close up photo of Cafe Rio sweet pork burrito served with lettuce, and dressing

Copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Barbacoa Recipe

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This copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Barbacoa Recipe taste just like the real deal! It’s full of delicious, sweet flavor, and can be served in burritos, tacos, enchiladas, or on a salad. If you’re a Cafe Rio fan, you will find this sweet pork recipe to become a family favorite!

Copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork burrito served with lettuce, avacado, and dressing.

If you have ever been to the ever so popular Cafe Rio Mexican Grill, you know what I’m talking about when I say their sweet pork is so delicious. My favorite dish to get is their sweet pork salad with cilantro lime dressing. I could literally eat there at least once a week!

Over the years I have made many different versions of the famous Cafe Rio pork recipe. I have experimented with many different flavor combinations, but I just couldn’t fully nail down the flavor, until today!!

This Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Recipe tastes just like your favorite restaurant. Tender, juicy pork smothered in a sweet, slightly spicy sauce. It’s perfect in burritos, tacos, salads and tastes great. Top it with your favorite creamy tomatillo dressing, homemade guacamole, and don’t forget to add the Sweet Cilantro Rice to all your dishes.

Ingredients for Sweet Pork Barbacoa

  • Pork Butt/Shoulder: This is a classic cut for pulled pork. When it is cooked long and slow the meat becomes tender and the fat melts which gives the pork its meaty flavor and texture as well as a sweet taste when cooked with adequate moisture.
  • Dr. Pepper: You can substitute Coke for Dr. Pepper, but NO NOT use diet!!
  • Water: This is needed for the pork to cook in the crock pot.
  • Garlic Powder: I prefer garlic powder over minced garlic in this recipe.
  • Salt: You can add more or less to taste.
  • Pepper: You can add more or less to taste.
  • Diced Green Chili’s: Use diced green chilies in a can for this recipe.
  • Red Enchilada Sauce: Any red enchilada sauce will work. I used Las Palmas.
  • Brown Sugar: Adds the sweet flavor to this sweet pork recipe. You can use light or dark brown sugar.

How to make Cafe Rio Sweet Pork

You will want to cook this Cafe Rio pork recipe long and slow. I like to add it to my slow cooker first thing in the morning, and it’s ready to go by dinner time.

1- Start by spraying the inside of the crock pot with nonstick cooking spray. Add pork shoulder/butt to your crock pot and pour 1 cup of Dr. Pepper and water around pork. It does not need to cover the roast.

2- Sprinkle garlic powder, salt, and pepper evenly over pork roast.

3- Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours.

4- Remove cooked pork from the crock pot and transfer to a cutting board. Drain the liquid from the crock pot. Shred pork and remove any fat. Place shredded pork back into crock pot.

5- In a blender or food processor, blend remaining 1 cup of Dr. Pepper, diced green chilies, enchilada sauce, and brown sugar until smooth.

6- Pour sauce over shredded pork and stir to coat pork well. Cover and cook and additional 2 hours on low.

7- Serve Cafe Rio Sweet Pork in burritos, tacos, or on a salad. Enjoy!

cafe rio sweet pork salad served with tortilla, black beans, rice, lettuce, and diced tomatoes

How To Make Sweet Pork In The Instant Pot?

1- Pour 1 cup of Dr. Pepper and 1/4 cup water in the bottom of the Instant Pot.

2- Cut pork roast into quarters and add to the Instant Pot. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper over pork roast.

3- Cover and secure the lid, and set valve to seal. Set the manual/pressure cook button for 60 minutes. When time is up, let sit for 15 minutes before releasing the pressure.

4- Discard the liquid, shred pork, and add pork back to the instant pot.

5- In a blender or food processor, blend remaining 1 cup of Dr. Pepper, diced green chili’s, enchilada sauce, and brown sugar until smooth.

6- Pour sauce over shredded pork and stir to coat pork well.

7- Cover the pot and secure the lid. Make sure valve is set to sealing. Set the manual/pressure cook button to 5 minutes. When the time is up you can use the quick release. Remove the lid.

