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    Cuban Mojo Marinade

    I’ve found the secret to making any meal special: my homemade Mojo Marinade. It’s bursting with bold citrus, garlic, and tangy flavors that add an “Oh Wow!” taste to any piece of meat.

    Whether I’m planning a laid-back dinner or a grand Cuban feast, this marinade is my go-to. It’s super simple to whip up using just a handful of fresh ingredients. After making this, I can confidently say that store-bought Mojo bottles just don’t compare.

    cuban mojo marinade in a blue bowl

    Seriously, the bottled things you get in stores called “Mojo Criollo” are no match for freshly squeezed citrus, along with some fresh garlic and some zingy herbs.

    Why bother buying the stuff when it can be made in less than 15 minutes? I can replicate the same flavors that you get in Cuban restaurants… Mmm, we have some good ones here in Florida…

    All I have to do is marinate that chicken or pork, or even some shrimp or flank steak for a few hours and start my oven or grill… easy weeknight meals, moms! or Dads..!! or whoever is in for an easy quick meal..!!! And super duper healthy!

    So what are you waiting for? It’s citrus season, grab those oranges and you’ll have this ready in no time.

    sliced citrus on a white background

    What is Cuban Mojo Marinade?

    This signature marinade of Cuba, pronounced “MO HO”, is just a mix of some citrus juice, fresh onion and garlic with some herbs and olive oil.

    This is one marinade or sauce that you will find in every Cuban household, though you will likely find each family has their own little variation. For example, some use olive oil, some don’t.

    I personally feel olive oil helps when cooking the meat a keeps it moist, but with fattier cuts you can go with less, or no, oil.

    Ingredients Needed

    sliced citrus on a white background
    • Citrus – Traditionally, Mojo is made with sour, almost bitter oranges from Cuba, similar to Seville oranges. Many Cubans in Florida even have a sour orange tree in their backyard. Sometimes, you can find them in grocery stores, but it’s okay if you can’t. You can still create those flavors by mixing and matching your citruses. I use some grapefruit, lime, and lemon juice.
    • Olive Oil – To compliment the citrus.
    • Garlic – Lots of it. Minced or crushed with a mortar and pestle. You definitely need those garlic notes in your marinade… it’s Cuban, after all!
    • Kosher salt – If you only have regular table salt on hand, use half as much.
    • Black pepper – For a little extra punch.
    • Dried oregano – If you happen to have fresh oregano, please use that instead (I am in between my oregano plants, so going with dried this time). Use 2 Tbsp fresh in place of 2 tsp dried.
    • Onion – Finely chopped
    • Cilantro – Optional, but I love my cilantro.

    How to Make Mojo Marinade

    1. I Juice the citrus.

    2. I Chop the onion and mince the garlic.

    3. And I mix everything together.

    That’s it, I am ready to roll.

    cuban mojo marinade in a blue bowl

    How Does Mojo Sauce Work on Your Meats?

    1. Acidity – Acids in the citrus tenderizes the meat. There is nothing like moist succulent morsels of meats.
    2. Flavoring – Seasoning in Mojo Marinade can vary, but the main flavors come from garlic, onion, oregano, pepper, cilantro and of course the above citruses. There are many variations you can do, depending on your mood. Sometimes I add a dash of cumin or some fresh mint, or even add little zing with some fresh chopped jalapeños.
    3. Oil – Olive oil holds everything together and adds moisture to the meat. This will be especially helpful when using lean cuts.
    Cuban chicken.

    How to Use It

    With this amazing marinade, I can very easily plan a Cuban feast with some Mojo Pork, Cuban chicken, or flank steaks. Hey, even some Mojo shrimp skewers… any takers?

    I always keep marinated meats in the refrigerator until 30 minutes prior to cooking. Follow the chart below for ideal marination times:

    • Chicken: 2-12 hours
    • Pork: 2-12 hours
    • Beef: 2-4 hours
    • Fish: 20-30 minutes
    • Shrimp: 10-15 minutes

    My preferred cooking method for our mojo marinated meats is on the grill. You can also bake, sauté, or even slow cook, it will still turn out delicious!

    I like to pair my meats with some rice, Black Beans and Tostones or maduros for a full on Cuban platter. How about with a Mojito? Cha-cha-cha!!

    mojo pork

    Recipe Notes and Tips

    • Quality Citrus: I always make sure to use fresh citrus fruits for juicing. Fresh always tastes better.
    • Garlic Matters: Fresh garlic is key. I avoid garlic powder or pre-minced garlic for the most authentic and intense flavor profile.
    • Salt Wisely: Remember, if using regular table salt, use half as much as you would kosher salt.
    • Stir Before Use: Ingredients can settle over time, so I always give the marinade a good stir before using it.
    • Batch Cooking: This recipe is easily scalable. If I need to cook for a crowd, I just double or triple the ingredients.
    • Temperature: I always allow my meat to come to room temperature before cooking for more even results.
    • Test Doneness: When using on meats, I make sure to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness, ensuring everything is cooked safely.

    How to Store Mojo Criollo

    I store the marinade in an airtight container or bottle in the fridge, and it stays good for a couple of weeks. You can also freeze it in an airtight container for up to three months.

    If I make a big batch, I like to portion it out by freezing it in an ice tray and then storing the frozen cubes in a zip-top bag. When I’m ready to marinate meat, I just thaw about 5-6 cubes per pound of meat.

    Another great storage tip: I marinate meat in an airtight bag and freeze it. This way, I have a nicely flavored piece of meat ready to thaw whenever I need it. It’s a fantastic meal prep option!

    cuban mojo marinade in a blue bowl

    So there you go, a super tasty marinade for all your favorite proteins. Mojo criollo is a staple in Cuban Cuisine, and once you try it we bet you’ll love it too.

    Pin or bookmark this great recipe so you always know where to find it. And be sure to subscribe to GypsyPlate, and join us on our adventures in flavor.

    Cuban Mojo Marinade, in our Gypsy Bowl… Enjoy!

    cuban mojo marinade in the gypsy bowl

    Keep the flavor coming with these marinades
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    Greek Chicken Marinade
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    Caribbean Green Seasoning
    Teriyaki Marinade
    Vindaloo Paste

    cuban mojo marinade in a blue bowl

    Cuban Mojo Marinade (Mojo Criollo)

    Yield: 3 cups
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Total Time: 10 minutes

    This Cuban Mojo Marinade will add a Latin flair to your grilled and baked meats. Citrusy and garlicky, this exotic and refreshing marinade whips up in 10 minutes or less.


    • ¼ cup olive oil
    • 1.5 cup orange juice
    • ⅓ cup lime and lemon juice (you can use either, or mix)
    • ⅓ cup grapefruit juice
    • 8 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely minced
    • 2 tsp dried oregano
    • 2 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 tsp black pepper
    • 1 medium onion finely chopped
    • 1 Tbsp cilantro chopped


    1. Juice citrus.
    2. Chop onions and mince garlic.
    3. Mix all ingredients.


    1. Marinade can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
    2. If not using immediately, give the mojo a good stir before using.
    3. When marinating meat, use the following marination times:
      Chicken: 2-12 hours
      Pork: 2-12 hours
      Beef: 2-4 hours
      Fish: 20-30 minutes
      Shrimp: 10-15 minute

    Nutrition Information
    Yield 12 Serving Size 1
    Amount Per Serving Calories 67Total Fat 5gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 0mgSodium 393mgCarbohydrates 7gFiber 1gSugar 3gProtein 1g

    Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.

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    long pin of cuban mojo marinade
    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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