Mexican Style Cranberry Mole Sauce Recipe With Perfect Flavor

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Get into the exquisite harmony of flavors with our Cranberry Mole Sauce Recipe. This sauce is a culinary masterpiece that takes just 30 minutes to prepare. Dive into a world where the tartness of cranberries dances with the deep, velvety notes of mole, creating a compelling fusion that will elevate any meal. Whether drizzled over tender poultry, grilled vegetables, or your favorite dishes, Cranberry Mole Sauce is your passport to an unforgettable dining experience.

Cranberry Mole Sauce isn’t just any sauce; it’s a perfect blend of tangy and rich flavors that can transform a meal. On a recent trip to the Middle East, I was intrigued by the complex flavors in many dishes, and upon returning, I felt the need to recreate a sauce that could capture such depth. 

At the same time, during a visit to a renowned European restaurant, the chef advised adding a hint of tang to traditional recipes for an edge. So, when my kids requested something unique for dinner, and a friend mentioned her love for mole sauce, it all clicked. 

However, finding the right balance can be tricky. But here’s the good news: research shows that cranberries could be all you need.

Try adding them to the traditional mole ingredients, and you’ll get a sauce that’s not just perfect for special occasions but also captures the best of two worlds. Remember, the universal rule is to experiment until it feels right.

What Is Cranberry Mole Sauce? 

Cranberry Mole Sauce is a unique fusion of tangy cranberries and rich mole flavors, offering a delightful twist to traditional mole sauces. Originating from the basic mole ingredients, this sauce benefits from cranberries’ added freshness and tartness. 

Perfect for both meat and vegetarian dishes, it offers an invigorating and deeply satisfying taste. While the universal rule is to respect traditional recipes, sometimes you need little innovation. 

By integrating cranberries, you’ll get a vibrant depth that’s hard to resist. It’s one of the best things to try to elevate your culinary experiences.

History Of Cranberry Mole Sauce

The history of Cranberry Mole Sauce isn’t as ancient as some traditional recipes. While mole has its roots deep in Mexican culture, the fusion of cranberries is relatively modern.

It’s believed that a chef, aiming to blend North American and Mexican flavors, invented the sauce. The goal? To create a dish that would be perfect for those seeking familiarity and novelty. 

The universal rule is that innovation often stems from merging cultures, and this sauce is a testament to that. Combining the tartness of cranberries with the deep, complex flavors of mole, the chef gave the culinary world a unique gift.

Interesting Facts About Cranberry Mole Sauce

  • Nutritional Boost: Cranberry Mole Sauce is packed with cranberry antioxidants, which research shows can support overall health.
  • Diverse Applications: Perfect for various dishes, you can use it as a dip, dressing, or even a marinade.
  • Culinary Fusion: The sauce blends North American and Mexican flavors, showcasing the beauty of merging culinary traditions.
  • Long Shelf Life: This sauce has a longer shelf life with proper storage than many other homemade sauces.
  • All You Need is Patience: Achieving the perfect balance of flavors requires slow cooking to meld the ingredients seamlessly.
  • Customizable Heat Levels: Depending on personal preferences, you can adjust the spiciness, making it one of the best things you can do to tailor it to your taste.
  • Innovative Origins: Cranberry Mole Sauce emerged from a chef’s modern-day experiment, unlike many traditional recipes.
Cranberry Mole Sauce

What Are The Regional Adaptations Of This Sauce? 

Cranberry Mole Sauce, since its inception, has seen various regional adaptations. In the northern regions, chefs often try adding maple or birch syrup, imparting a sweeter undertone.

On the other hand, in southwestern areas, they lean towards integrating smoked chilies for a more profound heat. 

Coastal areas, influenced by their seafood-rich diets, have tried infusing seaweed or sea salt, enhancing its umami flavor. In contrast, some European adaptations you must know about include the addition of local berries or herbs.

Research shows that the universal rule is that local ingredients tend to shape regional flavors, ensuring that you’ll get a unique taste.

What Will Make You Love This Cranberry Mole Sauce?

Several factors will make you fall in love with Cranberry Mole Sauce. Its unique blend of tangy cranberries with rich mole depth offers a refreshing and satisfying taste. Perfect for those who appreciate a mix of sweet and savory. 

Secondly, its versatility is unmatched. Whether drizzling it over grilled meats or using it to elevate a vegetarian dish, the sauce is adaptable.

Thirdly, the fusion of North American and Mexican flavors means you’ll get a gourmet experience right in your kitchen. 

