This Cuban mojo marinade is made with garlic, sour orange, olive oil and herbs, great for marinating fish, chicken, or pork, or as a garlicky mojo sauce!
Hanging out in Florida always inspires me to seek out Cuban food. There are a few places we like to visit for some authentic Cuban cuisine, though I also enjoying making it at home.
In Florida, it is easier to find sour orange juice than back home, and when I have bitter oranges, I want Cuban Mojo Sauce.
What is Cuban Mojo?
Mojo is a traditional Cuban sauce that also doubles as a marinade. The essential components for making Cuban mojo are garlic, sour orange juice, oregano, and salt. Oil is usually added, as is onion and black pepper.
The flavor is potent and vibrant with a distinctive garlic punch, perfect for bringing a tangy freshness to your meals.
There are many ways to use it, either as a marinade or a sauce. I think you'll love it now matter how you use it.
Let's talk about how to make mojo marinade (mojo sauce).
Cuban Mojo Ingredients
- Garlic Cloves. You'll use a lot of garlic for this recipe. It is meant to be a garlicky marinade or sauce.
- Onion. Optional, for extra body and flavor.
- Sour Orange Juice. Or use a combination of freshly squeezed orange juice and fresh lime juice. Lemon juice can be used.
- Seasonings. Oregano, cumin, salt and black pepper.
- Olive Oil. Lard is often used, but olive oil is more common in home kitchens. You can omit oil if using as a marinade for fattier proteins, like roast pork.
How to Make Cuban Mojo (Mojo Marinade or Mojo Sauce)
Make the Garlic Paste. Add the garlic, onion, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper to a food processor and process to form a paste. Alternatively, you can use a mortar and pestle (or molcajete) to grind by hand.
Make the Vinaigrette. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the sour orange juice and olive oil until it thickens.
Combine to Make the Mojo. Stir in the seasoned garlic paste until well combined.
Taste and Adjust. Adjust with salt and pepper and serve.
Boom! Done! Looks great, doesn't it? Such a wonderful recipe. It is tasty stuff, truly. I like to use this a few different ways, as either a marinade, a sauce, or a vinaigrette.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Can't find sour orange? Use a mix of lemon juice, lime juice, and orange juice as a substitute.
- Skip the oil if you're basting or marinating a fattier protein, like roast pork, which already has plenty of fat. However, oil is key for marinating leaner meats to help seal in the moisture.
- Add a spicy chili pepper to the mix when you make the garlic paste for a spicy mojo marinade or sauce. This is not traditional, but great for spicy food lovers.
How to Use Cuban Mojo
There are several ways you can use Cuban mojo to add a powerful garlic-citrus punch to your dishes.
The Perfect Cuban Mojo Marinade
Cuban mojo is ideal for marinating fish or other seafood, pork, chicken, or vegetables. I love it for mojo shrimp. Marinate seafood or vegetables for 1 hour, then grill or cook as desired.
For proteins like chicken, pork, or steak, marinate at least 2-3 hours, though overnight is better for flavor penetration.
Cuban Mojo Sauce (Mojo Criollo)
Cuban mojo is great served as a garlicky sauce. You can serve it as-is, or gently warm it in a saucepan before serving.
It's perfect as a simple dipper for fried yuca, or a sauce that you can spoon over meats and sandwiches. Think pulled or Cuban roast pork, shredded beef, grilled chicken. Any and all of these will soak in the flavor that is mojo sauce.
Toss chopped or shave vegetables together with leafy greens for a wonderfully garlicky salad dressing. It will bring a lot of life and flavor to your light salad.
Store your Cuban mojo in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. Do not save any leftover mojo that you've used for marinating.
You can freeze Cuban mojo in freezer bags for 3 months. To use it, thaw the mojo in the refrigerator, then use as desired. Note that some ingredients like fresh herbs or garlic may lose their flavor or texture when frozen.
If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you'll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don't forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I'll be sure to share! Thanks! -- Mike H.
Cuban Mojo Marinade Recipe (Mojo Sauce)
- 10 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 teaspoon oregano (dried can be used)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup sour orange juice (or use equal parts orange and lime juice)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Add the garlic, onion, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper to a food processor and process to form a paste. Alternatively, you can use a mortar and pestle (or molcajete) to grind by hand.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the sour orange juice and olive oil until it thickens.
- Stir in the seasoned garlic paste until well combined.
- Adjust with salt and pepper and use as needed.
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 1/30/23 to include new information and photos. It was originally published on 2/22/17.