Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Recipe (Copycat)

4.65 from 17 votes

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Our copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Recipe is the real deal. The pork is marinated and slow-cooked to perfection in some surprising ingredients!

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Recipe (Copycat)

This copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Recipe is one of the most popular recipes on our website. That’s because it tastes so similar to the original. The pork is tender and juicy, with the perfect amount of sweetness. We originally shared this recipe back in 2007, and it has been the most popular Cafe Rio copycat recipe on the internet! Be sure to check out all our other tasty Mexican Recipes! We have all kinds of yummy Mexican dishes to round out your meals and celebrations!

A sweet pork salad in a metal tin

Ways to Use Sweet Pork

Sweet pork is my favorite meat at Cafe Rio. I love it! When prepared correctly, it practically melts in your mouth. With this recipe, you can now have the amazing taste of Cafe Rio Pork at home – all you need is a few simple ingredients and a crock pot. Once it’s shredded and ready to go, use it as a topping or filling in any of the following ways.

  • Sweet Pork Salad
  • Burritos
  • Enchiladas
  • Tacos
  • Tostadas
A sweet pork burrito in a metal tin

Slow Cooker Satisfaction

I love making meals in the crock pot and this is no exception. The pork slow cooks all day and then at dinnertime, you have an amazing dish to serve to your family. It also makes the house smell SO good! I always make a ton of this sweet pork so I can use it in multiple recipes throughout the week, I also find myself snacking on it straight out of the fridge. It’s that good!

The slow cooker makes this recipe so easy to make. If you are short on time, you can skip the marinating step. It does add more flavor to the meat, but it will still turn out great. The pork cooks for a long time in the slow cooker which makes the meat tender and easy to shred. Because of differences in slow cooker heat, make sure you check it a few times throughout the day to make sure the meat doesn’t overcook.

Our Copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Recipes

  • For Sweet Pork Burritos, view the full recipe HERE.
  • To make the Sweet Pork Salad, view the full recipe HERE.
  • To find ALL of our Cafe Rio / Costa Vida copycat recipes, click HERE.

5-Star Reviews

We have received many rave reviews on this sweet pork recipe. This pork is the real deal! We are thrilled that so many of you have enjoyed this recipe as much as we have.

“So I moved to Texas a little over a year ago and to my despair there isn’t a Cafe Rio for 500 miles. I love the pork Barbacoa burrito and have not been able to recreate it or find some thing close to it here in Texas until this recipe thank you for posting this. Every time I eat it, it’s like a warm homey feeling comes over me.” – Kamie

“I had my doubts because the ingredients seem so random, but we love this recipe and have done it with and without marinade several times. A++ both ways.” – Jessica

“THIS WAS ABSOLUTELY SPOT. ON. tastes amazing leftover too!!!!!” – Jared

“We love, love, love this recipe! We have made it for several years now and it surely is a treat! I love your blog and haven’t ever been disappointed! I make LOTS when I make it and freeze it…tastes just as good when thawed! Also the dressings freeze well too! Thanks for your time and talent!”– Misti

More Cafe Rio Recipes from Favorite Family Recipes

How to Make Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Recipe (Copycat)

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Copycat Recipe

4.65 from 17 votes
This Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Copycat Recipe is the real deal. The pork is marinated and slow-cooked to perfection in some surprising ingredients!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 15 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican/Spanish
Servings 10



  • Put the pork in a heavy duty ziploc bag to marinate. Add about a can and a half of coke and about ¼ cup of brown sugar. Marinate for a few hours or overnight.
    Boneless pork ribs marinating in a bag
  • Drain marinade and put pork, ½ can of coke, water, and garlic salt in crock pot on high for about 3-4 hours (or until it shreds easily, but don’t let it get TOO dry) or on low for 8 hours. .
    Boneless pork ribs cooking in a crock pot
  • Remove pork from crock pot and drain any liquid left in the pot. Shred pork
    Shredded pork on a cutting board
  • In a food processor or blender, blend ½ can Coke, chilies, enchilada sauce and remaining brown sugar (about a cup, you can add a little more or less to taste). If it looks too thick, add more Coke little by little. Put shredded pork and sauce in crockpot and cook on low for 2 hours.
    Shredded Cafe Rio Sweet Pork in a crock pot
  • Serve on your favorite burrito or salad!
    Cafe Rio Sweet Pork


Nutrition Information

Calories: 395kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 16gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 354mgPotassium: 310mgFiber: 1gSugar: 38gVitamin A: 210IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 42mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her beautiful three girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

More about Erica Walker

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  1. Thinking of making this for a big crowd and I’m wondering if I use 6 lbs of pork instead of the 2 listed would I also need to triple the other ingredients as well? I feel silly even asking but it’s just that would be an awful lot of brown sugar so I want to be sure. Thanks in advance!

