Oaxacan Turkey Mole Poblano

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Mole poblano is smooth and velvety with a delightfully complex flavor profile. This robust sauce is rustic and smoky, with a mild heat from the chiles and subtle sweetness from the fruit. Transform dinner with this mouthwatering turkey mole!

side view: mole poblano over turkey on a ceramic plate

Oaxacan mole poblano is an intensely flavorful, authentic Mexican dish with roots all the way back to pre-Columbian times. Using local chiles, chocolate, and spices, the Aztecs made the earliest versions of modern-day mole. The recipe evolved as settlers brought new ingredients, making way for the mole poblano recipe we know today. 

Mole poblano is perfect for holiday feasts and works wonderfully as a turkey mole. To save time I’m using leftovers from my Oaxacan Chile Rubbed Roast Turkey, but feel free to use any turkey you prefer.

The recipe is a bit time-consuming, but it is easy to make ahead of time and will yield 3 whole quarts of sauce. I label and date the containers and freeze for mole any time I want. I consider making mole a labor of love and I promise it is worth it!

overhead: mole poblano over turkey on an orange ceramic plate

For other mole recipes, try my Salsa Macha Mole, Pork Mole Negro or this Instant Pot Chicken Mole Tacos recipe. For more Mexican sauce recipes, check out my Adobo Sauce, Apricot Chipotle Sauce, and Enchilada Sauce.

overhead: ingredients needed for mole poblano sauce

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Chiles – This recipe uses 2 types of poblano peppers (mulato and ancho) plus chipotle peppers. Depending on your supermarket, you might find the dried chiles near the produce or in the spice or international aisle. 
  • Vegetables Charred onions, tomatoes, and tomatillos add bright veggie flavor with a smoky touch. 
  • Nuts & Seeds – Roasted almonds, peanuts, and sesame seeds add nutty richness. 
  • Spices – Cinnamon, anise, coriander, and garlic add a spectrum of spicy-sweet, aromatic, and pungent flavors. 
  • Fruit – Plantains, oranges, and raisins add natural sweetness and bright, fruity flavor. 
  • Mexican Chocolate Look for this rustic, bitter chocolate in the baking or international aisle, or take a trip to your local Mexican market.

Tip From Kevin

Can I make Mole ahead of time?

Oaxaca is a state in Mexico as well as a city widely known for it’s mezcal, chocolate, and notably mole! Speaking of moles, which are notoriously time consuming, I’ve got this down to 3.5 hours and it yields 3 whole quarts of sauce. I label and date the extra containers and freeze for mole any time I want. I consider making mole a labor of love and I promise it is worth it!

overhead: mole poblano cooking in a large saucepan

How to Make Mole Poblano

  1. Prepare the Grill. Preheat your oven or grill to 450 degrees F. 
  2. Process the Chiles. Remove the seeds and stems from the dried chiles. If needed, toast the less pliable ones in a hot skillet for 2-3 minutes to make things easier. If possible, break apart fresher peppers with your hands. 
  3. Soak the Chiles. Transfer the chiles to a large bowl, cover them with boiling water, and cover the bowl with a plate. Keep the chiles submerged for about 20 minutes, or as long as it takes to soften them. 
  4. Roast the Veggies. In the meantime, place the onion, tomato, and tomatillo on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes on the middle rack of the oven. Alternatively, you can roast them on clean grill grates. Turn halfway through to char on both sides. 
  5. Combine & Purée. Transfer the roasted veggies to a blender or food processor along with the garlic, peeled oranges, plantain, raisins, cinnamon, and 2 cups of chicken broth. Purée until smooth, then strain the mixture into a large soup pot, slow cooker, or Dutch oven. 
  6. Purée the Chiles. Drain the chiles, making sure to reserve the soaking liquid. Place the softened chiles in a blender or food processor along with 2 cups of the soaking liquid, then purée. Strain the mixture into the same pot as the puréed vegetables, pressing down with a spoon to help extract. Discard any solids.  
  7. Toast the Seeds. Toast the sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts, coriander, and anise seeds in a large skillet over medium heat until lightly golden and fragrant. Combine with the corn tortillas and remaining 2 cups of chicken broth in a blender or food processor. Purée, then add to the pot with the other ingredients. 
  8. Stir & Simmer. Reduce the heat to low, stir in 2 cups of water, and simmer for 2 hours. If you are using your slow cooker with the lid on, 2 hours on the High setting will do the trick. 
  9. Add the Chocolate. After 2 hours, stir in the chocolate pieces and salt to taste. Let the mole simmer for another 30 minutes.
  10. Serve. Spoon the Oaxacan mole poblano over your meat of choice, topped with sesame seeds, chopped onion, and cilantro.
side view: turkey poblano on an orange ceramic plate with fresh parsley on top

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is this mole poblano recipe hot?

