If Cafe Rio Sweet Pork is your family favorite, you’re going to love this recipe! Instant Pot Cafe Rio Sweet Pork is an updated version of my original recipe made in the oven or slow cooker, which takes up to 12 hours to cook. This new IP recipe takes about two hours start to finish, with most of the time spent in the Instant Pot, cooking the meat!
What is Cafe Rio and the complete list of make at home recipes…
Cafe Rio is a popular fast-casual Mexican style restaurant with headquarters in Utah. If you’ve ever even had a flight layover in Utah, you’ve probably eaten at Cafe Rio (thanks to the airport location)! Years ago, I posted a slow cooker or oven version of Cafe Rio Sweet Pork, along with a complete menu of recipes. This updated recipe allows cooking of the sweet pork in a fraction of the original 5-12 hour time. The at home version of Cafe Rio recipes includes: sweet pork, black beans, cilantro lime rice, pico, guac, and of course the most important part of the meal, the dressing! All of the recipes are linked below. I’ve had dozens of readers email and leave comments regarding the at home version of this recipe and reported back huge success in making Cafe Rio Sweet Pork for family reunions, weddings, girls camp, and youth conference gatherings to name a few. We love to eat this dish when we are at our cabin. I make everything ahead and then we simply chop up lettuce and tomatoes and grill fresh tortillas for a homemade Cafe Rio style feast!
- Cafe Rio Style Sweet Pork
- Cafe Rio Style Black Beans
- Cafe Rio Cilantro Lime Rice
- Cafe Rio Style Pico
- ABK’s Ultimate Chunky Guac
- Cafe Rio Style Cilantro Dressing
- Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup
Not all pork created equal
There are many different cuts of pork sold in the grocery store and at big box stores, such as Costco. One caution, not all cuts of pork work well in this recipe! I’ve had readers tell me they didn’t get the desired finished product when making Cafe Rio Sweet Pork. When we boiled it down (no pun intended) I found they used a cut of meat OTHER THAN the cuts I recommend. I know the huge Pork Loin Roast at Costco is ridiculously inexpensive, and hardly has any fat on it, so not much waste as far as discarding fat goes. I get it. But here’s the deal. If you buy lean cuts of pork, your Instant Pot Cafe Rio Sweet Pork will not taste like Cafe Rio’s Pork. And you’ll wonder why. Pork tenderloin and pork loin roast are not good choices for this recipe. Neither has a high enough fat content to make the fall apart finished product you’re looking for.
I experimented with pork loin, Boston butt and pork shoulder for Instant Pot Cafe Rio Sweet Pork. After trying a few different cook times and water levels and also marinating vs not marinating, I found pork loin to be too lean. No matter how it was cooked, it was too lean to achieve the fall apart texture I was looking for. It often turned out dry tasting no matter how little the cook time. Boston butt and pork shoulder, technically from the same part of the pig or hog, are from the top portion of the shoulder area. Interesting fact- the name Boston butt originates from 18th century New England when pork was packed in barrels (which were also known as butts) to store and ship meat. So, it’s actually not the butt at all, but the shoulder. Maybe we still call it butt because butt is more fun to say than shoulder? The butt is usually sold without bone and the shoulder almost always is sold with a large bone-in. When purchasing the shoulder cut pork, I ask my grocery butcher to trim it off, along with the thick piece of fat that accompanies it. You can also use Boneless Pork Rib meat, which is basically the same thing as the shoulder, without the bone. All of this info was compiled from various butchers and online sources. In the end, your best bet for tender fall apart meat is either Pork Shoulder, Boneless Pork Ribs or Boston Butt. My preference is Pork Shoulder or Boneless Pork Rib meat!
timing is everything
The cook time in the Instant Pot will vary according to the cut of meat used. I tried several different cook times, from 30-75 minutes. Thirty minutes did not give the meat enough time to tenderize while 75 was too long. I found the best time combination was 50 minutes at high pressure and then a 45+ minute natural pressure release, which means no touching the valve that allows pressure to release from the pot for at least 45 minutes. This time combination allowed the meat to cook for the proper amount of time, breaking down almost all of the fat so it melted back into the meat when using a pork shoulder. During the natural pressure release time, the meat continues to cook with the residual heat in the pot, the pressure is slowly released and the juices stay in the meat instead of escaping out of the pan (or pot). Many pressure cooking experts agree that releasing the pressure manually (turning the pressure valve to release) will cause the meat to be tough. Allowing the pressure to naturally release results in a moist and tender finished product, similar to slow cooking the meat for 8-10 hours! If you want to start the meat at 3:00 pm when you leave to start driving carpool, go ahead, the meat will be fine in the Instant Pot for hours. You can turn on the ‘keep warm’ feature and the meat will stay on a low temperature for hours and be ready to eat later in the evening without overcooking.
