What is Oaxaca Chocolate?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Oaxaca is the center of chocolate production in Mexico, so it should come a no surprise to learn that Oaxaca chocolate is famous, not just in Mexico, but abroad. The history of Oaxaca chocolate goes back for centuries, and the residents of this region consume significantly more chocolate than other people in Mexico, thanks to the pervasiveness of chocolate in Oaxacan culture. Many visitors to this region of Mexico indulge in its famous ingredient, taking advantage of the culinary heritage of Oaxaca chocolate in a wide assortment of both sweet and savory dishes.


Chocolate is made from the beans of the cacao tree, after they are picked and carefully fermented. The seasoned beans are ground into a gritty paste which can be seasoned with an assortment of ingredients to bring out its flavor. In Mexico, chocolate has historically been consumed in a wide assortment of things, but perhaps most famously in the form of a hot spiced drink, which European explorers brought back with them. This drink, in a slightly different incarnation, is known today at hot chocolate, and it is popular around the world.

Mexico's chocolate production is centered in Oaxaca, a southern state.
Mexico's chocolate production is centered in Oaxaca, a southern state.

Traditional Oaxaca chocolate is prepared in a number of ways. It is often ground with sugar, cinnamon, and almonds, and formed into bars which can be used to prepare hot chocolate and other dishes. You may hear this form of Oaxaca chocolate referred to as “Mexican chocolate,” and it is readily available in many grocery stores, often in beautifully packaged octagonal boxes with thick wedges of chocolate which must be broken apart for use.

Oaxaca is also famous for its mole, a savory dish which sometimes includes chocolate. Mole is savory, not sweet, which may be strange for people who are accustomed to chocolate in the form of desserts only. Mole is also extremely spicy, and it is a rich, piquant sauce which pairs well with a wide assortment of foods. Mole can be found pre-mixed, and it is also possible to assemble your own, using the ingredients which Oaxacans have used for centuries.

A lesser known use of Oaxaca chocolate is tejate, which is a cold chocolate drink. It can be difficult to find tejate outside of Oaxaca, which is a great pity, since this drink is quite delightful. It is made with chocolate, masa, flowers, and the pulp of the mamey fruit. The ingredients are ground and blended into a rich, frothy drink which is extremely refreshing in the summer.

A savory mole sauce can be made with rich Oaxacan chocolate and cinnamon.
A savory mole sauce can be made with rich Oaxacan chocolate and cinnamon.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I'm sorry but the thought of mixing chocolate with cayenne pepper is downright disgusting to me. I've seen pictures of moles in cookbooks and on the web and nothing about it looks appetizing to me.

To top it off they add chunks of chicken to the sauce. Who would've ever thought to make a sauce out of chicken, cayenne pepper and chocolate. This is just my opinion, but Yuck!

I'll keep my spicy foods on one side and my sweet chocolates on the other thank you very much.


My uncle is a Chocolatier with his own gourmet chocolate shop in San Diego. He serves an authentic Oaxacan chocolate ice cream that is out of this world. It's better than any chocolate ice cream I've ever tasted before.

He tells his customers the only way to learn his secret ingredients is to fly to Oaxaca to learn first hand themselves. He's had customers actually consider it because it is that good. It's chocolate in it's purest form.


Most Mexican chocolate bars get there rough gritty texture because the sugar is not completely dissolved. They don’t normally eat it out of hand like Americans do the Hershey’s bar. But Mayordomo chocolate bars can be eaten directly from the wrapper.

Mayordomo is a brand of chocolate grown and manufactured in Oaxaca, Mexico. Traditional Oaxacan chocolates are dissolved in milk over the stove with a wire whisk to make hot chocolate.

And when you add a dash or two of Cayenne pepper you’ll turn it into an authentic cup of Oaxacan hot chocolate. It’s a wonderful concoction of sweet and spicy.

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