for my time that 20 minutes is worth making the authentic mole. That said, this is a very approachable recipe for people who don’t cook all the time, so it’s worth giving it a shot :-)

  28. I have a similar mole recipe, but I use masa harina for the thickening and add a wee bit of toasted sesame oil. yum.

  29. Amazing!

    • Absolutely love this sauce! You could call it whatever you want and I’d eat it. Made it 3 times already. Thank you so much!

  30. This sauce was absolutely delicious! I can’t find American style chili powder in Spain so I added 2 tbsp of paprika and 1 tsp of cayenne pepper instead and it was perfect! Used it for chicken tacos :) I will definitely make this again!

  31. My husband is from Mexico and he absolutely loved it.

  32. Easy, flavorful, and so DELICIOUS! My entire family enjoyed it. I didn’t change a thing.

  33. Not only is this recipe PERFECT this is also my coup de Coeur recipe of the year! Wow, wow! And WOW!!!!
    Very accurate and impressive result. Every time.

  34. This is spectacular! So much depth of flavor for so little time invested. Missing good Mexican food during the pandemic, and needed to use up a lot of veggie odds and ends, so I decided to make veggie enchiladas on a whim and needed a sauce to put on top. Was not expecting it to be this good. This is going into my regular prep rotation. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  35. Made red mole for my husband, that has never had but the brown mole made by Momasita. And he loves it. Also make your enchilada sauce and you can put that on a flip flop too.Tasty

  36. I read other recipes. They took too much time and insanely hard-to-find stuff. I work 7 days a week and have 2 vous. My time is precious. Thanks for publishing a recipe that my wife and I loved.

  37. Made it last night to go with a Costco turkey breast and rice. I made a few adjustments including sautéing the tomato paste plus spice mixture as that really brings out a smoky flavor and to make it kid friendly I used 1/2 ancho chili powder and 1/2 paprika, omitted th jalapeño and added a little honey to keep the heat down (then my husband and I added chipotle sauce to ours). I have to say that everybody LOVED it and it was so easy to make. I think I will use the leftovers on scrambled eggs and fried potatoes this morning! It is a keeper!

  38. So good! I was looking for something different, to spice up taco Tuesday and this mole was it!!!!! Thanks so much Ali!

  39. Well, let me just say..I was skeptical. What a lovely surprise! I’ve been married to a Mexican who’s absolute favorite dish is Molé. I was very short on time this evening as I got home from work @5:30. Dinner was on the table by 6:15 and he LOVED it. Ate 2 plates including lots of tortillas. I made it exactly except no almond butter so I used chunky peanut butter.. and chicken broth. It was delicious! I served it with grilled boneless chicken breasts, rice, and a simple salad of greens and avocado. Did I mention we own a popular taqueria in a Hispanic neighborhood? Well. Definitely better than the Molé paste most people use from a jar..Thanks for this. I’m putting the leftovers on pork tomorrow night!

  40. I’m making this rn, peanut butter jar is empty, cocoa powder expired!!….seriously, can I use 2 Reese cups instead?

    • I wouldn’t worry about expired cocoa powder. If you look at the package it probably says “best used by,” which is not at all the same thing as “expired.” Like spices, it’s totally safe to use, although there might be slight loss of flavor.

  41. This is my go to recipe when I want some quick mole! I love it and everybody that I’ve made it for has loved it!! It is so quick and easy but still tastes like an authentic cook 6 to 12 hour long mole.

  42. Excellent sauce. However you comment on chili powder being cayenne is incorrect. Chili powder is actually Ancho powder.

  43. I’ve been looking for a way to recreate the mole enchiladas I had in Playa del Carmen on vacation, and this sauce did just that! It was so yummy. Plus it was quick and easy, making for a great weeknight dinner. Thanks for a fantastic recipe!

  44. Ali this was amazing! I made a double batch and froze the extra. I moved to Northern Michigan and was missing Arizona Mexican food during the pandemic. This was very close to Arizona Mexican and I’m getting ready to make another double batch. Can’t say enough on how great the Mole turned out. Thank you!!!

  45. I was so excited to try this. My instincts said 1 tsp of sea salt was too much, but I put it in there anyway. Ruined the entire pot. Inedible. Salt complete took over. I feel sorry for myself because it looks good and smells good and it was way more than 20 minutes of work.

  46. What Gluten free Flour mix were you recommending? the link seems broken:
    Want to make it gluten-free? (YES) Either use a GF all-purpose flour blend that performs well with a roux (like this one).
    (like this one doesn’t go anywhere when clicked. would you mind posting here which flour you were suggesting?

  47. I have always been intimidated by mole, but it’s on my list of sauces to try. I made this almost exactly as described, with the peanut butter substitution and twice the garlic (typical for me). It was amazing poured over rotisserie chicken for mole chicken tacos (with quick pickled onions/jalapenos and cotija cheese on corn tortillas). I can’t wait to use the rest in enchiladas and other dishes! The richness of flavor is extremely impressive for such a quick and easy sauce.

    As a side note, this website has been an absolute godsend during the pandemic for me: I have used it for quiche, focaccia, and so many other basics. Thank you!

  48. Nice! I make almost the same, but use toasted sesame oil for the nutty element.

  49. This worked very well. I tinkered a little with the recipe by just using 2 cups of broth since I prefer my mole a little thicker, anyway. Also, I added 1 tsp of chipotle powder to the chili powder. Replacing half the chili powder with chipotle would have made it unedibly hot. I doubled the cocoa and was heavy on the cumin. I gave it about a quarter tsp of coriander. Also, I used garlic infused oil instead of garlic, but added some Asian-style fried garlic as well. I will definitely use this basic recipe again and continue to tinker with it.

  50. I’m allergic to almonds… is there a way I could substitute with something else? Such as peanut butter or cashew butter?