Instant Pot Cafe Rio Sweet Pork- Spice and Sauce
After eating more than my share of Cafe Rio meals, I came up with this oven or slow cooker recipe back in 2011. Cooking in the Instant Pot is totally different than cooking in a slow cooker. The IP cooks at such a high temperature and pressure for a small amount of time, while the slow cooker is the complete opposite. The IP tends to release a higher volume of liquid from ingredient in the pot, which can dilute sauces. For this reason, when cooking in the IP, I often make the finished sauce after the main dish has been cooked. During early experiments with this recipe, I cooked the pork in the sauce but found the sauce ingredients to be so diluted (even without adding water) and the sauce so runny that it was better to drain off some of the sauce and start over after cooking.
I decided the best way to flavor the pork, without wasting the sauce was to coat the pork in a seasoning mix which you can make on your own, or purchase for less than $2 at your grocery. I used Menudo Spice mix, which is a combination of Chili Pepper, Onion, Garlic and “spices”, sold in the Latino section of any grocery store. Making your own Menudo mix at home is simple- just combine the following in a dish: 2-3 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon oregano 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon finely ground pepper. Mix together and store in a ziplock bag or small container. After seasoning and browning the meat (not required), I simply pour water around the edges of the meat and cook as directed. Also, to clarify, I do not marinate the meat in a sauce or mixture of spices before cooking. I didn’t find much of a difference in flavors when marinating in the sauce. If you are organized and plan ahead, coat the meat with the spices a day or two before cooking this will only enhance the flavor of the meat!
Secret tips from former employees …
Over the years I have read many comments, suggestions and tips for preparing the highly guarded secrets in Cafe Rio recipes, namely the Sweet Pork recipe. I think a few are helpful. A few I use, a few I do not. What better place to share tips for making the best sweet pork, than on a recipe for Instant Pot Cafe Rio Sweet Pork?! Here are the tips and secrets, all in one place for you to sift through and decided if you want to incorporate any into your recipe…
Tips and Secrets for perfect Cafe Rio Sweet Pork!
-Pork is marinated in Coke, full strength, not Diet Coke. Some say Dr. Pepper.
-Only use pork butt or shoulder.
-Simmer pork in a pan with cut up yellow onions, serrano peppers and chopped carrots. Remove the peppers and carrots after cooking.
-Use a spice blend of garlic powder, dried oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.
-Make red enchilada sauce from scratch. My favorite homemade red enchilada sauce is found here.
-Use a canned red enchilada sauce. Las Palmas brand used at Cafe Rio.
-Cook onions in a pan with oil until caramelized, add to cooked pork and enchilada sauce.
-Thicken sauce with cornstarch after cooked.
-Shred pork after cooked and let sit in a ziplock bag overnight with sauce made fresh after pork is cooked. Warm in a slow oven or stovetop. Pork is best served the day after it is cooked completely and sauce is made.
I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions for cooking Instant Pot Cafe Rio Sweet Pork at home. Please share below and rate the recipe after you’ve given it a try!
Instant Pot Cafe Rio Sweet Pork
- 4-7 lbs boneless pork shoulder butt or boneless pork rib meat*, cut into large chunks, large visible chunks of fat removed
- Menudo spice mix or make your own (see post for instructions)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups cold water
- for sauce
- 3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar light or dark to taste
- 1 - 16 oz can red enchilada sauce*
- 1 4 oz can chopped green chiles not drained
- 1 -12 oz can Coke Pepsi or Dr Pepper
Place 3 tablespoons spice mix in a large gallon size Ziplock bag. Shake until meat is coated.
Turn Instant Pot to Saute mode.
Add one tablespoon olive oil.
Place meat in pot when hot and brown on both sides. If you are in a hurry, skip this step and omit the oil in the pot.
When meat is browned on both sides, Add water around sides of meat.
Place the lid on the top of the pot (make sure the sealing ring is in place inside of the lid) and lock into sealing position. Turn the setting to Manual or High Pressure and set the timer for 50 minutes. Make sure the lid is set to the Sealing position.
