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Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole

You can do fabulous things with pumpkins aside from spooky faces and pumpkin pie… Just ask any Mexican. We have a way with pumpkins.

Native to Mexico, pumpkins have been devoured there for centuries, in their entirety. The seeds are addicting as snacks, used as a hefty base for salsas, soups and sauces and more recently sprinkled on top of many dishes. The pumpkin meat is used for soups and stews, and along with the entire rind cooked in a piloncillo syrup, becoming a traditional favorite known as Tacha.

Yet there is something else you can make with those fall pumpkins: Mole!

An easy to make, silky textured and exquisite tasting mole sauce, that can bathe anything you can think of. From chicken to meat, fish, seafood and veggies; it all goes beautifully swaddled in it. I like it mostly with chicken or turkey, which is how I am most used to eating thick and rich Mole sauces….

So that you can try it too, here it goes.

As simple as it is to make, it uses two ancient and crucial techniques of Mexican cooking that enhance the flavors of the ingredients and bring a ton of personality to a dish: charring and toasting.

Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole 1

First the onion and garlic take a quick turn under the broiler to be charred. Their sharp, crisp and pungent flavors become transformed…

Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole 2

…as if their alter ego came out to show depth and sweetness. While at the same time becoming a bit rustic.

Then the ancho chiles, almonds, cinnamon, allspice and whole cloves take a turn either in a skillet or comal, to lightly toast.

Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole 3

Toasting them intensifies and deepens their flavor, it releases new aromas and adds a kind of warmth to the dish.

Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole 4

As the chiles have been dried for a long time, aside from giving them a light toast, you need to rehydrate them and plump them back to life. And it takes just 10 minutes of soaking them in a hot bath.

Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole 5

Then you also use that water from the chile bath, as it has some of the intense flavors and colors of the chiles, as well as the chiles to make the Mole Sauce.

Then everything in the blender goes!

Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole 6

If you used True or Ceylon cinnamon, puree it along with the rest of the ingredients. As it is light and thin, it crumbles and purees easily. It is gentle and kind to the blades of the blender. If you only found the hard Cassia kind, use it to simmer in the mole sauce further on.

Then you add it all along with the pumpkin puree in a big pot. You can use already made pumpkin puree from the store…

Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole 7

Or make your own pumpkin puree with those extra pumpkins that are sitting on your front porch… Making the puree is pretty simple: Quarter the pumpkin, remove the seeds and fibers, roast in the oven at 400 ºF until soft and process the pumpkin meat in a blender of food processor until smooth.

After you simmer the pumpkin puree along with the ancho chile puree (that has the charred and toasted ingredients), it will look like this. Incredibly rich, just like its flavor.

Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole 8

You can make the Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole ahead of time, and just heat it when you are ready to serve it.

Topping it with toasted pumpkin seeds makes the dish all the more fabulous.  You can taste it already, right?

Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole 9

Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole

Mole de Chile Ancho y Calabaza

Recipe Yield

6 servings

Cooking time

50 minutes

Rate this recipe

5 from 5 votes


  • 1/2 white onion peeled, charred or broiled
  • 6 garlic cloves charred or broiled, peeled
  • 3 ancho chiles stemmed, seeded and opened
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1/2 stick true or ceylon cinnamon about 1 inch (or substitute for 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
  • 8 whole allspice berries or 1/8 teaspoon ground
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree about 1 3/4 cup
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt or more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds lightly toasted

To Prepare

  • Place the onion and garlic in a baking sheet under the broiler. Char for 9 to 10 minutes, flipping once in between. Once they are soft and charred, remove from the heat. When the garlic is cool, peel.
  • In an already hot skillet or comal set over medium-low heat, toast the ancho chiles for about 15 to 20 seconds per side, until they brown and crisp without burning. Place toasted ancho chiles in a bowl covered with boiling water. Soak for 10 to 15 minutes until they are plumped up and rehydrated.
  • In the same skillet or comal, toast the cloves and all spice until aromatic, about a minute. Remove from the heat. Toast the almonds and cinnamon, stirring often, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Place the onion, garlic, chiles, 1/2 cup of chile soaking liquid, almonds, cloves, cinnamon and allspice in the blender and puree until smooth.
  • In a soup pot or casserole, heat the oil and pour the pureed mixture over medium heat. Add the salt and sugar. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to help prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The color will darken considerably.
  • Add the pumpkin puree and chicken broth to the sauce. Stir well until the pumpkin puree has dissolved, it will have a silky consistency. Continue to cook for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Use the mole sauce to pour over grilled, broiled or boiled chicken, meat or fish. Sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds for some added flavor and crunch.


45comments inPumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole

  1. Shawn

    Sep 08

    Oh, one more thing. I had a half a butternut squash in the fridge from earlier in the week and used that instead of canned pumpkin.

