Mojo Meatballs

Mojo Meatballs 683x1024 1

Prepare to put Mojo Sauce on EVERYTHING. This version is a tangy, garlicky, herb and chile pepper sauce that adds fresh-flavored magic to everything. Moving on to Mojo Meatballs – Inspired by a love for zippy chile and garlic packed mojo sauce, transformed the fun and flavor of long-cooked mojo pork into quick weeknight meatball feast for your family. I love this recipe because I throw everything for the meatballs into one bowl, everything for the sauce into the blender, and only use one pan. If you don’t care for spice, just split the chiles in half lengthwise and remove all of the seeds.


Units Scale
  • 1 cup (packed) cilantro sprigs, divided, plus more for serving
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 tsp. sugar, divided
  • 2 1/2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 1/2 tsp. Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more
  • 4 garlic cloves, divided
  • 2 serrano chiles or jalapeños, divided
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 2 medium red onions, cut into 1”-thick wedges
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Cooked white rice and plantain chips (for serving)


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. While the onions are cooking, divide pork mixture into eight pieces and roll each into a 2”-diameter ball.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Divide rice among bowls and top with meatballs and onions, then plantain chips and more cilantro sprigs. Serve with Mojo Sauce alongside.


Meatball Tips

  • Keep Things Cold – You want to keep the fat from melting and breaking down before you cook the meatballs, so keep your meat and ingredients as cold as possible. Make the mixture in a chilled bowl, and if you are adding precooked ingredients like onions, let them cool down completely before adding them in.
  • Be Gentle – If meatballs are packed too tightly and compactly, they’ll turn out tough, rubbery, and chewy. Oil your hands so that the mixture won’t stick to them and gently and quickly form the meatballs.