Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Recipe

Mole is an iconic dish in Mexican cuisine with a deep history and traditionally complicated preparation. This slow cooker chicken mole — courtesy of recipe developer Julie Kinnaird – takes away much of the labor and simplifies the ingredients without losing any of the rich and complex flavors that make mole so celebrated. Authentic mole involves a process of roasting nuts and chiles to bring out their flavors, then cooking them for hours with tomatoes, onion, garlic, fruits, spices, bread or tortillas, and the unexpected addition of chocolate. 

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Unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate gives a savory depth of flavor and color to mole sauce that pairs perfectly with earthy chiles and warm spices like cumin and cinnamon. This recipe uses dried guajillo chiles and chile de arbol peppers specifically for the color and level of heat that they impart. Chicken thighs take on all of the intense flavors from the sauce as it develops in the slow cooker, and the dish is finished over verdant cilantro rice.

After a quick toast of the nuts and seeds, everything for the mole sauce is processed in a blender in minutes before adding to the chicken. Choose a high or low cooking option to suit your timing and let the slow cooker do the work. Prepare the rice and garnishes towards the end of cooking and enjoy the taste of an authentic mole in a fraction of the time.

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Gather the slow cooker chicken mole ingredients

To start the mole sauce, you will need to toast a mix of blanched slivered almonds, pepitas, and white sesame seeds. Two types of dried chiles are used to add heat — guajillo and chili de arbol. Canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juices, chicken stock or broth, and olive oil are used as the liquids. Yellow onion, garlic, golden raisins, canned chipotles in adobo sauce, and bittersweet chocolate all add dynamic flavors to this mole. Kosher salt, cumin, cinnamon, and freshly ground black pepper give additional seasoning, and a corn tortilla is blended in as a traditional thickener. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs cook down easily for shredding and a batch of long-grain white rice is a complimentary base for serving. Finish the dish off with fresh lime juice and cilantro for an extra boost of bright flavor.

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Step 1: Add the nuts and seeds to a skillet

Place the almonds, pepitas, and ¼ cup sesame seeds in a cast iron or other skillet over medium heat.

Step 2: Toast until golden and fragrant

Toast the seeds, stirring frequently, until light golden brown and fragrant (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat.

Step 3: Prep the dried chiles

Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chiles, wearing gloves to protect your hands.

Step 4: Blend the mole sauce ingredients

In a blender, puree the toasted nuts and seeds, dried chilies, tomatoes, stock or broth, oil, onion, garlic, raisins, chipotles, chocolate, tortilla, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, cumin, cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon pepper until smooth.

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Step 5: Add chicken and sauce to slow cooker

Place the chicken thighs in a slow cooker and season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Pour the mole sauce from the blender over the chicken.

Step 6: Cover and cook

Cover and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

Step 7: Boil water for rice

While the chicken is cooking, bring the water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to a boil in a large pot.

Step 8: Add the rice

Add the rice and stir.

Step 9: Cover and simmer rice

Bring the rice back to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

Step 10: Fluff finished rice

Uncover and fluff the rice with a fork.

Step 11: Add cilantro to rice

Stir the ½ cup chopped cilantro into the rice and set aside.

Step 12: Shred the chicken

When the chicken mole has finished cooking, use two large forks to break apart the thighs into smaller pieces.

Step 13: Add the lime juice

Add the juice of 1 lime to the chicken and sauce and stir to combine.

Step 14: Garnish and serve

Serve the slow cooker chicken mole over the rice and garnish with cilantro leaves, remaining sesame seeds, and lime wedges.

What is the history of slow cooker chicken mole?

Traditional mole has its origins in pre-Hispanic Mexico. Mulli, which is the Aztec word for mole, translates as "mix" or "sauce". There are hundreds of different and complex versions of mole, often taking many hours or even days to prepare. Although the exact origins of the dish boil down to legend, the original Aztec version was likely made with turkey and contained one of the key flavoring ingredients still used today, which is chocolate! When combined with roasted nuts and chiles, tomatoes, garlic, onion, and a variety of warm spices the chocolate gives a depth of flavor and color beyond compare. 

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Another theory places the creation of mole at a convent in Puebla, Mexico. Here, a rich, dark version of the dish developed called mole poblano. Other versions include intricate variations of green mole, white almond mole, yellow mole, and black mole or mole negro. This slow cooker chicken mole takes its inspiration from red mole, or mole rojo, as the dried guajillo chiles infuse the sauce with a deep scarlet color and plenty of heat. 

The convenience of using a slow cooker for this preparation still allows for plenty of flavor development without slaving over a hot stove. Try mixing up the recipe in a traditional way by using turkey thighs in place of the chicken and experimenting with different varieties of dried chiles to customize flavors and spice levels.

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How should you serve slow cooker chicken mole?

One great benefit of this slow cooker chicken mole is that the servings are quite generous, and leftovers will only improve with a few days of melding flavors in the refrigerator! The mole can be served in individual bowls of chicken and sauce over rice, or set out as part of a buffet meal with the ease of using the slow cooker as the serving vessel. Present the warm rice in a serving dish accompanied by little bowls of garnishes for guests to use to their liking. Sides like a jicama slaw, guacamole, fresh fruit, and some Mexican-inspired cocktails would set the stage for a most festive meal. 

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The leftover slow-cooker chicken mole should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. The mole will also freeze well in a similar container for up to 6 months. When reheating the mole, use gentle stovetop heat to completely heat through or microwave on moderate power. Serve with a fresh batch of cilantro rice and garnishes.

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Recipe

4.9 (21 ratings)

This slow cooker chicken mole limits the labor and simplifies its ingredients without losing any of the rich and complex flavors that make mole so celebrated.

Prep Time
20
minutes
Cook Time
4.08
hours
servings
8
Servings
Slow cooker chicken mole in bowl with garnish
Total time: 4 hours, 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • ½ cup blanched slivered almonds
  • ½ cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles
  • 6 dried chili de arbol peppers
  • 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup chicken stock or broth
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce (from a 7-ounce can)
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (at least 85% cacao)
  • 1 corn tortilla, torn into small pieces
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 2 limes
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus additional leaves for garnish

Directions

  1. Place the almonds, pepitas, and ¼ cup sesame seeds in a cast iron or other skillet over medium heat.
  2. Toast the seeds, stirring frequently, until light golden brown and fragrant (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat.
  3. Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chiles, wearing gloves to protect your hands.
  4. In a blender, puree the toasted nuts and seeds, dried chilies, tomatoes, stock or broth, oil, onion, garlic, raisins, chipotles, chocolate, tortilla, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, cumin, cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon pepper until smooth.
  5. Place the chicken thighs in a slow cooker and season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Pour the mole sauce from the blender over the chicken.
  6. Cover and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
  7. While the chicken is cooking, bring the water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to a boil in a large pot.
  8. Add the rice and stir.
  9. Bring the rice back to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  10. Uncover and fluff the rice with a fork.
  11. Stir the ½ cup chopped cilantro into the rice and set aside.
  12. When the chicken mole has finished cooking, use two large forks to break apart the thighs into smaller pieces.
  13. Add the juice of 1 lime to the chicken and sauce and stir to combine.
  14. Serve the slow cooker chicken mole over the rice and garnish with cilantro leaves, remaining sesame seeds, and lime wedges.

Nutrition

Calories per Serving 808
Total Fat 33.8 g
Saturated Fat 7.8 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 214.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 72.6 g
Dietary Fiber 8.5 g
Total Sugars 19.2 g
Sodium 1,749.9 mg
Protein 57.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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