    1. Yes, you would need to triple the other ingredients for there to be enough sauce for the meat. If you don’t, it will dry out.

  2. 5 stars
    Anytime we entertain, we make this! You can make a ton & everyone loves it. Our favorite is in salad!

  3. 5 stars
    I crave this pork all the time! We love Cafe Rio, but this recipe brings into our home, which is even better!

  4. 5 stars
    We make this sweet pork at least once a month if not more. It is a meal that my entire family enjoys. So much flavor and so tender! We put it on salad or make a burrito with it. SO GOOD!

  5. Hi! So excited to try this!! I got a slow cooker but its 4 qt – is it still possible? do I need to adjust recipe? Thanks!

        1. We haven’t tried it that way before, but my guess is that it would work! Let us know how it goes if you do try it!

    1. Has anyone tried this with diet coke even though it says not to in the recipe. Looking to try it for a more diabetic version using diet coke +lakanto sugar

      1. I use Stevia rootbeer or cola and it works just fine. I think the aspartame causes issues with this recipe. I also just use Lakanto, swerve, or Boca Sweet. Its amazing every time!

  6. So here’s my problem and frustration I looked at the total cook time that it suggests and it says 8 hours and 15 minutes total so I figured out when I needed to start it and I read further and found out that it’s actually 10 hours so now what because I am having five in about 8 hours from now.

    1. You should be able to get it done! You can cook the pork on high for 3-4 hours and then cook for two additional hours on low after you shred it. Hope this helps!

  7. Thanks for the great recipe! Just FYI, old El Paso red sauce showed up on my GF app as containing traces of gluten. Hatch’s organic red enchilada sauce is labeled GF. Should be an easy swap. Maybe you’re been made aware, but since the recipe isn’t updated I thought I’d point it out

  8. Hello! For the diced green chiles, I am wondering, do you drain them first or just add them with all the juices? Thank you!

  9. So I moved to Texas a little over a year ago and to my dispear ther isn’t a Cafe Rio for 500 miles. I love the pork Barbacoa burrito and have not been able to recreate it or find some thing close to it here in Texas until this recipe thank you for posting this. Everytime I eat it it’s like a warm homey feeling comes over me.

    1. I think the sweetener in diet sodas–usually aspartame–isn’t heat-stable, meaning if you cook with it, the sweetener breaks down and isn’t sweet anymore. There are some diet sodas that have stevia or sucralose that might be heat-stable, since you can cook with both of those sweeteners, as well as monkfruit, erythritol, and some others. I used 3/4 c. sucralose (such as Splenda) and 1/4 c. dark brown sugar and 2 cans of regular (not diet) left-over root beer today (I usually only have diet soda too.) We’ll see how it turns out.

      1. How did it turn out with the Splenda? I’m making it this weekend and considering making one or two crockpots with the original recipe and one with less calories (Splenda + some brown sugar as you’ve noted with either Coke Zero or Dr. Pepper Zero).

  10. I love it! I’ve made it twice now and it is so close to the Cafe Rio Sweet Pork. I put it in the crock pot about midnight, then shred it in the morning and let it cook in the sauce, then I don’t have to rush if we have company!

  11. 5 stars
    Do you cook the pork for 8 hours on low PLUS an EXTRA 2 hours for the sauce or do you put the sauce in at the 6 hour mark with 2 hours left to cook?

    1. You cook the pork for 8 hours on low, and then an extra 2 hours with the sauce. So 10 hours total. It is a long time, but totally worth the wait! The pork comes out so so tender and the flavor is amazing!

    2. I made the ribs part in the instapot for 30 minutes on high pressure shredded it and then slow cooked for the 2 hours also in the instapot.

  12. 5 stars
    Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all of us you actually understand
    what you’re talking about! Bookmarked. Kindly also visit my website =).
    We will have a hyperlink trade agreement between us

      1. Can I make this entire recipe a week ahead of time and then just reheat it. Or should I just do the initial 8 hour cook and wait to finish the 2 hour (after shred cook ) until right before I serve it?

        1. I think it’s best to make it all at once and then heat up the amount you need as you go throughout the week. It keeps very well in an airtight container in the fridge.

    1. I have for one hour on the stew setting or med-high pressure. It turns out amazing! Perfect especially bc the pressure helps infuse the flavor if you didn’t marinade prior.
      Great option for cafe rio at home!

  13. 5 stars
    I had my doubts because the ingredients seem so random, but we love this recipe and have done it with and without marinade several times. A++ both ways.

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