Mole de Olla

I don’t think twice about eating a hot stew in the summertime. And, as far as I know, millions of Mexicans feel the same way.

You will see Pozole served in fondas in the middle of June, hot Caldo de Camarón as one of the most popular items on beach restaurant menus, and the famed Mole de Olla being ladled, sizzling hot from the pot, in markets all over the country at peak midday heat.

I’ve read that having something hot in the summer will actually cool you off. It turns out chiles are thought to have the same effect.  All these Mexican stews, quoted above, have rich broths that are usually flavored with one or more kinds of chiles.

I find these kinds of one-pot meals to be the epitome of how practical and creative human beings can be: economical, filling, and so tasty, they have all you need for a meal in a bowl. All cultures have their ways of making stews. In Mexico, Mole de Olla is a dearly loved one, and it is a dish that, unfortunately, hasn’t become popular abroad… yet.

Mole de Olla has little to do with the mole sauce so many people outside of Mexico equate with Mole Poblano. That delicious, super thick sauce made of dried chiles, seeds, nuts, spices, tomatoes, onion, garlic, chocolate, and numerous other ingredients ground together. Mole de Olla, however, (translates as Mole in a pot) is a revered stew.

As with many of the Mexican stews, the first step for a Mole de Olla is making a broth with the meat, along with some onion, garlic, and herbs. I particularly like to add fresh mint to mine. The meat is cooked until it is practically coming apart, and the broth is as flavorful as can be. The simmered herbs and veggies are removed, as by then they will be extremely mushy and most of their flavor transferred to the broth.

The second step is to take that rich-tasting broth to a higher dimension of flavor. A seasoning sauce is made with ancho and pasilla chiles, toasted sesame seeds, and tomatoes. Usually, xoconostles (a very tart and sour fruit of the cactus plant) are used, but since they are quite hard to find in the US, I substitute for tomatillos, which are tart, not as sour as xoconostles, but hey, they do the trick. The meat broth then simmers a second time as it marries with the seasoning sauce, adding so much depth of flavor: a gentle but addicting heat, a lovely acidity, and a whisper of nuttiness.

As a third step, fresh veggies are added. Corn, zucchini, chayote squash, green beans…but this time, the veggies are cooked just until tender and crisp and also full of flavor.

mole de olla

Mole de Olla is a humble dish. A stew made with a piece of meat and fresh veggies that are available year round. Yet, it turns out to be a full blown delicious meal. As anything Mexican, once it is set on the table and everyone gets a share of succulent meat, a lot of deep-tasting broth, and a share of all the veggies, extra garnishes are set on the table to dress it up and enhance the dish even more. You get a chance to squeeze in fresh lime juice to brighten up the stew, and you also get to spoon on crunchy and pungent white onion and cilantro.

This stew is a joy to eat. People eat it almost in a ceremonial fashion. Each person with a set style of their own. Some people eat the corn first, some people leave it for last. Some people first finish the broth and then go for the meat and veggies, or tuck them into tacos.

I eat a bit of everything as I move along. But one thing is definite: once I start, I don’t stop for a second, not even to look around. I sip a little broth, take a spoon with some veggies, some meat, more broth, and with my hands I take some bites of the corn… until there is almost absolutely nothing left in the bowl. At this point, I raise the bowl to finish the last sips of broth.

Then I wish for another go, just to repeat the experience. Though I always realize I am full, content, and feel so at home.

P.S. Fall is around the corner, and guess what, Mole de Olla is also fabulous for cold nights. So don’t store this recipe for the summer, keep it out, all year round.

mole de olla

Beef and Veggie Mole Stew

Mole de Olla

Recipe Yield

6 to 8 servings

Cooking time

1 hour 40 minutes

Rate this recipe

4.15 from 7 votes


  • 3 pounds beef stew meat or beef shank meat cut into 1 1/2-inch to 2-inch chunks and bones added to the pot
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 large sprig of fresh mint or between 10 and 12 leaves
  • 3 dried ancho chiles stemmed and seeded
  • 3 dried pasilla chiles stemmed and seeded
  • 1 pound (about 4) ripe tomatoes preferably Roma
  • 1/4 pound (about 1 or 2 depending on size) tomatillos
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds lightly toasted
  • 2 chayote squashes peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
  • 1 large zucchini cubed (about 3 cups)
  • 3/4 pound green beans trimmed and cut into about 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 3 ears of fresh corn husked and cut into thirds
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped white onion for garnish
  • 3/4 cup Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
  • 3-4 limes quartered, for garnish