Remember, it’s not just about the taste; it’s about the experience. Research shows that trying new flavors can be an adventure for the palate, and this sauce is one of the best things you can introduce to your culinary repertoire.

Cranberry Mole Sauce

Ingredients List 

Avocado or grapeseed oil2 tablespoons
Dried ancho chiles (stemmed)2
Dried chipotle (stemmed)1
White or yellow onion (chopped)1
Garlic cloves (minced)4
Bay leaves2
Dried unsweetened cranberries1 cup
Vegetable stock¾ cup
Granulated sugar6 tablespoons
Raw pumpkin seeds¼ cup
Cocoa or cacao powder¼ cup
Tomato paste2 tablespoons
Honey1 tablespoon
White vinegar1 tablespoon
Cumin seeds2 teaspoons
Ground cinnamon1 teaspoon
Ground coriander1 teaspoon
Dried oregano1 teaspoon
Dried thyme1 teaspoon
Salt¼ teaspoon

Ingredient Tips 

  • Avocado/Grapeseed Oil: Opt for cold-pressed oils, ensuring they retain nutritional value.
  • Dried Chiles: Toast them briefly in a skillet before use to release their flavors.
  • Onion: Using fresh, firm onions gives the best flavor. Yellow onions often impart a sweeter taste.
  • Garlic: Freshly minced garlic has a more robust flavor than pre-packaged versions.
  • Dried Cranberries: Ensure they are unsweetened to control the sauce’s sugar content.
  • Vegetable Stock: Homemade stock is ideal, but if buying, choose low-sodium options.
  • Cocoa/Cacao Powder: Opt for unsweetened, high-quality variants for authentic flavor.
  • Tomato Paste: Go for concentrated versions for a richer sauce.
  • Honey: Raw, organic honey often offers a purer, more distinct taste.
  • Spices: Freshly ground spices, where possible, provide a brighter flavor profile.

What Are The Variations Of Cranberry Mole Sauce Recipe?

  • Spicy Variant: Add more dried chipotles or habanero peppers for those who love extra heat.
  • Sweet Version: Swap granulated sugar with brown sugar or maple syrup for a deeper sweetness.
  • Nutty Twist: Add toasted almonds or hazelnuts to the mix, enhancing its richness and texture.
  • Tangy Take: Increase the white vinegar or add a lime splash for a tangier profile.
  • Herbal Infusion: Incorporate fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley for a refreshing touch.
  • Fruity Blend: Mix in other dried fruits like raisins or apricots for a varied fruity depth.
Cranberry Mole Sauce

Recipe Directions 

Cooking Method

  • In a large pot over medium heat, combine the oil, chiles, onion, garlic, and bay leaves. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the chiles emit a toasty aroma. Discard the bay leaves after.
  • Using a blender or food processor, combine the sautéed ingredients with the cranberries, stock, sugar, pumpkin seeds, cocoa powder, tomato paste, honey, white vinegar, cumin seeds, cinnamon, coriander, oregano, thyme, and salt. Ensure you blend until the mixture becomes smooth.
  • Transfer the puréed mixture to the same large pot and place it over medium heat. Stir frequently. Once the sauce begins to simmer, which should take around 5 minutes, remove it from the heat. Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature.

Ferment Method

  • If you wish to ferment (optional for a tangier flavor), transfer the sauce to a sterilized jar, leaving at least an inch of space at the top. Seal the jar and store it in a cool, dark place for 2-3 days. Check daily to release any gas and ensure the sauce is fermenting correctly. Once fermentation is done, refrigerate.
  • If not fermenting, store the sauce directly in the refrigerator post-cooling. It will remain good for up to 1 week.

Scaling The Recipe 

  • Doubling: If you aim to make a larger batch, double each ingredient. Ensure you use a larger pot to accommodate the increased volume.
  • Halving: To make a smaller batch, reduce each ingredient’s quantity by half. This is perfect for intimate gatherings or trial runs.
  • Consistency: When scaling up or down, you must remember the consistency. You can add a little more vegetable stock if it becomes too thick.
  • Taste Test: Always taste your sauce after scaling. Adjust seasonings, especially salt and spices, to achieve the desired flavor if necessary.
  • Storage: Larger batches might need longer cooling times, and remember, the storage life remains around 1 week in the refrigerator regardless of the quantity.
Cranberry Mole Sauce

Can This Sauce Be Used As A Marinade, Dipping Sauce, Or Dressing For Salads?

