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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!
Featured With This Recipe
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!
Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Ingredients
- Pork – You can use boneless pork ribs, pork chops, pork roast, pork butt, or pork shoulder
- Coca Cola (Coke) – Don’t use diet soda for this recipe. It won’t taste the same.
- Brown sugar
- Garlic salt
- Diced green chiles
- Enchilada sauce
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
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.
Try it In the Instant Pot
Short on time? Throw all the ingredients in the Instant Pot and pressure cook on high for 60 minutes. Natural release for 20 minutes. If using pork ribs or pork chops, the time can be reduced to 40 minutes. For larger pork roasts you may need to add more time. The pork should shred easily after cooking. If the pork is still tough, place back in the Instant Pot for another 10-20 minutes depending how much more time you think it needs. After shredding, put the Instant Pot on the “sauté” setting and cook until the sauce thickens to your preference.
Our Copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Recipes
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
Frequently Asked Questions About Sweet Pork
This recipe for Cafe Rio sweet pork has 16g of protein per serving.
Yes, pork loin can be used instead of pork shoulder for pulled or shredded pork.
You cook the pork low and slow with sugar, soda, and a few seasonings. See the recipe below for full instructions.
Read More: 33+ Easy Dinner Ideas
More Cafe Rio Recipes
A few more Cafe Rio / Costa Vida Recipes
- Salsa Fresca (Pico de Gallo)
- Cafe Rio’s Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette
- Homemade Flour Tortillas
- Homemade Tortilla Strips
- The BEST Guacamole EVER
- Our Version of Cafe Rio’s Cilantro-Lime Rice and Black Beans
- Cafe Rio’s Cilantro Ranch Dressing
How to Make Cafe Rio Sweet Pork
Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Copycat Recipe
- 2 pounds pork (we use boneless pork ribs)
- 36 ounces Coke (3 soda cans) NOT diet
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- dash garlic salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 can diced green chilies
- 10 ounces red enchilada sauce (Old El Paso brand is gluten free, I like medium spiciness but any will work)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 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.
- 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. .
- Remove pork from crock pot and discard any liquid left in the pot. Shred pork
- 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.
- Serve on your favorite burrito or salad!
- Instant Pot Instructions: Throw all the ingredients in the Instant Pot and pressure cook on high for 60 minutes. Natural release for 20 minutes. If using pork ribs or pork chops, the time can be reduced to 40 minutes. For larger pork roasts you may need to add more time. The pork should shred easily after cooking. If the pork is still tough, place back in the Instant Pot for another 10-20 minutes depending how much more time you think it needs. After shredding, put the Instant Pot on the “sauté” setting and cook until the sauce thickens to your preference.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through.
- Leftovers can also be frozen in freezer Ziplock bags for up to 5 months.
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This was phenomenal!! I followed the recipe exact and it turned out so good. What was even better is that boneless pork ribs were only $1.99 a pound. You can’t buy any meat for that cheap anymore! Let alone for a delicious meal! My husband is going to asking for this a lot in the future. It takes planning and prepping to start the night before, but it was pretty hands off compared to other recipes.
Cook time should state 10 hrs and not 8. I planned and prepped, started the process and allotted for 8 hrs, as top of recipe states but did not realize until it was too late there was additional 2 hours. I missed this because I was doing all the other recipes as well. Alot of prep work but was delicious.
Thanks for catching that! I have updated the total time to include the extra cook time and the marinating time.
Thank you. I love the copycat cafe rio recipes. I have another request if possible. Are you able to add to your Cafe Rio group of recipes a shopping list of some sort we can print, listing all the ingredients but we would have to fill in the quantity ourselves? I pretty much make all the recipes for this meal for family parties and everyone loves it!! :o)
That is an awesome idea! We will definitely look into that!
This recipe looks delicious! Is the additional 2 hours of cooking (step 4) necessary after the meat has already cooked 8 hours?
It’s up to you. The extra two hours gives the shredded meat a chance to soak up more of the marinade. Thanks for asking!
Is there anyway to use store bought pulled pork to speed up the recipe? I have about four hours. Otherwise will try again when I have more time. Thanks. Sounds delicious. Ann
That might work! Just start at Step 4.
Do you mean a 12 oz can or a 16.9 oz bottle? I just want to make sure I’m using correct measurements. Thanks!
You should use three 12 oz cans!
I tried this tonight to make sweet pork nachos and it was delicious! Added some lettuce, corn salsa, pico, and cotija cheese and it was so, so good!
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