To Prepare

  • In a large heavy-bottomed casserole or pot, place the meat, half onion, garlic cloves, bay leaves, mint and a tablespoon of salt. Cover with 10 cups of water and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface, and reduce the heat to low or medium-low heat, cover and simmer for an hour.
  • Meanwhile, place the ancho and pasilla chiles in a medium bowl, cover with boiling water and let them rehydrate for 10 to 15 minutes. Place the tomatoes and tomatillos in baking dish under the broiler, until they are completely charred and mushy, about 10 minutes. In a small skillet set over medium heat, place the sesame seeds and toast, stirring constantly, anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes until they start to become golden brown, but not completely dark brown.
  • In the jar of a blender, place the soaked chiles, along with 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid, the broiled tomatoes and tomatillos, and the toasted sesame seeds, and puree until completely smooth.
  • Remove the lid from the large casserole, remove the cooked onion, mint and garlic cloves (if some remains, it is totally fine) and pour the chile mixture in with the meat. Stir, cover again and cook for another half hour.
  • Remove the lid, raise heat to medium heat, add the cubed chayote squash and the corn, and cook partially covered for 15 minutes. Add the green beans and zucchini, and cook partially covered for another 10 minutes. Taste for salt and add more if need be.
  • Serve in bowls, making sure that each bowl has a serving of meat, corn, chayote, green beans and zucchini. Place white onion, cilantro and halved limes at the table, for people to add as last seasonings and garnishes.
  • Note: Traditionally, this recipe uses xoconostles, which are hard to find in the US. Instead, I use tomatillos, which have a similar tart flavor.


85comments inMole de Olla

  1. Petra Vega

    Feb 02

    I loved this! It was a tiny bit spicier than I thought, but I love it. I am likely going to boil some peeled potatoes on the side, because I am a sucker for broth and it expands the meal for people with big tummies ☺️. I cooked it exactly as is. Thank you!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Feb 03

      Yummy, great idea Petra, enjoy!

  2. Maria Coria

    Nov 19

    Hola Pati,

    El Mole de Olla me trae increíbles recuerdos de mi infancia. Por primera vez lo voy a hacer en mi vida y tengo miedo jajaja. ¿Alguna recomendación para mi, como primeriza en la cocina? Voy a seguir al pie de la letra tus instrucciones. ¡Muchas gracias Pati, eres increíble chef!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Dec 28

      Hola Maria, te animaste a hacer el Mole? El primer consejo es no tener miedo, jaja, veras que no es tan dificil. Un abrazo!

  3. Anonymous

    Mar 30

    This is so delicious and rich without simmering all day. I had dried xoconostles from Rancho Gordo. Looking forward to making this again!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 11

      So glad you liked it, Mole de Olla is so rich and comforting 😉

  4. Sonia from Los Angeles

    Oct 05

    Hi Patty,
    Loved the recipe. My children are bi-racial Mexican and Black. I am a Mexican American that loves to incorporate my traditions in their life. I love that you teach them history, travel, and love for food. Thank you . God bless.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Oct 07

      Thanks Sonia for the feedback and for sharing my recipes with your family. Hugs to all 😉

  5. Kyle from Chicago

    Jun 12

    Very hearty and yummy. The family liked it a lot. I found xocoxtles which I used instead of tomatillos. The best part was eating the corn off the cob – which absorbed all the mole flavor. It’s a winner that I will make again.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jun 18

      Yay Kyle! Loved that you guys enjoy the Mole de Olla, it is such an amazing dish, bravo 😉

  6. Javier

    Feb 10

    Fantastic. Mole the olla my favorito

    1. Pati Jinich

      Feb 10

      And mine 🙂

  7. Christine

    Jan 28

    So delicious, hardy and filling. More like a stew than a soup. Deep, satisfying flavor. And it makes a lot — after feeding 6 people, we had soup for four more a couple of days later. Gets better as it sits!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jan 31

      You are absolutely right Christine, Mole de Olla is delicious and utterly satisfying!

  8. Aga

    Sep 22

    I LOVE this recipe! I’ve made it with potatoes as well, to make it more filling.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Sep 24

      That’s a great addition, Aga!

  9. Stephen

    May 19

    Rainy day here in the Los Angeles area, made this for my wife. We love it, so flavorful and perfect for a day like today… Thank you Pati for sharing these recipes….

    1. Pati Jinich

      May 20

      Oh I hope you guys are staying cozy inside with the mole.

  10. Manda

    Mar 05

    Can oxtails be used in this

    1. Pati

      Mar 06

      Go for it, Manda!

  11. Maria Perez

    Mar 11

    Gracias Pati por la receta. Toda la familia encantó!

