an entire pan of shredded cafe rio sweet pork copycat recipe with chopped cilantro on top

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 4 lbs pork
If you've ever been to Utah you've probably had Cafe Rio, specifically Cafe Rio Sweet Pork. Oh it's so good! We've perfected the Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Copycat Recipe!


  • 1 Pork Shoulder/Butt -3 lbs Bone in with a nice fat pad on top
  • 1 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons Black Pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons Onion Powder
  • 3 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
  • 2 Large Carrots cut in half
  • 1 Large Onion Halved
  • 2 Stalks of Celery Halved
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Cup Coke Or Dr Pepper is great too
  • 2 1/3 Cups Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Cornstarch
  • 1 Teaspoon Water

Quick Version

  • 1 10 ounce can Red Enchilada Sauce or a sauce packet
  • 1 1/2 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 2 Cans Rootbeer Dr Pepper, or Coke
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder


  • Heat the oven to 225°
  • In a small bowl, mix together the garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, onion powder, and oregano.
  • Rub the seasoning mixture all over the pork and place in a 9x13" pan, fat pad facing up.
  • Arrange the carrots, celery, onions, and bay leaves around the pork, or place in a square of cheesecloth (the traditional way), pull up the corners and tie it shut with a string. Wedge the bundle next to an end of the pork.
  • Set the uncovered pork butt in the oven and bake for 12 hours.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 1-2 hours.
  • Pour the juices into a fat separator.
  • Shred the meat well, discarding large pieces of the fat pad.
  • Pour 1/3 cup of the juices back onto the pork and toss to combine well.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water.
  • Meanwhile, in a pot, add the brown sugar, garlic powder and Coke. Whisk to combine.
  • Bring to a boil and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Turn to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Pour the sauce all over the pork and toss to coat.
  • Place the meat in a warming oven with tin foil over it until ready to use or for at least 20 minutes to let the meat soak up the sauce a bit.
  • For the Slow Cooker
  • Prepare everything the same, but set the pork and bouquet garni in a slow cooker for 8-10 hours.
  • Shred as normal, preparing the sauce separate and toss to combine.

For the Quick Version

  • Sprinkle the pork with the garlic powder and roast in a slow cooker on low for 8 hours.
  • Shred the meat.
  • Mix the Sauce packet, brown sugar and pop and bring to a simmer over medium high heat until thickened a little. Toss with the shredded meat and cook an additional 30 minutes.


Rumor has it that Dr Pepper or Coke are the preferred pops for Cafe Rio, choose whichever you prefer
Nutrition Facts
Cafe Rio Sweet Pork
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 852 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 70mg3%
Potassium 403mg12%
Carbohydrates 218g73%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 210g233%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 881IU18%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 201mg20%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.