Traditional recipes

Mojo Meatballs

Mojo Meatballs

Inspired by our love of zippy chile-and-garlic-packed Cuban mojo sauce, we transformed the fun and flavor of long-cooked mojo pork into quick weeknight-able meatballs. If you’re spice sensitive, split the chiles in half lengthwise and remove the seeds; they hold much of the heat.


  • 1 cup (packed) cilantro sprigs, divided, plus more for serving
  • ⅔ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 Tbsp. plus ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1½ tsp.
  • Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more
  • 2 serrano chiles or jalapeños, divided
  • 2 medium red onions, cut into 1”-thick wedges
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooked white rice and plantain chips (for serving)

Recipe Preparation

  • Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 500°. Set aside ½ cup cilantro for making the sauce; finely chop remaining ½ cup cilantro. Lightly beat egg in a medium bowl to blend. Add panko, cumin, 1 Tbsp. oil, 2 tsp. sugar, and 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp. Morton kosher salt and stir until panko softens and turns pasty. Finely grate 3 garlic cloves and 1 chile into mixture, add chopped cilantro, and mix well to combine. Using your hands, mix in pork until evenly distributed.

  • Toss onions with 1 Tbsp. oil on a large rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast until wedges are well charred underneath, about 10 minutes.

  • While the onions are cooking, divide pork mixture into eight pieces and roll each into a 2”-diameter ball.

  • Using a metal spatula, turn onion wedges over and scoot them toward edges of baking sheet to make room for meatballs. Arrange meatballs in the center, spacing out evenly. Return baking sheet to oven and roast until meatballs are browned and spring back when gently pressed and onions are well charred on the other side, about 10 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, remove stem from remaining chile and split in half lengthwise. Place in a blender and add orange juice, lime juice, reserved ½ cup cilantro, remaining garlic clove, ⅓ cup oil, 2 tsp. sugar, and 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt; blend until mostly smooth but still specked with herbs. Transfer sauce to a small bowl.

  • Divide rice among bowls and top with meatballs and onions, then plantain chips and more cilantro sprigs. Serve with sauce alongside.