After the timer goes off, allow the pot to naturally release the pressure for at least 45 minutes.
Carefully remove the lid from the pot when all of the pressure is released.
Remove the meat and set on a cutting board. Allow to cool for a few minutes. When cool enough, pull any remaining visible fat off of meat and set aside. Discard any fat. Shred meat with a fork.
Remove the remaining juice from the pan and place in a small bowl.
Whisk the enchilada sauce, chopped green chiles, brown sugar and one can of soda together in the Instant Pot. Place the shredded meat back into the Instant Pot and turn the setting to Saute. Heat just until sauce boils and the meat is heated through, then turn the setting to keep warm mode.
If you would like to thicken the sauce a bit, whisk one tablespoon of cornstarch into a cup of the liquid removed from pan after the meat was cooked and add back to the Instant Pot with meat and enchilada sauce. Continue to heat up until thickened.
Serve on top of tortilla chips, tortillas, or a bed of rice. All Cafe Rio style recipes listed and linked on post.
-It is important to remember that Instant Pot cooking is not necessarily quick cooking! The IP takes away much of the time normally spent in the slow cooking process, but remember the pot needs to come up to pressure, and the process takes a bit of time. When using an IP, it is extremely important when cooking meat to allow the meat to naturally release the pressure in the pot. Meaning, it will take time to allow this to happen and this time needs to be built in to the cooking time of the meat. In this recipe 45 minutes of natural release time is needed. This process can't be rushed! For this recipe, count on 2 hours minimum for preparing, pressurizing and then natural release of pressure and removing any fat still attached to meat.
If using Boston butt, or pork butt, count on about 1/2 of the total pounds before cooking being discarded (after cooking). The fat will need to be removed and discarded.
-I use both homemade and canned red enchilada sauce for this recipe. I believe homemade is best, but it's very difficult to taste the difference between homemade and canned when the brown sugar and green chiles are added! The link for my homemade sauce is on this post under the last paragraph "Tips and Secrets for Perfect Cafe Rio Sweet Pork". It takes about 5 minutes to make.
-As stated in the post, I did not marinate the pork in the sauce before cooking. My slow cooked method posted previously recommends marinating, but this recipe does not.
108 thoughts on “Instant Pot Cafe Rio Sweet Pork”
Our family doesn’t like pork, but we love the beef. Can I sub beef for this or do you have the cafe rio shredded beef recipe?
You may substitute beef for this recipe. I have not done so, but would use a pot roast or a chuck roast in place of the pork.
thanks and let us know if you try the beef!
Help!!! I followed the recipe to a T with a 5 lb boneless butt roast and my meat turned out a gelatinous mess swimming in sauce. I strained the meat, but it looks nothing like yours!!
Hi Deb, I’m sorry to hear that. It might be overcooked a little. How long did you pressure cook it for?
50 min and I let it npr for 1hr until I was ready to finish dinner.
Excellent! Just made this today and no one in my family could wait a day to let it set. Oh my gosh, can’t thank you enough for perfecting this recipe for the instant pot. It is spot on! We also made your Tomatillo Sauce/Dressing and it’s perfection. Pork Tacos today, Pork Salad tomorrow! No words can describe how happy my family is. The nearest Cafe Rio is 1200 miles away and we miss it as much as we miss The Mandarine….which is a lot!!!
It makes me feel so good to hear how much you love this recipe. I’m glad you can make sweet pork any time you need a Cafe Rio fix. Thank you for your kind comments!
Looking forward to making this. But I maybe missed this, but when do you put the brown sugar in? I’m guessing when making the sauce?
Thank you! I just added that to step 11 (where it should have been!).
When you try this recipe, please tell me how you like it.
Thanks for reading ABK.
Brown sugar should be included in step 11 yes?
Yes, thank you for your observant eyes! I’ve added brown sugar to step 11.
Have you made this recipe yet? It’s a keeper.
When you make it, please let me know how you like it.
Thanks for reading ABK and thanks for your help.
Yes, I made it last night for our Relief Society activity. Two neighbors have texted me today asking for the recipe! I’m eating leftovers for lunch with my 5yo and 2yo and they also approve. Thanks for all the work you put in to figure this out for the instant pot!
So glad you like! Thanks for passing on the recipe.
