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This authentic Tres Leches Cake recipe is simple to recreate. This light and airy vanilla cake is drizzled with a decadent three milk mixture creating an incredibly moist and tender cake! A tasty, sweet ending to any Mexican or Tex Mex meal.

Looking for dessert recipes? Don’t miss out on these Churros, Mexican Fried Ice Cream, and our Chocolate Tres Leches cake recipe.

Tres Leches cake topped with fluffy whipped cream and fresh strawberries.


 

Why I Love this Recipe

  • Sponge Cake: separating the eggs and beating the egg whites allows us to create a light and airy cake perfect for soaking up the three kinds of milk. 
  • Perfect Texture: using the ideal amount of milks to pour over the top gives a moist, tender cake without being overly soggy.
  • Toppings: switch up the toppings on this cake to include fresh fruit or cinnamon. This makes it the perfect dessert for all your Mexican or Tex-Mex meals. 

What is Tres Leches?

Tres leches translates to “three milks.” Tres Leches Cake is an airy sponge cake soaked in a sweetened milk mixture. It’s popular in Mexico, Latin America, and the United States.

The cake is light and airy, similar to angel food cake. Whipped egg whites are used in the batter to make it spongy. After baking the cake, poke holes with a fork and drench it in the decadent milks.

Ingredients Needed:

Ingredients needed to make homemade tres leches cake laid out on the counter.

How to Make Tres Leches cake

How to make tres leches, dry ingredients, and sugar being mixed with egg yolks.
  • Prepare the dry ingredients by combining the all purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Separate the eggs and mix the egg yolks with sugar to create a thick, creamy mix
  • Add the vanilla to the egg yolk mixture. 
Adding vanilla to the wet ingredients. Dry being added and mixed together.
Smooth and creamy batter. Egg whites being whipped to stiff peaks.
  • Stir together the wet and dry ingredients until you have a smooth batter. 
  • Whisk the egg whites with a stand or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. 
  • Combine the egg white mixture with the cake batter, mixing until the batter is smooth.
Stiff egg whites added to the cake batter and mixed until smooth.
Tres Leches cake after being baked, then being poked with a fork and three milks being poured over the top to soak.
  • After baking the cake, use a fork to poke holes into the cake; this helps the milk soak into the cake.
  • Combine the three types of milk, then evenly pour the milk over the top of the cake. 
  • Top with whipped cream, cover the cake, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. 
Soaked tres leches cake being topped with fluffy whipped cream.

Expert Tips:

  • Eggs: separating the eggs and beating the whites to stiff peaks is what helps this cake get a sponge like texture perfect for soaking up the milk mixture.
  • Soak Time: after the cake bakes it will seem slightly flat, pouring the milks over the top and allowing at least 4 hours of chill time in the refrigerator will allow the cake to soak in all of the milk, expanding the size of the cake and giving a tender, moist bite.
  • Spread Batter Evenly: once you pour the batter into the cake pan, spread the batter into a nice even layer to create a even cake top. This will help the milk pour evenly over the top which helps it to soak evenly into the cake.

Storage Information

  • Storage: Due to the milk, store this cake in the refrigerator. Cover the cake to help keep in the moisture, and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • Freezer: Freeze the cake before soaking it with the milk mixture. After baking the cake, you can wrap it and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to use it, bring the cake to room temperature, drench it with the milk, let it soak overnight, then top with whipped cream.
Tres Leches cake with slices cut out and being served with strawberries.

Frequently Asked Questions

What milks are used in Tres Leches Cake?

This Tres leches cake recipe uses sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and regular milk (can be whole milk or 2%). Some recipes will substitute heavy cream or half and half in place of the milk. I don’t find it necessary in this recipe, since it’s decadent enough without it. 

Can Tres Leches be made in a round pan?

You can make this tres leches cake recipe in two 8 inch round pans.

Homemade tres leches, three milk cake, topped with fresh strawberries.

