Adobo is a dish that originated in the Philippines, that combines a vinegary marinade with pork or chicken. There are many styles of Adobo, including Mexican (with chipotles and chiles), Peruvian, Puerto Rican, Uruguayan, and traditional Filipino adobo. Spanish adobo refers to the seasoning or marinade for the meat, while Filipino adobo refers to the whole dish (for more information, check out our primer on Mexican and Filipino adobo).
Mole is a sauce with a completely different flavor profile than adobo. Puebla and Oaxaca are considered the traditional originators of mole, which comes in many different styles. Mole can have dozens of ingredients, and always contains one or more types of chili pepper. Often chocolate is added at the end of the cooking process and most of the ingredients are roasted or charred. Nuts and spices, as well as fruit, can be added to mole during the cooking process.
Mole poblano is the most famous mole dish, but there are many festivals dedicated to the different types of Mexican mole. Mole can also be aged, and the tangy, thick sauce is similar to barbecue sauce but with more complex flavors. Mole can be dark red, brown, black, red, green, yellow, and is very much a matter of personal taste.
Need to find out the difference between adobo and mole for yourself? Check out these nine recipes and get started in the kitchen.
A classic Oaxacan mole with charred chiles—pasilla, guajillo, and mulato negro, as well as peppercorns, allspice, sesame seeds, almonds, raisins, and prunes make for an incredibly flavorful mix. Get this Black Mole Sauce recipe.
This is a Filipino recipe with a vinegary tang—use soy sauce, rice vinegar, freshly ground black peppers, and some granulated sugar combined with onions, garlic, and ginger for a tangy combination. Get our Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo recipe.
The slow cooker makes this mole less daunting than the usual—use a combination of chipotle chiles in adobo with dried ancho chiles, with cumin and ground cinnamon (in addition to bittersweet chocolate and garlic). Get our Slow Cooker Chicken Mole recipe.
An easily adaptable recipe for a quick mole, this take includes onion, garlic, jalapeno with chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, and a quick cheat with almond butter instead of using whole-roasted and ground almonds. Get this 20-Minute Mole recipe.
Adobos are infinitely variable—this take has ground turmeric that turns it a pleasing yellow color, along with bay leaves, shredded coconut, cauliflower, kabocha squash, coconut milk, ginger, garlic, honey, and vinegar. Get this Yellow Chicken Adobo recipe.
If you want to make a meal with mole but are short on time, use a prepackaged mole sauce to make these pork mole tamales. To compensate for the mole hack, make the basic masa dough from scratch to hand make the tamales. Get our Pork Mole Tamales recipe.
This is a quick chicken dinner made with adobo sauce —you can make a double batch to marinate additional chicken for leftovers. Guajillo and ancho chiles with fresh ginger, cumin, salt, and pepper form the base of this tasty dish. Get our Adobo Chicken Tacos recipe.
This Indian/Mexican fusion is made with a masala blend—cardamom pods, cinnamon, anise, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, fennel, and mustard seeds—that is the perfect match for the adobo marinade. Get this Lamb Barbacoa with Masal Adobo recipe.
Related Video: Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo
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