Heavenly Tres Leches Cake Recipe – A Must-Try Dessert

Dearest readers,

I am thrilled to share with you a recipe that is much-beloved in the Latin American community and has won the hearts of pastry lovers all over the world: the one and only, tres leches cake!

This cake is a true work of art – a sponge cake soaked in a delicate mixture of three different kinds of milk: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk. After soaking in this heavenly mixture, the cake is topped with homemade whipped cream and garnished with maraschino cherries for a decadent finish.

Tres leches cake is not like any other cake you have ever tasted. Its texture is akin to a moist bread pudding, while its flavor is pure heaven on earth. I believe it’s appropriate to say that this dessert has earned its rightful place as one of the most beloved cakes around.

This recipe delivers an authentic tres leches experience, from its sponge cake soaked in a sweetened condensed milk mixture to its whipped cream topping. Whether it’s for a birthday celebration, holiday gathering or just because you deserve a treat, tres leches cake will not disappoint.

So dust your aprons off, grab your mixing bowls & pans and get ready to create an unforgettable dessert experience that will leave your taste buds wanting more. This traditional tres leches cake recipe may seem daunting at first glance but believe me, it’s worth every step. Let’s get started!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Traditional Tres Leches Cake
Traditional Tres Leches Cake

Allow me to make a fervent recommendation for this sensational Traditional Tres Leches Cake recipe: it is divinely magnificent! This cake is no ordinary sponge cake, but rather an authentic tres leches cake. For those who are unacquainted with this dessert, let me enlighten them.

This traditional tres leches cake is made from three different kinds of milk – sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and whole milk. Once the sponge cake is baked and out of the oven, it is pierced all over with a fork so as to penetrate the inner layers of the cake to ensure that it becomes moist and spongy when soaked in this delightful three-milk mixture. Every single bite will be creamy and luscious, leaving you wanting more.

The sweetness of the condensed milk and creaminess of heavy whipping cream are what provide this traditional dessert its marvelous texture that is topped off with easy whipped cream frosting and cherry decorations on top, adding a splash of color and maraschino flare to complete your dessert masterpiece.

You’ll be hard-pressed to come up with a better way to spend an afternoon than indulging in this Mexican delicacy while enjoying the company of your loved ones. This dessert is perfect for everything from elegant parties to cozy family gatherings at home or even as a birthday cake alternative! Trust me; you won’t regret giving this delicious traditional tres leches cake recipe a try!

Ingredient List

“Satisfy your sweet tooth cravings with this creamy delight”

Here is a list of all the ingredients required to make this authentic Tres Leches Cake recipe:

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup white sugar, divided into two parts
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided into two parts

Three-Milk Mixture:

  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup whole milk

Whipped Cream Topping:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Some optional additional ingredients for serving or decoration include: maraschino cherries, shredded coconut, chocolate shavings or sprinkles.

The Recipe How-To

“Indulge in a slice of heaven with every bite”

Here comes the most exciting part, the recipe itself! Follow these instructions and you will end up with a delightful dessert that everyone will love.


  • 1½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup whole milk


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish and set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time and beat well after each addition. Stir in vanilla extract.
  4. Fold in the flour mixture into the creamed mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  5. In another bowl or mixer, beat egg whites until stiff peaks are formed.
  6. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until no white streaks remain.
  7. Pour batter evenly into prepared pan, smoothing top with a spatula.
  8. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Let cake cool on a wire rack for at least 10 to 15 minutes.

Preparing the Three Milks Mixture

While waiting for the cake to cool down, prepare the three milks mixture:

  • 1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
  • 1¼ cups whole milk

Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl or measuring cup.

Poke and Pour Mixture

Once cooled down but still warm, use a fork to poke holes all over the surface of cake.

Slowly pour the three milk mixture over the cake, making sure it is distributed evenly.

Let the Cake Soak

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight if possible.

Whipped Cream Topping

Just before serving, whip heavy cream and sugar with a mixer until stiff peaks form.

Spread whipped cream mixture over the cake’s surface. Add toppings such as fresh berries or sliced maraschino cherries if you like!

Serve chilled and enjoy your amazing tres leches cake!

