A bright, refreshing Cuban mojo marinade that’s perfect for roasting a whole chicken. Try this naturally low carb roasted chicken recipe and wow your friends and family with this show stopping dish!
After spending three years living in South Florida, I have gained a true love and appreciation for the flavors of Cuban cuisine. I’ve recreated a handful of recipes to be a little healthier and lower carb, like these Low Carb Cuban Black Beans or these Stuffed Cuban Sandwich Burgers. One of my favorite recipes however, is a classic baked chicken marinated in citrus and spices.
This Cuban mojo chicken recipe is an ideal way to marinade a bird (you can learn more about chicken marinades in my 7 tips for grilling chicken article). I’ll walk you through the easy to make marinade and all the tips for learning how to easily roast a spatchcock chicken too.
With all of this in hand, you will easily be able to recreate this recipe for any special occasion, meal prep, or even on busy weeknight too! Get all the recipe details below and let’s dive in.
- Cutting Board
- Kitchen Shears
- Chef’s Knife
- 9×13″ Pan
- Baking Sheet
Below are tips and techniques to help guide you through this recipe as well as answer common questions to equip you in the kitchen. Scroll through to take a deeper dive into all things mojo chicken!
What is mojo chicken?
Mojo is the Cuban name for this commonly used, citrus based marinade that’s commonly seen with proteins like pork shoulder, pork tenderloin, pork chops, whole chicken, and maybe even a white fish of sorts.
The citrus juices (orange juice, lemon juice, and lime juice) in the marinade help tenderize and break down the protein in the meat and infuse it with a lot of bright and refreshing flavors.
I love using this specifically when cooking a whole chicken, but essentially the same marinade can easily be applied to my Crispy Chicken Quarters recipe or even when making Crispy Grilled Chicken Wings too!
Mojo Marinade Ingredients:
I prefer blending all my marinade ingredients together so the oil and citrus juices emulsify better. You can also shake it in a jar or use a whisk if you do not have a blender.
Olive Oil/ Fat – I stick to a standard olive oil for this recipe. You can substitute with any other mild flavor oil of your choice (traditional marinades may even use pork fat or lard).
Citrus Juices – I combine the lemon, lime, and fresh squeezed orange juice’s together. Fresh is always best, especially with orange juice because it contains no added sugars.
Orange Zest- I like the orange flavor to really pop. I prefer to add some zest to my marinade to really extract the orange flavor and natural oils.
Spices – Oregano, cumin, salt and pepper all add much needed flavor. You can toast the cumin if you want to up the flavor. Otherwise, mix everything into the blender!
Let you chicken soak in the marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes but ideally the longer it sits, the better it will be!
Spatchcock Chicken Prep:
If you haven’t ever made a spatchcock or butterflied a whole chicken, please check out the easy to follow Spatchcock Chicken guide (and helpful video) on how to prep your chicken. You can even ask the butcher to butterfly the chicken for you as well.
Butterflying the while bird allows it to roast faster at a higher temperature. Why do this? It keeps the skin golden brown and crispy without overcooking the whole bird. You can easily use this marinade however on other parts of a chicken too with similar flavor profile and results.
Cooking Tips and Methods:
To make this chicken you can roast in the oven or smoke on the grill. Here is how I would approach either method.
Oven Roasting: Place the chicken on a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Cook your chicken at a 425 F. oven temperature (this works best with chickens under 4 lbs.). It should take between 60-75 minutes (roughly) to get to an internal temperature of 165 F.
Grilling/ Smoking: Set the grill up for indirect heat and preheat it to 425 F. You can add wood to smoke the chicken if desired (a lighter fruit wood is your best option). The bird is fully cooked when it is golden brown and the thickest part (the thigh) is fully cooked when it hits a temperature of 165 F.
Other Cooking Tips:
- If your bird is over 4 lbs. cook or grill it a 375 F. It could take around 90 minutes give or take.
- If you find the ends of the legs or the wings are browning too fast, place foil over the top to prevent it from getting too overcooked.
- Remove the chicken and let it rest at least 15 minutes before slicing.
- 1, 4 lb. Whole Chicken (keep it 4 lb and under for easier baking time and crispy skin)
- 3-4 tbsp. Olive or Avocado Oil
- 1 Lemon, juiced
- 2 Limes, juiced
- 1 tbsp. Orange Zest (Optional but adds flavor)
- 2-3 Garlic Cloves
- 1 tsp. Fresh Oregano
- 1 tsp Fresh Thyme
- 1 tsp Cumin
- Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper
- Follow the steps in this guide for butterflying or to spatchcock your whole chicken for this recipe.
- Place your prepped chicken in a baking dish (I like a 9x13 inch dish).
- In a blender, combine the marinade ingredients and pulse a few times. Once combined, pour over the chicken and make sure the top and bottom has been coated. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
- Preheat your oven or grill (indirect heat) to 425 F. Prepare a baking pan and cover with foil or parchment (for easy clean up).
- Place the chicken on the pan and bake for approximately 60-75 minutes or so (this will vary based on how large the bird is).
- The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 F in the thickest part of the thigh.
- Let the chicken rest 10-15 minutes before slicing so the juices settle. Slice into pieces and serve.
Use this marinade with other chicken pieces or with your favorite pork cut too!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 500Total Fat: 32ggSaturated Fat: 9ggCholesterol: 200mgmgSodium: 161mgmgCarbohydrates: 2ggNet Carbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0ggSugar: 0ggProtein: 42gg