8- Serve in in burritos, tacos, or on a salad. Enjoy!

What Kind Of Pork Should I Use For Cafe Rio Sweet Pork?

I prefer to use pork butt/shoulder when making pulled pork recipes. It’s a classic cut and when it is cooked long and slow the meat becomes tender and the fat melts which gives the pork its meaty flavor and texture as well as a sweet taste when cooked with adequate moisture.

Cafe Rio sweet pork served in a white serving bowl

How To Serve Cafe Rio Sweet pork?

Sweet pork can be served in many different ways. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Salad: Flour tortilla warmed on a skillet, layered with black or pinto beans, cilantro-lime rice, sweet pork, chopped lettuce, Pico de Gallo, cotija cheese, and guacamole. Serve with a side of creamy tomatillo ranch.
  • Burrito: Flour tortilla warmed on a skillet, black or pinto beans, cilantro-lime rice, sweet pork. If you like it smothered add green enchilada sauce and shredded cheese. Place it in the oven at 350F for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted and is warm throughout. Serve with a side of lettuce and Pico de Galo.
  • Quesadilla: Place a flour tortilla on a warm skillet, add sweet pork, and sprinkle shredded cheese on top of sweet pork. Fold tortilla in half and flip halfway through cooking until the tortilla becomes slightly crispy, Serve with a side of cilantro lime rice and beans.
  • Enchiladas: Fresh corn or flour tortillas, stuffed with green enchilada sauce, cheese, and sweet pork. Rolled up and topped with more enchilada sauce and shredded cheese. Place in the oven at 350F for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted and filling is warm throughout. Serve with a side of lettuce, and Pico de Gallo.

How To Store Leftover Sweet Pork?

Storing Leftovers: Store leftovers in an airtight container or large Ziplock back in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave, or on the stovetop until warm throughout.

Freezing Leftovers: I love to make a double batch of sweet pork and freeze some for later. Allow pork to completely cool, and place sweet pork in freezer safe bags. Store flat in the freezer for 2-3 months. When you are ready to eat, thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat on the stove until warm throughout.

Other Favorite Mexican Recipes

close up photo of Cafe Rio sweet pork burrito served with lettuce, and dressing

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Recipe

April King
This copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Recipe is perfect for family dinner any night of the week. It's full of delicious sweet flavor, and can be served in burritos, tacos, enchiladas, or on a salad. If your a Cafe Rio fan, you will find this sweet pork recipe tastes just like the real thing!
4.91 from 32 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 5 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 6
Calories 438 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 lbs. boneless pork shoulder/butt
  • 16 oz. Dr. Pepper, not diet
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 4 oz. can diced green chili's
  • 8 oz. red enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Instructions
 

  • Spray inside of the crock pot with non stick cooking spray. Add pork shoulder/butt to your crock pot, and pour 1 cup of Dr. Pepper and water around pork. It does not need to cover the roast.
  • Sprinkle garlic powder, salt, and pepper evenly over pork roast.
  • Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours.
  • Remove cooked pork from the crock pot and transfer to a cutting board. Drain the liquid from the crock pot. Shred pork and remove any fat. Place shredded pork back into crock pot.
  • In a blender or food processor, blend remaining 1 cup of Dr. Pepper, diced green chili's, enchilada sauce, and brown sugar until smooth.
  • Pour sauce over shredded pork and stir to coat pork well. Cover and cook and additional 2 hours on low.
  • Serve in in burritos, tacos, or on a salad. Enjoy!

Notes

*Nutrition Disclaimer: All information presented on this site is intended for informational purposes only. Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information shared on Modernmealmakeover.com should only be used as a general guideline.

Nutrition

Calories: 438kcalCarbohydrates: 34.8gProtein: 42.1gFat: 12.3gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 130mgSodium: 379mgPotassium: 42.1mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 32.6gVitamin A: 3.1IUCalcium: 21.8mgIron: 17.2mg
Keyword Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Recipe
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