    1. Pati

      Mar 12


  12. Joanna

    Feb 05

    Love your show Pati – its broadcast here in Australia. I was so happy when I found the dried chilis in my continental fruit and veg market and I am trying this recipe tomorrow!!! so excited to task some authentic Mexican comfort food.
    Wish me luck 🙂

    1. Pati

      Feb 05

      That’s awesome! I hope you love the mole, Joanna, and good luck!

  13. marie jackson

    Oct 14

    i cant waite to try this!! i will let u know how it turns out.ty for your show

    1. Pati

      Oct 20

      I hope you enjoy it Marie!

  14. Bridget

    Aug 31

    Just made your fabulous Molé de Olla recipe, Pati! My husband has already declared this a “signature” dish! We love your wonderful program and look forward to many more seasons.

    1. Pati

      Sep 07

      Oh thank you so much Bridget!

  15. Gloria

    Aug 22

    My daughter introduced me to your page.
    My grandmother mother, 1st generation Mexican from Jalisco. I look forward to seeing more dishes like Tanajes, and Mole de Olla

    1. Pati

      Aug 23

      I’m so happy you found me Gloria!

  16. Rod

    Nov 07

    Looks great. I want to try a vegetarian version though – any suggestions on how to compensate?

    1. Pati

      Nov 22

      ​Just leave out the meat and make the broth with a lot more herbs and veggies (of your choice!)​

  17. anna

    Oct 20

    I have made this soup a few times; my husband LOVES it!! And the rest of us too of course 🙂 But you really can’t go wrong with a recipe from Pati. Everyone I have tried has been amazing!

    1. Pati

      Oct 25

      Aww thank you, Anna!

  18. Annette L

    Aug 04

    Thanks for this recipe it looks delicious. Will be trying it soon. I usually use canned salsa del pato but I prefer to use fresh ingredients. Now I can make my own salsa roja.

    1. Pati

      Aug 10

      Thank you for trying it, Annette!

  19. Kim T.

    Jan 10

    Hi, Pati,

    I made this soup yesterday, and it was absolutely delicious! I added a diced potato and carrots because that’s how I’ve had it restaurants here in the Phoenix area. My sesame seeds had a freshness issue, so I didn’t put them in. The meat was so tender. The veggies were perfection, and the broth was rich and tasty. So many recipes these days called for canned broth or tomatoes or bouillon. It was refreshing to make something so yummy just simple, fresh ingredients. Thank you!

    1. Clementine

      Feb 23

      Kim, all seeds should be stored in the refrigerator, tightly sealed to keep moisture out.
      The flavor essence of a seed is in the oil, which will turn rancid at room temperature after a time.

  20. CeCe Eiband

    Dec 23

    I have really been enjoying your PBS TV episodes. I just discovered them this year & tape them all! I was so intrigued with the episode that featured the Mole de Olla that I printed out the recipe, bought the ingredients, and prepared two weeks ago. My husband, my daughter’s family and, of course, I thoroughly enjoyed it! It is such a hardy stew and all the veggies are so wonderful! My Dad used to grow chayote squash. It is used a lot in Cajun/Creole cooking. My Dad was from the Texas Valley and my Mom from New Orleans, LA. And, like you, I have so much fun to mixing cultures. I so love to cook and discover new recipes and foods. BRAVO to you and your family!

    1. Pati

      Dec 28

      Thank you, CeCe! I am so happy you like my recipes!!

  21. Dewi

    Nov 29

    In Indonesian we called it “sayur asem” or “asem-asem daging”,
    usually serve with steam rice (“nasi”) and fried fish or tofu … nyummmyy

    1. Pati

      Nov 30


  22. Erica Cítal

    Oct 27

    Hola mi amiga Patí
    I’m making this tonight for my Mexican husband. What can I serve this with? My husband n I always watch your show on PBS cooking channel. As I’m white I always try and cook his type if foods as well,
    Looking forward to your reply
    Gracias Erica
    Do u have a recipe for menudo?

    1. Pati

      Oct 28

      Hola Erica! I like to serve the mole de olla with something light and refreshing for balance like this recipe: As for the menudo, I will try to post a recipe on the blog soon!

  23. Patty

    Oct 22

    I love your show, and have been watching for several years. I just saw this recipe made last night, and it was served up in the most beautiful little black bowl….where can I find more like it?

    1. Pati

      Oct 22

      Thank you so much for tuning in!! The bowl comes from a town in Jalisco called Tlaquepaque… we lugged it all the way from there!

  24. George Luna

    Sep 26

    Que rica receta, casi identica la receta a la de mi casa. Nosotros le ponemos Epazote y Garbanzos. Besos y abrazos desde Phoenix Arizona, nos encanta el programa! 🙂

    1. Pati

      Sep 26

      Besos y abrazos para Phoenix y tu familia 🙂

  25. Ana Soto

    Sep 19


    1. Pati

      Sep 20

      Gracias, Ana!

