With only seven simple ingredients, this smoky tangy creamy mojo rojo can be made in just a few minutes and will transport you to the Canary Islands in no time!
Mojo rojo is traditionally served with papas arrugadas (small wrinkly salty potatoes) or freshly baked bread at the start of a meal.
Some people add bread to their mojo to thicken it, but I’m not a fan so we’re keeping it traditional.
⭐Why you’ll love it
- It’s super tasty!
- It’s “accidentally” vegan and also gluten-free so it will be suitable for most people.
- It’s incredibly quick and easy to make.
- It’s a great dish for entertaining.
🛒Ingredients and substitutions
Red bell pepper: Use half a small or medium-sized fresh red bell pepper (not roasted). If you don’t have a red bell pepper, in theory, you could replace it with an orange or yellow one but the flavor will be slightly off and the color won’t be as vibrant. Don’t use a green pepper.
Red wine vinegar: If you don’t have red wine vinegar you can substitute it with white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
Olive oil: Use virgin, refined, or pure olive oil. You want a nice hit of flavor, but extra virgin is too strong and overpowering, and pomace is too weak.
Garlic: Use fresh garlic, not frozen or jarred paste. This is not a spicy sauce but it should have enough garlic to give it a bit of a kick. If you’re sensitive to garlic, reduce accordingly.
Salt: I use sea salt to keep it authentic but you can swap it out for kosher salt or half the amount of table salt.
Cumin: Make sure your ground cumin is fresh and strong and hasn’t dried out and lost most of its flavor.
Smoked paprika: Do not use sweet or regular paprika, and if you can get it, I highly recommend using Pimentón de la Vera (dulce). It’s a very high-quality sweet smoked Spanish paprika.
See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for exact quantities.
👩🍳How to make it
Making mojo rojo is incredibly easy. You just need a chopping board, a sharp knife, and a food processor or blender. You can also use an immersion blender, or go old school and use a mortar and pestle for a chunky sauce.
You can make your sauce chunky or smooth, it’s enjoyed both ways, but I prefer smooth as it clings to whatever you’re dipping it in better.
- Peel the garlic. Cut the bell pepper in half and remove the seeds pith and stem. Add them with all the other ingredients to a small blender or processor bowl. If using an immersion blender, add the ingredients to a narrow container with a high neck.
- Blend or process until smooth and emulsified.
Taste and adjust salt and vinegar (add up to half a tablespoon more vinegar if you like it extra tangy).
Decant or spoon out and use straightaway or cover and chill until ready to use. Best served at room temperature.
Hint: If your blender or processor is not the strongest, chop the pepper and garlic up to make it easier to blend, and drizzle the oil in the feed chute while the motor is running to make sure your mojo gets really creamy.
- Add some water to the blender or processor bowl once you’ve gotten as much sauce out as possible. Blend or process until clean and keep the water to use when cooking rice for added extra flavor.
- If using a mortar and pestle, finely mince the garlic and pepper and grind with the salt before adding everything except the olive oil. Grind some more until as smooth as possible and then add the olive oil a tablespoon at a time. Keep in mind your sauce will still be fairly chunky if you make it this way.
Mojo rojo goes best with papas arrugadas or fresh crusty bread for mopping the sauce up, but it’s also amazing served:
- As a dip for fried breaded cheeses.
- With sweet potato wedges or fries.
- Alongside grilled vegetables.
- As a dip for artichokes or grilled or fried plantains.
This sauce will keep tightly covered in the fridge for up to four days or can be frozen for up to three months. After defrosting, you may need to blend the sauce again as the oil could separate.
❓Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Not especially, it has a mild kick from the raw garlic though. If you want a spicy mojo you should try mojo picón.
Did you make this dish? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐and a comment below.
Mojo Rojo (Quick Canarian Red Sauce)
- 1 blender (or food processor or stick blender)
- 1 sharp knife
- 1 chopping board
- 3 cloves garlic Use large cloves or four medium
- ½ red bell pepper Use a small or medium-sized pepper
- 1½ Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt Can substitute with kosher salt of half a teaspoon table salt.
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika Pimentón de la Vera Dulce would be ideal
- ⅓ cup olive oil Virgin, refined or pure.
- Peel the garlic. Chop the bell pepper in half and remove the seeds, pith and stem.
- Add all the ingredients to a small blender or processor bowl.
- Process until smooth. Taste and adjust salt and add up to half a tablespoon more of vinegar if needed.
- Serve right away or cover and chill in the refrigerator until needed.