This citrusy Cuban Mojo Marinade is the key to adding immense flavor to meats like pork or chicken that will soak up all the garlic, citrus, and oregano flavors as they cook.
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If you haven’t tried Cuban Mojo (pronounced mo-ho) marinade before, you are truly missing out. It’s such a flavorful way to marinate meats, like pork, and the citrusy base helps to break down the fibers in the meat to produce an incredibly tender meat.
This marinade is a staple in many Cuban and Cuban-American kitchens. It has so many uses – both as a marinade and a sauce – and the boost of flavor it adds to your food is irresistible. With this marinade, you can bring a little bit of that Cuban flavor to your own table.
What is Mojo Marinade Made Of?
Cuban Mojo marinade is made with sour oranges, olive oil, garlic, and herbs. Although there are dozens of different recipes for this marinade – each will be a little bit different, but mostly the same – you are looking to strike the right balance between all of the flavors.
Sour oranges are not the easiest thing to find in most parts of the U.S. I don’t often find them in my area, so I have to use a combination of regular oranges and limes to create a close proximation. If you can find sour oranges (or Sevilla oranges), use them! If you can’t, you can go with oranges, limes, and even a grapefruit to get the right blend.
The marinade also contains Extra Virgin olive oil, lots of fresh garlic, minced white onion, dried or fresh oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Extra virgin olive oil will give the marinade a stronger taste, but regular olive oil can be used as well. In some mojo recipes, there’s no oil at all, but I think it’s necessary for the right balance.
- Orange Juice – In a traditional Cuban mojo marinade, you would use sour oranges (naranjas ágrias). Use them if you can find them, otherwise you can use regular oranges. It will just have a slightly sweeter taste than usual.
- Lime Juice – Limes give a nice acidity to balance out the orange’s sweet taste, so if you can’t find sour oranges, you must include the lime juice.
- Garlic – Fresh minced garlic adds a wonderful flavor to the marinade. It might seem like a lot of garlic, but it’s necessary for the right flavor. You can adjust the amount of garlic used.
- Onion – White or yellow onions will work best, but red onions can be used to give the marinade more of a kick.
- Oregano – Adds a lovely earthiness to the marinade. You can use fresh or dried oregano.
- Salt & Black Pepper – Don’t skimp on the salt and pepper. It adds a ton of flavor. Don’t worry about adding too much salt, because the pork is large and needs a lot.
- Ground Cumin – Cumin will bring out the citrus flavors of the orange and lime in the marinade.
How to Make Cuban Mojo Criollo (Marinade)
Mix all ingredients together in a glass jar or air tight container. I use a container to blend the marinade because it’s an easy way to shake everything together without any mess, and it’s a good storage container as well.
You might be tempted to use a food processor to combine all the ingredients, but I think this tends to pulverize everything too much and doesn’t leave those nice bits of herbs, onion, and garlic that help to season the meat.
Once you’ve shaken the marinade well, set it aside and allow the marinade to rest for at least 10 minutes before using, so the flavors can meld. If you have time, place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so before using it.
How to Store Mojo Marinade
The best way to use mojo marinade is right away. I always make a fresh batch when I’m planning to use it for some meat. I try not to make any left overs because it tends to lose its freshness quickly.
However if you find yourself with some unused marinade, you can store it for up to a week, for later use. Be sure not to store marinade that has come in contact with any meat or that you have dipped a used spoon into, as it can quickly grow bacteria.
How to Use Mojo Marinade
The best use for mojo marinade is on meat – pork, chicken, or ribs on the grill. It can be used for so many things. We love it on this Cuban mojo marinated pork.
You’ll want to soak the meat in the marinade for around 4 to 20 hours. Any longer than that can cause the meat to break down too much and become soggy. For large pieces of meat, like a pork shoulder, go for up to 20 hours. For smaller pieces of meat, like chicken wings, only marinate for 4 hours.
You can also use the marinade as a sauce or dressing for salads or to dip your meat in once it’s cooked. You can thicken up the sauce by cooking it down or adding a cornstarch slurry (cornstarch mixed with cold water) to the pot as the sauce boils.
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Flavorful Cuban Mojo Marinade
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup orange juice sour oranges if possible
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 8 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/2 medium onion minced
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano or 1/4 cup minced fresh oregano
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Mix all ingredients together in a glass jar or air tight container. Shake to combine. Allow the marinade to rest for at least 10 minutes before using, so the flavors can meld.
- Use to marinate pork or other meat.
- Unused marinade can be stored for up to a week, for later use.
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Laura is a home cook who loves making new recipes and finding new favorite things to eat, whether at home or abroad. She also runs a popular travel blog and spends a lot of her time traveling for food.