This copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork is a tender and flavorful pork cooked in the slow cooker for an extra easy meal. This sweet pork is perfect for tacos, burritos, nachos, salads, and more.
This sweet pork is a great versatile dish because it can be used in so many ways. Once you make it at the beginning of the week you can enjoy it in different ways all week long (or freeze some for later). Cafe Rio sweet pork is great for using in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, salads, wraps, and more.
Cafe Rio and Costa Vida are two Mexican style restaurants in Utah that serve sweet pork. Their recipes may be slightly different, but this pork recipe is similar to both – I think lovers of either will love this recipe.It’s a slightly spicy, and slightly sweet pork (not sweet like a dessert, but a savory dish that is sweetened with brown sugar and coca cola). The pork is tender, and juicy, and one of my favorite foods.
It’s one of the easiest meals to make at all, and thankfully all done in the slow cooker, which is one of my favorite ways to cook dinner.
Sweet Pork is delicious served with some cilantro lime rice, black beans, refried beans, tortilla chips, or whatever you like. I recommend serving it with tomatillo ranch too.
Ingredients Needed to make Sweet Pork:
- Pork shoulder roast – as much as we don’t want to lose part of our roast with too much fat, the fat is what makes this cook up so well, don’t get a lean pork roast, like a loin.
- Coca Cola – soaking the roast in the soda overnight makes it super tender and juicy.
- Brown Sugar – this gives the pork the perfect sweet flavor.
- Garlic Powder, and Chile Powder – Add some nice savory flavor to the pork.
- Salt and Pepper – a little saltiness and flavor.
- Green Chilies – these add just a little spiciness to the pork, without too much heat.
- Red Enchilada Sauce – This helps give the pork a delicious flavored sauce
How to make copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork?
Add your pork to a large zip-top bag, bowl with a lid, or other container with one cup of coke, and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Let it marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour, up to overnight.
Drain the marinade, and sprinkle the pork all over with garlic powder, chili powder, salt and pepper. Place it in the slow cooker. Pour in another two cups of soda, and water. Cover with the slow cooker lid and cook until the pork is tender enough to shred with a couple forks.
While the pork is cooking, add the last half of the can of coke, brown sugar, green chiles, enchilada sauce to a blender and blend them until smooth.
Remove the pork roast from the slow cooker and discard the liquid. Shred the pork into bite sized pieces and return it to the slow cooker with the sweet enchilada sauce you made. Cover the slow cooker with the lid again and cook for another 1 to 2 hours. Taste the pork, and add any salt to taste.
Serve with your choice of tacos, enchiladas, burritos, etc.
Can I make Sweet Pork in the Instant Pot?
You can make this in the instant pot, instead of the slow cooker.
Cut the pork into chunks, add it to the instant pot as directed, if you were adding to the slow cooker. (The pork will release plenty of liquid on it’s own from marinating, and you don’t want it too wet). Cook it for 50 to 60 minutes at high pressure, then let it do a natural release for 45 minutes.
Drain the liquid and shred the pork with two forks. Then add the sauce as directed. Set the instant pot to sauté and cook until the sauce boils and everything is heated through.
Tips for making Cafe Rio Sweet Pork:
- I recommend using a pork shoulder roast for the best moist, tender meat. I wouldn’t recommend using pork loin as the results seem to be dry even if it’s cooked for less time.
- Don’t use diet soda. If you don’t have Coca Cola, on hand, you can substitute Dr. Pepper or Root Beer. But don’t use diet/ sugar free sodas for any of them.
- Don’t skip marinating the pork (unless you REALLY have to) even if you have 1 hour, it will help the meat absorb the flavors extra well.
How to store leftovers?
- This shredded sweet pork freezes really well. Transfer it once cooled, or any leftovers into a freezer safe bag or container, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat in the microwave, slow cooker, or a pot on the stove until the meat is hot throughout.
Cafe Rio Pork Copycat
For the Marinade
- 3-4 lbs boneless pork roast
- 16 oz Coca Cola
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
For Cooking the Pork Roast:
- 1 /2 TBS garlic powder
- 1/2 TBS chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup water
- 8 oz Coca Cola
For the Sauce:
- 12 oz red enchilida sauce
- 8 oz Coca Cola
- 4 oz diced green chilies
For the Marinade:
- Add 2 cup of Coca Cola and brown sugar to a large bowl or ziptop container (big enough for your pork) and mix them together.
- Add the pork to the container and seal tightly to marinate for at least 1 hour, up to overnight.
- Drain the marinade liquid off when ready to cook the pork.
For Cooking the Pork Roast:
- Sprinkle the garlic powder, chili powder, salt and pepper all over the pork roast and place it in the slow cooker.
- Add 1 cup of Coca Cola and water to the slow cooker.
- Cook the pork in the slow cooker on high for 3 to 4 hours, or on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the pork is tender enough to shred with a fork.
- Remove the pork from the slow cooker and drain out the liquid.
- Shred the pork with 2 forks, discarding any big fat pieces, and return it to the slow cooker.
For the Sauce:
- Add the enchilada sauce, last cup of Coca Cola, and green chilies to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the sauce over the shredded pork in the slow cooker and stir together.
- Cook on low for an additional 1 to 2 hours. You can cook on high for the last 30 minutes, with the lid off to help the sauce thicken.
- Serve pork, spooned out with a fork or a slotted spoon to remove extra liquid.
- Slow cooker