9 Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa Copycat

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, is it not?

I found this recipe on Favorite Family Recipes after a bunch of gals in our neighborhood cooked this up.  This is cooked in a slow cooker, but you can save time with a pressure cooker.

So what is Pork Barbacoa?  It is a sweet, spicy shredded pork that is great in a stuffed burrito, in a Mexican salad, or just by itself with cheese in a flour tortilla.

I have made it a couple of times.  The first time, while it tasted good,  made WAAAAY too much sauce.  I either needed to cut down on the sauce or double the meat.  Speaking of meat, not any old pork will do.  Gotta have the rib meat or shoulder in order for it to shred.  The pork tenderloin from Costco won't do the trick!

The original recipe calls for 3 cans of diet Coke.  For this recipe, I cut it down to 2 cans total.  The first can is put in the marinade...

along with 1/4 c. brown sugar.  After looking at the recipe (which also includes another cup of brown sugar and 2 cans of Coke), I decided to dial DOWN the sweetness a bit.  The meat is put in and allowed to marinate overnight.  If you are lucky and have a FoodSaver, it will only take 20 minutes to marinate!

The original recipe state to discard the marinade and add more Coke and brown sugar before cooking.  Why?  I just avoided more sugar and Coke by dumping the meat AND the marinade into the crockpot.  Sure, the liquid didn't cover the meat entirely, but it still worked out great!  I shredded the meat with 2 forks. Or...use your Kitchen Aid mixer with the flat paddle for FASTER and easier shredding! 

Here's where the last can of Coke comes in.  With the enchilada sauce.  I opted to use my own Enchilada Sauce recipe, which I substituted the water for the Coke. This is not hard to make at all...

That definitely helped cut down on the extra liquid!  Of course, you can follow the original recipe by purchasing a can of your favorite enchilada sauce and using 3/4 of it...

I put just enough sauce (probably about 2 c.) to cover all the meat.  I think I had about 3/4 c. left, which is better than an additional 2 c. from the first time I made it.

My hubby and boys like their Pork Barbaco burrito style.  I made Cilantro Lime rice (recipe to come) and put it inside with black beans and the pork barbacoa.  Folded it up and put original Enchilada Sauce (not the barbacoa sauce) on top with some Mexican Blend cheese.

Here's the glam inside shot.  My boys were happy!  They said that it was good, and maybe better, because it was not as sweet as Cafe Rio's is.

And for me?  I am a simple gal.  Sprinkled some Mexican Blend cheese on a warm flour tortilla, spoon some pork barbaco on top, and I'm good.

That's all I need.  I'm happy.  Make this AND flatter your family ~

Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa  Copycat


  1. Frieda, you just saved the day. We are going "tailgating" to a horse event on Sat and I could not figure out what to bring. I thought about pork bbq, but this sounds so much better and will be easier to eat if spooned into tortillas. Thanks for sharing!

  2. You had me at Cafe Rio. :)

    I just printed out the recipe and will be trying it!! I miss that restaurant. I don't know why someone hasn't opened one in Seattle.

  3. My hubs loves the pork. Thanks for the recipe. I always get the veggie salad.

  4. Will you just come and make this for me? ;) I need a personal chef. Really. LOL.

  5. I've never made anything with coke, but this one is very tempting. I order Barbacoa pork at Chipotle's (do you have them in Utah?) Funny, we both posted braised pork recipes! Dontchya love how economical it is to make?

  6. Shari, I hope you enjoy this recipe!

    Debby, we do have a Chipotle's here, but I haven't been to it yet. Yes, this recipe goes far!

  7. Thanks for posting this recipe Frieda. I did a Cafe Rio post today and linked to your site.

  8. I make it using Dr. Pepper instead of Coke--and love it!!

    1. Great suggestion! I'll have to try it next time~


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