Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Barbacoa

This crockpot Cafe Rio sweet pork barbacoa recipe is a lifesaver for busy weeknights. I love a good “toss it all in the slow cooker and forget about it ‘til dinner time” meal, don’t you?

This crockpot Cafe Rio sweet pork barbacoa recipe is a lifesaver for busy weeknights. I love a good “toss it all in the slow cooker and forget about it ‘til dinner time” meal, don’t you?

This is a great Monday recipe that you toss in the crock pot and forget about while you get the rest of life in order. The pork is delicious and tender, and can be used in tacos, burritos, salads, quesadillas, or taquitos. The sweetness is really a perfect complement to the spice and acidic flavors that are common in salsa and other Mexican-y foods.

If you don’t know what Cafe Rio is, it’s a great Mexican restaurant chain in the West that is super popular. It always has a line, and just about every dish is delicious. The closest one is a few hours from our house, so making mock Cafe Rio recipes is a favorite. I’m updating and posting all the recipes that you’ll need to have in order to make your own pork tacos this week, so be sure to keep coming back over the next few days for the rest of your pork taco staple items. Making all of the recipes and having a taco party is the best, and we do it often when friends and family are coming over for dinner. I know you’ll love these Cafe Rio-inspired recipes as much as we do.

How long does Cafe Rio sweet pork barbacoa last?

After making this barbacoa, be sure not to let it sit out at room temp longer than two hours to avoid its spoiling. It can store in the fridge up to 4 days, and pork barbacoa also freezes very well. Put it in an airtight container to freeze for up to 2-3 months.

What kind of meals can you use sweet pork barbacoa in?

Sweet pork barbacoa is incredibly versatile. Its subtle sweetness is a nice complement to the spicy and acidic flavors of Mexican food. Try it in tacos, burritos, salads, quesadillas, taquitos, or breakfast tacos, if you want to get real fancy.

What kind of pork meat is barbacoa made from?

Barbacoa is actually a form of cooking that originated in the Caribbean, and it’s where we get the term “barbecue” here in the U.S.! Traditional barbacoa meat is prepared using beef from the heads of cattle, but this recipe uses pork for a different flavor profile. I love the adaptability and fullness of flavor in pork, and it translates really well to a lot of different dishes!

This crockpot Cafe Rio sweet pork barbacoa recipe is a lifesaver for busy weeknights. I love a good “toss it all in the slow cooker and forget about it ‘til dinner time” meal, don’t you?

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This crockpot Cafe Rio sweet pork barbacoa recipe is a lifesaver for busy weeknights. I love a good “toss it all in the slow cooker and forget about it ‘til dinner time” meal, don’t you?

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Barbacoa


  • Author: Melissa Griffiths - Bless this Mess
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 12+ 1x

Description

This crockpot Cafe Rio sweet pork barbacoa recipe is a lifesaver for busy weeknights. I love a good “toss it all in the slow cooker and forget about it ‘til dinner time” meal, don’t you?


Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 1/24 pound pork butt, shoulder, or picnic roast
  • 45 tablespoons taco seasoning or 2 packets, divided
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cans diced green chiles
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/22 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped

Instructions

  1. Rub the pork with half the taco seasoning. Place it in the crock of your slow cooker.
  2. Add the tomatoes, green chiles, and garlic.
  3. Cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours, or on high for 4 to 6 hours. (It depends on your slow-cooker, but you can’t really overcook this; the pork should fall apart. Slow and low is better here.)
  4. When the pork is cooked and tender, shred with a fork and remove anything creepy (you know, what you wouldn’t want to eat).
  5. Add the other half of the taco seasoning and brown sugar. Taste it and add more of either if needed. It should be sweet and still taste “mexican-y.”
  6. If you have the time, let the pork cook on high heat with the lid off the slow-cooker for at least 30 minutes to reduce the liquid. If you don’t have time to do this, just serve with a slotted spoon. Add cilantro and green onions just before serving (if your kids don’t like green things in their meat, chop them very small, or keep them separate and add them separately to your taco).

Notes

  • I have used many different cuts of pork when making this. I have even made this with pork chops when they were on sale. I haven’t found much difference between the cuts of meat or if they were bone-in or boneless; it is a very easy and forgiving way to cook meat. You are free to use what you have on hand or like.
  • This recipe makes a large batch, which will serve a crowd. If we aren’t having people over, I normally freeze half the recipe for later.
  • Category: main dish
  • Method: slow cooker
  • Cuisine: American, tex-mex, Mexican

Keywords: Cafe Rio, sweet pork, barbaco, taco, taco meat, crock pot pork recipe, slow cooker pork, easy pork dinner, easy crock pot recipe, easy slow cooker recipe

Seriously though, how good do those tacos look?!

This crockpot Cafe Rio sweet pork barbacoa recipe is a lifesaver for busy weeknights. I love a good “toss it all in the slow cooker and forget about it ‘til dinner time” meal, don’t you?

Here’s all of the recipe you’ll need to make a Cafe Rio inspired taco feast:

Other taco filling/meat recipe that you might like:

Enjoy this great and simple recipe from my kitchen to yours!

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38 Recipes for Busy Moms
10 Responses
  1. I am making the barbacoa rec ipe right now. Question: what size can of green chilies and what size can of diced tomatoes?
    I am making this as a part of a taco buffet party tonight. So sorry I did not use another recipe! Trying to punt.

  2. Rob and Marseille

    I LOVE these in taquitos- soo easy & a great freezer meal! Though my recipe is alot easier: equal parts salsa & brown sugar. I”ll have to try yours sometime though!

  3. Those tacos look AMAZING! I grew up a vegetarian, and still don’t cook with meat very often but I’ve wanted to try pulled pork for a long time (I’ve even put a raw pork butt in my cart a few times only to put it back a few minutes later) BUT this inspires me!! I am going to buy it! 🙂

    1. You can do it! I always make the rice and beans to go with it (the rice recipe is coming) and so we actually eat very little of the meat. I think this would be a great way to try cooking pork, you just can’t go wrong here. Let me know if you try it!

  4. emily

    Oh, friend! These look AMAZING! I can’t wait to give it a try. YUM!

    Also, sorry for your little man! Hope he gets well soon.

    GORGEOUS photos!!!

  5. Mexican anything is on my list of favorites! This a great recipe and a time saver if you need make-ahead meals. Pork can be cheaper than hamburger when on sale, too! Always a plus in my book. Your photos have improved greatly also. Love it!

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Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.

Dinner Ideas for Busy Moms