Cuban Mojo Chicken

Cuban Mojo Chicken

The Spruce Eats / Anita Schecter

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 90 mins
Marinate: 4 hrs
Total: 5 hrs 50 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Mojo (pronounced mo-ho) is a Cuban marinade and sauce that typically includes oil, garlic, cilantro, salt, and sometimes hot peppers such as jalapeno. But the hallmark of the sauce is the heavy emphasis on citrus, particularly sour orange. It can be used to marinate beef, fish, or chicken and also makes an excellent sauce.

Sour orange—also sometimes called bitter orange or Seville orange—is originally native to southeast Asia, but 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 easy-to-find 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.


  • For the Marinade:
  • 1 orange (zested)
  • 1 lime (zested)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (fresh)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (fresh)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 6 cloves garlic (smashed)
  • Optional: 1 jalapeno pepper (sliced)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • For the Chicken:
  • 1 whole roasting chicken
  • Optional garnish: orange and lime slices

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, jalapeno (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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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.