  26. Teresa

    Sep 01

    Hi Pati!
    I love watching your show. Where I live in New Mexico, I rarely get any Mexican food (it is not the same as New Mexican). My father is Mexican and I remember the food he use to make for me. Your show gives me the recipes to help duplicate what he used to prepare. I love that you show different parts of Mexico and I long to visit one day. Any suggestions on which city should be my families first visit? Not too touristy but safe.

    1. Pati

      Sep 06

      Hola Teresa! Thank you for your lovely comment! Maybe you should head to the Yucatan Peninsula first? Visit Merida, and a beach along the Riviera Maya.

  27. maria

    Aug 15

    Hi Omggg finally e tratado de conseguir esta receta desde ase anos mi abuelita Asia in mole de olla para levantar a un muertito Lol y murio antes de que me pudiera dar su reseta so this is very helpful thanks

    1. Pati

      Aug 21


  28. Mercedes

    Aug 03

    Hola Pati!

    I’m very excited to watch Season four. As I watch your show I’ve been reminiscing on all my childhood favorite foods. I have vivid memories of my early childhood years living in Guanajuato. I was born in the city of Salamanca and moved to the states with my parents at the age of 9.

    I love your show and watch it whenever I can. Even my husband and son will pause whatever they are doing to watch the show. I enjoy cooking because I love to eat great food and also because I love to watch my family eat something nutritious and delicious.

    Watching the family enjoy a healthy and delicious meal comes with great satisfaction. Its more of a sense of accomplishment on a deeper level. Just watching everybody enjoy what I have created & not expecting anything in return. Doing it just because its in my heart to do so.

    I love how you make mexican cooking look so easy. Your recipes are very simple and easy to follow. Mole De Olla with xoconostle was one of my mom’s great dishes. (FYI …xoconostle is widely found at any mexican grocery store in Orange County, California.) I remember as a child the xoconostle cactus used to grow wild everywhere in Salamanca, GTO. And if you are a fan of the prickly fruit its delicious with plain beans.

    Oh and how can we forget esquites, churros, panes, cajeta, charamuscas… name it and it all comes with a great warm beautiful memory of my birthplace. Season four has made me reconnect with my inner child. I will be trying the cinnamon rolls with cajeta next, they look wonderful.

    Thanks for sharing your recipes!

    1. Pati

      Aug 03

      I am so happy to hear, Mercedes!! Thanks so much for sharing some of your stories with me. 🙂

  29. Johana Quintero

    Aug 02

    Hola pati!
    I saw your show for the first time and my kids and I love it! We have been watching it since like 6pm and it is still on. I am enjoying it so much and want to go to the store and buy the ingredients most common to begin cooking some of your recipes.
    Love, Johana

    1. Pati

      Aug 03

      Oh this makes me so happy, thanks Johana!

  30. Anne Bornet

    Aug 01

    d your episode on making the Mole de Olla and we immediately knew what we were having for dinner. You just have a gift for describing the interplay of flavors and textures. We live in Texas and we went to our local Fiesta store. while shopping I found spiny chayote squash and of all things a bin full of xoconostles!! So I bought them, but, how many do I use and any special cleaning or prep?
    Ive eaten tunas but never used in a stew. Also any easy way for peeling spiny chayote.


    1. Pati

      Aug 01

      Hi Anne!
      To use xonocostles, 2 for this recipe will suffice. All you do is remove the peel and cut into large dice, add to the simmering Mole de Olla. For the chayote: I always go for the chayotes that don’t have thorns! Just mind your hands and use gloves…

      1. Anne Bornet

        Aug 01

        Thank You!!

  31. Laura Del Favero

    Jul 07

    I made this last night and it was amazing!
    On a side note, i wanted to make this recipe because I saw you make it on your show for PBS. You were wearing the most beautiful green peasant blouse, with black flowers at the top. I spent about an hour online looking for something similar with no luck…

    1. Pati

      Jul 08

      Thank you Laura, I got that in Oaxaca!

  32. Patty Vazquez

    May 15

    Hola Pati :

    se ve riquisimo y ando buscando comida saludable llena de verduras,espero me quede tan rico como tu receta.

    Patty Vazquez

  33. Mary

    Oct 08

    Hice Mole de Oalla esta noche y fue fabuloso! Es un plato sencillo, pero con muchos niveles de sabor. Me encantó el poco de picante, el sabor de los chiles y de las semillas. El maíz era tan sabrosa, y la carne tan tierno y delicioso! Gracias por otra receta maravillosa.