More Tex Mex Dessert Recipes To Try:

Tres Leches Cake Recipe

4.99 from 76 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Chilling Time: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 12
Author: Serene
This easy to make Homemade Tres Leches Cake is tender and drenched in a three milk mixture. Topped with fluffy whipped cream and fresh fruit, it can also be topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon for a truly authentic Mexican dessert treat!
Homemade tres leches, three milk cake, topped with fresh strawberries.

Ingredients  

Cake Batter

  • 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 large eggs divided
  • 1 cup white sugar divided
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk

Milk Mixture

Whipped Topping

  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a medium size bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir together with a fork.
  • In a large bowl combine the egg yolks(separates the egg whites into another medium size bowl), with 3/4 cup of white sugar. Stir together until fluffy.
  • Add in the vanilla extract. Stir to combine.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stir to combine.
  • Add in the milk. Stir to mix.
  • Whisk the egg whites with a hand or stand mixer, once the egg whites start getting foamy and white in color add in the last 1/4 cup of sugar. Continue whisking or mixing on high speed until smooth, white, and stiff peaks form.
  • Fold the egg whites into the cake batter.
  • Grease a 9×13 cake pan. Pour the cake batter into the cake pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top of the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • In a large measuring cup combine the milks needed for the milk mixture. Whisk together.
  • When the cake is cooled to room temperature. Poke all over the top with a fork. Then pour the milk mixture over the entire cake.
  • Cover the cake and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours to overnight.
  • After the cake has chilled and soaked in the milks, prepare the whipped cream.Add the heavy cream to a large mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed until cream starts to thicken, then add in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Continue mixing on medium to high speed until soft peaks form.
  • Spoon the whipped cream onto the cake, spread with a spatula or butter knife.
  • Serve the cake with a sprinkle of cinnamon or fresh fruit if desired.

Video

Notes

  • Serving: Cake is best served within 48 hours of soaking. 
  • Storage: Due to the milk, store this cake in the refrigerator. Cover the cake to help keep in the moisture, and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.
    Freezer: Freeze the cake before soaking it with the milk mixture. After baking the cake, you can wrap it and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to use it, bring the cake to room temperature, drench it with the milk, let it soak overnight, then top with whipped cream.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 125mg | Sodium: 182mg | Potassium: 100mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 717IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 110mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

Recipe first published February 5, 2019. Updated April 15, 2022, and October 16, 2023.

Photography by the talented @KJandCompany.co


Welcome to my kitchen!

Welcome to the House of Yumm!! My name is Serene. I’m the food photographer, recipe developer, and official taste tester around these parts.

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Recipe Rating




34 Comments

  1. its great! not too much or too little of anything. didn’t taste eggy at all! loved this one!!

  2. This recipe is absolutely to DIE for! I initially tried another Tres Leche recipe and the cake consistency was yukkie and tasted kind of meh and bland. I scrapped that recipe and started over with this recipe and OMGOOODNESS. It was absolute perfection. The cake came out lovely, the amount of the 3 milks was perfect. Not too soggy, not too dry. I followed your recipe exactly as written and it made the most delicious and beautiful Tres Leches cake. I topped it with fresh strawberries and it was just devine. This is now my go to Tres Leches cake recipe. I really loved all the detailed instructions and video included with your recipe. It was very helpful. I will be making this again today for a Cinco De Mayo work party and I know it’s going to be a HUGE hit. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!!!! House of YUM indeed!

  3. This is the best tresleches recipe! We loved it so much and it turned out perfect

    Question though; how can we make this as a birthday cake for kids? Without it being in the tray

    1. I’m so glad you love the recipe! Are you wanting to have the cake be on a plate? If that’s what you’re wanting, the cake will easily come out of the baking pan after cooling. You can place it on any plate you want, then pour the milks.

  4. We made this cake for Christmas Eve and it was AMAZING. The best Tres Leches I’ve ever had and a huge hit. I love that the cake isn’t overly saturated with the milk, it’s the perfect amount of milks and that the whipped cream isn’t overly sweet. Will definitely be saving this recipe!

  5. Hi! This recipe is awesome! I’ve made it many times for family and friends and they love it! I wondered if I could make cupcakes with this recipe and how many cupcakes do you think it’ll make?