Mouth-Watering Tres Leches Cake Recipe for Dessert Lovers

Folks, gather ’round because today I’m here to talk to you about a cake that will change your life. I’m talking about the one and only tres leches cake. Now, I know you may be wondering what makes this cake so special, and let me tell you, it’s not just any ordinary cake. This moist yellow sponge cake is soaked in a sweet mixture of three milks, namely heavy whipping cream, half-and-half, and sweetened condensed milk. Top it off with some whipped cream and dust it with cinnamon to complete the experience.

Trust me when I say this is the kind of cake that needs no occasion. It’s perfect on its own or paired with a cup of coffee. Even better, if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary for your next celebratory event, look no further! The authentic tres leches cake is sure to wow anyone lucky enough to take part in it.

So whether you’re a fan of Latin American cuisine or simply want to try something new in the world of desserts, I encourage you to give this recipe a shot. And who knows? It might even become your go-to birthday cake from now on.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Tres Leches Cake (Alton Brown)
Tres Leches Cake (Alton Brown)

Listen up, y’all! I’m here to tell you why this tres leches cake recipe is the bee’s knees. If you’re looking for a rich and decadent dessert that will make your taste buds dance with joy, then look no further. Here’s why this recipe is sure to tickle your fancy.

For starters, this cake is ultra-moist and spongey thanks to a special soaking technique using three different types of milk: heavy whipping cream, half-and-half, and sweetened condensed milk. That’s right – three milks, baby! The result is a cake that practically melts in your mouth with each bite.

And let’s talk about the flavor. This cake is anything but boring. The vanilla and sugar add just the right amount of sweetness without being overpowering, and a pinch of salt balances everything out. Plus, the combination of evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk creates a unique taste that’s authentic to Latin American desserts.

But don’t take my word for it – Alton Brown himself swears by this recipe on his hit show “Good Eats.” And if you’re still not convinced, just trust the thousands of five-star reviews on the Food Network website.

So whether you’re serving it up for dessert at your next dinner party or indulging in a slice all by yourself (hey, no judgement here), this tres leches cake is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Trust me, folks – this one is worth the calories.

Ingredient List

 The perfect balance of creamy and cake-y.
The perfect balance of creamy and cake-y.

Here are the ingredients to make this tres leches cake recipe:

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Note: You can substitute the cake flour for all-purpose flour, but it could affect the texture of the cake. It’s recommended to use cake flour for a lighter and fluffier cake.

The Recipe How-To

 Satisfy your sweet tooth with this decadent treat.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with this decadent treat.

Now it’s time to get your apron on and start baking this delicious Tres Leches Cake! Follow these easy steps to make it just right.


You will need the following ingredients:

  • 4 ounces of cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 7 ounces of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 12 ounces of evaporated milk
  • 14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup of half-and-half

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)

First, preheat your oven to get it ready for your luscious Tres Leches cake. It’s important to have your oven prepared before mixing any ingredients.

Step 2: Prepare the Cake

In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour and baking powder ensuring there are no lumps. Then, separate the egg yolks from the whites of five eggs, but don’t throw away the yolks or whites. Place the egg yolks, salt, and half of the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until the yolks get a lighter color.

Step 3: Add Vanilla Extract and Melted Butter

Add one teaspoon of vanilla extract to your mixture along with melted unsalted butter into two portions. You’ll want to stir until it is fully combined.

Step 4: Prepare Egg Whites Mixture

In a separate large mixing bowl (use a different one from before), beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue mixing while slowly adding the rest of the sugar to make a strong and silky white foam.

Step 5: Combine Egg Yolk and Egg Whites Mixture

Then fold the bowl containing the egg yolk mixture into the bowl containing white foam, two tablespoons of flour at a time. Remember to handle it lightly so that you do not lose the volume of the mix. Once mixed, pour the batter into an ungreased 9×13 cake tin.

Step 6: Bake Cake

Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick test is passed in the center of the cake. As soon as your cake comes out of the oven, use a fork to prick all over the surface of the cake.

Step 7: Soak Cake

Mix together evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and half-and-half right before you are ready to pour it over your cake. Pour slowly on top of your cake until completely soaked. Cover it and refrigerate for at least four hours, but best to keep it in overnight.

