Holy Mole Pepper Guide: Heat, Flavor, Uses

What are Holy Mole peppers?

Looking for the perfect chili for mole sauce making? The Holy Mole pepper is bred for the job. This delicious hybrid pepper – akin to the mole-favorite pasilla pepper – packs a delicious nutty tang and mild simmering heat (700 to 800 Scoville heat units or SHU) that pairs deliciously with a mole’s rich ingredients. Though don’t pigeonhole this pepper into a singular use. The award-winning Holy Mole is just as tasty fresh, and its thick walls allow for many culinary uses.

Holy Mole Pepper
Holy Mole peppers

Holy Mole pepper fast facts

Scoville heat units (SHU)700 – 800
Median heat (SHU)750
Jalapeño reference point3 to 10 times milder
Capsicum speciesAnnuum
OriginUnited States
SizeApproximately 7 to 9 inches long, slender
FlavorNutty, Tangy

How are the Holy Mole and pasilla pepper related?

The Holy Mole is a pasilla-like pepper in terms of how they taste with mole sauces, and that terminology can actually be confusing as the name pasilla refers to the dried variant of the chilaca pepper, from which the Holy Mole is the direct hybrid. The Holy Mole moniker covers both the fresh and dried form of this hybrid chili.

Why choose the Holy Mole when the pasilla is part of the “Holy Trinity” of mole peppers?

True, the pasilla is one of the most popular peppers in Mexico because it is so critical to mole cooking, part of the famed Holy Trinity of mole peppers (ancho, pasilla, guajillo), but the Holy Mole has some key growing advantages gained through hybridizing:

  • The Holy Mole was bred to grow faster and provide more peppers per plant than the chilaca/pasilla. This is important since mole sauces rely on mature chilies that have reached their final color state and flavor intensity on the vine.
  • The Holy Mole is disease resistant to the tobacco mosaic virus (strains 0, 1, and 2) – a common pepper virus. It’s also resistant to the potato virus (Y strain).

What does this mean for us eaters? It means healthier mole sauce peppers, and more of them, earlier in the season. The hybridizing provides a more powerful pepper with similar (enough) heat and flavor traits. This led the Holy Mole to receive the All-America Selections award (AAS) for vegetables in 2007. It’s a chili pepper game-changer.

How hot are Holy Mole peppers?

They actually don’t come anywhere close to an authentic pasilla’s heat, though neither is a scorcher on the pepper scale. Holy Mole peppers range between 700 and 800 Scoville heat units (SHU), while pasilla chilies range from 1,000 to 2,500 SHU. Yes, that’s often double the heat, but pasillas are still typically in the mild heat range.

As a comparison against our jalapeño reference point, the Holy Mole is three to ten times milder than a jalapeño. That’s a spiciness most anyone can handle.

What do these chilies look like?

They look much like the chilaca pepper from which they are hybridized. Holy Mole pepeprs are long and slender chilies that grow seven to nine inches long. They age from green to a chocolatey brown in color, and it’s in their mature brown state that the chili gains its value to mole sauces.

What do Holy Mole peppers taste like?

The taste of the Holy Mole is similar to a pasilla, but there is a difference. The pasilla has an earthy raisiny taste, whereas the Holy Mole tends to have a more nutty tang. The flavor is present even in its youthful green state, but it grows in intensity as the pepper ages to a mature brown.

How can you use these chilies?

Obviously, the Holy Mole pepper is bred for use in mole sauces. When the pepper ripens to its chocolatey brown mature color, it can then be dried and crushed into powder form for mole use. You can also use this powder to flavor soups and stews. And it’s quite good as a single-ingredient dry rub. The nutty undertones help Holy Mole powder work very well as a steak spice.

But don’t overlook the Holy Mole in its fresh form, either. This chili has thick walls – thick enough to allow for stuffing (though the slenderness of the chilies does provide a challenge.) It also works very well as a salad or salsa chili when in its youthful green color stage.

Where can you buy Holy Mole peppers?

While not common sites fresh in supermarkets – at least not labeled as such – Holy Mole peppers, being an AAS selection, are relatively easy to find in seed form at gardening centers and online. So you can grow your own. You can buy both Holy Mole pepper seeds and young plants ready for transplanting. If you’re looking for kitchen-ready dried chilies, opt for buying pasilla peppers. They are much easier to find.

If you’re looking to create your own authentic mole sauces – from the garden to the stovetop – then the Holy Mole is the optimal choice. More peppers, faster and healthier, means more delicious mole sauce for you to enjoy year-round.

Must-read related posts

  • Ancho Vs. Pasilla: How do these two popular mole chilies compare?
  • The Hot Pepper List: We profile over 150 chilies. Search them by name, flavor, heat level, and more.
  • Easy Mole Sauce: A simpler take on mole sauce. Authentic? No. But much easier to make with most of the same flavors.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on February 11, 2023 to include new content.
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i’ve got a bunch of these and have no idea what to do with them.

Huancho Rojo

Like Darleen, This is my first year growing this variety of pepper plants. My daughter gave it to me as a starter plant. It really took off and grew faster than other varieties and already has some 5″ peppers on it. I was wondering how my fellow pepper lovers dry them.

Darleen Saunders

Growing these this year. They are easy to grow if you can grow any kind of pepper you can do these too. It it looking like the holy mole pepper is an early producer and prolific too. Going to eat some in their green state, let most ripen into their brown stage and will dry some for use in the winter. Will grow these again!