  • Marinade: The sauce’s deep flavors penetrate meats, tofu, or vegetables, enhancing their taste. Before grilling or baking, let your chosen ingredient marinate for at least a couple of hours.
  • Dipping Sauce: Its rich texture and unique blend of tangy and savory notes make it perfect for dipping tortilla chips, veggies, or even grilled meats.
  • Dressing for Salads: Try adding a bit of olive oil or lime juice to thin it out. The sauce can then beautifully coat greens, offering a delightful contrast with crunchy veggies or toppings.

What Are The Best Dishes To Accompany Cranberry Mole Sauce?

  • Grilled Proteins: The sauce pairs exquisitely with grilled chicken, beef, pork, or tofu, lending them a rich depth.
  • Tacos and Enchiladas: Drizzle or spread on tortillas for a delightful twist to your Mexican night.
  • Roasted Vegetables: The sauce adds a flavorful contrast, especially with root vegetables like carrots or sweet potatoes.
  • Rice and Quinoa Bowls: A dollop can enrich these grain dishes, making them more savory.
  • Pasta: Mix with noodles for an unconventional fusion dish.
  • Seafood: Grilled fish or shrimp can be elevated with this sauce.
  • Sandwiches and Wraps: Use as a spread to give your sandwiches a zesty kick.
Cranberry Mole Sauce

What Are Some Classic Dishes That Feature Cranberry Mole Sauce? 

  • Cranberry Mole Enchiladas: Rolled tortillas filled with meat or cheese, smothered in the sauce and baked.
  • Mole Roasted Turkey: A festive twist on traditional roasted turkey, marinated and glazed with the sauce.
  • Cranberry Mole Tamales: Steamed corn dough parcels filled with savory fillings and drizzled with the sauce.
  • Grilled Chicken with Mole Drizzle: Char-grilled chicken breasts or thighs generously drizzled with the sauce.
  • Mole Tostadas: Crispy flat tortillas layered with beans, meat, veggies, and a generous helping of the sauce.

What Are The Key Flavor Profiles And Taste Sensations That Cranberry Mole Sauce Offers?

  • Sweetness: Derived primarily from cranberries and a touch of sugar or honey, it offers a pleasant fruity sweetness.
  • Savoriness: Ingredients like onion, garlic, and tomato paste introduce a deep, umami richness.
  • Tanginess: Cranberries and white vinegar provide a zesty, acidic kick.
  • Spiciness: Ancho and chipotle chiles add a smoky heat, tickling the taste buds.
  • Earthy: Cocoa or cacao powder imbues the sauce with a grounded, earthy note.
  • Aromatic: Spices like cinnamon, cumin, and oregano bring fragrant nuances.
  • Bitterness: Light bitter undertones emerge from the chiles and cocoa, balancing the overall profile.
Cranberry Mole Sauce

Can This Sauce Be Stored And Preserved For Future Use? What Is Its Shelf Life?

  • Refrigeration: Transfer the sauce into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. Properly stored, it will last up to 1 week.
  • Freezing: For extended shelf life, pour the sauce into freezer-safe containers or bags, leaving some space for expansion. This method preserves the sauce for up to 3 months. To use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Canning: The sauce can be canned using proper sterilization techniques for longer shelf stability. Once canned, it can last up to a year in a cool, dark place.

What Are The Substitutes For Cranberry Mole Sauce?

  • Traditional Mole Sauce: A rich combination of chiles, spices, and sometimes chocolate. It lacks the fruity undertone but offers depth.
  • Pomegranate Molasses: Offers a tangy, sweet flavor, ideal for dressings or marinades.
  • Cherry or Blueberry Sauce: These can replace the cranberry’s tartness in dishes for a fruity twist.
  • BBQ Sauce with a Dash of Cocoa: This provides a smoky, sweet flavor with an earthy hint.
  • Tamarind Sauce: Adds tanginess and sweetness, great for dipping.
  • Chili-Cranberry Sauce: A simpler blend of cranberries and chilies, less complex but with a spicy kick.
  • Salsa Roja: A tomato-based sauce with chiles, which brings heat and tanginess.
Cranberry Mole Sauce

How To Adjust The Consistency Of The Sauce?

Too Thick

  • Water/Vegetable Stock: Gradually add small amounts while stirring until the desired consistency is reached.
  • Tomato Sauce: This thins the sauce and adds a tangy flavor.

