Does Mole Sauce Have Dairy? (Fully Explained)

Mole sauce is a beloved staple in Mexican cuisine, known for its rich and complex flavor profile. But for those with dietary restrictions, such as a dairy-free diet, the question arises: does mole sauce contain dairy?

With its long list of ingredients and various regional variations, it can be difficult to determine whether or not this iconic sauce is safe for those avoiding dairy.

In this article, we’ll explore the traditional ingredients of mole sauce and examine whether or not dairy is typically included. So, if you’re a fan of this delicious sauce but are unsure if it fits into your dietary needs, keep reading to find out!

Does Mole Sauce Have Dairy?

The answer to whether or not mole sauce contains dairy is not a straightforward one. While some recipes for mole sauce do include dairy products, such as cream or milk, many traditional mole sauces do not.

The base of mole sauce is typically made from a mixture of dried chiles, spices, and other ingredients such as nuts, seeds, and fruits. These ingredients are then blended together to create a thick paste, which is then simmered with water or broth until it reaches the desired consistency.

While some mole sauces may include dairy products as a thickener or to add richness, many traditional recipes use other ingredients such as bread or masa (corn dough) to achieve the same effect.

It’s important to note that if you’re dining out at a restaurant or purchasing pre-made mole sauce, it’s always best to check with the chef or manufacturer to determine if dairy is included in the recipe.

What Is Mole Sauce?

Mole sauce is a traditional sauce and marinade used in Mexican cuisine. The word “mole” comes from the Nahuatl word “mōlli,” which means “sauce.” The sauce is made by grinding ingredients together in a molcajete or communal mill, or using a food processor, to create a thick paste. The paste typically includes a mixture of dried chiles, spices, and other ingredients such as nuts, seeds, and fruits.

There are several variations of mole sauce, and the ingredients can vary depending on the type of mole being made. However, there are seven main types of mole sauces that are commonly known: Mole Poblano, Mole Negro, Mole Coloradito, Mole Amarillo, Mole Chichilo, Mole Verde, and Mole Manchamantel.

Mole sauces can range in color from brownish-red to almost black, depending on the ingredients used. Some common ingredients found in mole sauces include chili peppers, black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, chocolate (in some types), pumpkin seeds, and coriander.

Mole sauce is typically served with meat dishes such as braised pork or beef. It can also be used as a topping for enchiladas or served with seafood and vegetables. Mole sauce is known for its rich and complex flavor profile that combines sweet, savory, and spicy elements.

Traditional Ingredients Of Mole Sauce

Traditional mole sauce is a complex mixture of ingredients, with each recipe varying slightly based on the region and the cook’s personal preferences. However, there are certain ingredients that are commonly found in most mole sauces.

The five main categories of ingredients in mole sauce are chiles, sour, sweet, spices, and thickeners. At least two types of chiles are typically used to give the sauce its signature heat and flavor. Tomatoes or tomatillos provide the sour component, while dried fruits or sugar add sweetness to balance out the spice. Spices such as cinnamon, cumin, and black pepper are used to enhance the overall flavor profile. Finally, thickeners such as bread, nuts, or seeds are added to give the sauce its thick and velvety texture.

Some specific ingredients commonly found in different types of mole sauces include:

– Mole Negro: at least three types of dried chiles, smoky whole spices, hoja santa (a Mexican herb), and dark unsweetened chocolate.

– Mole Poblano: pasilla chiles, chocolate, pumpkin seeds, and coriander.

– Mole de Cacahuate: ground peanuts.

– Mole Dulce: bananas and plantains.

– Pipián: ground squash seeds.

– Mole Verde: fresh herbs and tomatillos.

It’s worth noting that some mole sauces may also contain non-traditional ingredients such as apples and pineapples (in Mole Manchamanteles) or avocado (in guacamole mole). However, these variations are less common in traditional mole sauces.

Dairy In Mole Sauce: Common Variations

If you’re looking to make mole sauce at home and want to avoid dairy, there are several common variations that are typically dairy-free. Mole Poblano, one of the most popular types of mole sauce, traditionally does not contain dairy. This rich and flavorful sauce is made with a blend of dried chiles, spices, nuts, and seeds, and is often served with chicken or other meats.

Another popular dairy-free variation is Mole Negro, which gets its dark color and rich flavor from ingredients like dried chiles, smoky spices, hoja santa (a Mexican herb), and dark unsweetened chocolate. This sauce is typically served with chicken or pork.

Mole Amarillo is another dairy-free option that is made with dried guajillo chiles and other spices. It’s often served with meat, seafood, or vegetables.

Mole Verde is a fresh and vibrant green sauce made with cilantro, pumpkin seeds, jalapeños, and tomatillos. This sauce is perfect for topping chicken breast or thighs and is also dairy-free.

It’s important to note that while these common variations of mole sauce are typically dairy-free, it’s always best to check the specific recipe or ask the chef if you’re unsure. With so many delicious variations of mole sauce to choose from, it’s easy to find one that fits your dietary needs and preferences.

Dairy-Free Mole Sauce Recipes

For those who are lactose intolerant or vegan, there are plenty of dairy-free mole sauce recipes available that still capture the complex and delicious flavors of traditional mole.

One option is to simply omit any dairy products from a traditional mole recipe and use alternative thickeners such as masa or bread crumbs. Another option is to use vegetable broth instead of chicken or beef broth, which may contain dairy products.

Here is a simple recipe for a dairy-free mole sauce:


– 4 dried ancho chiles

– 2 dried guajillo chiles

– 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

– 1/4 cup sesame seeds

– 1/4 cup almonds

– 1/4 cup raisins

– 1/2 onion, chopped

– 3 garlic cloves, chopped

– 1 tsp cinnamon

– 1 tsp cumin

– 1 tsp coriander

– 1 tsp dried oregano

– 2 cups vegetable broth

– 2 tbsp olive oil


1. Toast the chiles in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes per side.

2. Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and soak them in hot water for 20 minutes.

3. In the same skillet, toast the pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and almonds until golden brown.

4. In a blender or food processor, combine the soaked chiles, toasted seeds and nuts, raisins, onion, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, oregano, and vegetable broth. Blend until smooth.

5. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the mole sauce and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Serve over your favorite meats or vegetables.

With this recipe and others like it, you can enjoy the rich flavors of mole sauce without any dairy products. Experiment with different ingredients and spices to create your own unique version of this classic Mexican dish.

Tips For Finding Dairy-Free Mole Sauce In Restaurants.

If you’re looking for dairy-free mole sauce while dining out, there are a few tips to keep in mind.

First, be sure to ask your server or the chef if the mole sauce contains any dairy products. If they’re unsure or don’t have an answer, it’s best to err on the side of caution and choose a different dish.

Second, look for restaurants that specialize in traditional Mexican cuisine, as they’re more likely to use authentic recipes that don’t include dairy.

Third, consider ordering a side of plain rice or beans to mix with the mole sauce instead of using it as a main dish. This can help dilute any potential dairy ingredients and make the dish more enjoyable for those with allergies or intolerances.

Finally, if you’re making mole sauce at home and want to ensure it’s dairy-free, look for recipes that use alternative thickeners such as bread or masa. And if you’re using pre-made mole sauce from the store, be sure to read the label carefully to check for any dairy ingredients.

By following these tips, you can enjoy delicious and authentic mole sauce without worrying about any potential dairy allergens.