I made this yesterday and it was delicious and so much better than having to remember to thaw the pork a day in advance and then put it in the crock pot first thing in the morning. Thanks for making this recipe possible in the instant pot!
I think that is one of the most valuable benefits of the IP, not having to plan dinner early in the morning anymore! I love using the IP to speed up what used to take hours to cook in a slow cooker or oven.
thanks for reading ABK
Can I use sirloin pork?
I don’t believe Sirloin pork is fatty enough to achieve a shredded finished product I highly recommend either pork shoulder or butt!
thanks for reading ABK,
How do you make the dressing/sauce that is on top?
If you scroll down the “IP Cafe Rio” post, under the second photo are links to all the Cafe Rio recipes (the words in blue writing). Here is the link to the cilantro-tomatillo dressing, but there are also links to my guacamole, black beans, rice and pico. Yum. I hope this helps!
Hi, which instant pot did you use for this recipe?
I have both a 6 nd 8 quart, I most often use the 6 quart unless Im cooking for a big crowd or cooking two dishes at once in the IP.
How many will this serve. I am planning a large event and want to make sure I have enough.
This recipe will serve 8-10 people. It’s a hit at any gathering! I hope you all enjoy.
Thanks for reading ABK.
I used to work at a Costa Vida and the sweet pork is very similar to Cafe Rio’s. We also used coke, the red enchilada sauce that we made, onions and carrots, sugar and butter. I need to get myself an instapot and try this!
Making this recipe in the Instant Pot is so easy and delicious! You can just turn it on and walk away!
Mother’s Day is coming soon…(hint, hint)
I made this last night for my family and we had Missionaries over and everybody loved it- the leftovers are amazing too! Definitely a new go to!
I made this last night for my family and we had missionaries over and everybody loved it- the leftovers are amazing too! Definitely a new go to!!
Thanks Madison! Glad you loved this recipe. It’s a great alternative to eating out!
I have an 8 quart instant pot. Will it make a difference with cooking time at all?
Go ahead and make this recipe as written. There is no change in cooking time. Enjoy using your Instant Pot! Let me know how this recipe turned out for you. It’s delicious!
LOVED this cafe rio pork recipe and got multiple compliments on it- I always tell everyone you are my recipe hero. 🙂 It was a life saver for me as my sister was blessing her baby and my other sister went into labor two days before and my mom flew out to Florida to be with her. To help my sister out for her blessing I offered to do the pork for my mom and was feeling a little nervous but of course this recipe was not only delicious it was simple too! Thank you Si for another great recipe!
Hi Ginger, that’s so sweet of you to help out your sister! This recipe has always been a hit, especially in our family. I’m so glad it turned out well for you and thanks for sharing.
I’m trying to cook this now but only have 3 lbs of meat. Would I still cook it for 50 mins? Help please. And thank you! I’m so excited to make this. No cafe rio close by.
Hi Elise, you could try cooking it for 45 minutes if you only have 3 lbs of meat. I’m so glad you’re trying this recipe, I know you’ll love it! Thanks for asking and for reading ABK,
Hello! Excited to try this. If I’m using 2.5 lbs of pork instead of 4 like this recipe calls for, do I still do the full two cups of water and 50 minutes pressure cooked time?
Do I have to thaw my meat? I’m considering this for dinner but there’s not enough time to thaw it today.
I haven’t tried this with frozen pork yet. I have cooked frozen chicken breasts successfully in the IP, but chicken is a much smaller cut of than a pork roast… I suggest letting it thaw and cooking afterward. Thanks for reading ABK,
Hi there! If I use a 7-8lb shoulder, how long do you think I should cook it? Also, should I double the sauce? Thanks
The recipe calls for a 4-7 lb roast, and you are using a 7-8 lb roast, so the cook time should be close to the same. Maybe 5 minutes longer? And I think you will have enough sauce for an 8 lb roast. No need to increase sauce amount. Let us know how it turns out!
Thanks for reading ABK,
Can this be made ahead of time and frozen? If so would you put the sauce on before your freeze it or wait until you serve it?
Hi Jeri, yes you can freeze it. I would wait to put the sauce on until you are ready to serve it. Thanks for asking!
Can’t wait to try your recipe. I make my IP pork similar to yours but pour 1/2 liter of Dr pepper around pork chunks in IP and cook under manual pressure for 60 min unless very large portion in 8 qt I would cook for 75 min. The Dr pepper moistens the pork incredibly. The sugar in the drink break down the fibers in the meat. It is wonderful. I so look forward to trying some of your recipes.