  34. dee

    Sep 17

    mucho gracias Pati, i love to try new receipes.

  35. dee

    Sep 01

    mucho gracias, i love ur book and show

  36. yolanda

    Sep 01

    Hello Pati,
    When you said xonocostles come from cactus, I’m thinking the red delicious fruit that’s on the nopal. Is it something like that?

    1. Pati

      Sep 01

      Yes, so it is not a “tuna” which is also a cactus fruit. This is a very tart and acid one, much smaller in size, which also looks like a “tuna”…

  37. dee

    Aug 31

    what if i already have mole cooked can i just add meat and broth with vegs, would it cime out the same?

    1. Pati

      Aug 31

      That would work out PERFECTLY.

  38. Lisa

    Aug 29

    Hi Pati! I was raised in the States, with strong Mexican influences from my abuelos. To me, this looks a lot like caldo de res. What exactly is the difference? Also, is this a difference you’d come across further into Mexico? As a sidenote, your recipes are where I turn when I get homesick. Thanks for giving a latina college student thousands of miles from home something that looks and tastes like home!

    1. Pati

      Aug 29

      With much pleasure Lisa. Yes! Similar to Caldo de res, but Mole de Olla has xonocostles (in my case I add tomatillos) and other ingredients in the flavoring sauce. Cousins, I guess!

  39. Gilda

    Aug 29

    Ay Pati! I have not seen or heard ‘mole de olla’ in like forever! You are absolutely correct..this is hard core comida de mi barrio. My mom prepared a batch of this many years ago, had this with family in Coahuila many years ago ..just to see a picture of it floods me with memories. I will definitely make this and save this recipe along with your other revered recipes…great choice! Can hardly wait for your next surprise recipe…I bow to you mujer 🙂

    1. Pati

      Aug 29


  40. Magdalena King

    Aug 29

    Hola Pati.
    Preparing your recipe takes me back to my mothers kitchen. My late mothers sopa de fideo is my all time favorite comfort food. I would love it if you would share your recipe for sopa de fideo.
    Love your show, really enjoy preparing your easy to follow and yummy recipes.

    1. Pati

      Aug 29

      Here you go, Magdalena! Instead of alphabet pasta or little rounds, use vermicelli, thin spaghetti or fideo… Thanks for your message!

  41. katherine Lancaster

    Aug 29

    I live in Tucson, AZ and Pasilla chilies are sold fresh and as they come from California, they are marketed as Poblanos. I’ve read your cookbook and know there’s a difference in flavors between the two so how can I tell if I’m really getting fresh Pasillas. Also, I haven’t found any dried pasillas either. Any suggestions? Thanks

    1. Pati

      Aug 29

      I know, chile confusion is unfortunate and it tends to happen mainly because they are sold under different and confusing names. You can buy dried Pasillas online, have you given it a try?
      Fresh Pasillas are more challenging, and for your reference, they are called chilacas. Info here:
      The Poblano is more fruity, spicy and much more chubby and curvy than the fresh pasilla (chilaca), which is longer and thinner and also a bit bitter… those are some ways to tell. More info on Poblano here:


        Sep 13

        Hi, Pati —

        First, I LOVE your show and your cookbook, Pati’s Mexican Table — everything I have cooked from it has been a big hit with my family. My extremely picky daughter said, “Boy, that Pati Jinich really has it goin’ on!” High praise! One of the recipes in your book, Tortilla and Black Bean Casserole, calls for pasilla chiles. Since I can’t find them in my area, I substituted poblanos, and it was delicious. Someday, when I find pasillas, I’ll be sure to try it that way, too.


        1. Pati

          Sep 14

          Thank you so much for writing and for cooking from my show and cookbook. I hope you try many more recipes and that they all end up as “regulars” in your kitchen 🙂

  42. Miranda

    Aug 29

    My mother-in-law used to make this and always used epazote but had a hard time finding it here in the U.S. Is that why you use mint? Does it have a similar taste/effect?

    1. Pati

      Aug 29

      Hi Miranda,
      I use mint because I love what it does to this stew. But you can also use epazote instead, it depends on the cook… It does taste different. Both variations are fabulous!

  43. Michelle Roth

    Aug 29

    Dear Pati, thank you for the mole de olla recipe. I have been living in USA since 1980, I have been craving since then.

    I love your show, I love your camera personality, your recipes are easy to follow.

    Thank you for bringing me back recipes from the past.

    A big hug.


    1. Pati

      Aug 29

      Hola Michelle, So excited to give you the mole de olla recipe…you must like it as much as I do! Thank you for watching the show!!

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