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tamales with mole

How to Make Tamales with Mole

Tamales with Mole are a traditional Mexican dish that combines the soft, steamed texture of tamales with the rich and complex flavors of mole sauce.

Texture-wise, tamales are made from masa (a dough made from cornmeal), filled with various ingredients such as shredded meats, cheese, vegetables, or beans. The masa is spread onto a corn husk, filled with the desired ingredients, then folded and steamed. This results in a soft, moist, and slightly dense texture with a delightful corn flavor from the masa.

Mole sauce, as mentioned earlier, is a thick and rich sauce made from a variety of ingredients, including chili peppers, chocolate, nuts, spices, and sometimes fruits. It has a velvety texture and a complex flavor profile that balances sweetness, spiciness, and depth.

When served together, tamales with mole are prepared by spreading a generous amount of the mole sauce over the cooked tamales. The combination results in a harmonious blend of textures and tastes—the tender and slightly dense masa of the tamales contrasts beautifully with the creamy and flavorful mole sauce.

Tamales with mole are often served during special occasions or holidays in Mexico. They showcase the culinary tradition and expertise involved in making both the tamales and the intricate mole sauce, offering a delicious and comforting meal packed with layers of flavors and textures.

Key Takeaways

  • Who this dish appeals to: Those seeking an authentic taste of Mexico, tamale enthusiasts, anyone ready to savor the depth of flavor in mole.
  • Estimated duration: A labor of love that takes approximately 3-4 hours from preparation to serving.
  • Nutrition facts: A hearty and fulfilling dish featuring the goodness of masa and the boldness of mole.

About this Recipe

Tamales with Mole is a time-honored dish that brings together the art of tamale-making with the intricate flavors of mole sauce. This recipe guides you through the process, ensuring a perfect balance of moist tamale masa and the velvety richness of mole.



  • 2 cups masa harina (corn masa flour)
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Corn husks, soaked in warm water for at least 30 minutes

Mole Sauce:

  • 4 dried ancho chilies, stemmed and seeded
  • 4 dried guajillo chilies, stemmed and seeded
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • Salt to taste


  • Shredded cooked chicken or vegetable filling of your choice


Making the Tamales:

  1. Prepare Masa Dough:
  • In a large bowl, combine masa harina, chicken or vegetable broth, lard or vegetable shortening, baking powder, and salt.
  • Mix until a soft and spreadable dough forms.
  1. Assemble Tamales:
  • Take a soaked corn husk and spread a thin layer of masa dough in the center, leaving space at the edges.
  • Add a spoonful of the chosen filling (shredded chicken or vegetables) down the center of the masa.
  1. Fold and Tie:
  • Fold the sides of the corn husk over the filling, then fold the top and bottom to enclose the tamale.
  • Tie each tamale with strips of soaked corn husks.
  1. Steam Tamales:
  • Arrange the tamales in a steamer basket, open side up.
  • Steam for 1.5 to 2 hours until the masa is cooked and firm.

Making the Mole Sauce:

  1. Prepare Chili Paste:
  • In a dry skillet, toast ancho and guajillo chilies until fragrant.
  • Blend the toasted chilies with raisins, sesame seeds, and almonds until a smooth paste forms.
  1. Sauté Aromatics:
  • In a saucepan, heat vegetable oil. Sauté chopped white onion and minced garlic until softened.
  1. Add Spice and Chocolate:
  • Add ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground cumin, and ground coriander to the sautéed aromatics.
  • Stir in the chili paste, chicken or vegetable broth, and chopped unsweetened chocolate.
  1. Simmer:
  • Simmer the mole sauce for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens.
  • Season with salt to taste.


  1. Unwrap and Serve:
  • Unwrap the steamed tamales and serve them drizzled with the rich mole sauce.
  1. Garnish and Enjoy:
    • Garnish with sesame seeds and chopped cilantro, and savor the delightful combination of Tamales with Mole.

Side Suggestions

  • Mexican rice for a complete meal
  • Sour cream or Mexican crema for added richness

Storage Options

Tamales with Mole can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat them gently in a steamer before serving.

Ingredient Substitutes

  • Lard: Vegetable shortening or butter can be used as an alternative.
  • Chicken Broth: Vegetable broth is a suitable substitute.
  • Unsweetened Chocolate: Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content can be used instead.

Alternatives to this Dish

Experiment with different fillings such as pork, beef, or beans for a variety of tamale options. Adjust the cooking time based on the chosen filling.


Tamales with Mole is a testament to the rich tapestry of Mexican cuisine. From the laborious creation of tamales to the depth of flavor in the mole sauce, this dish is a celebration of tradition and taste. ¡Buen provecho!