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Slow Cooker Sweet Pork

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This copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Recipe is one of our all-time favorite slow cooker meals. Easy to make and delicious severed as tacos, burritos, or a salad! If you’ve never experienced Cafe Rio, this is an excellent place to start.

Be sure to check the massive list of our favorite copycat recipes! A few must-tries? You MUST add these to your menu: Chili’s Queso, Panera Strawberry Poppy Salad, Sizzler Malibu Chicken.

slow cooker filled with shredded pork

Recipe Features

  • Slow Cooker Recipe: I’m a BIG fan of set it and forget it recipes. This one starts in the morning and slow cooks to tender perfection. This pork will literally fall apart when you touch it and is packed with flavor.
  • Freezer Friendly: Leftovers? No problem! You can easily freeze this recipe for a quick grab dinner that’s nestled safely in your freezer.
  • Customizable: While the recipe itself should be made as stated, the way you serve it is nearly endless.

We are BIG fans of tex-mex food. Or, in other words, hispanic recipes that come from Americanized restaurants. They just hit right and check all of the flavor boxes.

Especially this Cafe Rio pork recipe. It’s a little sweet, but also savory. Perfect loaded into a smothered burrito or topped on a bed of lettuce for the most insanely delicious salad. You just cannot go wrong with this slow cooker dinner idea. ESPECIALLY when you add their cilantro ranch. We love using this version from Family Favorite Recipes.

small white bowl filled with spices and a tablespoon measuring cup

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Ingredients

You are going to want to add this into your regular menu once you realize how easy this recipe truly is. The secret to tender fall-apart meat? Soda. Seriously. It helps to break things down giving you a drool worthy meat filling that is easily in the top 5 dinners for our family.

  • Pork Roast– A boneless pork roast, typically I grab whatever is on sale but a pork shoulder is my preferred. More on that below in the FAQs section.
  • Seasonings– Specifically, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and chili powder.
  • Soda– Don’t use diet soda. You’ll need one can, roughly 12 oz) of soda for this recipe. I reach for Dr. Pepper OR Coke.
  • Green Chilies– The canned chilies work well in this recipe. You can find them by the rotel or in the hispanic aisle of most grocers.
  • Red Enchilada Sauce– This one is tricky. Pick a good tasting enchilada sauce as a lot of flavor is going to shine through.
  • Brown Sugar– Just enough to give this more of a sweet finish.
top down image of pulled pork inside a slow cooker

How to make Cafe Rio Sweet Pork in a slow cooker:

  1. Place the pork in the pot of your slow cooker.
  2. Combine the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper in a small dish. Mix to combine and sprinkle over the roast.
  3. Pour half of the can of soda around the roast in the slow cooker.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until the roast shreds easily. It should fall apart without any resistance.
  5. Carefully remove the roast from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Drain the liquid from the pan.
  6. Shred and discard any fat pieces from the meat and return to the slow cooker.
  7. Place the green chilies, enchilada sauce, brown sugar, and remaining half can of soda in a blender. Pulse 30 seconds to combine.
  8. Pour the sauce mixture over the pork and cook an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until heated through.
  9. Serve as a salad topping, in a burrito, as tacos, quesadilla, or enchiladas.
Spoon holding sweet pork over the top of a slow cooker

Ways to use Sweet Pork

This is the meat I opt for every time we go into Cafe Rio. It’s so incredibly delicious and perfect for so many dinner options. I love that it’s simple enough that I can make it at home and have that same great Cafe Rio taste.

Once the meat has been shredded it’s ready to use in your favorite recipe. Here’s a few of our go-to’s:

  • Sweet Pork Salads– Use a bed of romaine and top with rice, black beans, and this delicious pork for a filling salad that’s got a great flavor.
  • Smothered Burritos: Fill your burrito with your favorite fillings and top with a good scoop or two of enchilada sauce. A quick heat under the broiler gives you the most tasty, and filling, dinner.
  • Tacos: Load up the shells with meat, lettuce, and pico!
  • Quesadillas: We looooove an easy quesadilla recipe, but sometimes we need more protein to leave us satisfied. This meat is the perfect filler.
  • Enchiladas: Toss some meat and cheese inside of a tortilla, roll tight, and smother with your favorite sauce. Top with cheese and bake!

Tips and FAQs

What kind of pork roast is best?

Pork shoulder or a pork butt. These two cuts of meat are less expensive and have the perfect balance of lean and fat. As it cooks you get the great flavor we’re searching for.
If you’re looking for something that’s even cheaper, opt for a bone-in roast. These will generally be less expensive but will require a little more work shredding. You’ll also want to lean towards a bigger roast if it has a bone so you will get the same serving size stated.

Can this pork be made in an instant pot?

You can, although I’ve never tried it. From my sister, who swears by her instant pot, she suggest cooking the roast with 1/2 can of soda and 1-1/2 cups of water at high pressure for 50 minutes.
Follow the directions for shredding and sauce. Return to the pan and heat on the saute mode for 20 minutes before serving.

Can you freeze this pork recipe?

Yep! In fact, we regularly double the recipe so we can freeze some for a quick weeknight dinner later. Once your meat has cooled completely after the last step, transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze for up to 2 to 3 months. When you are ready to eat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat on the stove over medium heat.

Crock pot filled with sweet pork

More Slow Cooker Recipes

More Pork Recipes

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Slow Cooker Sweet Pork

Slow Cooker Sweet Pork

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 hours
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 10 hours 40 minutes

This copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Recipe is one of our all-time favorite slow cooker meals. Easy to make and delicious severed as tacos, burritos, or a salad! If you’ve never experienced Cafe Rio, this is an excellent place to start.

Ingredients

  • 3-5lb boneless pork roast
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (12 oz) can Dr Pepper or Coke
  • 1- (4oz) can green chilies
  • 1 (10oz) can red enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Instructions

  1. Place the pork in the pot of your slow cooker.
  2. Combine the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper in a small dish. Mix to combine and sprinkle over the roast.
  3. Pour half of the can of soda around the roast in the slow cooker.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until the roast shreds easily. It should fall apart without any resistance.
  5. Carefully remove the roast from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Drain the liquid from the pan.
  6. Shred and discard any fat pieces from the meat and return to the slow cooker.
  7. Place the green chilies, enchilada sauce, brown sugar, and remaining half can of soda in a blender. Pulse 30 seconds to combine.
  8. Pour the sauce mixture over the pork and cook an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until heated through.
  9. Serve as a salad topping, in a burrito, as tacos, quesadilla, or enchiladas.

Notes

Do not use diet soda in this recipe

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