Yellow Mole with Chicken

4 servings



total time


3-4 medium guajillo chilies (¼ ounce), stemmed and seeded

Boiling water

2-2 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts or thighs, skin removed, breasts halved crosswise, if using

1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

6 tomatillos (about 10 ounces), husked

1 medium plum tomato, cored

1/2 medium white onion, peeled and halved, root end intact

3 medium garlic cloves, peeled

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

6 6-inch corn tortillas, torn into rough 1-inch pieces, plus warm tortillas to serve

Roughly chopped fresh cilantro, to serve

Lime wedges, to serve


Put the chilies in a heatproof bowl and add boiling water to cover. Let stand to soften while you cook the chicken and char the vegetables.

In a large saucepan, combine the chicken, oregano, ½ teaspoon of the cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and 6 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until a skewer inserted into the chicken meets just a little resistance, about 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a large plate; set aside. Remove the pan from the heat; cover to keep the broth warm.

While the chicken cooks, heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high until water flicked onto the surface immediately sizzles and evaporates. Put the tomatillos, tomato, onion and garlic in the pot; cook, turning occasionally, until charred and softened, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a blender jar as they are done. When all have been charred, set the pot aside.

Drain the chilies and add them to the blender with the vegetables, along with ½ teaspoon salt. Blend on high until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping the blender jar as needed.

In the same Dutch oven over medium, combine the oil, the remaining ½ teaspoon cumin and the cloves. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Carefully add the puree (it may splatter); reserve the blender jar. Cook, scraping up any browned bits, until thickened and deepened in color, about 10 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of the warm broth, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add the tortillas to the now-empty blender along with 1 cup warm broth. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften, stirring after a couple minutes to ensure even soaking, then puree on high until smooth, about 1 minute.

Stir the tortilla puree into the sauce in the Dutch oven and return to a simmer. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices; cook, uncovered and occasionally turning the chicken, until a skewer meets no resistance and the sauce clings, about 15 minutes. Off heat, taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with cilantro, lime wedges and warm tortillas.


Of the seven types of Oaxacan mole, yellow mole, or mole amarillo, is one of the lightest and brightest in flavor. It’s also one of the easiest to make and is adaptable, pairing well with different meats, seafood and vegetables. The color of the sauce often is orangey-red rather than yellow; this is because the variety of dried yellow chili traditionally used to make the dish is hard to source outside of Oaxaca, so more widely available dried red chilies, such as guajillo, are used instead. We char tangy tomatillos, savory-sweet plum tomato and fragrant alliums, then blend them with the softened chilies to form the flavor base. Masa, the dough used to make corn tortillas, or masa harina, the corn flour often used to make masa, is the typical thickener for yellow mole; in addition to body, it brings sweet, minerally notes. For ease, we thicken ours with corn tortillas that have been briefly softened in the chicken broth, then pureed.

4 servings



total time
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