When I think about FLAVOR—dance-on-your-tongue, wow-your-mouth, never-let-it-end FLAVOR—few dishes capture the experience more completely than Instant Pot Chicken Mole.
Rich, complex, and lightly smoky, mole sauce is traditional in Mexican cooking and can transform even the most basic ingredient (shredded chicken, I am looking at you) into something extraordinary.
Real-deal authentic chicken mole sauce takes days and 20+ ingredients to make. It’s a treat to devour (I love ordering it when we go out for Mexican food) and something I hope to cook the old-school way someday. Anyone want to spend a day sipping a Skinny Margarita or two and teaching me?
Since most nights I hardly have an hour (let alone days) to make dinner, I set out to see if I could create an easy chicken mole recipe that delivers the complex, bewitching flavor that makes mole so characteristically spell binding, but in a fraction of the time with one-third of the ingredients.
No biggie right?
Where Mexican food is on the line, I will not be deterred. Say hello to Instant Pot Chicken Mole!
A Less Authentic, Equally Delicious Easy Chicken Mole Recipe
Let’s be clear: this is a cheater, streamlined, easy chicken mole recipe. It might not be 100% traditionalist approved—or even 80%—but it is unquestionably delicious and maintains the slightly sweet, smoky, and seductive flavor of authentic chicken mole.
My two shortcut secrets: the Instant Pot (this is the model I own and love) and an essentials-only ingredient list.
Why Use an Instant Pot for Chicken Mole?
Ever since I started cooking these Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos, the pressure cooker has become my favorite way to make shredded chicken (this Instant Pot Teriyaki Chicken included), along with other favorite Mexican recipes like this Instant Pot Mexican Casserole.
The chicken comes out perfectly tender and juicy, it’s easy to shred on the spot, and you only have one pot to wash in the end.
The nature of mole sauce itself also makes it a prime pressure cooker candidate. The Instant Pot concentrates the sauce’s flavors more rapidly, speeding up the cooking process. The fact that the chicken cooks in the Instant Pot at the same time as the sauce saves an extra step too!
What Are the Ingredients in Mole Sauce?
I kept the essentials, the ones mole sauce wouldn’t taste complete without—nuts, raisins, cinnamon, cumin, and chocolate (yes, chocolate! It’s the secret to mole’s inexplicably deep flavor)—then combined them with a few “super” ingredients that have a whopping amount of flavor on their own.
The most important of the super ingredients is canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I’m hooked on these rich, smoky peppers and often use them to impart mega flavor with minimal effort. Many mole sauce recipes call for a blend of three or four different peppers. For today, I’m quite happy to stick with my one-ingredient wonder.
You can find chipotle peppers in the Hispanic aisle of most grocery stores and even online. You’ll have a few peppers left over in the can, which you can enjoy in any one of these recipes.
How to Make Easy Chicken Mole
- Arrange the chicken in the Instant Pot.
- Place the sauce ingredients into a blender, process until smooth, then pour the whole shebang right over the chicken. Note: It will smell amazing.
- Cook the chicken for a short and sweet 8 minutes of pressure. It will be incredibly moist and tender and soak up the wonderful flavors of the sauce. Remove the chicken and set it aside.
- Reduce the sauce right in the Instant Pot on the saute setting. (Be careful! It splatters.) Shred the chicken.
- Add the chicken back into the sauce, stir, and ta-da! Seriously legit-tasting shredded chicken mole you can use any way you like.
If you’d like to make chicken mole in the slow cooker, this isn’t something I’ve tried myself, but I did add suggestions to the recipe notes. If anyone does make slow cooker chicken mole, please let me know how it goes.
How to Serve This Instant Pot Chicken Mole
- The majority of the time, we use the Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Mole to make always-satisfying mole chicken tacos. My favorite toppings are feta or queso fresco and cilantro.
- It would be equally tasty as a filling for enchiladas or quesadillas.
- Mix with brown rice and black beans to create your own mole chicken “bowl.”
- Sprinkle it over tortilla chips, add cheese, chopped red onion, or any of your other favorite fixins, then pop it into the oven for a few minutes for mole chicken nachos.
- Devour directly out of the Instant Pot (this happens a lot here too).
If you are into Mexican food, bold flavors, and any excuse to open a bag of chips, this easy Instant Pot Chicken Mole will be a sure hit in your house! If you decide to try it, be sure to leave a comment. It makes me so happy to hear from you.
Instant Pot Chicken Mole
- 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce NOT two cans, just 2 peppers
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from the can of chipotle peppers
- 1/4 cup toasted pepitas or toasted sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- Prepared brown rice or tortillas whole wheat or corn
- Your favorite toppings: freshly chopped cilantro, avocado, sliced radishes, chopped almonds or pepitas, cheese, etc!
- Set a 6-quart or larger Instant Pot or similar electric pressure cooker to SAUTE. Add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onion and sauté until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn off the Instant Pot and scrape the onion and garlic into a blender. Return the insert to the pot and set back to SAUTE. Add a few splashes of water, scrape up any browned bits, and discard them. You want the bottom of the Instant Pot to be fairly clean so that it does not burn. Turn off the Instant Pot.
- To the blender with the onions, add the tomatoes, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, pepitas, raisins, cocoa powder, salt, cumin, and cinnamon. Blend until smooth.
- Lightly coat the Instant Pot with nonstick spray and place the chicken in the Instant Pot. Pour the sauce over the top and do not stir. Cover and seal the Instant Pot. Cook on HIGH pressure for 8 minutes (for chicken breasts) or 10 minutes (for chicken thighs). Vent immediately.
- Remove the chicken to a plate. Turn the Instant Pot to SAUTE and bring the sauce to a simmer. Let bubble, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is rich and thick, about 10 minutes. Place a layer of paper towels over the top as the sauce cooks to catch any splatters. While the sauce cooks, shred the chicken with two forks. Return the chicken to the pot and toss with the thickened sauce. Enjoy with any desired toppings over rice, as a filling for tacos or quesadillas, over nachos, or right out of the Instant Pot with a fork.
- To make in a slow cooker: I have not tried this method myself, but if you'd like to adapt the recipe for the crock pot, here's what I would recommend. Saute the onions and garlic in a skillet instead of the Instant Pot and proceed with the rest of step 1 and 2 to make the sauce. Place the chicken and sauce in the slow cooker as directed in step 3 and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours on high or 4 to 5 hours on low. After the chicken is cooked, transfer the sauce to a saucepan to reduce.
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