Step 8: Serve

When serving, make sure you have whipped heavy whipping cream for a more indul

Substitutions and Variations

 Cake so moist, you don't need a glass of milk on the side.
Cake so moist, you don’t need a glass of milk on the side.

Now, don’t you worry if you don’t have all the ingredients for this tres leches cake recipe. As a chef, I understand that sometimes substitutions are necessary. Here are some suggestions for substitutes and variations to still achieve a delicious and moist yellow cake soaked in a sweet mixture of three milks:

– For the cake flour, you can replace it with all-purpose flour, but be aware that the texture might vary slightly.

– If you’re looking for a dairy-free option, you can substitute the heavy whipping cream and half-and-half for coconut milk or almond milk. However, keep in mind that the taste and texture of the cake will be altered.

– For a richer and creamier version of the tres leches cake, you can add a fourth milk to the mixture (cuatro leches). Some recipes call for cream of coconut, sour cream, or even mascarpone cheese.

– If you’re allergic to eggs or simply choose not to consume them, there are several egg substitutes available. You can use aquafaba (the liquid from canned chickpeas), applesauce, mashed banana, silken tofu or vegan egg replacers like Bob’s Red Mill.

– Some recipes incorporate flavors like cinnamon, espresso powder or fruit like berries or pineapple. Feel free to experiment with different flavorings to personalize your tres leches cake!

Remember that authentic tres leches cake is typically made with evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk, so try not to substitute those ingredients for a truly genuine taste. However, it doesn’t hurt to mix things up and create your own version of this Latin American classic!

Serving and Pairing

 So delicious, it's hard to stop at one slice.
So delicious, it’s hard to stop at one slice.

Now that you’ve baked this delicious Tres Leches Cake, it’s time to indulge yourself in this classic Latin American dessert.

An excellent way to elevate the flavors of the cake is by serving it with some fresh fruit like sliced strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries that not only adds a punch of color to the plate but also complements the sweet and creamy flavors of the cake.

You can take it up a notch by adding a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream, and for an extra kick, sprinkle some cinnamon on top, which brings out the warm and cozy aroma of this dessert.

Another great option is pairing it with coffee or tea, which balances out the sweetness of the cake while making it a fantastic accompaniment to your morning or evening beverage.

This cake is perfect for any get-together or celebration as its moist texture and exquisite flavor make it suitable for any occasion, especially birthday parties. Besides that, its airy sponge cake texture makes it easy to slice into portions, making it ideal for large gatherings or intimate gatherings.

Overall, Tres Leches Cake is a versatile dessert that you can pair with different flavors and drinks according to your taste preference; however, serving it alone allows its authentic tres leche flavors to shine through.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

Now, let’s talk about what to do with your tres leches cake after it’s made. If you’re planning ahead for a big event, the good news is that you can absolutely make this cake ahead of time. It stays moist and delicious for days!

To make your life easier, I suggest making the cake one day in advance, which will allow it to absorb all of the milk mixture and develop even more flavor. Once the cake is ready, cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator.

When you’re ready to serve, take it out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before cutting into it. This will allow the flavors to come together once again and make for a better tasting treat.

If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The cake will still be quite moist the next day, but you can also reheat individual servings in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds if you prefer it slightly warm.

One tip: don’t freeze your tres leches cake! The texture and taste will change too much, and it won’t be as satisfying. So keep this lovely dessert out of the freezer and enjoy it within a few days of making.

Tips for Perfect Results

Now, let me give you some tips to make this tres leches cake recipe perfect every time. First of all, when making the sponge cake base, be sure to sift the cake flour before measuring it out. This will ensure that your cake is light and airy, as lumps in the flour can cause a dense texture.

When mixing the wet and dry ingredients for the sponge cake base, do not overmix. Just mix until they are combined and there are no more lumps in the batter. Overmixing can create gluten which can also affect the texture of the cake.

When removing the sponge cake from the oven, let it cool for about 10 minutes in the baking dish. After that, use a toothpick or fork to poke small holes all over the surface of the cake. This will allow the mixture of three milks to soak into the cake better.

