Decadent Tres Leches Cake Recipe You’ll Love

Ahoy there, fellow dessert lovers! Have you ever sailed through the Caribbean or journeyed to Central America? If you have, then I’m sure you’ve had the pleasure of indulging in a delicious slice of Nicaraguan Tres Leches Cake. If not, don’t worry! Today, I’ll be your Captain and guide you through this delectable and easy-to-make cake recipe that’s popular throughout Nicaragua.

Originating in Nicaragua, this sponge cake soaked in three types of milk–evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk–is how this dessert gets its name, “Tres Leches.” The cake is infused with the sweet and creamy goodness of three milks that blend perfectly with a fluffy and light sponge cake. This traditional Nicaraguan dessert has been enjoyed for decades and has become increasingly popular all over the world.

As a chef specializing in creating comfort food with international twists, I can assure you that this easy Tres Leches Cake recipe is perfect for any occasion. Whether you want to impress houseguests or satisfy your sweet tooth, it’s an excellent addition to any foodie’s recipe collection. All it takes is a few simple steps and some basic ingredients to create infamous milk-soaked cake decadence.

So, set sail on a culinary adventure with me as we make our way to Nicaragua through this amazing dessert recipe. Let’s get ready to bake some Tres Leches Cake!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Nicaraguan Tres Leches Cake
Nicaraguan Tres Leches Cake

Folks, let me tell you why you’ll love this Nicaraguan Tres Leches cake recipe. This is not just any ordinary cake, no sir! This cake is a trip to heaven and back – it will rock your taste buds like you’ve never experienced before.

What makes this cake so special, you may ask? Well, let me break it down for ya. First of all, this cake originated in Nicaragua and has been a popular dessert in Latin America for generations. It’s a tres leches cake, which means it’s soaked in three types of milk – sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream. Can you even begin to imagine how moist and rich this cake is?

Now, let’s talk about the cake itself. The sponge cake is made from 9 eggs that get separated into yolks and whites. The egg whites are beaten until they form stiff peaks while the yolks are mixed with sugar and vanilla extract. Then the two mixtures are combined with all-purpose flour and baking powder. The result? A light-as-air sponge cake that’s perfect for soaking up all that milk goodness.

And the best part? You can make this cake in no time! It’s an easy tres leches recipe that even beginners could pull off. Just whip up the sponge cake batter, bake it in a 9-inch pan for around 25 minutes, and then soak it in the three milks for at least three hours (or overnight if possible).

This cake gets its name from the three types of milk that soak into the sponge cake – hence, tres leches! The result is a beautifully tender crumb that melts in your mouth with each bite. And let’s talk about that topping – whipped cream on top of the soaked sponge is nothing short of heavenly.

Trust me when I say that once you try this Nicaraguan Tres Leches Cake recipe, you won’t go back to your previous cake recipes. This dessert is a game-changer and will impress anyone who tries it. So, what are you waiting for? Get baking!

Ingredient List

 Rich and creamy tres leches cake, soaked in three types of milk
Rich and creamy tres leches cake, soaked in three types of milk

Get Ready with These Ingredients

Here’s what you need to make the delicious Nicarguan Tres Leches cake recipe:
Sponge Cake: 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 9 eggs (separated), 1 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Three Milks Mix: 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 1 can evaporated milk, 1 1/2 cups whole milk, and a dash of vanilla.
Whipped Cream: 2 cups heavy cream, 1/4 cup sugar.

Make sure to get high-quality ingredients since they are responsible for the success of this cake. This recipe contains three major components, namely sponge cake, three milk mix, and whipped cream. You will want to ensure that each ingredient is fresh and of the highest quality to achieve a perfect result.

The Recipe How-To

 Picture-perfect slice of moist and fluffy Nicaraguan tres leches cake
Picture-perfect slice of moist and fluffy Nicaraguan tres leches cake

Now that we’ve got all our ingredients sorted, let’s get started on making this Nicaraguan tres leches cake recipe!

Step 1: Preheat the oven and prepare the pan

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While waiting for the oven to heat up, grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Set aside.

Step 2: Make the sponge cake

Separate the 9 egg whites from the yolks. Place egg whites in one mixing bowl and yolks in another.

