The Complete Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salad Recipe

5 from 6 votes
177 Comments

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The Complete Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salad Recipe, right at your fingertips! So easy to make at home, and tastes exactly like the popular restaurant version.

A homemade cafe rio sweet pork salad in a metal tin

The Complete Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salad Recipe

Thank you to all you die hard Cafe Rio and Costa Vida fans for making us the number one site for Cafe Rio copycat recipes! If you haven’t tried this easy recipe for the famous Sweet Pork Salad yet, you are in for a treat! We LOVE Cafe Rio and Costa Vida – and we’re very picky about our Cafe Rio sweet pork. This recipe tastes exactly like the restaurant version, but so easy because you can make it right at home! We also played around with the rice, the beans, and the house ranch dressing. Finally, we nailed it! This recipe tastes exactly like having Cafe Rio take-out. Try it for yourself and you will see what we mean! 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 homemade cafe rio sweet pork salad in a metal tin

What is the Difference Between the Cilantro Ranch Dressing and the Cilantro Lime Dressing?

We love both of these dressings so much – it is always hard to choose! They are both made with tomatillos, cilantro, and lime so the basic flavor is the same. The difference is that the Cilantro Ranch Dressing is thick and creamy like a traditional ranch dressing. The Cilantro Lime Dressing is more of a vinaigrette. It really just comes down to preference!

Don’t Be Intimidated!

This recipe has a lot of ingredients and a lot of separate recipes within the recipe. Don’t be intimidated! If you are wanting to simplify, you can just make the sweet pork and the dressing and get everything else store-bought. You can also make the beans, rice, pork, and dressing all a day or two before hand to make assembly quicker.

FAQ

Where can I find the metal tins for serving?

You can find the 9″ round disposable foil pans for your salads HERE (just like what Cafe Rio and Costa Vida use)

What if I don’t like cilantro?

Although both of the dressings have cilantro in the name, they don’t have a super strong cilantro taste, in my opinion. However, if you are wanting to use a different dressing I would recommend a chipotle ranch or a balsamic vinaigrette.

How many people can I feed with this recipe?

The recipe below is the proportions for one salad. However, if you make up all the recipes (rice, beans, pork, etc.) it can make 4-6 salads, depending on how hungry people are.

More Cafe Rio Recipes

A homemade cafe rio sweet pork salad in a metal tin

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salad Recipe

5 from 6 votes
The Complete Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salad Recipe, right at your fingertips! So easy to make at home, and tastes exactly like the popular restaurant version.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Time to Cook Sweet Pork 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 30 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican/Spanish
Servings 1 salad

Ingredients

  • 1 large flour tortilla <<click the link for our homemade recipe
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheese Mexican blend
  • 1/3 cup cilantro lime rice <<click the link for our homemade recipe
  • 1/3 cup black beans <<click the link for our homemade recipe
  • 1/2 cup Cafe Rio sweet pork <<click the link for our homemade recipe
  • 2 cups leafy green or Romaine lettuce NOT iceberg, use leafy green or Romaine
  • 1/4 cup pico de gallo <<click the link for our homemade recipe
  • 1/4 cup guacamole <<click the link for our homemade recipe
  • 1/4 cup tortilla strips <<click the link for our homemade recipe
  • 1 tablespoon Cotija cheese crumbled
  • 1/4 cup cilantro ranch dressing <<click the link for our homemade recipe
  • OR cilantro lime dressing <<click the link for our homemade recipe

Instructions

  • Lay a tortilla in the bottom of an aluminum tin, a bowl, or plate. Sprinkle cheese on it, and put in the oven at 375 for about 5 min or until the cheese is melted.
    A tortilla with melted cheese on top
  • Remove from oven and add rice, beans, and pork.
    A tortilla filled with cheese, rice, beans, and pork
  • Next add the lettuce. Top with pico de gallo, guacamole, tortilla strips, cilantro, and Cotija cheese.
    A homemade cafe rio sweet pork salad in a metal tin
  • Serve with the cilantro ranch or vinaigrette dressing and enjoy!
    Dressing being poured over a salad

Nutrition Information

Calories: 783kcalCarbohydrates: 87gProtein: 37gFat: 34gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 1771mgPotassium: 842mgFiber: 12gSugar: 27gVitamin A: 9050IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 423mgIron: 5mg

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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.

