The BEST authentic homemade Tres Leches Cake. An ultra light cake soaked in a sweet milk mixture and topped with fresh whipped cream and cinnamon. This simple Mexican dessert is one of our favorites! 

A slice of Tres Leches Cake with a sliced strawberry on top, served on a plate.

Every person in my family would rank Tres Leches Cake in our top favorites of all time! I love that it’s not overly sweet, it’s super easy to make, I can make it in advance, and its absolutely delicious! We make it really often, especially when we’re having a bunch of other Mexican food favorites to serve with it.

What is Tres Leches?

Tres leches literally means, “three milks”  and Tres Leches Cake is an ultra light sponge cake soaked in a sweet milk mixture.  It’s popular in Mexico and Latin America and throughout the United States as it’s often available at Mexican restaurants.

The cake is similar to an angel food cake. The whipped egg whites in the batter make it extra light and spongy. After baking the cake you poke holes in it with a fork and pour three types of milk over the top–evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk–hence the name “tres leches”.

How to Make Tres Leches Cake:

  • In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Separate the eggs into two other mixing bowls.
Egg whites in a mixing bowl, egg yolks in a separate mixing bowl, and flour, baking powder and salt in a third mixing bowl.
  • Add ¾ cup sugar to the bowl with the egg yolks and mix on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Add ⅓ cup milk and vanilla and stir to combine. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir gently just until combined (don’t over-mix).
  • Use electric beaters to beat the egg whites on high speed. As the begin to whip into stiff peaks, gradually mix in the remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Fold the stiffly beaten egg whites into the batter gently, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl, until combined.
Whipped egg whites added to the batter for tres leches cake.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow cake to cool completely.
Cake batter smoothed into a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  • Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk in a small bowl. Once the cake has cooled use a fork to poke holes all over the top of the cake. 
  • Slowly pour the milk mixture over the the top of the cake, making sure to pour near the edges and all around. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour or overnight, to allow it to soak up the milk.
Milk mixture being poured over a cake in a pan, with holes poked in the cake.
  • In the meantime, whip the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks. Smooth over the top of the cake.
Whipped cream being spread over the top of a cake.
  • Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top, and fresh sliced strawberries, if desired. Store Tres Leches Cake in the refrigerator, covered, for 3-5 days.
A pan of sliced tres leches cake with a piece removed.

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions:

You can make Tres leches cake 1-2 days in advance.  In fact, I love to make this cake the night before so that the cake has a lot of time to soak up the milk mixture.

No oil or butter in the cake?

That’s right, this Tres Leches Cake is NOT made with butter or oil.  The egg whites are the main leavening agent that give it a sponge cake texture, and the three milks poured on top get absorbed by the cake, making it moist without the need of oil or butter.

Serve Tres Leches with:

FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST for more great recipes!

Recipe

A slice of Tres Leches Cake with a sliced strawberry on top, served on a plate.
Prep 1 hr 30 mins
Cook 40 mins
Total 2 hrs 10 mins
Save Recipe

Ingredients
 
 

Cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large eggs , separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar , divided
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Milk Mixture:

  • 12 ounce can evaporated milk
  • 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup whole milk

Whipped Topping:

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ground cinnamon , for topping

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13'' pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Separate the eggs into two other mixing bowls.
  • Add ¾ cup sugar to the bowl with the egg yolks and mix on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Add ⅓ cup milk and vanilla and stir to combine. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir gently just until combined (don't over-mix).
  • Use electric beaters to beat the egg whites on high speed. As the begin to whip into stiff peaks, gradually mix in the remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Fold the stiffly beaten egg whites into the batter gently, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl, until combined.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow cake to cool completely.
  • Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk in a small bowl. Once the cake has cooled use a fork to poke holes all over the top of the cake. 
  • Slowly pour the milk mixture over the the top of the cake, making sure to pour near the edges and all around. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour or overnight, to allow it to soak up the milk.
  • In the meantime, whip the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks. Smooth over the top of the cake. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Serve with fresh sliced strawberries, if desired. Enjoy!

Notes

Store Tres Leches Cake in the refrigerator, covered, for 3-5 days.
Make Ahead Instructions: You can make Tres leches cake 1-2 days in advance. In fact, I love to make this cake the night before so that the cake has a lot of time to soak up the milk mixture. 
Freezing Instructions: The baked and cooled cake can be frozen for up to 3 months, covered well. Thaw overnight in the fridge before pouring the three milks on top.
Smaller servings?  Try my Tres Leches Cupcakes.

Nutrition

Calories: 433kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 9gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 152mgSodium: 171mgPotassium: 344mgSugar: 41gVitamin A: 865IUVitamin C: 1.7mgCalcium: 242mgIron: 1mg

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @TastesBetterFromScratch on Instagram with #TastesBetterFromScratch!

Have you tried this recipe?!

RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

I originally shared this recipe May 2015. Updated April 2017 and May 2021.

Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

Process photos by Nikole of The Travel Palate

Related Posts

Share Recipe

Categories

About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I want to send this cake as a donation in an aluminum pan so I don’t have to worry about getting my dish back. I keep reading not to bake in metal, so would you recommend transferring it somehow? Or any other suggestions? Thank you!

    1. I’d recommend baking it in a regular pan, lined with parchment. After it cools, lift it out of the pan and turn it into the aluminum pan. Then pole and add milk mixture.

  2. 5 stars
    I just got back from 6 weeks in Mexico where I had Tres Leches cake for the first time and was determined to find a recipe that tasted as fabulous as what I had there.
    This recipe checked all the boxes; it was easy, not too sweet, tasted authentic, and was so moist and delicious!
    Thank you, Lauren!

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve made this about 4 times now and it comes out perfect. I do use a Marscarpone Whipped Cream instead of the normal one in the recipe. Last night I substituted 1/4 cup dutch cocoa powder for 1/4 cup flour and it was just as light and fluffy as the original. I did use too much milk (from another recipe) and added 1/4 cup cocoa powder to the milk mixture as well as the whipped cream topping. It was a bit too “moist” and bit “soupy” I thought but everyone raved over it. It was delicious and served with fresh mixed berries!

  4. 5 stars
    I made this cake for Mother’s Day and it turned out absolutely perfect! I don’t typically eat refined sugars but wanted to sample what I was serving and must say it’s not overly sweet, which is delightful. The whipped cream balances the cake beautifully with just a hint of sweetness. Fantastic recipe and my guests loved the cake! My husband finished the rest in 2 days! The only thing is that it shrunk quite a bit from the edges of the pan but I believe that was something that I did to cause it, still didn’t affect the end result. 10/10!

See More Comments