Mojo Criollo (Cuban Mojo Marinade)

Mojo criollo is a Cuban marinade that is citrusy, garlicky, and very easy to make! You can use this marinade for beef, poultry, pork, or even seafood. It can also be doubled as a sauce if you cook it.

This is my favorite version of citrus/garlic marinades. The citrus element from sour oranges gives this marinade a unique taste that reminds me so much of my grandfather’s cooking. 

You can use this marinade for any protein, but it’s most commonly used for chicken or pork dishes. It is especially great for Lechon Asado, one of my favorite Cuban dishes and my favorite preparation of pork shoulder! I will post a recipe for that soon.


  • Sour orange– also known as bitter orange or seville orange, these can be very hard to find. If your local market has them, get them! If you can’t find them, you can use a citrus blend of orange, lime, lemon, and grapefruit.

  • Olive oil

  • Garlic

  • Onion

  • Spices- salt, black peppercorn, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder.

How to make it

Here are step-by-step instructions with pictures. You can find a printable recipe card at the end of this post as well.

*This recipe make enough marinade for about 3 pounds of meat. 

  1. Squeeze 1 cup of sour orange juice (aka bitter orange or seville orange). If you can’t find sour oranges, you can use this mixture:
    • 2/3 cup orange juice
    • 2 tbsp lime juice
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 2 tbsp grapefruit juice2. 

2. Add 1/2 cup of olive oil and set aside.

3. Combine the following ingredients in a mortar and pestle and grind into a paste:

  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder

4. Add the minced onion and press to release juices

5. Add the sour orange juice and olive oil and mix thoroughly. 

Marinating times

Please be careful about the marinating times for your meat. They are not all created equal! And there is such a thing as over tenderizing, especially with a citrus marinade. 

  • Pork & Poultry- at least 2 hours but overnight is much better
  • Beef- only 2-4 hours. This will depend on the cut of meat. If it is a tougher cut, closer to 4 hours would be better. Citrus marinades can really change the texture of beef so it’s important not to leave it marinating for too long!

  • Seafood- 10-15 minutes only. The citrus will start to “cook” the seafood if you leave it for too long. It is not necessary to marinate for any longer than that. 

How to use mojo criollo as a sauce

This marinade can double as a sauce, but you need to cook it first. Just throw it into a small saucepan and let simmer until it has reduced a little and gets thicker. 

Mojo sauce is great for meats, to put on rice, or use as a dipping sauce for pretty much anything.  It is especially delicious with Cuban fried plantains, tostones

Mojo Criollo (Cuban Mojo Marinade)

5 from 5 votes


Substitute for naranja agria (makes 1 cup)

  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp grapefruit juice

Mojo Criollo

  • 1 cup naranja agria (sour orange juice)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 small onion minced
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper corns
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder


  • Squeeze 1 cup of sour/bitter orange juice, or use this substitute citrus blend:
    2/3 cup orange juice
    2 tbsp lime juice
    2 tbsp lemon juice
    2 tbsp grapefruit juice
  • Combine the garlic and spices in a mortar and pestle to make a seasoned garlic paste
  • Add the minced onions and press to release juices.
  • Add the sour/bitter orange juice and 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil. Mix well to emulsify and use to marinade chicken, pork, beef, or seafood. You can also store the in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and use as needed.


Note: mojo marinade is not exactly the same as mojo sauce. To make mojo sauce, cook the mojo marinade and add any herbs you prefer- cilantro & parsley are pretty common. 

*This post contains affiliate links to products that I actually use & recommend. I am not sponsored by these brands, but I do make a small commission from qualifying purchases made through these links.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Can you freeze it?

  2. Emily Luong

    5 stars
    love this this is such a versatile marinade for different proteins! so juicy and flavorful. my go to when I’m not sure what to cook for the week!

  3. Bin

    5 stars
    Really enjoy making this as a sauce. Reminds me of Porto’s mojo sauce but much better.

    Thank you for sharing

  4. Angelene Johnson

    5 stars
    This is delish! .. this recipe is close to if not BETTER than the restaurant Versailles. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Chad

    5 stars
    Added Spanish Paprika and a hint of Cilantro to give it a smokey taste.

  6. Mirtha Janet Andrews

    5 stars
    Loved it

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Hi, I'm Stella!

I come from a multicultural background, and cooking has been one of the best ways for me to stay connected to my heritage. My recipes are tried and tested, many of them passed down through family. I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!

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