    1. Pati

      Sep 10


  2. Shawn Dougherty

    Sep 08

    Just made this last night. I cooked some thinly sliced steak with peppers and onions, then wrapped that in corn tortillas. Placed those in a baking dish and poured this Mole over top and baked for 30 minuets. It was pretty much amazing.

    1. Pati

      Sep 10

      Sounds super yum, Shawn!

  3. Amanda

    May 10

    I’d like to use this mole on a pork shoulder and slow cook in the oven, would this turn the mole bitter if cooked at 250°F for 4 to 6hrs?

    1. Pati

      May 16

      The mole will be fine that way…just add 3 to 4 cups of chicken broth.

  4. Fred

    Feb 07

    This recipe was delicious. Light, healthy, and flavorful. We roasted chicken, cut it up and bathed it in the mole sauce with corn tortillas on the side. I tried to omit the sugar but ended up adding a 3/4 teaspoon to sweeten the pumpkin.

    1. Pati

      Feb 08


  5. Susan G

    Apr 25

    Luke, don’t know where you live however there is a wonderful
    spice shop online to check out:
    You can order the ancho spice powder form or dried chili. The powder is always fresh.

    1. Luke

      Apr 29

      Hi Susanm thanks for your reply!

      I live in Brasil, the issue i have is that the importation of the Dried or ground Mexican chiles is illegal.. i’ve tried a bunch of the online stores but none of them will ship to Brsail unfortunately!

  6. Luke

    Apr 25

    Another delicious sounding recipe!! Congratulations 🙂

    A quick question, hopefully you can give me an idea..
    Where i live it is not possible to get Ancho.. they are even illegal to import..

    I read an article about ancho chiles that said:
    Distinct aromas of sun-dried tomatoes, raisins, chocolate, and coffee. Some of the best-known Mexican chilies, like Ancho, Mulato, and Pasilla, are in this category.

    As i have never tasted one and have no way of knowing.. from what i read could i somehow substitute the Ancho flavours but adding some sun dried tomatos, raisins, chocolate and coffee?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Pati

      Apr 29

      I think you can find Ancho chiles very easily on line, could you try that?

  7. David

    Jan 20

    I love this recipe! I’m going to make it with vegetarian friends and we were thinking to make pumpkin stuffed burritos to go with it (obviously the mole sauce is the star so anything else accompanies the sauce!) What else could you use it for with vegetarian dishes? Congrats on the website – lovely recipes 🙂

    1. Pati

      Feb 02

      Hola David, Thank you for your message! You can use it with any vegetables you can imagine & enjoy!!

  8. Lisa Hartman

    Dec 23

    I made this for Christmas and since my family does not eat any animal products, I used an intense veggie broth. I served this with tamales and fish. And since some members in our party are gluten and lactose intolerant, this is the perfect dish to share with anyone! Thank you.

    1. Pati

      Dec 23

      Thank you, Lisa!

  9. alison

    Oct 29

    Gracias Pati!
    I cannot wait to try this recipe on Friday. Do you have any vegetarian suggestions to serve the mole on? Tamales perhaps?
    I really enjoyed the NPR show – thank you!

    1. Pati

      Oct 30

      Hola Alison, You can serve it over any of your favorite vegetables! Tamales sound great, too!!

  10. susan

    Oct 27

    I love the receipt. I must confess, I added raisins and roasted skinless peanuts and no brown sugar.
    Heavenly. This mole was not red, but nice dark yellow. I think I heard you on NPR and heard about the receipt.
    Thanks Pati, It is a winner.

    1. Pati

      Oct 27

      Great to hear!

  11. Dana Lee

    Oct 10

    Hola Pati!
    What a lovely and beautiful looking Autumn mole, I am vegetarian and one thing sadly left behind was chicken mole that my friend from Oaxaca taught me to make. Dark rich chocolate mole. all I needed were some tortillas and privacy. I am going to try this mole recipe (veggie broth instead of chicken) you have shared over chunks of roasted fall vegetables. I will let you know the results which I am sure will be good because after all, it is mole!
    San Diego CA

  12. Dana Lee

    Mar 14

    I love this mole recipe, I can’t wait to try it. I am going to use it over squashes and green beans. I refuse to give up mole because I am vegetarian. Give me a bib and a quiet place…

  13. Bill O

    Nov 19

    I am so excited that I found your show. I am third generation mexican, but my grandmother really didn’t pass our culture along to my father, and our family, so I am trying to re-learn Mexican culture. I have wanted smoe REAL mexican recipes, not tacos and burritos, but cousine. I tried the pumpkin mole, and my wife said it was the best meal I’ve made for her in the 10 years we’ve been together. I absolutely loved it!
    Thank you, and keep the recipes coming!!
    ~ Bill

    1. Pati Jinich

      Nov 26

      Hola Bill, I love your story about making the pumpkin mole for your wife! Thank you so much for sharing it with me. I hope you will try more of my recipes. All the best to you.