Too Thin

  • Simmer: Place the sauce on medium heat, allowing it to simmer and reduce to your preferred thickness.
  • Cornstarch Slurry: Mix a teaspoon of cornstarch with a little cold water, then stir into the sauce and heat until thickened.


  • Blender/Food Processor: For a smoother finish, blend the sauce. Pulse a few times or add finely chopped ingredients for a chunkier texture.

Should We Serve The Sauce Cold Or Warm?


  • Dressing or Dip: When used as a salad dressing or a dip for chips and veggies, it’s best served cold or at room temperature to maintain a refreshing taste and consistency.
  • Marinade: For marinating proteins, using it cold helps better absorb flavors.


  • Main Dishes: If it accompanies grilled meats, enchiladas, or tamales, serving it warm complements the hot dishes.
  • Pasta or Rice: Pouring warm sauce over grains enhances the dish’s warmth and comfort.
Cranberry Mole Sauce

Nutritional Values 

The Cranberry Mole Sauce is rich in cranberry antioxidants. It offers a blend of vitamins and minerals from its diverse ingredients. Its moderate calorie content is balanced with beneficial compounds from chiles, spices, and cocoa.

What Are The Total Calories In Cranberry Mole Sauce?

To accurately determine the total calories in Cranberry Mole Sauce, you’d need to assess the caloric content of each ingredient and sum them up. 

However, given the ingredients listed, a rough estimate would place a standard serving of the sauce (about 2 tablespoons) at approximately 50-70 calories. Factors influencing this range include the products used and their respective calorie counts. 

Dietary Restrictions Of The Cranberry Mole Sauce

  • Vegan: The sauce contains no animal-derived ingredients.
  • Gluten-Free: All listed components are naturally gluten-free, but always check product labels for potential cross-contamination.
  • Nut-Free: It doesn’t contain tree nuts or peanuts.
  • Dairy-Free: Lacks dairy ingredients like milk or cheese.
  • Soy-Free: The recipe doesn’t include any soy-based products.
  • Low Sodium: Only a minimal amount of salt is used.
  • Sugar Content: Diabetics should be aware of the sugar and honey.
  • Nightshades: Contains chiles and tomatoes, which are nightshades.

Nutrition Table 

Nutrition Table 

What Are The Common Mistakes While Making This Sauce?

  • Overcooking the Chilies: Sautéing chilies too long can give the sauce a burnt, bitter taste. It’s crucial to watch for the chilies to release their aroma but not blacken.
  • Skimping on Simmering: Not allowing the sauce to simmer long enough may produce a raw taste from the spices and tomato paste.
  • Overpowering Sweetness: While cranberries and sugar add a pleasant sweetness, too much can overshadow the sauce’s other flavors.
  • Inconsistent Blending: Not blending the sauce to a smooth consistency can produce a grainy texture.
  • Not Adjusting for Salt: You might need to adjust the added salt depending on the vegetable stock’s sodium content.
  • Overusing Spices: It’s essential to remember the potency of spices like cinnamon and cumin. Excessive use can overpower the sauce.
  • Improper Storage: Not using an airtight container or storing the sauce too long can affect its freshness and taste.
  • Skipping Taste Tests: Not tasting and adjusting the sauce throughout cooking can lead to imbalanced flavors.
  • Not Hydrating Dried Chilies: If you use dried chilies, they need to be properly rehydrated to release their flavors fully.

What Are Some Creative Uses Of Leftover Sauce?

  • Sandwich Spread: Elevate sandwiches or wraps with a spicy, tangy twist.
  • Pizza Base: Swap traditional tomato sauce for this flavorful mole on homemade pizzas.
  • Pasta Mix-In: Stir into pasta for a unique flavor profile.
  • Stuffed Veggies: A filling base for stuffed bell peppers or zucchini.
  • Baked Beans: Add to your baked bean mixture for depth.
  • Grilled Cheese Dip: Pair with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Rice Flavoring: Mix into plain rice or grain bowls.
  • Tofu Marinade: Marinate tofu blocks before grilling or baking.
  • Soup Enhancer: Add a spoonful to soups or stews.
  • Omelet Filling: Drizzle inside omelets for a spicy kick.

