This Easy Mojo Marinade infuses your favorite proteins with fresh and flavorful homemade ingredients. It will be your new go-to marinade! Bright and zesty from fresh citrus, cilantro, garlic, oregano and cumin.
You’ll be enjoying this delectable mojo marinade all summer, or any time you’re craving a burst of flavor! Here it is on my sheet pan mojo chicken…really delish!
And if you make it for friends or family, they’ll be asking you what is your secret for this incredible marinade!
Super Flavorful Mojo Marinade
With just minutes of prep time, you’ve created this really fabulous homemade citrus + garlic marinade that will elevate all your protein dishes to another level! You’ll want to double or triple the recipe to have extra to use throughout the week.
Why you’ll love this mojo marinade:
This mojo marinade is…
- Easy to make: You probably have all you need on hand to put together this easy marinade that comes together in less than 10 minutes.
- Zesty and tangy: The key to the base of the flavor is all of the freshly squeezed citrus, which is like a burst of sunshine!
- Garlic lovers dream: If you are a garlic fan, this marinade is for you! The garlic goes so well with the bright citrus flavors, and the touch of cumin and oregano.
- Very versatile: You could use this marinade on so many proteins or even as a dip. The possibilities are endless!
First, let’s clear up one thing on how to say the name “MOJO”.
How do you pronounce mojo?
The “j” in mojo in Spanish is pronounced like an “h”. It’s not “mo-joe”…it’s “mo-ho”.
What exactly is a mojo?
The word mojo in Spanish means “sauce” and it originated in the Canary Islands. It then made it over to Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and all over the Caribbean.
And in each country the sauce will be different using olive oil, chilies, garlic, cilantro, cumin, and oregano. Also, in each country the marinade could be made with a different acid like citrus (oranges, lemons, lime, sour oranges) or even vinegar with different seasonings.
In the States, the Cuban mojo marinade is what is the most famous.
What exactly is a Cuban Mojo Marinade?
Like it is with many Italian recipes, there are a plethora of mojo variations and it will vary from country to country. And it will vary even from family to family. Everyone will have their secret ingredient. You could find recipes including cilantro (and yes, I’m aware, some people DO NOT like cilantro). Some recipes could include even jalapeño .
The mojo may have oregano, and it may not. If it doesn’t, it’s called a mojito. Some marinades include cilantro, some don’t, some marinades include jalapeño, some don’t, some include oregano, some don’t (those without oregano are called mojito).
Basically, you can make this marinade to your liking.
If you can find sour oranges, they are truly key to making this authentic. If you’re not in the Miami area like me, it could be tricky getting a hold of them. I find them at various markets here and the flavor with the sour oranges is truly special.
Sometimes I can’t even find sour oranges here, so I make it with other citrus. It is also really great with a combo of oranges, limes and even lemon.
And I DO LIKE cilantro…(and my family does), so, cilantro gets added in ours and it really makes the marinade even better. But as I mentioned, I know, not everyone is crazy about cilantro.
That citrus bottom left is the sour orange.
What does mojo marinade taste like?
Mojo marinade tastes like sunshine in each bite. It is bright and really fresh in flavor. A little bit sour and definitely garlicky. The garlic, and sour from the citrus goes magically with the aromatics.
Is a mojo marinade spicy?
The mojo seasonings I add to my marinade are cumin and oregano. There are recipes with freshly ground pepper and also jalapeño . So if you like it spicy, go ahead and add in the jalapeño .
Mojo Marinade Ingredients
It comes together with ingredients you’ll most likely have on hand. Here is what you’ll need (full recipe is below).
- Orange juice: you will need 2 oranges to make ½ cup orange juice. Use freshly squeezed because we also need the zest of one orange.
- Lemon and lime Juice: highly recommend only freshly squeezed.
- Olive oil: use a really good quality extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor (I mention that in every recipe!).
- Cilantro: adds a tangy, citrus flavor. Feel free to leave it out if you aren’t a fan.
- Garlic: garlic is essential to a mojo, and you could more or less. Depends how garlicky you like it!
- Ground cumin: essential for the earthy base of the marinade and accentuates all the other flavors with a slightly smokey flavor.
- Dried oregano: is a must to achieve an authentic mojo flavor. Earthy and a bit bitter, it is also essential to balance all the other flavors. My dried oregano is from Calabria!! So it has a little touch of Italy.
- Salt: is a must! The sea salt will bring out all the other marinade ingredients. You could use less, depending on how much salt you’re using on the protein you’re serving it with. Adjust to your taste, but please include it.
- Freshly ground pepper: If you would like, add a bit of freshly ground pepper.
What is a mojo marinade used with?
Not only is it a marinade for different proteins, it is also used as on mofongo, which is a plantain mash, or as a dip for tostones.
How long to marinate with mojo marinade?
Since the mojo is mostly citrus based, it’s important to not over-marinate. Proteins can begin to break down if they’re left too long in the marinade, which results in mushy meat.
- Pork shoulder + pork butt: marinate up to 24 hours
- Steak + chicken + turkey tenderloin: marinate up to 12 hours (see my mojo turkey tenderloin)
- Shrimp + salmon: marinate up to 30 minutes
How to store mojo marinade
Place the mojo marinade in a glass jar or any airtight container. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Can I freeze a mojo marinade?
Yes, the mojo marinade freezes nicely. I recommend doubling or tripling the recipe.
- Freeze the mojo: Place the marinade in an airtight container or even zipped lock freezer bag for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge when ready to use.
- Freeze your protein in the mojo marinade: Best way to freeze your protein with marinate is to add it to a large zipped lock bag. Squeeze out all the air from the bag and zip to seal. Rub the protein into the marinade to incorporate it. Place in the freezer for up to 3 months and defrost in the fridge when ready to use.
Some other recipes to try:
- Easy Italian Garlic Rosemary Steak
- Salmon with Quinoa and Spinach
- Easy Grilled Chicken Salad
- Chicken with Preserved Meyer Lemons and Olives
Easy Mojo Marinade
- ¼ cup or about 6- 8 cloves of garlic peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper optional
- 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- ¼ lemon juice
- 1 cup orange juice freshly squeezed
- ¼ cup lime juice freshly squeezed
- ½ cup plus extra-virgin olive oil
- In a large mortar with pestle (you could pulse it in a food processor or chop the garlic up by hand), add the garlic, salt, oregano, cumin, cilantro, lemon and lime juice. Use the pestle to twist the garlic until it is smashed.
- In medium bowl, add the crushed garlic mixture with the 1/2 cup olive oil and orange juice. Use a fork to mix it all up.
- Reserve ¼ cup marinade to brush on protein after cooking or to serve as a dip.
- This amount of marinade will be enough to marinate 2-3 pounds of beef, chicken, fish, pork, or shrimp.
- If you can get sour oranges, you’ll need 3-4 to get about 2 cups of the juice. If you can’t find the sour oranges, use navel orange juice, freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice.