Cafe Rio {Copycat} Sweet Pulled Pork

This website may contain affiliate links and advertising so that we can provide recipes to you. Read my privacy policy.

Perfectly sweet and tender, pulled pork is the absolute best when it comes to meat for your meal! This tried and true recipe is definitely one for the books!

This pork is SOO GOOD and a recipe that you will use again and again! If you loved this pork, then try these Tacos, this Tenderloin, or this delicious Sweet and Sour Pork!

Sweet pulled pork made into a salad.

Sweet Pulled Pork

Cafe Rio is a restaurant in Utah that makes the best sweet pulled pork! It’s so good that I wanted to be able to make it whenever I wanted because I absolutely love sweet pulled pork! It is so tender and juicy that it literally falls off of my fork when I go to eat it. It is the absolute perfect meat to add to a salad because it’s thin and saucy!

This sweet pulled pork only takes a few minutes to put together. You marinate the meat overnight. Then, you cook it all day in the slow cooker and so when you go to take it out, it’s perfectly done. So not only does this taste divine but it’s a set it and forget it kind of meal! When it’s finished, I love making it into a salad with some rice, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, tortilla strips, and this amazing cilantro ranch dressing. It tastes exactly like the salad from Cafe Rio! This is definitely a recipe that you and your family will love!!

Ingredients for Sweet Pulled Pork

This recipe is not only simple but it only takes a few ingredients to make! See the recipe card below for a list of exact ingredient measurements.

  • Pork shoulder roast: Getting the right cut of meat is important to making this work. If you can’t find this in your grocery store then ask your butcher to help you!
  • Coca Cola: This is what will soak into your meat overnight making it so tender and juicy!
  • Brown sugar: The brown sugar adds the absolute perfect sweet taste to the pork.
  • Garlic salt: Needing to add just a bit of savory, this garlic salt does the trick!
  • Green chilis: These green chilis add in a little bit of spice without the heat.
  • Red enchilada sauce: This helps to add flavor and to thicken up the sauce.

Let’s Make Some Pork!

This sweet pulled pork only takes a few minutes to put together and will be totally worth the wait in the end! Go ahead and try it, you will be so glad that you did!

  1. Marinate: Add the pork to a gallon sized ziplock bag and add ¼ cup brown sugar and 1 cup Coca Cola. Let marinate for 3 hours or overnight.
  2. Rub with spices and cook: Drain the marinade and add the pork to a 5 quart slow cooker. Rub with garlic salt and pour 1 cup of coke and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 5-6.
  3. Shred the pork: Carefully remove the pork from the slow cooker and discard the liquid. Shred the pork and return it to the slow cooker.
  4. Make the sauce: In a blender or food processor add can of diced green chilis, enchilada sauce, and 1 cup brown sugar. (can use less if needed.)
  5. Add sauce to meat and serve: Add the sauce to the pork and stir. Then, let it cook for an additional hour and serve.
4 pictures showing how to marinate pork and how to make the sauce.

Quick Tips

This sweet pulled pork is so amazing! I have come up with a few tips to making this meat turn out just right!

  • Marinate: I know that it’s tempting but DON’T skip the step to marinate this pork. If you can do it overnight, then that will turn out the best. This step is when the meat really soaks in all of those delicious flavors. It’s what makes it so tender and juicy!
  • Don’t use diet: When you are putting in your Coke, don’t use diet! Make sure that it’s regular and not sugar free. You could also use regular Dr Pepper or Root Beeer if you don’t have any Coke!
  • What to make with it: You can make this into a salad, toast up some buns and make some pulled pork sandwiches or even eat it with some potatoes and rolls. The options are endless, this sweet pulled pork is so delicious!
Sweet pulled pork being cooked in a slow cooker.

How to Store Leftovers

This is a recipe that can be made ahead and frozen for later! Or, you could store your leftovers and eat them for lunch or dinner throughout the week!

  • Refrigerate: Once your pork has cooled then you can store it in an airtight container. Put it in your fridge and it will last 3-4 days!
  • Freeze: Let your pork cool. Once it has, wrap it up in aluminum foil and place it in an airtight container or a ziplock bag. Label the container with the date. Put it in your freezer and it will last for up to 6 months!
  • Reheat: To reheat leftovers from the fridge then you can just use the microwave. Reheat it for 1-2 minutes until it’s warm. If you are reheating it from frozen then you can use a slow cooker! Put it in your slow cooker on low for 3-4 hours. It may take longer depending on how much meat was frozen. It’s done and safe to eat when it reaches 165 degrees farenheit!
A close up of shredded pork on a salad with toppings.

Cafe Rio {Copycat} Sweet Pulled Pork

No ratings yet
Perfectly sweet and tender, pulled pork is the absolute best when it comes to meat for your meal! This tried and true recipe is definitely one for the books! 
Prep Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Cook Time 7 hours
Total Time 10 hours 15 minutes
Author Alyssa Rivers
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients
  

  • 3-4 pounds pork shoulder roast
  • 4 cups Coca Cola not diet, divided
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar divided
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 can diced green chilis
  • 1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce

Instructions
 

  • Add the pork to a gallon-sized ziplock bag and add ¼ cup brown sugar and 2 cups Coca-Cola. Let marinate for 3 hours or overnight.
  • Drain the marinade and add the pork to a 5-quart slow cooker. Rub with garlic salt and pour 2 cups of coke and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 5-6.
  • Carefully remove the pork from the slow cooker and discard the liquid. Shred the pork and return it to the slow cooker.
  • In a blender or food processor add a can of diced green chilis, enchilada sauce, and 1 cup brown sugar. (can use less if needed.)
  • Add the sauce to the pork and stir. Let cook for an additional hour and serve.

Notes

Updated on November 1, 2021
Originally Posted on August 1, 2012

Nutrition

Serves: 6

Calories470kcal (24%)Carbohydrates68g (23%)Protein27g (54%)Fat10g (15%)Saturated Fat3g (15%)Polyunsaturated Fat1gMonounsaturated Fat4gCholesterol93mg (31%)Sodium591mg (25%)Potassium559mg (16%)Fiber1g (4%)Sugar66g (73%)Vitamin A33IU (1%)Vitamin C8mg (10%)Calcium69mg (7%)Iron3mg (17%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Dinner, main dish
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword pulled pork, sweet pulled pork
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic

Alyssa Rivers

I am Alyssa and the blogger behind The Recipe Critic. I started my blog in June of 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family.

Read More Posts by Alyssa

facebook twitter pinterest instagram

Categories

Comments

Leave a reply
  1. We also moved to North Carolina and are missing cafe rio terribly! I am trying your recipes today in an attempt to save on air fair back to Utah just for lunch 🙂

    Thank you for posting! PS, I love NC!

    Tracy

    1. I am making this today and am so excited! I tried following the “click here” links for the beans and rice and it keeps looping me back to the pork. I was able to find them through pinterest but just thought I would let you know!

  2. Quick question, what size can of green chiles? 4oz or 8oz?

    Also, looking at the rice recipe, the liquid ingredients are a cup to much for the amount of rice, and there are directions to put the lime juice in both the cooking liquid and again with the sugar and cilantro when fluffing rice.

    Thanks for the recipes!
    Your Utah transplant neighbor in South Carolina.

  3. This looks wonderful, but wayyy to complicated for me. You give a link to an easier ‘sweet pulled pork’ recipe, which I would like to try, however the link is a dead end. Could you please point me in the right direction?
    I have pinned loads of your recipes and intend to try each and every one of them, they’re amazing!!

    1. Sorry I will try to get this fixed! When I switched platforms then links got messed up. This is time consuming but you should at least try the sweet pulled pork. 🙂

  4. I’ve never even heard of Café Rio, but I thought this looked good so I tried it. My only substitution (because it tastes better) was Coke from Mexico that uses cane sugar and comes in a bottle.

    This is a great recipe, and the leftovers froze beautifully in serving size containers.

    Thanks!

  5. Thank you! We mis Cafe Rio sooooo much living in Memphis, but this is a perfect substitute for the pork! Now if only I could get their tortillas just right. . . Do you think they fry their taco tortillas in butter or something? Thanks again!

  6. I just made this, it tuned out pretty good but i think i will use a different cut of pork next time. It was not as sweet as cafe rio’s. but it was really good.

  7. I made this tonight and I made a few changes. I went and bought the hard taco bowls and used those instead and that way i could just crumble the sides in on the top, but i think it would have been better to use the tortilla. Instead of making my own Pico, i just bought some mild fresh Pico at the store and i added some more chopped fresh tomatoes to it. This turned out AMAZING!!!!!! It really is just as good as Cafe Rio’s. It tastes spot on.

  8. So so good! One small change to the recipe. Instead of marinade overnight, I brined a pork loin roast. I then used the rest of the recipe.

    Dare I say almost better than the original!

  9. Oh, but does this sound good! We don’t have Cafe Rio’s in the midwest, but this sounds similar to “Chipotle”, and I LOVE their food. This is going on my menu lineup soon!

  10. My family loves pork!! This looks delicious. Thank you so much for linking up to Tasty Thursdays last week. Hope to see you again this week!!
    Nichi – The Mandatory Mooch

  11. Great post. I found this through Turning the Clock Back’s What’s Cooking Wednesday. I have linked in a post about some home-made steak burgers I did. Have a lovely week.

  12. this looks like it takes a long time! but it looks delicioso. Do you have to have a food processor or blender? if so, i might not be able to make it till we get back to idaho :/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating