This extremely flavorful, citrusy, garlicky, tangy Mojo Marinade will end your dilemma of how to give that piece of meat more “Oh Wow!” taste.
It’s great for your every day casual dinner or an elaborate Cuban affair. Super easy to make with just few simple fresh ingredients, you’ll never give another look to store brand Mojo bottles…
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? You can replicate the same flavors that you get in Cuban restaurants… Mmm, we have some good ones here in Florida…
All you have to do is marinate that chicken or pork, or even some shrimp or flank steak for a few hours and start your 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.
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.
Why this Recipe Works
- Bold Flavors: This mojo marinade is a rollercoaster of taste, catapulting your palate through an incredible blend of citrus and spices. Your dishes will sing with unmistakable, authentic zest!
- Versatility: Say goodbye to bland food! This marinade works with practically anything -chicken, pork, fish, or even vegetables. One marinade, countless possibilities.
- Easy to Make: You don’t need to be a kitchen whiz for this. Juice some fruits, chop an onion, mince garlic, and mix. Done. Simplicity at its finest, but with maximum flavor impact.
- Fresh Ingredients: Loaded with fresh citrus juices and herbs, this marinade brings not only taste but also a dash of healthfulness to your meals.
- Long Shelf-Life: The acidic components naturally preserve the marinade, allowing it to keep for an extended period when refrigerated.
- Customizable: Feel free to tweak the ingredients to match your personal taste. Want more kick? Add an extra clove of garlic or a splash more lime juice!
- Citrus – Traditionally, Mojo is made of sour, almost bitter, oranges from Cuba, similar to Seville oranges. Many Cubans in Florida have their own sour orange tree in their backyard. Sometimes you do spot them in grocery stores, but if you don’t get your hands on them, that’s ok. You can still create those flavors by mixing and matching your citruses, some grapefruit and lime or lemon juice. I used all of them this time, as they happened to be in my home.
- 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 we love our cilantro.
How to Make Mojo Marinade
1. Juice the citrus.
2. Chop the onion and mince the garlic.
3. Mix everything together.
That’s it, you are ready to go!!
How Does Mojo Sauce Work on Your Meats?
- Acidity – Acids in the citrus tenderizes the meat. There is nothing like moist succulent morsels of meats.
- 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. You can add a dash of cumin or some fresh mint, or even add little zing with some fresh chopped jalapeños.
- Oil – Olive oil holds everything together and adds moisture to the meat. This will be especially helpful when using lean cuts.
How to Use It
Keep 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
Our 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!
Recipe Notes and Tips
- Quality Citrus: Make sure to use fresh citrus fruits for juicing. It’s a game-changer for achieving that vibrant, pure flavor.
- Garlic Matters: Fresh garlic is key. 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 always give the marinade a good stir before using it.
- Batch Cooking: This recipe is easily scalable. Need to cook for a crowd? Just double or triple the ingredients.
- Temperature: Always allow your meat to come to room temperature before cooking for more even results.
- Test Doneness: When using on meats, always check for doneness using a meat thermometer to ensure food safety.
How to Store Mojo Criollo
Refrigerate it in airtight container or bottle and this is good to go for a couple of weeks in your fridge! You can also freeze it in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
If you make a big batch, you can portion it out by freezing in an ice tray and storing the frozen cubes in a zip top bag. When you are ready to marinate your meat, thaw 5-6 cubes per pound of meat.
Another great storage idea: Marinate your meat in an airtight bag and stick it in the freezer. Now you have a nicely flavored piece of meat ready to thaw. Great meal prep option!
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.
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Cuban Mojo Marinade, in our Gypsy Bowl… Enjoy!
Keep the flavor coming with these marinades
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- 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
- Juice citrus.
- Chop onions and mince garlic.
- Mix all ingredients.
- Marinade can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
- If not using immediately, give the mojo a good stir before using.
- 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 InformationYield 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.
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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