This paleo and keto Mexican mole sauce is a truly wonderful (and abbreviated!) version of a traditional family recipe. Expect to be blown away!
Keto Mexican Mole Sauce With Chicken 🍗
The Easy Version
Traditional Mexican mole, with an ingredient count anywhere from 20 to 40 ingredients, usually takes a day (or even a few!) to prepare. And know that there’s also an incredible variety in mole recipes, changing drastically from region to region and even from family to family.
This recipe is an abbreviated version of a family recipe (grandmother be turning in her grave!). It’s akin to mole poblano, reddish in hue and with toasted seeds. Though the time is cut drastically from a two-day affair to two hours tops (with only about an hour of active time).
Having said that, the taste is honestly absolutely killer and it’s still so much better than anything you can buy in stores. Plus, this version is also keto, paleo and gluten free.
As mentioned, traditional mole has an exorbitant amount of ingredients. We reduced the count in this recipe from 43 to 21, leaving behind the most important ones (and the ones you’re already likely to have in your pantry).
The one exception perhaps being the chili ancho (pictured below). This chili is the most important ingredient in the sauce, binding all the flavors together into a wonderful symphony. So procuring it is an absolute must. The good news? It’s very common in Mexican supermarkets and even online.
As you may already know, traditional mole is famous for being a chocolate sauce. Made with chocolate tablets from Oaxaca, distinct for their cinnamon hues. These, in all their sugary glory, are most definitely not keto. But we found that substituting them with a dark chocolate (think 70% chips from Lily’s) did a killer job.
Still, to make up for the lack of sugar (also from the missing raisins, plantain or pineapple), you must add a sweetener. We like xylitol best in savory cooking, but Swerve will work too. And if paleo, coconut sugar is ideal.
A great mole is characterized by an incredible depth, and adding smokiness is key to achieve it. The great news is that doing so is very easy. All you have to do is roast the red pepper and tomatoes in your broiler. Or alternatively, hold them with skewers to an open flame in your stove until charred (old school!).
Other than this, you’ll want to lightly toast your chili anchos, nuts, and spices. You won’t believe the incredible depth you achieve by doing this.
And most important, don’t forget to enjoy the process. Making mole is an incredibly rewarding experience, as you work on building the flavors little by little until you’re left with one killer and very special sauce.
This recipe also yields roughly 10 servings of the sauce, so you’ll have plenty of leftovers (ideal!). You can freeze it in portions and use it anywhere from enchiladas to sprucing up a boring chicken.
Just don’t forget to whip up a batch of our grain free keto tortillas, soulmate material for sure!
Easy Keto Mexican Mole Sauce With Chicken
Oh, and if baking with cups rather than grams is your thing, just click on US Cups for an instant conversion.
For the keto mole sauce
- 60 g dried ancho chilis about 3 medium
- 1 large red pepper
- 2 medium plum tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 star anise *
- 2 whole cloves *
- 4 black peppercorns
- 35 g almonds
- 35 g raw unsalted peanuts
- 1-2 tablespoons chipotle powder to taste depending on spiciness desired
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for cooking
- 4 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 2-3 cups chicken broth as needed
- 150 g dark chocolate
- 4-5 tablespoons xylitol or Swerve, to taste
- 1 bay leave
- kosher salt to taste
- 8 skinless bone-in chicken thighs **
- Toast ancho chilis in a skillet or pan over medium heat until softened, 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to overcook them as they'll turn bitter. Remove stems, slice them open and discard seeds. Transfer to a bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 30 minutes.
- If you're doing the roasting under broiler, place an oven rack to the highest position and turn on your broiler to the highest setting. Leave the red pepper whole (you'll have to turn it around a couple times) and slice tomatoes in half. Place in a baking tray and broil until charred and blistered, 5-10 minutes.
- Alternatively, you can go old-school and skewer the tomatoes and red pepper. Charring them in an open flame on your stovetop (think bonfire marshmallows!).
- Transfer the charred tomatoes to blender (skins on) and the red pepper to a sealed plastic bag and set aside to 'sweat'.
- While you're roasting the tomatoes and pepper you can go ahead and start toasting the seeds. Heat up a Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat, add sesame seeds, oregano, cinnamon, cumin seeds, star anise, cloves and peppercorns. Toast, stirring often, until fragrant and lightly golden. Remove from pot and transfer to blender.
- Add almonds and peanuts to Dutch oven and toast until fragrant and deep golden (the skin on the almonds should be lightly blackened). Remove from pot and transfer to blender.
- Heat up 3 tablespoons olive oil in Dutch oven and add in minced garlic and onion. Cook, stirring often, until browned (10-14 minutes). Remove from pot and transfer to blender.
- Drain soaked ancho chilis and transfer to blender. Add chipotle powder and blend until smooth, adding chicken broth as needed to thin out the mix. Taste and season with a touch of salt, being mindful that a few ingredients are still missing and the sauce will reduce substantially. The sesame taste will also be prevalent, but worry not.
- Remove pepper from plastic bag and peel the skin off, discarding it. Remove stem, slice open and remove seeds and veins. Transfer to blender.
- Heat up remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in Dutch oven and add in chicken pieces, seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cook until meat is fully seared from all sides.
- Sieve the mole sauce into the Dutch oven and, once hot, stir in the chocolate, 4 tablespoons of sweetener and a bay leave. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste for sweetness and salt and cook for 20 minutes more. Keep in mind that mole tends to splatter quite a bit while it cooks.
- Serve right away, garnished with toasted sesame seeds. We also love a side of cauliflower rice and a batch of our grain-free keto tortillas is an absolute must!