Substitutions and Variations

“Get ready to dive into the milky goodness of Tres Leches Cake”

Greetings dear readers! As with any recipe, there are some substitutions and variations that you can make with this Traditional Tres Leches Cake Recipe to make it your own. It may not be traditional anymore, but it could still taste as delicious!

If you have any dietary restrictions or preferences, there are some substitutions you can make. For example, if you’re lactose intolerant, you can try using lactose-free milk products such as lactose-free milk or cream. If you prefer a vegan or dairy-free version of this cake, you can use coconut milk or almond milk instead of regular milk and coconut whipped cream instead of heavy whipped cream.

Additionally, if you’re feeling adventurous and want to switch up the flavors of the cake, there are a few options for variations. You can add some crushed maraschino cherries into the batter for a fruity twist. If you have a sweet tooth and want to add more sweetness to the cake, increase the amount of sugar in the recipe or use a flavored syrup like caramel or chocolate.

For those who want to experiment with different toppings, instead of classic whipped cream, try making a buttercream frosting to cover the cake. Finally, for those wanting an extra sweet punch in their dessert, try using Cuatro Leches instead-of the traditional Tres Leches where 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream mixed in with 1/2 cups evaporated milk pour over a baked vanilla sponge cake mixture and then pour another 1/2 can of condensed milk and finally 1/2 cup whole milk on top that soaked for 6 hours before serving chilled!

Whatever variation or substitution you choose to make for this recipe, remember to keep an eye on the proportions so that your creation still maintains its delicious flavor and texture! Happy baking!

Serving and Pairing

“A cake so moist, you’ll forget the word ‘dry’ existed”

Allow me to offer a few words of advice, dear reader, on how to serve and pair this delectable tres leches cake. It is best served chilled, and with the topping of your choice. In my humble opinion, a generous dollop of freshly-whipped cream and a single maraschino cherry atop each slice is simply divine.

As for wine pairing, may I suggest a rich and full-bodied red, such as Malbec or Zinfandel? The sweetness of the cake paired with the boldness of the wine creates a harmonious balance that will undoubtedly enchant even the most discerning palate.

If you prefer something lighter, perhaps a sparkling white wine will do the trick. The effervescence of the bubbles provides a refreshing counterpoint to the richness of the cake.

Of course, one might also indulge in a cup of coffee or tea alongside their slice of cake. It is essential to note that if one chooses to enjoy their cake with coffee or tea, they must take care not to over-brew as the bitterness may clash with the sweetness of the tres leches.

In conclusion, whether your preference be wine or something else entirely, all that matters is that you savor each bite of this traditional tres leches cake with pure enjoyment.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

“The perfect dessert for any occasion”

Dearest reader, the Traditional Tres Leches Cake is a cake full of character which can be enjoyed for days on end. It can be prepared the day before serving and stored in the refrigerator until ready for presentation.

To prepare it in advance, I suggest allowing the cake to cool down completely once you have topped it with the whipped cream. Then place it in the fridge for about 2 hours or overnight. Once you are ready to serve it, remove it from the fridge and allow it to come back to room temperature before topping with cherries and serving.

If you have left-over Tres Leches Cake, fret not! This cake gets better with time as it soaks up more of its milk mixture. You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If you prefer your Tres Leches Cake warm and gooey, do not hesitate to reheat each slice individually either in the microwave or oven. Simply microwave each slice for 15-20 seconds or warm them up in a preheated oven at 350°F (180°C) for about 5 minutes.

This dessert will never disappoint and is guaranteed to bring joy to all who indulge in its milky goodness.

Tips for Perfect Results

“Tres Leches Cake – because one milk simply isn’t enough”

As a chef who understands the importance of achieving perfection in every dish, I have some tried-and-true tips that will help you make the perfect tres leches cake every time.

Firstly, it is important to let your cake cool before soaking it with the milk mixture. This allows the cake to absorb the liquid and maintain its structure, resulting in a moist cake that doesn’t fall apart.

Secondly, when making the milk mixture, be sure to mix it thoroughly so that all three kinds of milk are evenly distributed. If they are not combined properly, you might end up with pockets of pure milk in some parts of the cake and none at all in others.

