Yellow Mole Sauce

  • Serves

    makes 6 cups

Oaxaca, Mexico, is famous for its seven classic moles, each of which has a different color and a distinctive flavor all its own. This mole is particularly versatile—we've tried it over chicken and potatoes, as a sauce for tamales, and thinned into a broth with boiled beef, green beans, and potatoes.


  • 10 dried guajillo chiles, washed
  • 12 tsp. annatto seeds (achiote)
  • 1 tsp. ground canela (Mexican cinnamon)
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 12 tsp. cumin seed
  • 12 tsp. dry Mexican oregano, toasted
  • 1 tsp. Mexican saffron
  • 2 tbsp. corn oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 8 tomatillos, ripe and yellow, husked
  • 1 small ripe tomato
  • 4 yerba santa leaves
  • 6 cups Chicken Stock
  • 12-1 cups masa harina
  • 12 tsp. salt


Step 1

Wash chiles, and remove stems and seeds. Heat a cast-iron skillet and toast chiles lightly on all sides. Remove skillet from heat, add annatto and 2 cups of very hot water, and soften for 20 minutes.

Step 2

Using a spice mill or mortar and pestle, finely grind canela, cloves, cumin, oregano, and saffron. In a heavy nonstick pan, heat 1 tbsp. of the oil over medium-high heat and saute garlic and onions until golden and tender. Add tomatillos and tomato and continue to cook until browned and soft.

Step 3

Combine chiles (reserve soaking water), annatto, ground spices, garlic, onion, tomatillos, tomato, yerba santa, and process through the food grinder attachment of an electric mixer or a blender. Work in small batches, and if using the electric mixer, make several passes through the food grinder. Grind into a thick, smooth paste using the chiles' soaking water to thin.

Step 4

Heat remaining 1 tbsp. oil in a nonstick pan and fry paste over medium heat until fragrant, slightly golden on all surfaces, and very thick, about 30 minutes—longer if necessary for consistency. You should have a toasty-looking smooth paste. Cool and refrigerate or freeze.

Step 5

Combine mole paste with chicken stock or water and simmer uncovered for 2 hours. Add masa harina dissolved in a little water to add silky thickening. Season to taste with salt.

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