To the bowl with egg yolks, add in ¾ cup of sugar and whisk until well-combined. Add in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, then slowly pour in 1 cup of milk while continuing to whisk.

In another mixing bowl, mix together 2 cups of flour and 1 tablespoon of baking powder. Slowly add this dry mixture into the wet mixture with egg yolks while mixing continuously.

Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. This should take around 5-7 minutes.

Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter using a rubber spatula. Make sure not to overmix as this can result in a tough cake.

Step 3: Bake and cool the sponge cake

Pour the batter into your prepared baking dish and smooth out any lumps with a spatula. Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake.

Once done, leave it to cool completely before moving on to the next step.

Step 4: Make the three-milk mixture

In a separate mixing bowl, combine one can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk, one can (12 oz) of evaporated milk, and one cup of whole milk. Mix them well.

Step 5: Soak the sponge cake

Using a fork or toothpick, poke holes all over the surface of the sponge cake. Make sure to cover the entire cake.

Slowly pour the three-milk mixture over the sponge cake, pausing every few seconds to let it absorb into the cake. Continue until all the milk mixture is poured onto and absorbed by the cake.

Step 6: Chill before serving

Cover the dish with plastic wrap or foil and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour, but preferably overnight to allow for maximum absorption.

Serve your tres leches sponge cake with whipped cream and fresh fruit on top if desired. Congratulations, you just made a delicious Nicaraguan dessert that’s perfect for any occasion!

Substitutions and Variations

 Milk-infused sponge cake, topped with whipped cream and fresh berries
Milk-infused sponge cake, topped with whipped cream and fresh berries

Well, I reckon there’s always room for substitutions and variations in a recipe. If you’re looking to switch things up for this Nicaraguan Tres Leches Cake recipe, here are a few ideas to get your creativity cooking:

1. Vegan Tres Leches Cake: If you don’t fancy using eggs or dairy products, you can still enjoy this dessert with some simple swaps. For the cake mix, you could try replacing the eggs with a vegan egg substitute such as flax egg or applesauce. For the three milks mixture (tres leches), you could use coconut milk, almond milk, and soy milk.

2. Gluten-Free Cake: If you need to avoid gluten, fear not! You can use gluten-free all-purpose flour or a combination of almond flour and coconut flour instead.

3. Quatro Leches or Cuatro Leches Cake: Are three milks not enough for you? Why not add another one! You could try using half-and-half or even Bailey’s Irish Cream in place of some of the heavy cream in the tres leches mixture.

4. Flavor Infusions: If vanilla isn’t doing it for ya, try incorporating different flavors into the batter or topping. For example, you could add cocoa powder to make a chocolate version of the cake, or use almond extract instead of vanilla for an almond twist. You could also top your cake with whipped cream infused with coffee or liqueur.

5. Mix and Match: Don’t be afraid to mix things up and create your own unique concoction! Maybe instead of soaking the sponge cake in three milks, you could try soaking it in fruit juice or tea for a fun fruity twist. Or, maybe try topping it with fresh fruit or nuts instead of whipped cream.

Remember my friends – there are no rules when it comes to cooking and baking! Don’t be afraid to get creative and have some fun with this Nicaraguan Tres Leches Cake recipe. I’m sure it’ll be a hit no matter what you choose to do.

Serving and Pairing

 Sweet and decadent dessert that will transport you to Latin America
Sweet and decadent dessert that will transport you to Latin America

Once you’ve made this heavenly Nicaraguan Tres Leches Cake Recipe, it’s time to serve and enjoy it! Let me tell you, this is a versatile dessert that goes well with a wide range of toppings and drinks.

Serving Suggestions:

I prefer serving the Tres Leches Cake chilled. So after removing it from the fridge, cut the cake into squares or wedges depending on your preference. Garnish each slice of cake with a dollop of whipped cream, some sliced strawberries or any fruit of your choice. Trust me, the topping options are endless – caramel sauce, grated coconut, or even a drizzle of chocolate syrup!

Pairing Ideas:

Tres Leches Cake has a delicate and creamy taste that can be paired with many beverages. A hot cup of coffee or a glass of cold milk are classic choices. But if you’re looking for something more exotic and daring, why not pair it with some Nicaraguan coffee or hot cocoa? These flavors marry well and will surely impress your guests.

