Authentic, homemade, Cuban Mojo Marinade (Mojo Criollo) is so easy to make, and so worth it! This bold and punchy marinade makes any meat more tender and extremely flavorful. Use it on pork, beef, chicken, shrimp, and even veggies!
The Best Mojo Criollo!
Cuban mojo criollo makes any meal a masterpiece, but if you have been buying bottled mojo, you should know that it’s super easy to make at home and will have a lot more flavor! This recipe is a balanced mix of tangy citrus, rich olive oil, pungent garlic, and a few simple seasonings. No bells and whistles, just a mouthwatering combo of yumminess.
If you’re not familiar with mojo marinade, it’s pronounced “mo-ho” and it is amazing. For tenderizing meat and giving it a bright, citrus-garlic-oregano flavor profile, you can’t beat it. Use it to make great Cuban recipes, or just to give any dish a flavor boost.
Why You’ll Love This Cuban Mojo Marinade
Mojo criollo is an irresistible marinade for a lot of different reasons! Here are just a few, for starters:
- Easy: We’ve all stirred up those marinades that contain just about every seasoning and condiment you can imagine. Yummy? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely! But this recipe is just. So. Easy. That’s why you’ll reach for it again and again.
- Tangy: It’s so crucial not to overlook the importance of acid in cooking. Acid gives savory dishes – especially dishes with meat or seafood. This marinade uses both lime juice and sour orange juice, adding a mouthwatering tanginess that’s still balanced.
- Garlicky! You can bet a recipe is bold and flavorful when it contains a good amount of garlic. So good.
- Stores Well: You can keep this in your fridge for a week, or freeze it for up to three months. Pro tip: try freezing meat in the marinade for even more flavor.
What Is Mojo Criollo Made Of?
Mojo marinade is made of just a handful of ingredients, but each one packs a punch of flavor. Here’s what you’ll need.
- Orange Juice: Freshly squeezed is best, if possible. Sour oranges, AKA Seville oranges, are best!
- Lime Juice: Also freshly squeezed.
- Oil: Olive oil gives the best flavor, but you can use vegetable oil, too.
- Garlic: You will need a whole bunch of garlic cloves – I used twelve, but you could use more or less to taste.
- Oregano: Some cooks use marjoram instead of, or in addition to, the oregano. Feel free to add this in!
- Cumin: For an earthy note, to anchor the flavors and give them a touch of savoriness.
What Is Special About Seville Oranges?
Seville oranges are also called sour oranges, and they are (as you might have guessed) more sour than ordinary oranges, with a slight bitterness. They have a rough, bumpy rind, which also helps set them apart from regular oranges. Seville oranges are used to make orange marmalade, mojo criollo, and all kinds of specialty dishes the world over! Basically, Seville oranges are intense, in a good way.
How to Make Cuban Mojo Marinade
This part is so easy, you basically don’t need instructions! Just combine all of your prepared ingredients – the juices, oil, garlic, and seasonings – and mix well. I like to put them in a jar and shake them up. Mixing and storing in one step. Next, let the mixture sit for about ten minutes so the flavors can meld, and it’s ready to use.
While learning how to make this mojo marinade, I picked up some helpful tips that I’m so excited to share with you guys. These are the game changers you should know about making and using this fragrant, tangy marinade.
- About the Oranges: Sour oranges may be difficult to find, but you might be in luck if you check your local ethnic stores, especially Latin markets or Latin grocery stores. If you can’t find them in your area, use regular oranges – add an extra lime to give the mojo criollo the sourness it needs.
- Marinating Amount: This recipe will make enough to marinate 2 to 3 pounds of meat. Feel free to double it if you are cooking for a crowd!
- Marinating Time: Flavor-blasting your meal with mojo criollo is great, but be sure not to over marinate. Citrus juices can break down the proteins in meat over time to the point that the meat actually becomes mushy – not good. Pork can marinate the longest, up to 24 hours. Steak, turkey, and chicken are good for up to 12 hours, while shrimp and salmon only need 30 minutes at most.
How to Use Mojo Marinade
So what all can you do with mojo? Honestly, add it to anything that needs a little garlicky citrus flavor. From salad dressings to soups, it’s a wonderful drizzle to add more flavor. You can also…
- Yuca: Serve it over boiled yuca, one of my personal favorites!
- Beef: You can use it to marinate beef like Vaca Frita or make my favorite Ropa Vieja. You can also use it to make an amazing Churrasco Steak!
- Pork: Lechon Asado is one of our favorite ways to use mojo marinade. For an easy dinner, I also like to toss a batch of this marinade in a crockpot with a pork loin or a pork butt. Let it slow cook all day, shred it and serve! If you want the meat crispy, you can also fry the cooked and shredded meat in a skillet with a little oil.
- Veggies: Coat/baste veggies with it for roasting or grilling. You can also let the veggies marinate in it for a few hours before cooking.
- Shrimp: Marinate your shrimp for 30 minutes and then toss them on the grill for an amazing dinner. I like to top our shrimp with a little cilantro and a fresh squeeze of lime!
Storing and Freezing
Store this mojo criollo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. For longer storage, it may be frozen for up to 3 months.
Cuban Mojo Marinade (Mojo Criollo)
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, sour oranges are best
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- ½ cup olive oil or vegetable oil
- 12 garlic cloves
- 4 teaspoons oregano, or marjoram
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Combine all the ingredients together and stir or blend.
- Allow to sit for 10 minutes before using.
- Storing and Freezing: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. May be frozen for up to 3 months.
- Seville Oranges: Sour oranges may be difficult to find. They can usually be found in ethnic stores, especially latin markets or latin grocery stores. The sour oranges make delicious marinades. If you cannot find them, use regular oranges and the lime will give it the sourness it needs.
- Marjoram: Some use marjoram in place or in addition to oregano. Feel free to swap it in if you prefer the flavor.
- Marinating Time: Don’t over marinate or citrus will break down the meat too much and the meat can get mushy. Pork should marinate for 1 – 24 hours; Steak, chicken, and turkey should marinate for 1 – 12 hours; Shrimp and salmon should marinate for only 30 minutes.
- Servings: This recipe will make enough to marinate 2 to 3 pounds of meat, or about 6 servings. Nutrition facts are estimates only, based on six servings total, but if you are marinating some of the mojo will be discarded, so keep that in mind.
More Essential Recipes
- Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- Best Chimichurri Sauce
- Adobo Sauce
- Homemade Empanada Dough
- Sweet Plantains
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