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Kalyn's Kitchen

Cafe Rio Dressing, Chicken and Rice

Since my sister Sandee first took me to Cafe Rio, I’ve discovered there are imitators springing up all over. They specialize in salads which start with a tortilla, then layer on cooked beans, rice, lettuce, specially seasoned chicken, cheese and a cilantro ranch dressing that is delicious.

My brother-in-law Kelly made the version below for my sister Pam for Mother’s Day. Pam is a real Cafe Rio fan and she pronounced it tasting “just like Cafe Rio” so I thought I would pass it on, with a few recommended changes if you want to make it better for South Beach dieters.

Café Rio Dressing
(In 2009 I added this to Recipe Favorites and posted step-by-step photos of how to make Cafe Rio Creamy Tomatillo Dressing.)

1 buttermilk ranch dressing packet (make as per recipe)
2 tomatillos (tomato like vegetable with a husk around them)
½ bunch of cilantro
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeño (Use the seeds too if you like it spicy. You could substitute a few drops of green tobasco for the jalapeno.)

Use a food processor to blend all the ingredients well. Refrigerate.

Cafe Rio Chicken
1 small bottle Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin
3 cloves garlic—minced
5 lbs chicken breast

Cook all together in a crock pot for 4 hours on low, shred meat and cook 1 additional hour.

(Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing has 2 grams of sugar per serving. I try to avoid dressings with sugar, but this is a very small amount. You’re only using 8 ounces of the dressing per 5 pounds of chicken if you follow this recipe, so it should be fine, even for South Beach Dieters.)

Café Rio Rice
(Edit – Jan. 2008 – Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader who noticed that the proportions for this rice recipe are not right for regular rice. When I called my sister, I found out that the original recipe called for Minute Rice (instant rice). I didn’t know that when I posted the recipe, but it explains why it uses 3 cups water to 3 cups rice. I’m not sure why the cooking time said 30 minutes, which doesn’t seem right for Minute Rice? I would recommend using regular rice, about 2 cups rice to 4 cups water. If anyone has tried making this rice and adapted the recipe to work, let us know in the comments.)

3 c water
4 t chicken bouillon
4 t garlic –minced
½ bunch cilantro
1 can green chiles—or equivalent fresh
¾ t salt
1 T butter
½ onion
3 c rice (see note)

Blend cilantro, green chiles and onion together in food processor. Bring water to a boil and add all ingredients, simmer covered 30 minutes.

(For South Beach diet, use Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice to make this, which is very low on the glycemic index. I would still use the rice sparingly on my salad.)

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    88 Comments on “Cafe Rio Dressing, Chicken and Rice”

  1. Sorry, but I have not made this for a while and have no idea how much you'd need for 30 people.

  2. Kalyn, I'm using your recipes to cater a small luncheon (I teach a cooking class at a high school and we are catering for some teachers). I am planning on serving about 30 people. Any idea how much chicken I should cook? I haven't tried these recipes before and I'm wondering how many people you usually serve with one crock pot… how much should I increase the recipe to feed the masses? Thanks!

  3. Hi Kari,
    I talk about this in the FAQ. I chose South Beach to manage my weight so I wouldn't have to calculate calories, carbs, or points, and since I'm already spending hours each day working on the blog, I simply can't add one more thing to the features I'm providing in each recipe.

  4. Hi Kaylyn;

    I love your recipes… However, I am currently on weight watchers and have to calculate my daily points intake. Do you have WW point values for your recipes listed? If so, it would be so helpful as it seems to take me forever to calculate a whole recipe with a long list of ingredients.



  5. Anonymous I checked with my sister and she says use low. I will edit the recipe, thanks!

  6. On the chicken recipe… Cooking on high or low?

  7. Cook Family, how fun, and it makes me happy that I can give you a taste of Cafe Rio while you're away from home.

  8. Thank you so much for having these recipes!!! I have missed Cafe Rio these last 2 years. My husband is in the Army and we're stationed in S.Korea. Its funny how much we've missed Cafe Rio!! Thank you for having them posted so we can have a small taste of home! 🙂