Oaxacan mole poblano is mildly spicy but not hot. This may seem surprising since there are 3 different types of chile peppers included in the recipe. Don’t be alarmed — these chile varieties deliver much more flavor than outright heat.

Mulato and ancho chiles are both types of poblano peppers with more smoky sweetness than heat. Chipotle peppers are a bit spicier, but you’ll find their heat is balanced with the other robust flavors in the sauce. 

If you prefer a spicier sauce, you are always welcome to toss in your hot pepper of choice.

What do I serve with mole poblano?

This mole poblano recipe is perfect for dressing up any of your favorite meats, tacos, and more. Here are a few recipes that a dash of mole might make a little bit better:

– Use in place of gravy for Roasted Turkey.
– Spoon over Grilled Chicken, Steak, or Pork. 
– Add mole to your favorite Tacos, Tostadas, or nachos.  
– Try in your next batch of Mole Enchiladas
– Mix some into Red Rice, Refried Beans, and other sides.

Can I make turkey mole ahead of time?

Yes! This mole poblano can be prepared up to a week ahead of time. Let it cool completely, transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator. Once you are ready to serve, reheat in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring in a bit of broth if needed. 

You can also freeze your mole sauce in freezer-safe containers for up to 4 months.

closeup: turkey mole with sesame seeds and fresh parsley on top
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Turkey Mole Poblano

This mole poblano is an authentic Mexican sauce made with chiles, veggies, fruits, and nuts in a smooth, spicy chocolate sauce.
Servings: 12
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total: 3 hours 50 minutes


Chile Puree

  • 4 oz dried mulato chiles
  • 4 oz dried ancho chiles pasilla ancho
  • 1 chipotle chile canned with adobo sauce
  • Vegetables
  • 2 large yellow onions peeled and quartered
  • 1 lb tomatoes cut in halves
  • 1 lb tomatillos husked and rinsed


  • 2 corn tortillas
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • ½ cup roasted almonds
  • ½ cup roasted peanuts
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp anise seeds



  • 2 cooked turkey breasts sliced crosswise about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 white onion diced
  • 1 bunch cilantro chopped
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds


  • Preheat grill or oven to 450°F or char vegetables under the broiler.
  • Remove stems and seeds from dried chiles and break into pieces if really fresh and pliable. If less pliable, lightly toast in hot skillet for 2-3 minutes first, then remove stems and seeds.
  • Place dried chiles in a large bowl, cover with boiling water and cover with plate to keep submerged. Let stand until softened, 20 minutes.
  • Place onion, tomatoes, tomatillos on foil lined baking sheet (on middle rack) or on clean grill grates and grill for 20 minutes (while chiles soak), charring on both sides (OR under the broiler of your oven). Transfer all to blender or food processor and add the garlic, peeled oranges, plantain, raisins, cinnamon and 2 cups chicken broth. Puree then pour through a strainer into a large soup pot, Dutch oven or slow cooker.
  • Drain chiles, reserving chile liquid. Transfer soaked chiles to blender or food processor and purée with chipotle and 2 cups soaking liquid. Pour through a strainer into pot (or slow cooker) along with pureed charred vegetables, pressing with a spatula to extract pulp and discard any remaining residue.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts, coriander and anise seeds until lightly golden and fragrant. Transfer to blender or food processor and puree with torn tortillas and 2 cups remaining chicken broth. Add to the pot (or slow cooker) with vegetables and chili purees. Stir in 2 cups of water and simmer on Low for 2 hours (or 2 hours on High if using slow cooker with lid on).
  • After 2 hours, stir in chocolate pieces and season with salt to taste. Simmer another 30 minutes and serve over meat of choice with sesame seeds, chopped onion and cilantro on top.


This mole poblano makes 3 quarts (12 cups). Be sure to label and date freezer containers, good to freeze for 4 months.


Calories: 420kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 612mg | Potassium: 1225mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 5624IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 180mg | Iron: 4mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Dinners
Cuisine: Mexican
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): Oaxacan turkey mole poblano


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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