Welcome to the best marinade you’ll ever make!
If you’ve been searching for a good chicken marinade, steak marinade, or even pork marinade, this recipe is for you!
I’ve been enjoying this recipe since birth and I have to say, I never get tired of it.
Maybe I’m biased.
What is mojo marinade?
Mojo marinade (or mojo criollo) is a Cuban citrusy, garlicky marinade that has a tangy, slightly sour flavor which is the best! It’s pronounced moh-hoh.
I’ve seen several variations of this mojo marinade. I’ve seen it be called mojo sauce and made with jalapeño which is a big, fat NO in my world. Cuban food is NOT spicy. Other variations are heavy on the oil and some don’t have oil at all.
In my recipe, you’ll find a good balance of sour orange juice, olive oil, fresh garlic (lots of it!), and spices. SO GOOD!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Garlic. You need 10 cloves of garlic which equal 1 head of garlic. I know it sounds like a lot but this is the star of the show. Garlic SHINES in this recipe. If you’re not a fan (why?), you can add less garlic (maybe 5 or 6 cloves). Just know it will not taste as authentic.
- Sour orange juice (or naranja agria). If you can find sour oranges (or bitter oranges) at the grocery store, that will be your best bet! Sour oranges have slightly red-orange bumpy-like skin and they are pale orange inside (this is what they look like). You need approximately 3-4 sour oranges for 2 cups of fresh sour orange juice.
- I know sour oranges can be hard to find so if you can’t find them, you can buy storebought sour orange juice (or naranja agria). This is the brand I buy and recommend.
- If you can’t find sour oranges nor sour orange juice, you can make your own using 1 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice from 3 navel oranges + 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice from 3 lemons + 1/2 cup fresh lime juice from 4 limes.
- Minced white onion. You can use a food processor, citrus grater, or your kniving skills to mince the onion. You want it as finely minced as possible.
- Cumin, oregano, salt, black pepper. The spices!
- Extra virgin olive oil. The oil plays an integral part in keeping the protein you use for this marinade from drying out.
How To Make Mojo Criollo
- Make a garlic paste. In a mortar and pestle, add the garlic cloves and salt. Mash both until you get a smooth paste.
- Add the ingredients to a jar. In a large mason jar, add the garlic paste, minced onion, black pepper, oregano, cumin, sour orange juice, and olive oil.
- Combine ingredients. Close the jar tightly with the lid and shake it until well combined. Feel free to taste and adjust seasoning.
This marinade tastes garlicky, fresh, citrusy, tangy, bright, and slightly sour. Never spicy nor sweet!
What can I make with mojo marinade?
You can add this marinade to just about anything – chicken, pork, shrimp, seafood, steak, you name it! Here are a few of my favorite recipes that use mojo:
- Churrasco (Skirt Steak)
- Pollo a la Plancha (Cuban Grilled Chicken Breast)
- Cuban Mojo Spatchcock Turkey
- Cuban Roast Pork (Lechon Asado)
- Cuban-Style Crispy Shredded Chicken (Vaca Frita de Pollo)
- Crispy Baked Mojo Marinated Chicken Wings
How long to marinate with mojo will vary depending on the type of protein and the recipe.
There is such thing as over tenderizing or over marinating especially with citrusy marinades so be mindful of this.
Here are a few tips:
- Pork / Chicken / Turkey. From 2 hours up to overnight. The longer, the better!
- Beef. Depending on the cut of meat, I’d recommend at least 1 hour but no more than 3-4 hours. For example, churrasco should marinate in mojo no more than 2 hours or the texture will change. Tougher cuts of meat may need longer marinating times.
- Seafood. From 10-30 minutes. I do not recommend longer than 30 minutes.
Tips & Tricks
- Shake! Be sure to shake the marinade well before every use.
- Scaling. This recipe makes about 2 cups of mojo marinade. You can double the recipe if you need to.
- Storage. This marinade will last approximately up to 3 weeks in an airtight container/mason jar. You can also freeze it in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Cuban Mojo Criollo (Mojo Marinade Recipe)
- 1 head garlic approx. 10 large cloves
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 cup minced white onion
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cups sour orange juice* (naranja agria)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- In a mortar and pestle, add the garlic cloves and salt. Mash both until you get a smooth paste.
- In a large mason jar, add the garlic paste, minced onion, black pepper, oregano, cumin, sour orange juice, and olive oil. Close the jar tightly with the lid and shake it until well combined. Be sure to shake well before every use.
- Feel free to taste and adjust seasoning. If you're not a fan of garlic, you can add less (maybe 5 or 6 cloves). This marinade should taste garlicky, fresh, tangy, citrusy, bright, and slightly sour. Never sweet nor spicy.
- This recipe makes approximately 2 cups of mojo marinade which will last approximately up to 3 weeks in an airtight container/mason jar. You can also freeze it in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Enjoy!
This recipe was a lifesaver for me. Have been using the Goya brand for years. Recently moved to Valencia, Spain and thought it would be easy to find. Lots of Goya products here, but not this one. So, I made my own version of yours and actually like it even better. Maybe because I doubled up on the garlic and cumin :)
Looking forward to exploring the site for more inspiration.
Jamie Silva says
The comment made my day, Gary! Thank you for sharing!
Love this recipe! I’ve made it a few times. Once buying the sour orange juice and a few times with oranges, lemons, and limes. Both ways are delicious. Thanks for sharing!!
Carol Tribuzio says
Love the spices and recipes
Jane Monti says
We got busy and did not cook the pork tenderloin with your marinade the first night, but did so last night. It is terrific, moist, tender, flavorful. You are right that it should sit in the marinade overnight.. We will have this again. Thanks, Jane
Jamie Silva says
Happy you loved it! :)
Jane Monti says
I just put my pork tenderloin in your marinade to spend the day. Oh, my, smells teriffic and that orange color is beautiful! I live in South Florida, where I grow my own herbs so I use Cuban Oregano. If you have relatives who remember life in Cuba, would you ask if they remember using it. Might be fun to know. Thanks, Jane
Yahaira Núñez says
Hi! Can you use sour oranges instead of sweet ones for the recipe?
Jamie Silva says
Yes! That’s even better! You won’t need any lime/lemon if you use sour oranges.
Lisa Parrin-Lester says
Hi. I’ve just made a Cuban Prawn pasta from a recipe that has garlic paste separate to Mojo seasoning and a white wine reduction. To use your recipe in it (which sounds fab) how much of the marinade would I use to a packet of prawns? (Other ingredients are asparagus and cherry Tom’s)
Jamie Silva says
It’s hard to say since I’m not in front of the recipe. I’d suggest you make the mojo marinade, use enough to cover the prawns in a bowl, and save whatever is left of the marinade in a jar with a tight lid or an airtight container for future use!
How long do you marinate the meat in mojo? Thank you for sharing this recipe.
Doris V. says
How long do you think the marinade will keep in the refrigerator?