Skip to content

Get 5 Secrets to Make Homemade Taste Food Better + New Recipes Weekly!

    Tres Leches Cake Recipe

    Published April 26, 2024. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    This delicious Tres Leches cake recipe is covered in three different kinds of milk and topped with whipped cream for the ultimate dessert cake. You will be floored at how flavorful this simple-to-prepare cake is.

    No joke, if dessert isn’t on the table after dinner, tears will be shed. Whether it’s from your kids or your spouse, if you’re in a similar situation, you must make my chocolate mousse or rice pudding.

    tres leches cake with berries


     

    Tres Leches Cake

    Tres leches translate from Spanish to English as “three milks.” It is a simple sponge cake that is cooled and covered with three different kinds of milk until the cake absorbs the milk. The cake is then topped off with whipped cream. Often, it is served with fresh berries on top or the side.

    There is some dispute over the history of this cake, as some historians say it was created in Nicaragua, while others point to Mexico. Tres leches cake became popularized in the mid-1900s and is beloved throughout Latin America.  Whether you celebrate Cinco de Mayo or want to serve a fantastic cake, then tres leches is for you. 

    Ingredients and Substitutions

    • Flour – I used basic all-purpose flour for this recipe. You can also use bread or cake flour.
    • Baking Powder – You will need baking powder to help with the leaving of the cake so that it rises and can keep up when the different milks are added.
    • Salt – I always use coarse salt in my cooking and baking.
    • Eggs – Large room temperature or chilled eggs work well.
    • Vanilla — Any good vanilla extract will work. You could substitute the beans from one scraped vanilla pod.
    • Oil – A neutral-flavored oil like vegetable or avocado oil is best.
    • Milk – The three traditional kinds of milk are evaporated, condensed, and heavy cream. You can also use other kinds of milk: whole, half, and half, soy, oat, almond, cashew, coconut, 1%, 2%, or skim milk.
    • Toppings – It is classic to frost the tres leches cake with whipped cream, cocoa powder, and cinnamon.

    How to Make Tres Leches

    Start by sifting flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.  Set aside.

    sifting flour into a bowl

    In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs and sugar on high speed for 10-12 minutes or until light and fluffy.

    whisking eggs and sugar in a stand mixer

    Next, add in the vanilla and then slowly drizzle in the oil to the stand mixer while mixing.

    pouring oil into a stand mixer

    Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the sifted dry ingredients until well incorporated.

    folding egg whites into batter

    Transfer the batter to a 13×9 casserole dish sprayed with non-stick spray and bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until browned on top and firm in the center.

    pouring batter into a casserole dish

    Cool the cake completely to room temperature.

    cooling tres leches cake on a rack

    Whisk together the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream in a large bowl.

    whisking together different kinds of milk in a bowl

    Once the cake is cooled, use a fork to pierce it all over. Then, pour the mixed milk over top and let it sit until it has been absorbed for about 1 hour.

    pouring milk onto a tres leches cake

    Top off the cake with whipped cream and dust it with cinnamon and cocoa powder.

    spreading whipped cream over a tres leches cake

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: While you can and should eat this cake as soon as it is done, you can make this cake up to two days ahead of time.  Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

    How to Store: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before serving. For the best freezing results, keep the whipped cream topping off of the cake.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    chef notes + tips

    • This is not an overly wet cake, but it is on the heavier side and is moist.
    • Due to the milk and whipped cream in the recipe, it is best to keep it refrigerated.
    • If you do not have a stand mixer, you can use an electric hand mixer.

    More Dessert Recipes

    Share this Post

    Let's Cook - Chef Billy Parisi

    Video

    Tres Leches Cake Recipe

    5 from 27 votes
    This delicious tres leches cake recipe is covered in three different kinds of milk and topped with whipped cream for the ultimate dessert.
    Servings: 16
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 40 minutes

    Ingredients 

    For the Cake:

    • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 8 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • ¾ cup vegetable oil
    • 12 oz can evaporated milk
    • 12 oz can condensed sweetened milk
    • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

    For the Whipped Cream Topping:

    Instructions

    • Preheat the oven to 350°
    • In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
    • Next, add the eggs and sugar to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on high speed for 10-12 minutes or until light and fluffy.
    • Pour in the vanilla and then slowly pour in the oil while continuing to mix at high speed.
    • Remove the mixing bowl and add in the sifted dry ingredients in two batches and fold using a rubber spatula until completely mixed in.
    • Transfer the batter to a 13×9 casserole dish sprayed with non-stick spray and bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until browned on top and firm in the center.
    • Remove the pan and completely cool to room temperature.
    • In a separate large bowl whisk together the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream until completely combined. Set aside.
    • once the cake is cool, use a fork to pierce it all over, and then pour in the kinds of milk and let it sit until it has been completely absorbed.
    • Top off the cake with whipped cream and evenly spread to cover it.
    • Optionally garnish with a dusting of cinnamon and cocoa powder. Serve with fresh berries.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: While you can and should eat this cake as soon as it is done, you can make this cake up to two days ahead of time. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
    How to Store: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before serving. It would be best to keep the whipped cream topping off the cake for the best freezing results.
    This is not an overly wet cake, but it is on the heavier side and is definitely moist.
    Due to the milk and whipped cream in the recipe, it is best to keep it refrigerated.
    If you do not have a stand mixer then you can use an electric hand mixer.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 400kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 8gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 113mgSodium: 225mgPotassium: 259mgFiber: 1gSugar: 31gVitamin A: 427IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 154mgIron: 1mg
    Course: Dessert
    Cuisine: Mexican, Nicaraguan