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Cafe Rio Sweet Barbacoa Pork

This Cafe Rio Sweet Barbacoa Pork is one of our favorite Mexican meals! We love Cafe Rio's Sweet Barbacoa Pork in burritos, tacos, and on salads!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 10 minutes
Yield 12 servings


  • 7-8 lbs. boneless pork butt or shoulder (make a 3-4 lb pork roast if you are just doing your family)
  • 4 cups root beer
  • 5 (8oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 4 Tablespoons molasses or honey (molasses gives a darker color)
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 - 3 cups brown sugar
  • pepper to taste
  • 4 teaspoons cumin


  1. Salt and pepper the pork and cook in crock pot 8 hours or overnight on low in a little water or extra root beer. In the morning remove the roast from the crockpot and pull apart with fork, removing fat. Drain all the water in the crockpot. Don't overshred the pork or it will turn mushy. This part can be done well in advance.

  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the crockpot and add the shredded pork. Stir to combine. Cook another 3-4 hours in crockpot on low. Serve with a slotted spoon.
  3. Traditionally this meat is served over a salad or in a burrito.

  4. To make a Cafe Rio salad layer: tortilla (I warm mine in aluminum pans like cafe rio in the oven with cheese), cheese, Cilantro Lime Rice , Black or Pinto Beans, Pork, chopped Romaine or green leaf lettuce, sprinkle tortilla strips on top, and grated Parmesan cheese
  5. Serve with sides of: Pico de Gallo , Guacamole , fresh cilantro, fresh lime slices, drizzle with Creamy Tomatillo Dressing .
  6. Instant Pot instructions: Salt and pepper the pork. Add 2 cups of root beer or other liquid. Cook on high pressure for 50-60 minutes. Let pressure release naturally. Shred and remove fat. Continue to step 2 using the slow cooker option or sautee option until pork is warm and flavors have combined.

Recipe Notes

Recipe Note: The above sauce makes enough sauce for up to a 10 lb roast! So if you have a 3-4 lb pork roast, half the sauce.

This freezes well!

Source: a mix between Martha McMullin's and Sheri Denney's recipes.