If you want something alcoholic to sip along with your cake slice, I recommend fruity cocktails like margaritas or piña coladas. For those who prefer wine, try pairing Tres Leches Cake with Moscato, Gewürztraminer or Riesling. These sweeter wines work best as they complement the delicacy of the cake.

In conclusion, Tres Leches Cake is a must-try dessert that originated in Nicaragua and has become popular throughout Latin America and beyond. Whether you’re whipping up an easy Tres Leches Cake or making a more elaborate version like Pastel de Cuatro Leches Recipe, you’ll love its velvety texture and creamy sweetness. Pair it with the right beverage and topping for an unforgettable treat!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A crowd-pleaser classic that never gets old: tres leches cake
A crowd-pleaser classic that never gets old: tres leches cake

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Can I make this Nicaraguan Tres Leches Cake ahead of time? Will it still taste good?” Let me tell you, my dear friends, that not only can you make this cake ahead of time, but it may even be better that way.

To make this cake ahead of time, simply follow the recipe as written and then let it cool completely. Once cooled, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days. The longer the cake sits in the fridge, the more deliciously moist and flavorful it becomes thanks to the three milks.

As for reheating, there are a couple of options. You can either serve the cake cold or let it come to room temperature before serving. However, if you prefer warm cake (and who doesn’t?), you can heat slices of the cake in the microwave for 15-20 seconds or pop them into a preheated oven (set to 350°F) for 5-7 minutes.

For those who like to plan ahead, this Nicaraguan dessert is also freezer-friendly. Wrap individual slices of the cake in plastic wrap and then foil before storing them in the freezer for up to two months. To thaw, simply let them sit at room temperature for an hour or two or defrost them in the microwave on low power.

In summary, feel free to make this easy tres leches cake recipe ahead of time and store it in your fridge or freezer to enjoy whenever your heart desires. The result will be a delicious Nicaraguan dessert that’s ready whenever you are!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Simple ingredients, stunning results: Nicaraguan tres leches cake
Simple ingredients, stunning results: Nicaraguan tres leches cake

Listen here, my dear amigos and amigas, I’ve got some tips to make sure you get the absolute best results with this Nicaraguan tres leches cake recipe. Trust me when I say that these tips are the cherry on top of an already delicious cake.

First of all, make sure you separate your egg yolks and egg whites very carefully. You want to whip up those whites real nice and fluffy to give your cake that signature fluffy texture. And while you’re at it, why not save those yolks for a tasty egg yolk omelet in the morning?

Next up, take your time when adding the milk mixture to the cake. Make sure you pour slowly and evenly so that every part of the sponge cake gets soaked with that delicious three milk goodness. Don’t rush it or you’ll end up with a soggy mess.

And speaking of sponge cake, if you’re feeling up for a challenge, try making your own from scratch! It might take a little more time, but trust me when I say that homemade sponge cake will take this dessert to the next level.

If you’re short on time or feeling lazy (hey, no judgement here), don’t be afraid to use a box mix for the sponge cake. It’ll still taste great, I promise.

Finally, don’t be shy with the whipped cream topping. This is what brings the whole dessert together and gives it that extra special touch. And if you’re feeling extra fancy, sprinkle some cinnamon or cocoa powder on top for a little added flavor.

So there you have it folks, my tips for getting perfect results with this Nicaraguan tres leches cake recipe. Now go forth and impress your friends and family with your baking skills!


Now that you’ve got the perfect Nicaraguan Tres Leches Cake Recipe, it’s time for some frequently asked questions to make sure you get the most out of it. Here are a few answers to help solve any mysteries that might pop up along the way.

Did tres leches come from nicaragua?

The history of Tres Leches is steeped in Latin American culture with varying opinions on its origin. Some argue that Nicaragua is where the milky cake was first created, while others believe Mexico has the strongest claim to this sweet delicacy.

What’s the difference between tres leches and cuatro leches?

Move over tres leches (three milk cake) because there’s a new dessert in town that’s even better – cuatro leches (four milk cake). What sets this cake apart is the addition of caramel or dulce de leche, because let’s be honest, anything with caramel is simply divine.

