Ten Reasons to Embrace Mojo de Ajo Garlic Sauce

Ten Reasons to Embrace Mojo de Ajo Garlic Sauce

Mojo de ajo - let's discuss. It's a simple sauce made from olive oil roasted garlic cloves combined, primarily, with fresh orange and lime juice. You mash and blend the caramelized garlic with a short list of other ingredients until you have a thick, unctuous sauce capable of being both drizzled or slathered. You need it in your repertoire. I tend to use mojo de ajo more as a condiment versus a sauce, but you can go either route. It's great when you want to add a touch of flare, punch, or punctuation to a dish. There's a fantastic version in the new Gjelina cookbook, and I thought I'd list off all the ways I've been using it this week, and also show off some snapshots of the cookbook itself.

- Drizzled and swirled over this carrot soup.
- Mixed into plain Greek yogurt, dolloped on a frittata.
- Slathered on grilled or broiled slabs of good bread.
- Hand-rolled marbles of goat cheese covered with mojo de ajo for a cheese plate.
- Marinated tofu (and then tempeh) in it overnight, then steamed to cook.
- Tossed with various grains and greens, and noodles throughout the week.
- As a finishing splash to a pan of sautéed mushrooms.
- As a dipping sauce (or drizzle) on bites of deeply roasted sweet potato.
- Whisked into aioli as a finishing flavor tweak. Great on quinoa patties.
- Used that boosted aioli on the first sautéed artichokes of the season.

Ten reasons to embrace Mxojo de Ajo
Ten reasons to embrace Mojo de Ajo

A few shots of the Gjelina book. It's a beauty. The whole package. Travis Lett + Nikole Herriott + Michael Graydon is the magic. Notice all the flagged recipes! :)

Ten reasons to embrace Mojo de Ajo
Ten reasons to embrace Mojo de Ajo
Ten reasons to embrace Mojo de Ajo
Ten reasons to embrace Mojo de Ajo
Ten reasons to embrace Mojo de Ajo
Ten reasons to embrace Mojo de Ajo

It probably goes without saying, but reminders are always helpful - condiments and other concentrated, flavor-forward sauces are an easy way you can take a simple preparation and make it something exceptional. Think of all you can do with pesto, harissa, peanut sauce, or this magic sauce (a riff on chimichurri). Mojo de ajo falls in this camp. Just put it on the table when you sit down, and you'll come up with all sorts of ideas to add to my list! xxh

- More Citrus Recipes -
- More Garlic Recipes -
- More Vegetarian Recipes -

Mojo de Ajo

1/2 cup / 120 ml extra virgin olive oil
30 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup / 120 ml fresh lime juice
1/2 cup / 120 ml fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt, or to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180 C.

In a small cast-iron or other type of ovenproof pan, combine the olive oil and garlic, making sure the garlic is completely submerged. Place in the oven and cook until the garlic is very soft and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and orange juice and return to the oven until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes longer. Carefully remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

With a fork, smash the garlic to make a rough paste. Stir in the oregano and re pepper flakes. taste and season with salt. The sauce will not emulsify; it will be very oily, and should be stirred before use.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before using. Makes about 2 cups.

Adapted from: Gjelina: Cooking from California by Travis Lett (Chronicle Books, 2015)

Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 60 min

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Thanks for the reminder. I am a garlic fanatic, it is unacceptable that I do not have any mojo de ajo in my kitchen right now, especially my better half is Salvadoreno. Off I go to make this right hehe

February 10, 2016

This looks beautiful! But does the acid in the citrus juice react badly with a cast-iron pan?

February 11, 2016


Heidi -- who makes the white citrus juicer shown in the photo? Thx

February 11, 2016

Great recipe and pics! This finishes charred meats and poultry so well as well. On steak or chx right off the grill; and livin' is good!

February 11, 2016

This sounds amazing! Making it today!

February 11, 2016


I use Rick Bayless's Mojo de Ajo which is a simpler version of this one here, but it pairs just as nicely with a wide variety food. We use it as a base for pizza and for sauteeing kale. I believe you can get anyone to eat kale if you cook it in mojo de ajo! I'm looking forward to trying out this version.

February 11, 2016

You have a knack for sifting out the most gorgeous recipes. Just stunning. Can't wait to give it a go.

February 11, 2016


Heidi great "magic sauce".... I can taste the sautéed shrimp already. And I might add this to base of my homemade pizza. I'm in the midst of planning a birthday tapas event..... this sauce will add nicely to the menu.

February 11, 2016

Oh my, I bet this would be absolutely delicious with fresh baked, crusty bread :D

February 11, 2016

Garlic + citrus = magic. I cannot wait to try this.

February 12, 2016


I've not actually heard of this sauce but it sounds every bit as good as pesto/harissa/etc etc ;)
I'm a bit in love with that cast iron pan you have them in - could you share where it's from Heidi?

February 12, 2016


I have an excess of blood oranges and Mexican limes to use up in my kitchen right now so I tried this (new to me) recipe and not only is it delicious on/in everything but with the blood orange juice it comes out the most gorgeous red/pink and the hint of bitterness is amazing.

February 14, 2016

Brasserie Louis

Awesome!! I have not prepared this sauce before. But definitely I will try this recipe today. Thanks for sharing this post :)

February 14, 2016

Stuart Watton

I'm a real fan of both Garlic and Citrus zing so this sounds like a real treat for me. I'm going to give the recipe to my wife and see if she fancies it too. If she does that I think we will make some this evening. Thanks

February 15, 2016


I made this today and it is absolutely delicious. The flavors are amazing! We're having a veggie bowl for dinner tonight and guess what will be drizzled on it? Yum!

February 16, 2016

Oh, yum! I use garlic-infused olive oil all the time for dipping and topping and the like, but this is a whole new level. I'll have to give it a try!

February 17, 2016


Oh Heidi! You Goddess! This sounds simply divine! I am making it tomorrow, my mouth is watering so much! You need a disclaimer - towels required, drooling will be induced.....

February 19, 2016

I had plans for a carrot soup tonight and I think I'll make this as a garnish like you suggest. I've never made mojo this way before, can't wait to try!

February 21, 2016


Traditional ways that Cubans use this sauce are over steamed yucca or orange-fleshed squash like butternut or pumpkin. Delicious! And if you can find "naranja agria", or sour orange, it's all the better!

February 22, 2016

Garlic is soooo good for you! I love using a lot of garlic. When I'm about to get sick, you guessed it, raw garlic chopped up. I can see why there are 10 reasons (probably more) to embrace this recipe. I have to try it!


February 25, 2016

We absolutely adore garlic confit around here, so it's a no-brainer to add a splash of citrus juice and heat! Since we only had lime juice and chipotle powder, in went the heaping spoonfuls and splashes. I think I just might devour my shoe if it were slathered with this deliciousness!!!

February 26, 2016

Thank-you for this recipe! It is so much more than the sum of its parts - as rich as a mayonnaise, as sharp as a vinaigrette. And the kitchen smelled amazing whenever I opened the oven. Tossed with some roasted-until-wilted savoy cabbage, it made the cabbage almost FANCY. And made my vegan dinner (which I was nervous about pulling off, not my usual cooking) a success. Fancy that.

March 11, 2016