Special Tools & Equipment Needed 

  • Large Pot: For sautéing and simmering ingredients.
  • Blender/Food Processor: Essential for blending the sauce to a smooth consistency.
  • Measuring Cups & Spoons: To accurately measure ingredients.
  • Rubber Spatula: Useful for scraping down the blender and ensuring even mixing.
  • Fine-Mesh Strainer: Optional for those preferring an ultra-smooth sauce.
  • Heat-Resistant Spoon: Stir ingredients while sautéing and simmering.
  • Knife & Cutting Board: Chopping onions, garlic, and removing chili stems.
  • Airtight Container: For storing leftover sauce.
  • Gloves: To handle chilies and prevent skin irritation.
  • Whisk: Helpful in mixing ingredients and ensuring an even texture.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I Use Fresh Cranberries Instead Of Dried Ones?

Yes, you can use fresh cranberries. However, the sauce might be a bit tangier. You might need to adjust the sugar or honey content accordingly to balance the flavors.

I Don’t Have Ancho Or Chipotle Chilies. What Can I Use As A Substitute?

If you don’t have ancho or chipotle chilies, you can substitute them with other dried chilies like guajillo or pasilla. The flavor profile will change slightly, but you’ll still get a rich and spicy sauce.

Is It Mandatory To Use Both Avocado And Grapeseed Oil?

No, it’s not mandatory. You can use either avocado oil or grapeseed oil. They are suggested due to their neutral flavor and high smoke point, perfect for sautéing.

Can I Make This Sauce Vegan?

The recipe is already vegan. Ensure your sugar is vegan-friendly, as some sugar processes involve animal products.

How Can I Make The Sauce Spicier Or Milder?

Add more dried chilies or even a splash of hot sauce to make the sauce spicier. Remove the seeds and veins from the dried chilies before sautéing, or use fewer chilies altogether for a milder version.

Mexican Style Cranberry Mole Sauce Recipe With Perfect Flavor

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Lana Rivera Course: Hot Sauces


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Ferment/Rest Time



Cranberry Mole Sauce is a vibrant fusion of tangy cranberries and rich, spicy mole flavors. This versatile sauce, rooted in traditional mole principles, boasts a blend of dried chilies, cocoa, spices, and sweetness. It’s perfect for elevating meat dishes, pastas, or as a unique dip or spread.


  • 2 tablespoons 2 Avocado or grapeseed oil

  • 2 2 Dried ancho chiles (stemmed)

  • 1 1 Dried chipotle (stemmed)

  • 1 1 White or yellow onion (chopped)

  • 4 4 Garlic cloves (minced)

  • 2 2 Bay leaves

  • 1 cup 1 Dried unsweetened cranberries

  • ¾ cup ¾ Vegetable stock

  • 6 tablespoons 6 Granulated sugar

  • ¼ cup ¼ Raw pumpkin seeds

  • ¼ cup ¼ Cocoa or cacao powder

  • 2 tablespoons 2 Tomato paste

  • 1 tablespoon 1 Honey

  • 1 tablespoon 1 White vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons 2 Cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon 1 Ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon 1 Ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon 1 Dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon 1 Dried thyme

  • ¼ teaspoon ¼ Salt

Step-By-Step Directions 

  • Preparation: Stem the dried chilies. Chop the onion and mince the garlic cloves.
  • Sauté the Base: In a large pot over medium heat, combine the avocado or grapeseed oil, ancho chiles, chipotle, onion, garlic, and bay leaves. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the chilies release their aroma and the onions are translucent.
  • Remove Bay Leaves: After sautéing, discard the bay leaves from the pot.
  • Blending: Transfer the sautéed ingredients to a blender or food processor. Add the dried cranberries, vegetable stock, granulated sugar, pumpkin seeds, cocoa powder, tomato paste, honey, white vinegar, cumin seeds, cinnamon, coriander, oregano, thyme, and salt. Blend until the mixture is smooth and well-integrated.
  • Simmer: Pour the blended mixture into the large pot and place over medium heat. Stir frequently and let it simmer for about 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.
  • Cooling: Remove the pot from heat and let the sauce cool to room temperature.
  • Storage: Transfer the sauce to an airtight container. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Recipe Video


  • Chilies Intensity: Keep in mind the intensity of the chilies can vary. Remove the seeds and veins from the chilies before sautéing if you prefer a milder sauce.
  • Sweetness: Adjust the sugar or honey according to your desired sweetness level, especially since dried cranberries are sometimes naturally sweet.
  • Consistency: If the sauce is too thick, add more vegetable stock or water to reach your desired consistency.
  • Spices: Toasting spices like cumin seeds before adding them to the sauce can intensify their flavor.
  • Storage: If you intend to store the sauce for an extended period, ensure it’s placed in an airtight container to maintain its freshness.
  • Reheat: When reheating, do so over low heat to prevent any change in flavor or texture.

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