Pipian vs Mole – Everything You Need to Know

Pipian and Mole are both traditional Mexican sauces, but they have distinct differences in their ingredients, flavours, and preparation methods. 

Pipian is made from pumpkin seeds and has a green or red colour, while Mole is a complex sauce with a wide range of variations, often featuring chocolate as one of its key components. Both sauces are delicious and play an important role in Mexican cuisine.


Pipian is a sauce made primarily from pumpkin seeds. The sauce can be green or red, depending on the variety. Green Pipian typically contains green chillies and herbs, while red Pipian includes dried red chillies, giving it a spicier and richer flavour.

Additional common ingredients include sesame seeds, nuts, garlic, and spices. The sauce is usually thickened with bread or tortillas and is commonly served with chicken, pork, or vegetables.


Mole is a more complex sauce with various regional recipes in Mexico. The most well-known version is “mole poblano,” a rich, dark sauce made with dried chillies, nuts, seeds, chocolate, and various spices.

While chocolate is a key ingredient in mole poblano, it’s not as sweet as you might think; it adds depth and complexity to the sauce rather than sweetness. 

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Depending on the region and family recipe, mole sauces can vary significantly in terms of flavour, spiciness, and ingredients.

Pipian vs Mole uses

Pipian and Mole are delicious Mexican sauces with a rich history and unique flavour profiles. While they share some similarities, they are distinct regarding ingredients, preparation, and uses.

Uses of Pipian

  • Often served as a sauce for meat dishes, especially poultry like chicken or turkey.
  • It can also be used as a base for stews and soups, adding a nutty and flavorful element to the dish.
  • Pipian is sometimes used as a dipping sauce for tortilla chips or vegetables.
  • In some regions, it is used as a sauce for enchiladas or other traditional Mexican dishes.

Uses of Mole

  • Mole is often served with poultry, particularly chicken, and is a popular sauce for special occasions and celebrations.
  • It is served over enchiladas, tamales, or other dishes, adding depth and richness to the meal.
  • Mole can also be used as a marinade or glaze for grilled meats and vegetables.
  • In some regions, Mole is used as a filling for tamales.

What is mole Pipian Made of?

Mole Pipian, also known as “Pipian sauce” or “green mole,” is a traditional Mexican sauce originating from pre-Hispanic times. It is a mole sauce, a rich and complex sauce typically made with various ingredients, including chillies, nuts, seeds, spices, and chocolate.

However, mole Pipian is unique in that it is primarily made with pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and green chillies, which give it its characteristic green colour.

The basic ingredients for mole Pipian typically include:

  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas): These are the star ingredient of the sauce, providing a nutty flavour and thickening the sauce.
  • Green chillies: Usually, serrano or poblano chillies are used, depending on the desired level of spiciness. These give the sauce green colour and add heat to the dish.
  • Herbs: Fresh cilantro or epazote commonly add herbal notes to the sauce.
  • Garlic and onion: These aromatics are often included to provide depth of flavour.
  • Chicken broth: Traditionally, mole Pipian is prepared with chicken broth, enhancing the sauce’s overall taste.
  • Spices: Cumin, cloves, and sometimes cinnamon might be added to enhance the complexity of the flavours.
  • Tomatillos: These are tart green fruits that are a key component in many green Mexican sauces, including mole Pipian.
  • Thickener: Some recipes call for corn tortillas or stale bread to thicken the sauce.
  • Oil: Vegetable oil is typically used for sautéing the ingredients.

What does Pipian Mole taste like?

Pipian Mole has a distinct and complex flavour profile. It is a type of Mole, which means it is a rich, thick sauce made from various ingredients, including chillies, nuts, seeds, and spices.

The taste of Pipian Mole can vary depending on the specific recipe and regional variations, but some common characteristics include:

  • Nutty: Pipian Mole typically contains ground nuts, such as peanuts or almonds, contributing a nutty undertone to the sauce.
  • Earthy: The combination of different dried chillies and roasted seeds gives the sauce an earthy flavour, reminiscent of the ingredients’ natural flavours.
  • Spicy: Depending on the types and quantities of chillies used, Pipian Mole can have a varying level of spiciness. Some versions can be mild and slightly smoky, while others may have a more pronounced heat.
  • Rich and Savory: The sauce is known for its richness, often achieved by incorporating ingredients like sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. It has a savoury depth, complemented by the roasted flavours of the seeds.
  • Slightly Sweet: Some versions of Pipian Mole include ingredients like plantains or a touch of sugar, which can lend a subtle sweetness to balance out the other flavours.
  • Balanced Complexity: Pipian Mole is a well-balanced combination of flavours, with a blend of spices and ingredients that create a unique and intriguing taste experience.

Where is Mole Pipian from?

It is primarily associated with Mexican cuisine and is popular in various regions of Mexico. The word “Pipian” is derived from the Nahuatl (Aztec language) word “pipián,” which means a thick, rich sauce made with ground seeds.

Due to its deep-rooted history in Mexico, mole Pipian is a significant culinary element of Mexican gastronomy. It is essential to many traditional dishes, showcasing the rich and diverse flavours of the region.

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What flavour is Mole?

Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce with a complex and rich flavour profile. It is not a single flavour but a combination of various ingredients to create a unique taste experience. The primary flavours of Mole include:

  • Earthy and savoury: Mole often contains dried chillies, which provide a deep, earthy, and slightly smoky flavour. Other ingredients like tomatoes, onions, and garlic contribute to the savoury notes.
  • Sweet: Mole incorporates sweetness from chocolate, raisins, or plantains. This sweetness balances the spiciness of the chillies and provides a delightful contrast.
  • Spicy: Chilies are a fundamental component of Mole, and they add a moderate to intense spiciness, depending on the type and amount used. Different mole recipes may use a variety of chillies, each contributing its unique heat level and flavour.
  • Nutty: Many mole recipes contain nuts, such as almonds, peanuts, or sesame seeds, which contribute a nutty flavour and a thickening texture to the sauce.
  • Complex and aromatic: A blend of spices like cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and thyme adds depth and complexity to the mole sauce, enhancing its overall aroma.
  • Umami: Mole often includes ingredients like dried fruits, dark chocolate, or even charred tortillas, which add umami notes and enhance the depth of flavours.

Pipian vs Mole – Conclusion

Pipian and Mole are both rich and flavorful Mexican sauces with distinct characteristics. Again, Pipian typically features a base of ground pumpkin seeds, while Mole incorporates various chillies, nuts, and chocolate. Further, Pipian tends to be lighter and nuttier, offering a unique texture and taste.

On the other hand, Mole boasts a more complex flavour profile with a delightful blend of sweet, savoury, and spicy notes. Ultimately, the choice between Pipian and Mole comes from personal preference and the desired flavour experience. Both sauces hold cultural significance and are cherished elements of Mexican cuisine, adding depth and excitement to various dishes.

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