Why is my tres leches cake not soaking?

To make sure your tres leches cake absorbs the milk mixture, it’s essential not to overmix the batter. Overmixed batter creates a dense and non-absorbent cake. If the milk is not getting absorbed after several hours, it’s likely that the batter was overmixed. To help the cake absorb the mixture, be sure to poke it all over with a skewer.

Bottom Line

And there you have it, folks! The recipe for the ultimate Nicaraguan Tres Leches Cake. I hope this recipe article has shown you how easy it is to make this irresistible dessert and how versatile it is when it comes to substitutions and variations.

Whether you’re a seasoned baker or just starting out, this recipe is sure to impress your friends, family, and taste buds. So gather your ingredients, preheat the oven, and get ready to create a dangerously delicious masterpiece.

If you’re hesitant about making a cake soaked in three types of milk, just take my word for it – give it a try! You won’t regret it. Remember to follow the tips in this article for perfect results every time and feel free to customize the recipe to your liking.

Nicaraguan Tres Leches Cake is not only a popular dessert in its country of origin but also around the world. It has become a staple of many household celebrations and gatherings. Trust me; once you’ve tasted this tres leches cake recipe, you’ll understand why.

So put on your apron, set your oven to bake mode, and indulge in the creamy sweetness of Nicaraguan Tres Leches Cake. As Mark Twain once said: “Too much of anything is bad, but too much cake is never enough.”

Nicaraguan Tres Leches Cake

Nicaraguan Tres Leches Cake Recipe

Because the cream in Nicaragua is thicker and slightly more acidic than the ultra-pasteurized heavy cream sold in this country, to make the cake more authentic use 1 cup of sour cream and 1 cup of heavy cream for the pint of cream specified in the recipe. Commercial marshmallow cream can be used instead of the meringue. Also, instead of unmolding the cake you can bake it in a glass pan and leave it in there.Pierce it and pour the filling over it right in the pan and refrigerate. When you're ready to serve it, put on the meringue. You will find it is easier to fill, store and the glass pan keeps the cake and filling ( which still resembles a heavy milk) very cold. Because the cake is very rich, it can serve 20.
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Prep Time 3 hrs 40 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Nicaraguan
Calories 1477.1 kcal



  • 9 egg whites
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 9 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder


  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 pint heavy cream (or 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup heavy cream)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon liqueur (I suggest Amaretto) (optional)


  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 egg whites


  • FOR CAKE: Beat egg whites until stiff; set aside. Beat the sugar and egg yolks until light, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and milk, then beat in flour and finally the baking powder. Fold egg whites into the batter and pour into a generously greased 9-by 13-inch pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees, or until cake will spring back in center when touched. Let cool. (It's OK if cake falls somewhat at this point.).
  • FOR FILLING: Beat the three egg yolks for 1 minute at high speed with an electric mixer. Add the three kinds of milk - evaporated, condensed and cream - and the vanilla and liqueur, and beat thoroughly. When the cake has cooled, unmold it onto a dish. Pierce the cake as thoroughly as possible with a fork. Slowly pour the filling mixture onto the cake, allowing it to soak in without running over the sides.
  • FOR THE MERINGUE: Mix 1/2 cup water, corn syrup and sugar in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cook until mixture reaches 227 degrees on a thermometer, or will spin a thread when drizzled from a spoon ( about 30 minutes). Beat egg whites until very stiff. Slowly beat syrup into egg whites, whisking constantly while pouring syrup in a steady stream. Allow to cool slightly, then spread on top and sides of cake. Refrigerate cake at least two hours; it should be.
  • served very cold.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 409gCalories: 1477.1kcalCarbohydrates: 239.2gProtein: 27.7gFat: 48.9gSaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 482.5mgSodium: 527.4mgFiber: 1.1gSugar: 168.7g
Keyword Christmas, Dessert, Healthy
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Dora is a chef well-versed in Brazilian and American cuisine. After a hard day's work in the kitchen of her restaurant, she finds the time to jot down recipes for her food blog. Her recipes are sure to delight foodies everywhere, as she strives to make each one unique and enjoyable to read.