Cuban Mojo Chicken Recipe

Cuban mojo chicken

The Spruce Eats / Anita Schecter

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 90 mins
Marinate Time: 4 hrs
Total: 5 hrs 50 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
673 Calories
50g Fat
7g Carbs
47g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 673
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 50g 65%
Saturated Fat 10g 51%
Cholesterol 152mg 51%
Sodium 456mg 20%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 47g
Vitamin C 26mg 129%
Calcium 55mg 4%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 501mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Mojo (pronounced mo-ho) is a Cuban marinade and sauce that typically includes oil, garlic, cilantro, salt, and sometimes hot peppers such as jalapeño. But the hallmark of the sauce is the heavy emphasis on citrus, particularly sour orange. Since sour oranges can be hard to locate in some areas, our mojo chicken recipe uses a combination of easy-to-find navel oranges and fresh limes. The result? Juicy, flavorful, and oh so citrusy. It can be used to marinate beef, fish, or chicken and also makes an excellent sauce.

This recipe for mojo chicken showcases that wonderful tangy, citrusy flavor you expect, and the chicken comes out tender, juicy, and moist. Perfect for a warm summer day or to enjoy on a winter day when you want to reminisce about the upcoming spring and summer months. Serve this with black beans and rice, and don't forget the addition of fried plantains for the ultimate meal.


For the Marinade:

  • 1 orange, zested

  • 1 lime, zested

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed

  • 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced, optional

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Chicken:

  • 1 whole roasting chicken

  • Orange and lime slices, optional garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the orange zest, lime zest, orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, garlic cloves, jalapeño (if using), oregano, cumin, salt, and black pepper.

  3. Place the chicken into the marinade, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. You can also do this in a large zip-top bag, but be sure to place the bag into a large bowl to safeguard against drips.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

    Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on a large roasting pan. If you like, tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body to help prevent them from darkening too much.

  5. Roast in the oven for approximately 1 1/2 hours, or until the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 F on a meat thermometer. If the breast starts to get too dark while roasting, cover loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.

  6. Remove from the oven, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before carving.

  7. Garnish with orange and lime slices (if using) and serve with rice and black beans.


  • The safe internal temperature for chicken is 165 F. If you don't have a thermometer, a good way to check is to insert a knife into the area between the thigh and the body. If the juices run clear, your chicken is cooked. However, the safest way to check is with an instant-read thermometer, and it's an inexpensive and very useful kitchen tool.

Sour Orange and Substitutions

Sour orange—also sometimes called bitter orange or Seville orange—is originally native to southeast Asia but has spread to Spain and a few other parts of the world. It's used to make essential oils, perfumes, and marmalade. Although it does grow in parts of Florida, it can be a very difficult ingredient to find in most of the United States. Luckily, a combination of navel oranges and fresh limes does a good job of replicating the flavor in this marinade. The result is a juicy and very flavorful roasted chicken.

How to Store and Freeze

Leftover mojo chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for four days. It can also be frozen for up to four months. If freezing, let the chicken cool down and place in a freezer-safe container or bag.