It is very important that you use all three types of milk–heavy whipping cream, half-and-half, and sweetened condensed milk–to get that classic tres leches flavor and moist texture. In addition, it is recommended to use evaporated milk along with these three milks for a richer taste.

Don’t forget to chill your whipped cream topping for at least one hour before spreading it on top of your cake. This will help it hold its shape and prevent it from sliding off.

Finally, I recommend letting your tres leches cake sit in the refrigerator overnight before serving. This allows all three milks to fully soak into the cake and creates a deliciously decadent dessert that everyone will enjoy.

Follow these tips and you’ll have an authentic, Latin American dessert that will be perfect every time!


Now, let me answer some commonly asked questions about this Tres Leches Cake recipe. I know that sometimes things can get a little confusing, and you might have a question or two about the ingredients or the method. Well, worry no more! I’ve got your back. Below are some FAQs that will help you make the perfect Tres Leches Cake every time. So let’s jump right into it!

Why is my tres leches cake not soaking?

One possible reason why the milk is not being absorbed by the tres leches cake even after several hours is the chance of overmixing the batter. When batter is excessively mixed, it becomes dense, heavy and loses its light, airy texture. As a solution, it is essential to poke the cake surface thoroughly with a skewer to maximize its absorption of the mixture.

How do you keep tres leches from getting soggy?

We can ensure that our tres leches cake stays moist without becoming excessively saturated by slightly reducing the amount of the three milks used. This prevents the cake from collapsing or becoming too soggy.

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

For those who love dessert, tres leches cake is undoubtedly a classic. But have you heard of its even more indulgent cousin, cuatro leches cake? With the addition of caramel or dulce de leche, this four milk cake takes your taste buds to another level of sweetness. Let’s get ready to elevate your dessert game!

How long should tres leches be in the fridge?

To keep your Tres Leches Cake fresh and delicious, cover it and place it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you want to get ahead of the game, you can prepare the cake a day or two in advance. Actually, I prefer to make it the night before, which allows for the cake to fully absorb the milk mixture and taste even better.

Bottom Line

Now that you’ve learned how to make a scrumptious Tres Leches Cake with Alton Brown’s recipe, it’s time to put your cooking skills to the test. With its moist and fluffy texture and rich flavor, this cake is sure to impress your family and friends. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just looking for a delicious dessert to enjoy on a lazy Sunday afternoon, this cake is the perfect choice.

Remember that the key to success with this recipe is using high-quality ingredients and following the instructions carefully. And don’t be afraid to get creative with toppings and flavors – there are endless possibilities when it comes to customizing this cake to your taste.

So what are you waiting for? Get in the kitchen and start baking! And if you have any questions or concerns along the way, don’t hesitate to refer back to this article for guidance. Happy baking!

Tres Leches Cake (Alton Brown)

Tres Leches Cake (Alton Brown) Recipe

Tres Leches translates to "three milks" which is what makes this cake unbelivably moist, light, and sweet without being overly so. I recently served this at my fiance's birthday dinner and it was a huge hit. But of course, as my fiance says, "Alton Brown is THE MAN!" You do need to start the cake the day before you plan to serve it, so keep that in mind with your timing.
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Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 1 cake
Calories 592 kcal


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces cake flour (approx. 1.5 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar (divided)
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla (divided)
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Butter and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Avoid using a very shallow pan.
  • Whisk to combine cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • Cream butter with mixer.
  • Slowly add 1 cup of sugar to butter until combined.
  • Pour eggs into mixture one at a time, making sure that each egg is combined before adding the next egg.
  • Add 1.5 tsp vanilla.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  • Pour batter into the buttered and floured baking pan and smooth.
  • Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown.
  • Remove cake from oven and allow to cool completely.
  • Perforate cake all over using skewers or a fork.
  • Stir together the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and half-and-half.
  • Pour milk over cake and refrigerate overnight (or 8 hours) to allow the cake to soak up all the milks.
  • Before serving, whip heavy cream, 1 cup sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla until thickened.
  • Spread whipped topping over cake and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 172gCalories: 592kcalCarbohydrates: 68.3gProtein: 9.9gFat: 31.9gSaturated Fat: 19.2gCholesterol: 189.7mgSodium: 253.1mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 51.7g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Dessert, South American
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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.