Another thing to keep in mind while making this recipe is to use quality ingredients. The better quality ingredients you use, the better your cake will taste. I recommend using organic dairy products as well as free-range eggs for best results.

Additionally, when preparing the whipped cream topping, make sure your heavy whipping cream is cold and whip it at high speed until peaks form. This results in firm peaks and a texture that holds up well on top of the cake.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to get creative with this recipe by trying different variations or substitutes. You can add maraschino cherries on top for decoration or use flavored whipped cream for added flavor.

With these tips and tricks, you will have a delicious and perfectly crafted tres leches cake every single time. Enjoy!


Before we conclude, let’s address some frequently asked questions about Tres Leches Cake.

What milk is tres leches made of?

To infuse the cake with moistness and flavor, it is pierced multiple times with a fork and inundated with a trio of dairy liquids, specifically evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk, thus dubbing it as “tres leches”.

Why is my tres leches cake not soaking?

Sometimes a tres leches cake can have trouble absorbing the milk mixture, even after several hours. This issue usually arises when the batter has been mixed too much, causing it to lose its light and fluffy texture. This can make the cake feel dense and heavy, making it challenging to absorb the milk mixture. To help the cake absorb the milk more effectively, I suggest poking it all over with a skewer. This will allow the milk mixture to seep into the cake more deeply, improving its texture and flavor.

What is tres leches frosting made of?

This delicious cake is enriched with a trio of milk varieties: evaporated milk, heavy cream, and sweetened condensed milk.

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

When it comes to the perfect dessert, nothing compares to the rich and satisfying taste of cuatro leches cake. This decadent dessert takes tres leches cake to the next level by adding a fourth element: caramel or dulce de leche. The result is a mouthwatering sweetness that is impossible to resist.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the Traditional Tres Leches Cake recipe is a must-try for anyone who loves dessert. As someone who specializes in Brazilian and American cuisine, I can confidently say that this cake has all the flavors and textures to satisfy your sweet tooth.

With its sponge-like texture soaked in three different kinds of milk, every bite of this cake is a heavenly experience. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just want to indulge in a delicious dessert, the Tres Leches Cake is perfect for any occasion.

Additionally, this recipe allows for plenty of opportunities to customize and experiment with different variations. You can add fruit or caramel toppings, swap out some ingredients for lighter ones or mix in cocoa powder for a chocolate version. The possibilities for this cake are endless.

As a final note, don’t be intimidated by the thought of making this cake from scratch. With my detailed instructions and tips, you’ll have a delicious and authentic Tres Leches Cake on your plate in no time. So go ahead and give it a try – your taste buds will thank you!

Traditional Tres Leches Cake

Traditional Tres Leches Cake Recipe

I first had this delectable dessert at a Latin American restaurant, when they were out of my first choice (rice pudding) I ordered this. I felt like I had hit the jackpot!!Wouldn't you know, this restaurant went under and I researched lots of recipes until I decided on this one. I served it for Christmas last year. It evokes the same comfort feeling of tiramisu, but with a vanilla/almond flavor. I hope you'll try it!
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Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 642.5 kcal


  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 10 maraschino cherries


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Butter and flour bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.
  • Beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar until light in color and doubled in volume.
  • Stir in milk, vanilla, flour and baking powder.
  • In a small bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
  • Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar.
  • Beat until firm but not dry.
  • Fold egg whites into yolk mixture.
  • Pour into prepared pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 to 50 minutes or until cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool 10 minutes.
  • Loosen edge of cake with knife before removing side of pan.
  • Cool cake completely; place on a deep serving plate.
  • Use a two prong meat fork or cake tester to pierce surface of cake.
  • Mix together condensed milk, evaporated milk and 1/4 cup of the whipping cream.
  • Discard 1 cup of the measured milk mixture or cover and refrigerate.
  • Pour remaining milk mixture over cake slowly until absorbed.
  • Whip the remaining whipping cream until it thickens and reaches spreading consistency.
  • Stir in almond extract.
  • Frost cake with whipped cream and garnish with cherries.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 245gCalories: 642.5kcalCarbohydrates: 74.2gProtein: 14.1gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 19.8gCholesterol: 231.5mgSodium: 248.2mgFiber: 0.6gSugar: 54.8g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Dessert, Mexican
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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.