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Cuban Mojo Marinade

Take your cooking to the next level with this easy Mojo Marinade! Use it to tenderize and flavor-blast any protein, or drizzle it over salads, bread, and more.

A mason jar filled with mojo marinade ingredients.

Easy Cuban Mojo Criollo Sauce

Are you a fan of Cuban food? My family is crazy for Cuban recipes, with their simple ingredients and big, bold flavor. Case in point? Mojo! Mojo marinade is quite possibly the most famous Cuban recipe out there, and it can be used to flavor just about anything. You can buy it ready-made, of course, but it’s also really easy to make, and so much fresher when you do it at home.

This easy recipe will make you a believer. With fresh citrus juices, garlic, and onion, plus good olive oil and earthy dried herbs, mojo marinade is the ultimate flavor bomb. Try it once, and you’ll want to keep a jar in your fridge at all times! You can use it on anything from steak to mojo chicken or even roasted veggies.

Why You’ll Love This Mojo Marinade Recipe

  • Easy. Chop up the ingredients then mix everything together in a mason jar and place it in the fridge. Yes, that is really it!
  • Flavorful. Mojo marinade a vibrant blend of tangy, savory, and citrusy goodness. It adds incredible flavor to whatever you serve it with.
  • Flexible. You can use this simple sauce in so many ways. Marinate chicken for grilling, add flavor to roasted vegetables, or use it as a zesty dipping sauce for crusty bread.
From top: Lemon juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice, salt, garlic, olive oil, onion, pepper, dried oregano.

What Is Mojo Marinade Made Of?

Mojo marinade recipes vary from person to person and place to place. The basics always include orange juice (usually sour Seville orange juice), garlic, and herbs. Depending on the recipe, mojo might also include spicy peppers, oil, spices, and even butter! My recipe keeps things simple:

  • Olive Oil: Technically, you could substitute the olive oil with another neutral oil like avocado oil, but the flavor of olive oil is really good here and I highly recommend it.
  • Citrus Juices: For a sour orange taste, combine regular orange juice, lemon juice, and grapefruit juice.
  • Garlic: We’ll be peeling, chopping, and smashing the garlic. 
  • Herbs: Dried oregano works perfectly, but you can also use dried herbes de Provence mix
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Onion: You can use any type of onion – white, sweet, yellow, or even red. Peel and finely chop the onion.
Overhead shot of garlic crushed into a paste and placed in a blue cup.

How to Make Mojo Marinade

This is so easy to do, you hardly even need instructions! You can even do it all without a food processor or other special equipment. A knife and cutting board are all you need.

  1. Prep the Garlic. First, you’ll need to peel and smash the garlic. You can peel each clove first and then crush it with the knife, or you can crush the garlic cloves first and peel away the papery skins. After that, chop the garlic into small bits, sprinkle salt over them, and use the side of your knife to smash them into a paste.
  2. Mix. Scrape the garlic up and place it into a jar or other airtight container. Add the remaining ingredients to the jar as well. Close the jar tightly, and shake it well to mix everything up. 
  3. Store. Store this in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. You can also freeze mojo marinade in an airtight container for up to 3 months. This is a great idea for food prep!
A jar of mojo marinade, with the lid on the table next to the jar.

Helpful Tips

When it comes to making your own, homemade mojo sauce, there are a few helpful tips that can make the process even easier and tastier. These are my top tips:

  • Making the Garlic Paste: If you don’t want to do the knife work, you could also use a mortar and pestle or a food processor.
  • Shake It Up: Make sure to shake or stir the marinade well every time you use it.
  • Seville Oranges: Classic Cuban mojo is made with Seville oranges, which can be difficult to find. This recipe uses regular orange juice mixed with grapefruit juice, but if you can get your hands on Seville orange juice, definitely use that instead.
  • Scotch Bonnet: Scotch bonnet is another traditional ingredient, but this recipe leaves it out. This way, you have a more flexible recipe that can be served mild, or spiced up with your favorite spicy items (more on that in the “Variations” section below).
  • Oil: For the best flavor, use extra virgin olive oil that is marked “first cold press.” Other olive oils are still good, but the first cold press is the most flavorful, strong olive oil.
A jar of homemade mojo sauce.


This mojo marinade recipe is great as-is, but can also be used as a starting point. Feel free to change it up and make it your own. These are just a few of the changes you can make:

  • Up the Heat: One easy way to customize this recipe is by changing the heat level to suit your family’s taste. You can add jalapenos, red pepper flakes, or cayenne to crank up the heat. Yum!
  • Adjust the Garlic: This recipe has a generous amount of garlic, but you can always dial it back or add more if you like!
  • Add Cilantro: Some of us love cilantro (raises hand) while others don’t care for it. If you’re a cilantro person, throw some into the marinade – it will be amazing!

How to Use Mojo Marinade

The most common way to use mojo marinade is, well, as a marinade! Marinate your chicken, pork, and beef in mojo for an irresistible zesty, savory flavor. You can also use it for…

  • Dipping: Use mojo as a fabulous dipping sauce for garlic bread, fried plantain chips, and other yummy dippers.
  • Seasoning: Toss veggies in mojo before roasting them, or stir a splash into your favorite soup.
  • Salad Dressing: Drizzle mojo sauce over your favorite salad for a bold, fresh vinaigrette substitute.
  • Grilled Chicken or Beef: Marinate chicken pieces or steak in mojo for a few hours, then grill them to juicy perfection.
  • Seafood: Use mojo to marinate shrimp or fish before grilling or pan-searing.
  • Flavor-Packed Tofu: Marinate tofu cubes in mojo for a punch of flavor before baking or pan-frying.
  • Zesty Rice: Mix mojo-marinated black beans with cooked rice for a side bursting with flavor.

Does Mojo Need to Be Refrigerated?

Yes, this should be stored in your refrigerator for food safety and maximum freshness. I like to store mine in a glass jar with a clean, tight-fitting lid. You could use any airtight container, though. Mojo marinade will keep for up to one week.

Can I Freeze This?

Sure! Just pour the marinade into a jar, leaving about an inch of room at the top for the liquid to expand as it freezes. You can also freeze mojo marinade in a zip-top bag. Either way, mark it with the date and freeze it for up to three months.

A mason jar filled with mojo marinade ingredients.

Mojo Marinade

Take your cooking to the next level with this easy Mojo Marinade! Use it to tenderize and flavor-blast any protein, or drizzle it over salads, bread, and more.
Prep Time8 minutes
Total Time8 minutes
Servings: 3 Dinners


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup grapefruit juice
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano or dried herbes de Provence mix
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium onion peeled and finely chopped


  • Peel, smash and chop garlic.
  • On a cutting board add kosher salt over top of chopped garlic. Use the back of the knife to smash the salt down and mash the garlic into a paste.
  • You can use a mortar and pestle or a food processor in place of the knife work. If using a food processor, pulse several times until you get a smooth paste.
  • Add all the ingredients into a large mason jar. Close the jar tightly with the lid and shake it until thoroughly mixed. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. You can also freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. This is a great idea for food preppers.


  • Shake Before Use: Make sure you shake the blend well before every use, in order to mix and distribute the ingredients evenly.
  • Store: Store in the refrigerator for up to one week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Course: Sauces
Cuisine: Cuban


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