Mole Sauce taste test

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Have you ever had Mole (pronounced mo-lay) sauce?  It’s a Mexican sauce that comes in many varieties.  Mole Poblano, which is a dark sauce with about twenty ingredients, one of them being chocolate is most common in the states.  I’ve also seen this particular sauce called Mole Negro due to its dark color from the chocolate.  I’ve always loved Mole but don’t see it on a lot of Mexican restaurants.  I knew I wanted to do something with this sauce for October since it has chocolate in it.

For some reason making mole has always seemed intimidating.  One day soon I want to make it but in the meantime I’ll be using store-bought. To find the one we like best, Derek and I did a taste test of every kind we could find locally.  I am sharing those results with you, so if you don’t have time to make your own sauce you can use one of these!  Stay tuned Friday for a recipe that uses Mole. 🙂

Between the Mexican grocery near our house, Mucho Mas, and two other grocery store chains I was able to find four different brands.  I focused on Mole Poblano/Negro and made sure they had some similar ingredients.  Obviously they all had chocolate, but also contained chile pepper, sesame seeds, and tortillas or bread.  We heated up each one and tried them each plain and then on chicken breast. Here are our findings:

Let the taste-testing begin!

  • Doña Maria ($2-$3) – This was one of the sauces I found at the Mucho Mas, but as you can see it’s also available on Amazon and I’ve seen it at Grocery Outlet (I’ve seen it there for only $0.99!) and Safeway stores. The interesting thing about this brand is that it also offers other varieties.  The version we used was the ready to serve (and one-time use), but there is also a version in paste form that you can reconstitute with broth and there is a Mole Verde version (I’ll have to try that sometime!). This brand was the most chocolatey of the four we tried.  It was also the sweetest.  While I enjoyed the flavor, I don’t think I would want a full serving of it for savory application like on chicken or something.  I think it would make an interesting ingredient in a BBQ sauce or maybe a frosting?  However, it was a good value so it would do for a “regular” mole use in a pinch.


  • Frontera Brand Mole Skillet sauce ($2)- I found this sauce at Safeway, but have also seen it at Target and other grocery chains. This pouch is a one-time use also.  It was my least favorite of the four.  The flavor was the saltiest and wasn’t very complex even though it was spicy.  While this one is easy to find, I would avoid it if you can.


  • Rancho La California ($6)- This is the other one I found at Mucho Mas and I knew I was in for something good when the woman behind the counter said it’s the one that’s the most popular.  This tub will be good for probably 5-6 uses so it’s a great value.  The mole was in the form of a paste that you dilute in a hot stock (we used chicken, but veggie would work too).  This one was my favorite!  It was on the verge of being too spicy (you know how wimpy I am), but was still full of flavor.  It was right in between sweet and salty and there was a hint of chocolate flavor. I could also taste a hint of the raisins in it, which gave the sweetness an interesting depth.  One thing to watch our for when using this we learned though was to use utensils that don’t stain easily.  Don’t use a wooden spoon to stir it or that utensil will forever be marked.


  • Bunches & Bunches Dried Mole sauce ($10-$13)- This was definitely the “fancy” mole brand, made locally in Oregon. This one was Derek’s favorite. Personally, I didn’t like the flavor as well as Ranch La California and didn’t think it was worth the price.  One nice thing about this one was that it was already ready to use, but just needed to be heated and you could probably get two uses out of it, depending on what you’re doing with it. It had the most chile flavor (it had three different types listed in the list of ingredients) and was the thickest of the four.  I think I just found all the chile flavor blocked out the flavor of everything else in it.  There were almonds, raisins and many other ingredients but all I tasted was chile pepper.

So there you go. Is there another brand you really like that we missed?  What’s your favorite way to use Mole?  Don’t forget to check back Friday for that recipe with Mole in it!



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