Frida Kahlo’s Recipe for Red Mole

Frida red mole

This Frida Friday recipe is red mole with pork and two types of chiles: ancho and guajillo. This dish was a favorite on the table of la talentosa artista Mexicana Frida Kahlo and her muralist-husband Diego Rivera. As lovingly captured by Diego’s daughter, Guadalupe Rivera, in her cookbook, Frida’s Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo, written with Marie-Pierre Colle, mole was a favorite dish in La Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico.

Frida cookbook

This mole was served at a very special Dia de Los Muertos comida Frida hosted in 1942. If you were to stroll into la cocina of La Casa Azul toward the end of October that year, you would find Frida dressing her Oaxaca-style home altar and overseeing the preparation of a dozen dishes for Dia de los Muertos. Combining three of Frida’s passions—art, family and food—this holiday was one of her favorites.

Frida’s love for the feast is seen in many of her paintings, which often show skulls, skeletons, candles and cemazchtil flowers. By November 1, she had carefully put together a radiant, enormous altar filled with fruits, nuts and dozens of sugar skulls spelling out her familia’s names. Pictures of fallecidos were showcased as center pieces. The second day of the feast was devoted to loved ones who have died at an older age, including Frida’s mother Matilda, and here is where we find adult-sized dishes served in place of children’s offerings. A highlight of the meal was this auténtico mole rojo with pork. May we recommend you serve it at your next feast with Frida’s other favorite dishes: like these refried beans, red tamales, and carnitas?

Ready to Make Frida’s Go-to Mole Rojo?

Frida Kahlo’s Recipe for Red Mole

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Guadalupe Rivera, Frida’s Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo Cuisine: Mexican


Prep time


Cooking time






  • 3 lbs 3 pork loin

  • 1 1 onion, quartered

  • 1 clove 1 garlic

  • 1 1 bay leaf

  • Salt, to taste

  • For the Sauce
  • 8 8 ancho chiles

  • 8 8 guajillo chiles

  • 3 3 tomatoes, roasted and peeled

  • 8 8 allspice berries

  • 3 3 cloves

  • 1 1 cinnamon stick

  • 2/3 cup 2/3 sesame seeds, toasted

  • 1 1 plantain, ripe, peeled and cut into chunks

  • 1 1 onion, medium, chopped

  • 3 Tbsp 3 lard (see Notes below, if you’d like to substitute)

  • Salt, to taste

  • 3 3 hoja santa (acuyo) fresh leaves, chopped

  • 8 potatoes, medium, peeled and cut into cubes

  • For the Dumplings
  • 1/2 lb 1/2 masa harina

  • 1/4 lb 1/4 lard (see Notes below, if you’d like to substitute)

  • Salt, to taste


  • Combine the pork, onion, garlic, bay leaf and salt (to taste) into a saucepan.
  • Add water to cover ingredients.
  • Cook until meat is tender, about 1 hour.
  • Drain the meat, let cool slightly, and slice. Reserve the broth.
  • For the Dumplings
  • Mix the masa harina thoroughly with the lard and salt, to taste.
  • Shape into little balls and poke a small hole with your finger in the center of each.
  • For the Sauce
  • Roast the chiles on a griddle for a few seconds.
  • Remove the seeds, then soak for 20 minutes in very hot water.
  • Puree chiles with their soaking water and strain.
  • Puree the tomatoes, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, ⅔ of the sesame seeds, and plantain. Strain.
  • Sauté the onion in hot lard, until it becomes translucent.
  • Add tomato mixture and cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Add chiles and salt and cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Add the hoja santa or acuyo leaves, cubed potatoes and enough of the meat broth to make a medium-thick sauce.
  • Cook about 20 minutes until potatoes are tender.
  • Add the sliced meat.
  • Gently stir in dumplings and then cook for 10 more minutes.
  • Sprinkle with the rest of the sesame seeds and serve.


  • Like many traditional Mexican recipes, this one calls for lard. If you prefer to substitute a more readily available or healthier alternative fat source, one option is using butter (just make sure it’s 100% butter). A good rule of thumb is to use 3 Tbsp of butter for 2 Tbsp of lard. You can also replace it with olive oil in a 1 to 1 ratio—we do.
  • On their Dia de Los Muertos comida in 1942, Frida, Diego, Guadalupe, family and friends feasted on this mole rojo in addition to this menu: fried bread with syrup, dead man’s bread, chicken in pipián sauce, yellow mole, red mole, red tamales, tamales in banana leaves, mixed tropical fruit in syrup, pumpkin in syrup, and strawberry atole, according to Guadalupe’s account in her book Frida’s Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo.

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