I also love the effect soda has when cooking meat, especially pork. It always turns out tender and moist. I love your variation and thanks for sharing, Joana!
HAVE you ever tried Diet Pepsi for the soda in place of coke or Pepsi? I’m wondering if it will works or if I need to go to the store!
I think you need the sweetness of regular soda for this recipe. I’m fairly certain the carbonation is what breaks down the meat and tenderizes, but the sugar adds sweetness. You could try to add more brown sugar to compensate if you absolutely cannot find or use a regular soda. Let us know! Thanks for reading ABK,
I’m wanting to make this for a group of 20-25 people. I think if I double it there should be enough. How long would you recommend I cook the meat for in my 8qt IP?
Hi Melissa, you can cook it for the same amount of time, 50 min. Changing the amount doesn’t change the time when using the IP. Thanks for asking!
I’m going to try this recipe tonight but I mistakenly got a bone-in shoulder butt pork roast. Should I take the time to cut it off the bone? Would it effect the cooking time if I left the bone in?
Thanks for the recipe!
Hi Kate, it should be the same cooking time even with the bone in. You can go ahead and cook it with the bone in and then remove the meat when it’s done. Hope this helps and thanks for asking!
I need to make this for 20-25 people. How many pounds of meat do you recommend, and should I alter the cooking time? It’s a little scary making a meal for a group when you’ve never tried the recipe before!
Hi Brenda, I would use about 8-10 pounds of meat. You do not need to change the cooking time. And this recipe is perfect for a crowd! Thanks for asking and for reading ABK,
This cafe rio pork recipe is my absolutely favorite. I have been making various “copycat” recipes for the past 15 years and this is the best and least fussy. When I first made this I was so happy to see that adobo sauce and marinating the meat weren’t part of your recipe (I’m glad you agree that it doesn’t add noticeable extra flavor). Thank you so much for compiling this recipe and all your other recipes.
You’re welcome, Lindsey! I try to keep recipes as simple and easy as they can be. Thanks so much for sharing and for reading ABK!
This may seem like a dumb question, but could you also use this recipe with chicken? I love the pork don’t get me wrong, but I have a ton of frozen chicken I need to use and I’ve been craving the sweet pork so I’m hoping I can still get the flavor and use up the chicken (we are moving in a few weeks so I’m trying to use up our food)! 🤞🏼
Hi Crystal, I haven’t tried it with chicken yet, but it should turn out just as well. The pork will just be more tender than chicken. Thanks for asking and for reading ABK!
Crystal I should have mentioned above, chicken will take way less time. If the chicken is frozen cook for 13 minutes and then check it should be easy to shred. If the chicken is fresh or thawed it takes about 6 minutes both of these times are on high or manual pressure.
I have tried a lot of different sweet pork recipes. We just tried this and it was AMAZING! I am one of those people that won’t print out a recipe until it meets the mark. Well, this one got printed out right after dinner! That is how yummy it is! I am so excited to use it for years to come. So delicious!
Thanks for sharing, Krista! I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe, the IP makes all the difference.
My butcher wouldn’t cut the bone out of the shoulder for me, should I put it in the insta pot with the bone and pull the bone off after or cut it off the bone before
Step 7 needs to be fixed to say “naturally” not “manually.”
KK, THANK YOU for pointing that out! Corrected made.
i made this yesterday! took the tip to let it sit overnight, so i am excited to try it tonight for dinner! first taste before i put it away was tip top, best pulled pork i’ve ever made 👌🏼👏🏼
thank you si!!!
Can you say easy? I have been a little intimidated by new recipes in my IP, but had a great cut of meat from a sale and thought I would give it a try. The process was so easy and the results were amazing. My husband doesn’t like sweet sauces so I pulled some meat out for him to make carnitas and even that was fantastic. The cook time was perfect. The meat was super tender and shredded with the slightest of pressure.
Do you by chance have a copycat recipe for the Cafe Rio spicy green chile pork? I love all your copy cat recipes but can’t seem to find one for the spicy pork!
I make this so often and it is now the ONLY way i make sweet pork! First it’s so easy, and second – it’s delicious! I love the recommendation of using Pork Shoulder or Boneless Pork Rib meat – the meat is perfect every time! Thanks for this amazing recipe!
I’ve tried many sweet pork copycats and this one is just spot on. Thank you, Si!