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Comments

  1. thank you!!! this is by far the best cafe rio recipe I have tried!

    to make the tortilla strips: you can slice up corn tortillas, toss with a bit of oil & broil for a few minutes in the oven, turning & watching that they don't burn.

  2. I stumbled across you blog and I am SO excited! Wow, you put a lot of work into it and I am going to love trying your recipes! Thank you!

    ps….I go to Chili’s (or another similar establishment since I live in Delaware!) and just purchase their crunchy tortilla strips for things…yummy with other salads and soups 🙂

  3. okay, sorry for so many comments…. but I forgot something…. I’m not sure if you know, but you can buy uncooked tortillas at costco. They taste just like cafe rio, cause you heat them up yourself, so they are fresh. You had just mentioned heating your tortillas in an oven… so I wasn’t sure if you knew about those. You should try it. they are AMAZING!

  4. oh, p.s. I have made the rice, bean and ranch dressing recipe before… my ranch dressing recipe is a little different… but I’m sure they taste just the same. The rice and beans are awesome!!!

  5. I have been wanting to try the pork recipe for a long time. But I found so many different recipes, that I was afraid to try one, and end up hating it. But this looks like THE one! Question before I try it though… how much does your pork recipe make??

  6. We have tried both, too. It doesn’t make a big difference to me. Some people like the taste of Coke, others Dr. Pepper. We just use whatever is easiest.

    I THINK that Cafe Rio actually uses Coke though. One day when we were there we saw them filling a HUGE bucket full of Coke in the back. We just assumed it was for the pork.

    –Erica

  7. I have been looking for a great Cafe Rio Pork recipe for a long time. I am planning on using your recipe tomorrow. I have high hopes!

    I would like to ask if you’ve ever tried using Dr Pepper in one of your previous attempts?

    Looking at the many recipes online some say use Coke others say Dr Pepper. I’ve tried both in the past and the soda never seemed to make a difference in the end flavor. What do you think?

    The marinating is a great idea!

  8. We found your site when I googled sweet pork salad. We made the entire meal of the Sweet Pork Salad for a family get together dinner and LOVED it! I think it’s better than the real thing!

    We also loved reading all about you and Jared, and the BYU-H phone call that got it all started. I have a son currently attending BYU, and a daughter living in the same BYU-approved complex and attending UVU, so the connection was more than just one recipe.

    Thanks for sharing all your recipes and ideas! I’ll be back to visit off and on.

  9. I stumbled on this recipe when I googled Cafe Rio Pork and we tried it yesterday. It was a HUGE hit and I’m sure we’ll make it again and again! Thanks so much!

  10. I am so excited to try this one out as well!! I have all the ingredients I need printed up and I am ready to head to the store. 🙂

    I did find online that “Fresh Gourmet” makes tortilla strips that are sold at Smith’s and Albertson’s. They are the same maker of croutons, so they might be in that section.

    Thanks for all of your hard work! 🙂

  11. just slice up tostada shells for your tortilla strips, or sometimes you can find them at smith’s in the produce section.

  12. I cannot believe how spot on this recipe is!!! Thank you so much for doing all the leg work to get the right flavor!

  13. The cheddar that is REALLY thinly shredded. I think it’s best if you grate your own, but the bagged kind is good too 🙂

  14. You got the pork right on. All the other Cafe Rio copycat recipes I’ve tried have been too dry and barely resemble the original. Thank you so much!!

  15. I am so excited to try this one out. this is my favorite thing to eat when I visit family in Utah. My girlfriends are also so excited!