Cakes/ Classic Desserts/ Dessert

Tres Leches Cake

May 9, 2019

This easy Tres Leches Cake is a melt in your mouth sponge cake that gets soaked in a sweet milk mixture and topped with homemade whipped cream and fresh fruit. This surprisingly simple cake is such an unexpected showstopper and the perfect ending to any meal.

Tres Leches Cake

What is Tres Leches Cake?

Tres Leches Cake, which translates to three milks cake, is a Mexican dessert consisting of a basic vanilla sponge cake that gets covered in a sweet milk mixture of, you guessed it, three milks! The combination of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream gets soaked up by the sponge and gives the cake a tender, moist crumb that is perfectly sweet.

An authentic Tres Leches Cake is made of three layers. You start with a basic sponge cake, which gets soaked in your sweet milk mixture, and then finish the cake with a topping of fresh whipped cream and optional fruit. It is best to let the cake rest in the fridge for 12 hours before eating so the milk mixture has enough time to soak through the entire sponge.

Tres Leches Cake

How To Make Tres Leches Cake

Sponge Cake

For the best Tres Leches Cake recipe you will need to start with the absolute best sponge. My favorite vanilla sponge cake is a delicate, tender cake that gets its texture from a warm milk-butter mixture. Hot milk gives your cake an extra richness and a finer, softer texture that makes this Tres Leches Cake recipe standout from all the rest.

Milk Mixture

This is what gives Tres Leches Cake its signature name: the three milk mixture. The most important part of a Tres Leches Cake recipe is the mixture of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream and vanilla extract. You simply mix all the ingredients together and pour it over the cake. It’s helpful to pierce the cake with a fork to create some larger holes for the milk to seep into.

It’s important to let the cake rest for at least a few hours, 12 is ideal, so the milk can get soaked up by the sponge. The addition of this milk mixture is what gives the Tres Leches Cake its signature sweet flavor and rich, tender, melt in your mouth texture.

Tres Leches Cake

Whipped Cream Topping

The final step to a Tres Leches Cake is the whipped cream topping. It’s a simple frosting made with three ingredients: heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. You whip it into a light, fluffy frosting that tops your rich, decadent soaked cake.

If you want to add some fresh fruit to your cake, now is the time to add sliced strawberries or other fruit on top or on the side of the cake. 

You can make this cake a couple of days in advance and store in the fridge. It’s best to add the whipped cream topping not too long before serving.

Tres Leches Cake

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5 from 3 votes
Tres Leches Cake
Tres Leches Cake

Milk Mixture:
  • 1 (14-oz./400g) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-oz./340g) can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (280g/10 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/115g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk
  • 4 large eggs , room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. To make the Milk mixture: mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. To make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease a 9×13-inch pan or line with parchment paper, leaving enough overhang on the sides for lifting the cake out of the pan after baking. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine butter and milk over medium heat just until butter is melted. Do not let it boil. Set aside.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or using a hand mixer, whisk eggs on high speed until combined and starting to foam, about 1 minute. Gradually add sugar and keep whisking until tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
  6. Reduce speed to medium-low and add warm milk mixture into the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream. Add flour mixture gradually and whisk just until combined.
  7. Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the cake springs back when slightly touched and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

  8. While the cake is till warm, poke lots of holes in the cake with a fork or toothpick. Pour the milk mixture over the cake slowly and gradually, allowing it to soak in. Refrigerate for 12 hours (can be less but it will taste better this way).

  9. Before serving, make the whipped cream frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla on high speed until stiff peaks form and frosting is thick. Use immediately to frost cake. Top with fresh fruit, if desired.

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  • Reply
    May 9, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    It should be a very nice
    But in my country we don’t have evaporated milk
    Can we have a substitute??

    • Reply
      May 12, 2019 at 3:06 am

      Did you look for “unsweetened condensed milk”?

  • Reply
    May 10, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    I’ve been browsing so many websites to look for a recipe of the Tres Leches Cake! And here you post it! Awesome! Here in Doha we have a saffron one which is extremely delicious and also a pistachio one, equally delicious. Not sure if the flavors are added only to the milk mixture or to the cake also? Thanks so much for the recipe. Will definitely try it!

  • Reply
    May 12, 2019 at 3:05 am

    Did you look for “unsweetened condensed milk”?

  • Reply
    May 12, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    Hello! Love your recipes. I made this one yesterday and after letting it sit I found it to be way too wet and sweet. Are you supposed to remove the cake from the pan before you poke holes into it? I had it in the same pan overnight while soaking. Wondering what I did wrong. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Maria Johnson
      June 5, 2019 at 4:39 pm

      You’re not supposed to do that will ruin the cake im sorry. rookie mistake. poke holes, then remove cake. simple task easy to mess up

  • Reply
    February 6, 2020 at 9:35 am

    Actually not a Mexican dessert. Almost impossible to know the origin since every Latin American country has their version.

    The one we make in Panama is very similar, except we bring the milk mixture to a boil, then we pour it over the cake. This helps the condense milk caramelize a bit and changes the game 100%. Try it!

  • Reply
    March 8, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    Made this just yesterday and it turned out delightful! Quick question about the milk and butter mixture, though. When I heated the milk and butter, the milk started to clump together and I was wondering if that was normal? I ended up straining the mixture to get the clumps out but I’m not sure if that was a good choice.

    • Reply
      March 16, 2020 at 1:39 pm

      Hi Roxanna. Maybe the mixture was overheated. You want to cook the mixture gently and don’t let it boil, just until the butter is melted.

      • Reply
        March 25, 2020 at 7:52 pm

        Thank you Shiran! I’ll make sure to keep that in mind next time!

  • Reply
    Riddhi Gandhi
    August 5, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    The recipe looks absolutely delicious but only one question if you can give some replacement for eggs

  • Reply
    December 19, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    Guys, Thanks For sharing this Great Recipe. My Family Loved it. I am definitely sharing this recipe and this website with my friend. Hope they also love it. Thank you again for sharing such a great recipe.

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