So so good and so easy. Thank you! Everyone at my family gathering loved it.
Could you put soda in the instant pot instead of water? Just curious if it would make the flavor different. I saw someone else comment that they use half a liter of Dr Pepper but I wasn’t sure if they meant in the instant pot instead of water or what.
Hi Melissa, I haven’t tried cooking it with soda, but I’m sure it would turn out great! I’ve seen some other recipes use Coke and I think it would definitely add to the flavor. Thanks for asking!
If using a frozen roast, how would I need to adjust the cook time?
Hi Allison, if you’re using a 4 lb roast, I would set the pressure time for 70-80 minutes. I would also place the trivet at the bottom of the instant pot before you put the roast in. Thanks for asking!
Hi Si – you said if you do a frozen pork butt to increase the time to 70-80 minutes, but you also said that was for 4 lbs. I am doing a frozen 7 lb roast – should I increase the cooking time?
I usually do not have to increase the cook time much for a larger roast, but I would allow for an extra hour to be safe!
Hope this helps. Please check back and let us know how long it took you to cook your 7 lb roast. thanks!
I have a 5 pound, bone-in pork shoulder. How would the cook time change for this?
Hi Sara, the cook time will be the same, but to be safe I would pressure cook it for 60 minutes. Hope this helps and thanks for asking!
ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. I don’t need to spend 10 bucks for one at Cafe Rio ever again when I can make it so easily at home!
-I only cooked 2 pounds since it’s just us and a 2 year old. Still used 2 cups of water, kept the time the same. Just halved all ingredients for the sauce after it cooked.
-I made it the night before so it could sit in the sauce overnight. I was SO tempted to make a taco at almost midnight because it smelled so good as I was finishing it.
-I somehow didn’t have onion powder, for the first stage of rubbing the spices on the meat in the ziploc. It’s okay, and turned out fantastic all the same!
Definitely try this out. We put ours on top of nachos with homemade guac and queso and fresh pickled jalapeños. It was all delicious!! Thank you Si!
Thank you so much for sharing, Josee, I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe!
I made this for Sunday dinner and it was huge hit! I followed the recipe exactly and soooo good! I ordered my groceries online (including the pork roast) and when I got home from picking them up, I found a 20 pound roast! I ordered a 5 pound one! Thankfully, now I can make this a few more times for my family!
Wow Bonnie, how lucky are you! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe and thank you for sharing,
Si, Does this spice mix make the amount one would need to make this recipe, or does it make more? How much of the mix do I add for this recipe if it makes more than I need?
Also, when you write “oregano” it is the ground oregano, not the leaves, right?
Thanks so much! We love your recipes and your website!
I just asked about the spice mix being the right amount for the recipe or if it makes more. I was referring to your homemade spice mix. Sorry about the confusion.
Hi Truann, the homemade spice mix is the amount you need for the recipe, so you should use all of it. And yes, you’ll use ground oregano. Thank you for asking and for reading ABK!
Wondering if I could make this recipe in a crockpot-I don’t have an instant pot. Or would you stick to the original recipe you posted of the crockpot version?
I’m missing the step where you add the Coke. Are you marinating it in the Coke before you add the spices and brown in the Instant Pot? I’m so looking forward to making this for my family!
Delicious! Mine needed more time in the pressure cooker, but that was an easy fix.
In your tips it says to “simmer pork with cut up yellow onions (later you suggest caramelizing the onions prior), serrano peppers and carrots and then discard the peppers and carrots. At what point in the recipe do you add these vegetables? Caramelized the chopped onions and then add them with the carrots and peppers to the sauce in the IP before adding the meat and then add the shredded pork and let it stay on warm for a while? Will the carrots get tender on just the warm setting?
Hi Tamara, I usually just simmer the pork in a pan with cut up yellow onions, serrano peppers and chopped carrots, then remove the peppers and carrots after cooking and do not use the peppers and carrots in the sauce. It’s personal preference if you want to add them to the sauce. I cook all the vegetables with the pork because it adds a really nice flavor, but I only use the onions in the sauce. I hope this makes sense, thank you for asking!
Is there a reason it says prep 10 mins and cook time 10 mins? Then the recipe says 45 to cook and 45 NPR…. kinda confusing :/ maybe it’s showing up weird in my phone.
Hi Megan, thank you for pointing that out, the cook time should be about and hour and a half. Thank you!
