This delicious mojo picón is a spicy Canarian sauce that can be made super quickly with just a handful of ingredients for an amazingly flavorful dip in minutes.
In the Canarian Islands mojo picón (spicy dip) is usually served with papas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes) which you dip in it. Some authentic recipes also use bread in the sauce to thicken it up, but it’s not a necessity and I prefer it without bread for a smoother creamier sauce.
Why you’ll love it
- It comes together in less than five minutes.
- You’ll only need eight easy-to-find ingredients.
- It’s vegan.
- It’s super tasty.
And if you like Spanish recipes then you might want to try my quick Spanish tomato salad or these delicious Spanish fava beans.
If spicy sauces are more your thing then you’ll love this quick spicy crema or my 15-minute peri peri sauce.
Ingredients and substitutions
With just eight ingredients there are not a huge amount of substitutions you can make but check out the image below to make sure you have the right ingredients or scroll down just under it to see if there are any substitutions you can make if you’re short on an ingredient.
Bell pepper: You’ll just need half a small or medium red bell pepper for this sauce. If you don’t have a red pepper you can substitute a yellow one, although the taste and color will be slightly off. I don’t recommend using green pepper as it gives the sauce a murky swampy color and doesn’t taste right at all.
Olive oil: You won’t be frying anything here, so for best results use high-quality olive oil like extra virgin or the best quality you can find. Do not substitute with any other type of oil.
Cumin: Use ground cumin and don’t omit it or swap it with cumin seeds as they will make the sauce grainy. Even better if you can get freshly ground cumin or toasted cumin.
Smoked paprika: Use high-quality smoked paprika, do not substitute it with sweet or spicy paprika as you need the smokiness for traditional flavor. Usually, mojo picón is made with pimentón de la Vera, a high-quality Spanish paprika that you can get most often in sweet and smoked or sweet and spicy versions.
If you can get pimentón de la Vera then definitely use that, preferably the spicy one (picante, also an integral ingredient in traditional salsa brava for patatas bravas), otherwise, stick to regular smoked paprika.
Chilis: As I doubt you’ll have access to any red chili peppers grown in the Canary islands (like the palmera or picona pepper), use any mild-medium spice red chili pepper. Again, don’t use green chili peppers as they’ll ruin the color.
I personally prefer to use bird’s eye chili peppers or serrano peppers as they give just the right amount of heat. If you don’t like your food super spicy you can just cut down on the amount used and remove the seeds and membranes.
Red wine vinegar: You need good quality red wine vinegar for this recipe. If you don’t have red wine vinegar you can substitute it with white wine vinegar or with half a tablespoon of red wine and half a tablespoon of white vinegar to replace every tablespoon of red wine vinegar.
Garlic: You definitely need fresh garlic for this recipe as it provides a lot of taste and a bit of bite as well, do not substitute or omit it.
Salt: I wouldn’t omit the salt unless you’re eating this sauce with papas arrugadas, which are quite salty. I use just half a teaspoon but you can adjust the amount used to taste.
How to make it
You can make your mojo picón either a bit chunky or silky smooth. To make it chunky, just place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until at your desired consistency, or pound the dry ingredients in a mortar and pestle and then add the vinegar and oil and mix and grind until ready.
I prefer my sauce silky smooth and well-emulsified, to make it this way:
- Add all the ingredients except the oil to a high-powered blender jar or food processor bowl. I used my smoothie jar as if you have a very large blender or food processor bowl, the ingredients won’t be at the level of the blades. You can also just pop everything in a bowl or small container and use a stick blender. If you are unsure of your spice level, you can add just one pepper, or remove the seeds and membranes of the chili peppers. Two peppers usually make the sauce very hot, depending on the pepper, while one is a mild-medium spice level.
- Blend or process until as smooth as possible.
Lastly, either drizzle the oil in through the feed tube or add a tablespoon at a time and process or blend in well until all the oil has been added and your sauce has thickened slightly and is a lovely orange color like the picture below.
If your sauce is too thick for your liking, you can process it with a little water. If it’s too thin, add more oil, slowly, making sure to properly integrate and emulsify it into the sauce by blending well between each addition.
Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. If you only added one pepper and would like it spicier, you can just blend in another one.
You can serve your mojo picón straight away at room temperature for dipping or pour it over tasty things, but it will taste even better if you have the time to refrigerate it for at least an hour.
What you’ll need:
- Measuring cups and spoons.
- A high-powered blender or a food processor or a stick blender or a mortar and pestle.
- A container with a lid or a bowl and cling film to decant the sauce into.
Most people have encountered mojo picón served with papas arrugadas or queso palmero asado (a baked Canarian specialty goat cheese from La Palma island) but it’s usually served with other dishes as well on the Canary Islands and it’s also great as:
- A spicy dip for potato wedges or fries.
- Drizzled over smashed potatoes.
- A spicy salad dressing!
- Served with crusty bread for mopping it up as a cheap and easy appetizer.
- Drizzled over grilled vegetables.
Honestly, most people keep their mojo in the fridge for months but to be on the safe side keep it in a clean jar or container with a lid in the fridge for no more than five days. You can also freeze it and keep it in the freezer for up to three months. To defrost, move to the fridge and leave overnight and then use as usual.
Did you make this dish? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐, review, and/or comment below.
Quick Mojo Picón
Mojo picón is a delicious spicy garlicky sauce from the beautiful Canary Islands that comes together in minutes and just happens to be dairy-free and egg-free too. Make it smooth or chunky, as you wish.
- 1½ Tablespoons red wine vinegar*
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1-2 red chili peppers **
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ a small red bell pepper
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil (120ml)
- Decide whether you'd like your sauce smooth or chunky. (I prefer smooth). Whichever method you use, one chili pepper will give you mild-medium hot sauce while two will be very hot. Remove the seeds and membranes if you want your mojo even milder.
- Peel the garlic and destem the chili peppers.
- For chunky mojo picón, add all the ingredients to a food processor bowl or blender jar and pulse until at your desired consistency. You can also do this with a stick blender in a suitable bowl, or even with a mortar and pestle if you grind the dry ingredients first.
- For smooth mojo picón, add everything except the olive oil to a blender jar, a container for use with a stick blender, or a food processor bowl and process until as smooth as possible. If you have a smaller blender jar or smoothie jar, they're perfect for smaller amounts like in this recipe.
- Now drizzle the olive oil in through the feed tube while processing on high speed until all the oil has been added. If you don't have a feed tube, just add the oil a tablespoon at a time and blend or process well before adding the next tablespoon.
- Done! Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. If it's too thick, blend in a little water. If you want it even spicier, blend in another chili pepper.
- You can use your mojo straight away or for best results, chill for at least one hour. Store in a container with a lid in the fridge for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.
*If you don't have red wine vinegar you can substitute it with white wine vinegar or half the quantity of red wine vinegar and half white vinegar.
** Any medium-spice red chili pepper will do, bird's eye peppers and serrano peppers are particularly good.
Amount Per Serving Calories 175Total Fat 18gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 0mgSodium 180mgCarbohydrates 3gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 1g
I am in love with this sauce! Can’t wait to make it and try it with different appetizers. We love spicy and this will be amazing on potatoes!!
Thanks Sandhya, I hope you guys enjoy it!