This easy Tres Leches Cake is soaked with a sweet mixture of three milks! Topped with whipped cream and a little cinnamon, it is totally addicting! A classic Mexican dessert that you’ll want to make over and over.
Homemade Tres Leches Cake
There are some desserts that are truly just best when homemade. Store bought and restaurant versions often just don’t do them justice! This Tres Leches Cake is one of those desserts. I’ve tried buying it, I’ve tried ordering it, but the only way to experience the best this dessert has to offer is to make it yourself. Thankfully, that is easy to do!
Making Tres Leches at home may seem intimidating, but it’s easy and totally addicting! This cake is refreshing, lightly sweet yet full of flavor. It holds the milks so well without being too dense or falling apart. A big winner!
What is Tres Leches Cake?
Tres Leches means “three milks”, which is precisely what makes this cake unique. After being baked, it’s soaked with three milks: whole milk, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. It’s a popular cake in Mexico and Latin America and is perfect for celebrating Cinco de Mayo!
As far as texture, it’s a super light cake that gets a lot of it’s texture from whipped egg whites. You might notice that it lacks a common cake ingredient – butter – and has a unique method for mixing the batter. You absolutely do not miss the butter in the slightest and the mixing method gives it it’s super light texture. I tried making it with the more common creaming method using butter and this version was BY FAR the best!
This cake is also sort of like the original poke cake because after baking it, it’s poked with holes all over and then the milks are poured over the cake and soak into it.
How to make a Tres Leches Cake
Make the cake
To get started making this cake, combine your dry ingredients and set them aside. Then separate your eggs into the yolks and the whites. Set the whites aside for later.
Add some of the sugar to the yolks and beat on high speed until the yolks are pale yellow and have doubled in volume. When you lift the beater out of the mixture, it should drizzle down in a thick ribbon when it’s done. Add the whole milk and vanilla extract and combine.
Combine the egg yolk mixture with the dry ingredients and don’t over mix.
Next, grab your egg whites from earlier and whip them until they reach soft peaks, then slowly add the remaining sugar and whip until you reach stiff peaks.
Gently fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, being careful not to deflate the whites. Pour the batter into your cake pan and bake until nice and golden.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool completely before poking holes into it. I know it will be tempting to go ahead and poke the holes, but the cake is so soft and tender out of the oven that it comes apart easily if you poke it while warm. So trust me and let it cool before poking holes.
Add the Three Milks Mixture
Poke the holes into the cooled cake with a fork – lots of holes. You’ll combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and whole and then pour it over the cake making sure not to miss the sides and corners.
Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour or overnight. This is actually a great cake for making ahead because it gets even better after sitting overnight and letting the milks soak in.
Whipped Cream Topping
You can add the whipped cream topping right away or wait until just before serving.
Add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. For more help with making whipped cream, check out my Homemade Whipped Cream Tutorial.
Finally, sprinkle some ground cinnamon over the cake and top it with some fresh strawberries. It’s the perfect final touch to a wonderful cake! It really is so addicting and 100% worth trying if you’ve never made it at home before! You’ll fall in love!
More Great Cinco De Mayo Recipes
Spicy Sriracha Shrimp Tacos
Mexican Chicken Casserole
Shrimp and Crab Nachos
Tres Leches Cake Recipe
- Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Yield: 12-15 slices
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Mexican
This Tres Leches Cake is a super light cake that’s soaked with a sweet mixture of three milks! It’s topped with whipped cream and a little cinnamon and is totally addicting! A classic Mexican dessert that you’ll want to make over and over!
- 1 cup (130g) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 5 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup (207g) sugar, divided
- 1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Three Milks Topping
- 12 oz can evaporated milk
- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/4 cup (60ml) whole milk
Whipped Cream Topping
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
- 3/4 cup (86g) powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Ground cinnamon, optional for garnish
- Fresh fruit, optional for garnish
Make the Cake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9×13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. I recommend a ceramic or glass pan, as the cake bakes and rises much better in that type of pan.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Separate the eggs into two separate bowls. Egg whites in one and egg yolks in another.
- Add 3/4 cup (155g) sugar to the bowl with the egg yolks and mix on high speed until the yolks are pale yellow and have doubled in volume. When you lift the beater out of egg yolks, it should drizzle down in a thick ribbon.
- Add the milk and vanilla extract and gently stir to combine.
- Add the egg yolk mixture to the flour mixture and gently fold together just until combined. Don’t over mix.
- Whip the egg whites on high speed until they reach soft peak stage, then gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup (52g) of sugar as you continue whipping. Whip until the egg whites reach stiff peaks, but aren’t dry.
- Add the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture and gently fold to combine so that you don’t deflate the egg whites.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly so that it bakes evenly.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow cake to cool completely.
Make the Three Milks
- Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk in a medium bowl. Poke holes all over the top of the cake using a fork.
- Pour the milk mixture over the the top of the cake, making sure to pour it all over the top and edges.
- Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour or overnight to allow it to soak up the milks.
Add the Topping
- To make the topping, add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Spread whipped topping evenly over the top of the cake. Garnish with cinnamon and fresh fruit, if desired.
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 522
- Sugar: 41.9 g
- Sodium: 375.3 mg
- Fat: 14.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 75.6 g
- Protein: 23.9 g
- Cholesterol: 83 mg
Keywords: tres leches cake, mexican cake, mexican dessert
Recipe originally from Pioneer Woman.
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Wow! This was SO good! I have a favorite bakery that makes an amazing tres leches cake and I was trying to find something close to it to make at home and this is it! So tasty and not too sweet! This will be an amazing dessert in the summer!
Wonderful! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
I made the cake. After it came out of oven it shrunk?
It’s hard to say for sure, but you may have actually over whipped the egg whites.
Will this cake get soggy with so much moisture?
It shouldn’t. Tres leches cakes are known for all the moisture added to them.
I really love your recipes and I’ve tried your vanilla cake recipe.Everyone loved it.Just want to know can I make this cake in to two layer cakes?
Glad to hear that! I’m not sure about this cake as a layer cake. If you soak the cake in milk prior to stacking it, the layers are gonna be pretty difficult to move around. You could try just soaking it from the top after you layer it.
I loved it, not too mushy at the end and not so sweet either and the combination of the cinnamon and the fruits is divine. Thank you for the wonderful recipes!!!!
If we have to make half the recipe , how do you divide the eggs since doing 2 1/2 is very tricky.
Please let me know
Can i make cupcakes with this recipe with cupcake covers and then peel off covers after the milk has soaked in