Sautéd a 6.5# pork shoulder on all sides and cooked for 52 min + 50 min natural release and it was still not cooked all the way through, which left the meat tough and not able to be shredded. Complete fail and waste of a lot of money. Would not recommend.
I love this sweet pulled pork!! The only problem is the other six people who live with me hated it. Hence, 4 out of 5 stars.
I’ll have to whittle away at the leftovers until it’s gone, but now I know not to take any of my family to Cafe Rio.
Hi, in step 10 it says to put the the remaining juice aside in a small bowl. When do you add it back?
Oh no…the recipe says the total time is 10 min. So I thought it was a quick dinner. So ive been following the steps as i make it and just got to the part that says set timer to 50 min. And then release for 45 min. Shoot. My husband is leaving in 1.5 hours 🙁
But btw i love all of your recipes. I cook a recipe from your blog at least 3x a week 🙂
Oh no Sara, I’m sorry! I will update that ASAP, thank you for letting me know.
I made this Instant Pot Cafe Rio for our RS Birthday dinner which was right before the Covid shutdowns. It was AMAZING! I followed the recipe to a T, also making the ABK homemade menudo dry rub and the ABK Homemade Enchilada Sauce for the simmering meat. I tried the recipe with both boneless pork ribs and boneless pork shoulder. I preferred the finished consistency of the shoulder meat. My “sample” batch was with the ribs and I froze that batch ahead of time. The finished consistency of the frozen recipe was not nearly as good (obviously) as the fresh made night before and day of batches. I am getting windy, but the Instant Pot version of CRP is amazing. I did 30 pounds of pork and it went so smoothly and quickly!
Thanks for ALL of your great Cafe Rio copycat recipes, Si! It makes it easy to scratch our itch for CPK so far away from Utah. In fact…I find these recipes to be actually BETTER than the “real” versions.
And of course I meant “CRP” not “CPK”…🤦🏼♀️
Thank you so much for your detailed review! It is SO helpful to read about your experiences making this a few different ways and also your opinion about the best cut of meat and making ahead vs fresh! I agree the IP version is my favorite and I also love using the shoulder cut.
This was amazing! Living in Midwest we have to make our own Cafe Rio and I have made versions often. I wish I had looked for an instant pot recipe earlier!! The recipe for the spice rub was a bonus, flavoring the pork beautifully. Someone sneaky got into my cans of Coke I keep stored only to make Cafe Rio pork (we drink diet on a regular basis) and therefore I made this without it. Wouldn’t you know it, this is now my family’s favorite. We had our friends from Guatemala over and they RAVED, exclaiming it tasted extremely authentic. Thank you!
If you friends from Guatemala loved it then it’s a winner! Thanks for sharing,
Can I make this is in the crockpot or oven. I have a 7lb pork butt and I don’t want to chance it in my instant pot.
Yes, I have a slow cooker or oven version of this recipe as well! Here is the link… https://abountifulkitchen.com/favorite-cafe-rio-copycat-recipes/
I have used this recipe several times, most recently for New Years Eve. It is so yummy! My son took some left-overs back to college with him and texted me to let me know that everyone loved it there as well. It is great as a salad, burrito, or nachos. (And Si is one of my favorite “imaginary” friends on instagram…I’d love to actually meet her.)
Thank you so much for your review! I love my Instagram friends <3
Tastes great! It really is better the next day as it sits in the juice or from the freezer. Do you think a 7 pound pork would be enough for a family of 12 adults and seven little kids?
Usually, after cooking, you will have approx a little over half of the meat left in weight. So if you are cooking a 7 lb roast, about 3.5-4 lbs of meat left if using a pork butt or shoulder. For kids, Id recommend 1/3 lb per person if they are young. But for adults, 1/2 lb perversion (before adding the sauce). Hope this helps!
Question: I am making this for girls camp. We have a smaller group, of about 30. How would it taste to make this completely through, and then freeze it? How would you suggest I heat it up once at camp? We will have ovens, or I could bring a crockpot to reheat? I’d love your suggestions. And also I’m loving your post about cooking for a crowd, girls camp and such! Thank you!!
Yes, you can freeze the pork and sauce easily in gallon ziplock bags, remove from freezer in the morning, let thaw several hours and then heat on the stovetop or in a slow oven (300-325*) with foil wrapped over the pan. Enjoy your girls camp!
10/10! Amazingly easy and so delicious. Thank you for such a great recipe!!!!