Reviews SectionThis was very quick and easy to make and altogether presented a rich combination of textures and flavours in a filling meal. The sauce was well balanced between the sweetness of the citrus/sugar, the warmth of the pepper (I used jalapeño), with a fresh bite of the garlic and cilantro in the background. Every note was interestingly complementary with nothing really "out front". The plantain chips are a fun texture addition to the softness of the meat and rice and the meat was well-seasoned and juicy with a tad bit of crisp on the outside.sheakToronto, ON, Canada08/02/20Amazing recipe always a killer ! Great job MollySibylle.QuezParis07/30/20Moist, flavourful, juicy. loved this recipe!This was great! Granted I had to make some changes because #quarantine, but still delicious. I agree with another commenter that Cuban food isn't typically spicy but is probably a nice addition here. I didn't have any peppers so I left them out anyway. I also cut back on the sugar in the entire recipe and left the sugar out entirely in the meatballs and they were still delicious. I did add a couple tablespoons of finely chopped red onion to the meatballs. I also made them with beef and followed the cooking instructions. Great recipe overall!jwolf829Nashville, TN06/11/20Holy cow was this good. Like many other reviewers, I cut the sugar in the sauce and in the meatballs, in half and both parts still tasted absolutely fabulous. I had two little, rogue, thai chillies hanging out in my fridge so I subbed those for the jalapeno/serranos that I didn’t have. I also used GF panko bread crumbs and everything turned out perfect. This recipe will definitely be going into my “faves” pile to make again, and again.berklee58294222Detroit, MI05/29/20I used ground chicken instead of pork and it was absolutely delicious! I think next time though I'll try with the pork. As some other reviewers have pointed out, it was a litttttle too sweet. I halved the sugar and even still felt overwhelmed with sweetness. I think next time I'd only rely on the natural sweetness from the orange (and it could just be that the orange I used was super sweet) and go from there. I also would've liked the mojo sauce to be a bit more spicy as well -- I'd add another Serrano pepper next time. But these are all minor adjustments to taste in an otherwise sturdy weeknight recipe!smasseffArlington, Virginia05/29/20Perfect recipe. This will go into my regular rotation.AnonymousEdmonton 05/27/20This sauce is amazing and really useful beyond this recipe. If you do cut any seeds out of the peppers, I would also cut back on the sugar. Our peppers weren’t spicy enough to counteract that sweetness and it was a sweeter dish than preferable (but still a real treat).fruityrebblesAustin05/25/20I'm so excited about this, as soon as I tasted it I knew I had to make it for every single person I know. Everyone has to know about this sauce, I want to put it on everything! I only made rice, the meatballs + sauce, and the onions, which is incredible but also a little...uniform? Will probably add roasted peppers or plaintain chips next time for more variety. Regardless, 10/10, 5 stars, A+.Absolutely magical. Perfect, perfect, perfect.cbruettSalt Lake City, Utah05/09/20Got a raving review when I made this boyfriend asked we could have this once a week! The mojo sauce is extraordinarily tasty. All the flavors--from the main stage meatballs to the plantain chips and onions--go so well together. 100% will make again (maybe next week if my boyfriend has his way)!Only thing I would add is that the onions took shorter than the 20 minutes, and the meatballs took longer than 10. Not sure how reliable my oven temp is, though.Karly ZlaticRaleigh, NC05/07/20This was soooo delicious! I only used lime juice and a little brown sugar in the sauce to balance because the store was out of oranges, and it came out super delicious. Also added some avocado slices on top! Best BA recipe I've ever made.the sauce is KILLER and the meatballs are super flavorful. Jammy onions are God's gift to human kind (and are good roasted with peppers). Made this after watching the movie Chef and o'boy it gives Mojo more meaning.katie_sewVancouver, Canada05/04/20Wow these meatballs and the sauce! If you don't like spicy food definitely cut back a little, but I love spicy so this was perfect. My grocery store was out of ground pork and chicken so I used turkey and it was still super flavorful and moist. I had to cook the meatballs around 13 minutes.I made smashed potatoes on the side instead of the rice / plantain chips. The sauce is addicting. Will definitely make this again.I don’t like to use straight sugar when I cook so I completely omitted the sugar from both the meatballs and the sauce and it was still so good! Did everything else the same. Yum yum.AnonymousNSW, Australia 05/04/20Delicious! The onions get really dark but they don't taste burnt at all, just super sweet and jammy. I had to bake my meatballs for about 15 mins total (might be my oven was running a little cool) but they were still very moist. Highly recommend you don't skip the plantain chips because they add some texture to what is otherwise quite a uniformly soft meal.AnonymousNew York05/02/20It's very annoying when hot peppers or chilies or any kind of 'heat' is added to Cuban recipes . Cuban foods NEVER use chilies. I seems that in U.S. anything latin is related to Mexican cooking, who do use hot peppers and such. This is not the case.AnonymousNew York04/30/20Looove this recipe! I subbed pork for ground chicken and GF bread crumbs for the Panko and it turned out great. The Mojo Sauce is my new obsession. All the flavors blend really nicely together. I will def be making this again.AnonymousLos Angeles04/30/20I made this for dinner and it was so delish!! I made this vegetarian by replacing ground pork with canned black beans and oats processed together. Did it taste the same? probs not. Was it amazing? ayeah!Devora SchlossIsrael04/29/20Absolutely phenomenal to eat, and rather fun to make. This has to be my favorite iteration of red onions ever - one of our onions went bad so we only had one left for this recipe, which is such a pity because it was absolutely delicious!! Will be making this again and again and again.AnonymousVentura, CA04/23/20Really excellent! I added four garlic cloves instead of one to the mojo and it was so well balanced right out of the blender that I did a happy dance when I tasted it.SarahFowlerWolfeSacramento, CA04/23/20Wowie zowie! I've made dozens upon dozens of BA recipes and this is probably my favorite. I used ground chicken instead of pork, since our grocery store was out. I also did a 50/50 split of parsley and cilantro in the meatballs because that's what I had in my herb garden. Regardless, the meatballs came out moist and light. The mojo sauce was the PERFECT complement to the meatballs and rice. The onions were perfectly charred, too. Next time, I think I'll roast some whole carrots alongside the onions (a la Allison Roman). I HIGHLY recommend making this dish.taylorhtxHouston, TX04/22/20I made these with chicken yesterday and they are amazing! The sauce is delicious and very fresh tasting, i recommend making double the amount of sauce because of how great it is and how many other foods it could go onyummyindustriesatlanta04/22/20For those with dietary/pantry restrictions, I used ground chicken instead of pork, 1/2 cup almond flour instead of panko, honey instead of sugar, and added roasted cauliflower and cucumbers. All delicious!The meatballs were very tasty and I will make them again, but my sauce turned out overly sweet. I followed the recipe exactly, but based on the other effusive comments, I think something went wrong. My orange may have been too sweet or too large, but volumes could be a helpful addition so that someone else can avoid this result. It was so bad that I could not serve the sauce-- even though I had used my precious last bits of pandemic cilantro!

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