  14. Cristina S

    Oct 25

    Hola Pati: this recipe sounds deliciosa , so I’m making it this weekend for my family, every time I see you on t.v. I feel like home, full of memories of my childhood in Mexico. Thank you for showcasing the real Mexican food..
    Cristina S.

  15. Chantal

    Sep 16

    Pati, thank you so much for posting this pumpkin mole…I thought it sounded so good I immediatly double the recipee to freeze some for the fall..it just finished cooking and it tastes delicious! I had some super dried Anchos, so they didn’t rehydrate as well as yours did and so the sauce is more black then reddisch, but tasty never the less

    1. Pati Jinich

      Sep 17

      Hola, Chantal. I’m so glad your pumpkin mole turned out delicious…no matter what the color. What a great idea to make a big batch and freeze!

  16. Susanne

    Nov 17

    I’m going to love this! I had an abundant Hubbard crop this year and am constantly looking for good ways to use it. Mexican dish and pumpkin can only turn out great. I wonder how to much ANcho powder to use though as that’s all I can find in Germany. Bye, Susanne

    1. Pati Jinich

      Nov 17

      Hola Susanne, I would say about 1 tsp ancho powder per ancho chile. But, I would add 1 tsp at a time and test before adding more, because sometimes the powder is much more concentrated than the chiles. I hope you enjoy! 🙂

      1. Susanne Ramcke

        Nov 19

        Thanks for your quick reply. Tomorrow will be Pumpkin Roasting Day.
        Tschüss sagt Susanne

  17. Marisol

    Nov 09

    Hola pati.Lo que haces es impresionante con tan pocos ingredientes!Y tan simple pero con mucho sabor.Esta SI ES comida mexicana.Nacida aqui,en E.U.,de padres mexicanos jamas habia visto algo como lo que tu haces.Vemos tacos duros,cheese dip,etc.Pero nada cercano a lo que Mexico realmente es.Yo estoy muy orgullosa de ser mexicana y voy aprendiendo mucho de mi cultura gracias a ti.Es hermoso nunca olvidar la patria de uno,y de donde vienen las raices de uno.Mil gracias de nuevo. 🙂

    1. Pati

      Oct 09

      Muchas gracias por tu lindísimo mensaje, en verdad lo aprecio mucho.

  18. Adrianne S

    Nov 06

    This is a great light mole – good for around my house because I’m the only one who likes the really dark moles. My only suggestion is to put the toasted spices into the coffee mill and grind them up really fine before adding to the blender. My blender didn’t do a real good job on the cloves and cinnamon.

    1. Pati

      Oct 09

      Great idea Adrianne: did you use true or Ceylon cinnamon? It is much softer and crumbles much easier than cassia…. You can also use ground cinnamon…

  19. Melissa Cannon

    Nov 06

    I am so excited to get your cookbook! Do you know when it will be published? I enjoy your show.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Nov 07

      Hola Melissa, I do not know the exact date yet. Once I do, I will be sure to let everyone know! 🙂

  20. Carla B.

    Oct 31

    Tried this for on top of roasted turkey breast. It smelled wonderful during the toasting stages on the hot dry skillet. My blender is mediocre quality, so I had to strain it to get rid of the bits of dried chile skin, and because of this, I added the liquid to the chile/spice puree before heating everything. Maybe that was a mistake? It ended up needing something…a sour note, I decided, and I added some lime juice, which improved it, but still, it wasn’t as amazing as the initial aromas…

    1. Pati

      Oct 09

      I find that the broth or stock used really has an impact: make sure that you are using a well seasoned and tasty one!

  21. Maria

    Oct 25

    Hi, this recipe is fabulous! I love all of your Mexican and Hispanic recipes that you’ve posted for National Hispanic Heritage Month. I enjoyed this super original recipe using pumpkin for mole, so much that I shared it with my readers with a link back to you. I look forward to more wonderful food photos and recipes from you in the future. Best, Maria

    1. Pati

      Oct 09


  22. danny salazar

    Oct 25

    Hola Pati, I love all of your recipes and the dishes that you prepare, my question, can I use ground allspice instead of the berries? and how much, my famila want me to prepare this dish we all love pumpkin too. hope you have a great Halloween weekend. thank you

    1. Pati Jinich

      Oct 25

      Many thanks Danny! Yes, you can use ground allspice instead… I would do a pinch. Have a great Halloween weekend to!

  23. John C. Campbell III

    Oct 25

    Pati? Fragon!! this looks great!! (I’m diabetic can I leave out the sugar you think? Pumpkin is supposed to be good for diabetics by the way. jccampb

    1. Pati Jinich

      Oct 25

      Good! Yes you can leave out the sugar for sure… but you may want to add something that you can use instead, it does beg for a bit of sweetener…

  24. Marlene

    Oct 25

    Thank you for the fun ideas!! We have just moved to Arizona and I will share your name and web site with all my new friends!! happy holidays!!

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