Sheetpan Mojo Chicken
This Sheet Pan Mojo Chicken is the perfect quick and easy weeknight meal. It is marinated with a flavourful mojo garlic, citrus sauce then oven roasted with shallots and extra orange slices until golden brown, juicy and tender. The sauce doubles as a marinade and is just perfect over this chicken but it is also great as a dressing over veggies too. I just can’t get enough of it. The marinade works well with chicken but great with pork and seafood as well. If you like citrus flavours, sauces and marinades you will love this chicken dish.
What is mojo sauce?
Mojo is a Cuban marinade and sauce that typically includes olive oil, garlic, cilantro, salt, and sometimes hot peppers such as jalapeño. Traditionally the key element of the sauce is the citrus, specifically sour oranges. They are called either sour or bitter oranges or Seville oranges commonly grown in Cuba. They are not so easy to find here. I sometimes spot the canned ones but I haven’t even seen the canned ones in a while. That is ok though because you can replicate the flavours by mixing fresh orange and lime or lemon juice. It’s not exactly the same as using the sour oranges but it still yields a delicious sauce and marinade. If you can get your hands on some sour oranges please use those in place of the lime juice and orange juice and zest. Fresh citrus is a must for a good Cuban Mojo
If I’m using the sauce as a marinade I will add oregano and cumin to it too. It is incredibly simple to make and very flavorful. I love double duty recipes like this - marinade and sauce in one. As I mentioned earlier it can be used to marinate pork, beef, fish, and makes a great sauce for veggies. This marinade very much reminds me of Trinidadian green seasoning. All it’s missing is the green onions and celery. Cuban mojo has a lot more citrus flavours than Trinidadian green seasoning but meat is generally prepared by washing it and scrubbing it clean with limes so the element is still there. I absolutely love this style of marinade and love that the elements of the marinade are very much the same as the sauce that you serve the chicken with after. It reminded me of a very citrusy version of Trinidadian chadon beni sauce or cilantro sauce. It always amazes me to see the similarities in dishes and flavours from different cultures and always wonder if they are tied to one another somehow.
How to make mojo chicken?
Start by making the simple sauce/marinade either using a blender or a food processor - although I have seen others make theirs in a large mortar and pestle. Use some of the sauce for the marinade and reserve the rest of it for serving with the chicken when it’s done. Once your chicken has marinated, simply pop it in the oven with some shallots, and let it roast for 40 minutes, until golden brown. I love to serve mine with cilantro lime rice, stewed Cuban style black beans and a tomato salsa, but you can serve with chicken with water you like. I also love it with tostones - I really like the mojo sauce over mine! The recipe for the cilantro lime rice and the beans is below and the tostones are linked below in my notes with extra instructions. This is one of those chicken recipes that is always on repeat - it’s perfect for roasting and also grilling and I just know you will enjoy it just as much too.
- ⅓ cup fresh orange juice
- 1 tsp orange zest
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 1 to 2 limes)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- ⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh mint, plus more for topping
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, plus more for topping (can sub with parsley)
- 8 small skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 orange sliced into rounds
- 2 shallots, cut through the root and into wedges
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Make Mojo Sauce and Marinade. Combine the orange juice, lime juice, smashed garlic, jalapeno, a pinch each of salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend until combined, then let sit 5 minutes. Turn the blender back on low and slowly pour in ½ cup olive oil while you blend. Remove and reserve ¼ cup of the mixture and set aside for the marinade. Add the mint and cilantro to the mixture in the blender and purée again until smooth; season with salt and pepper as needed. Transfer the sauce to a bowl; cover and refrigerate.
- Marinate Chicken. Season the chicken thighs generously with salt and pepper all over. Place in a large bowl and add the reserved ¼ cup marinade, the minced garlic, cumin and oregano. Rub all over the chicken until evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 4 hours or overnight.
- Bake Chicken. Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Let the chicken come to room temperature. Place chicken, skin-side up on sheet pan nestling the pieces over the orange slices and shallots. Drizzle with the olive oil and roast for approx 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through, spooning chicken with pan juices a couple of times while it bakes. Once done, Sprinkle with chopped mint and cilantro, serve with the mojo sauce. I like to serve mine with cilantro lime rice and stewed black beans. Recipe for those below.
- Traditionally mojo marinade and sauce are made with sour/bitter oranges. If you can get your hands on some replace the orange juice and lime juice in the recipe with the juice, zest and spices of the sour oranges.
- You can make a meal out of this by baking the chicken with potatoes or even plantains - I like to do mine smashed. To make them with smashed potatoes or plantain: toss the plantains and red onion on a rimmed baking sheet with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Spread out on the baking sheet. Roast until the plantains are tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Remove the plantains to a cutting board and stand them up on a cut side. Flatten the plantains with the bottom of a measuring cup or ramekin, then return to the baking sheet, setting them flat in the pan juices. Continue to bake until chicken is done and plantain are golden. If you want to make them separately - my easy recipe for them is delicious.
For my Cilantro lime rice
- 1½ cups brown or white rice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 3 cups water or broth
- Salt to taste
- Zest of one lime
- Juice of one lime
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- Place a pot over Med heat. Add olive oil, the chopped onion and also the garlic and sauté. As soon as the onion is softened, add the rice and sauté the rice for a couple of minutes to toast it.
- Add in your salt, water or broth and lime zest and give it a good stir. Let it come to a boil.
- Once at a boil, lower heat right down to low and cover and cook for 20-30 minutes or until rice is done. Once done remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Transfer it out into a bowl and toss with the lime juice and cilantro. Season with more salt as needed.
For my Cuban style black beans
- 1 19 oz can of black beans with liquid
- 3 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 onion chopped finely
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 scallions sliced finely
- 1 small bell pepper colour of choice finely minced
- 1 jalapeño chopped and seeded (optional)
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro or chadon beni
- ½ cup water or broth plus more if needed to thin out the bean stew
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp of brown sugar or coconut sugar (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium sauce heat olive oil over medium heat then add the onions, peppers, scallions or chives, oregano, cilantro and cumin and sauté for approx 5 minutes or until veggies are softened.
- Add the garlic and sauté for another minute and then add the beans and stir well. Smash some of the beans on the side of the pot with your stirring spoon and then add the the water or broth, vinegar and bay leaf and sugar if adding and let simmer on medium for approx 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally and adding more broth or water if needed to prevent the beans from sticking to pan. Season with salt and pepper and serve.