Full of delicious sweet flavor, this copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork recipe goes perfectly in salads, tacos, burritos and more. Our favorite way to enjoy it is on top of a salad.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe!
There are lots of different sweet pork copycat recipes out there in the blogosphere and I have experimented with a lot of them. This one is by far my favorite and is almost identical to the sweet pork from Cafe Rio. I have even been told this recipe tastes better than the real thing.
What is Cafe Rio?
Cafe Rio is a Utah based restaurant which has now spread into other states. But sadly it has not come to Oregon yet. Each time I visit Utah, a visit to Cafe Rio is required at least once. One of my favorite dishes to get there is their sweet pork. I love it in a burrito or on a salad. Thanks to today’s recipe, I can make the delicious sweet pork at home in my crock pot.
Sweet Pork Ingredients
- Pork. I used pork carnitas but you could use any boneless pork roast, pork butt or pork shoulder.
- Red Enchilada Sauce. My favorite brand is La Victoria
- Green Chiles. The diced green chilies that come in a can.
- Brown Sugar
- Garlic. Fresh, minced garlic.
- Coke. Don’t use diet soda. You can also use Root Beer or Dr. Pepper.
Tips from Leigh Anne
- I recommend using a large, marbled boneless pork roast like pork shoulder, pork butt or pork carnitas. You can use a bone in but it is harder to shred.
- Wonder what the Coke does? It actually acts as a meat tenderizer in the recipe so don’t leave it out.
How to make Cafe Rio Sweet Pork
- Marinate pork for at least two hours in a mixture of coke and brown sugar in the refrigerator or overnight.
- Place pork and marinade into the crockpot.
- Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours or until pork shreds easily. I prefer low and slow!
- Remove tender pork and shred.
- Return pork to slow cooker.
- Add in remaining brown sugar, enchilada sauce, garlic and green chilies. Stir to combine.
- Cook for an additional 30-60 minutes.
How to Serve on Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa
Our favorite way to enjoy it is on a Cafe Rio Salad. You can find my full directions on how to make it here. You can also use the meat in tacos, enchiladas or burritos. We like to use the following toppings on our salad:
- Pico de Galo
- Avocado Slices
- Sour Cream
- Tortilla Strips
- Ranch dressing
- Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
Frequently Asked Questions
It works great in the Instant Pot too and you can find my Instant Pot Cafe Rio Pork recipe here.
Here is a link to my favorite one, I actually own three of them!
I have always marinated my pork the night before or for at least a couple hours, but if you forget or just don’t have time go ahead and cook it without marinading it. The meat cooks for a long time in the crock pot in its own juices which allows it to absorb a lot of flavor. Cafe Rio does marinade the meat but you will still have a delicious meal if you don’t.
For other delicious recipes try these:
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Cafe Rio Sweet Pork
- 3 lbs. boneless pork carnitas, shoulder etc
- 12 oz Coke 1 can
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 10 oz. enchilada sauce can
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 4 oz diced green chilies small can
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- Marinade pork for at least 2 hours or overnight in can of coke and 1/4 C brown sugar.
- Pour pork and liquid into crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
- Remove meat and shred. Discard liquid
- Put meat back in crock pot and add enchilada sauce, garlic, green chilies and brown sugar.
- Cook for 30-60 more minutes. If there is excess liquid drain some off.