This tres leches cake is SO much easier than making from scratch and tastes equally as delicious! It’s perfectly light and refreshing with the best sweet flavor.
This recipe tastes amazing and would be perfect to serve at a Cinco De Mayo party. It’s light, refreshing and has the perfect hint of Mexican flavor. You could also try making these homemade churros or churro cupcakes. Yum!
This tres leches cake (aka milk cake or Mexican cake) is SO much easier than making one from scratch and tastes just as delicious! It has the best sweet flavor and is super light and moist. Plus the homemade whipped topping is amazing and really makes the cake!
Ground cinnamon is the typical topping for this tres leches cake, but I also love to serve mine with fresh berries or toasted coconut on top. It’s so light and fresh and makes the perfect treat for Spring or Summer. This dessert turns out beautiful and tastes so delicious. Definitely give it a try!
Why is it called tres leches cake?
Tres leches means “three milks,” which is how the dessert got it’s name. It soaks in a mixture of 3 different milks: evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream. It has a light, spongey texture and is typically topped with a whipped cream topping. You may also hear it referred to as a “milk cake” or even a “Mexican cake.”
What’s in it?
This recipe is made with 3 layers: the base of the cake, a filling made with 3 different milks (that the cake soaks up) and whipped cream topping. Simple, decadent and a dessert everyone will love!
Cake mix: I like to use a box of french vanilla or yellow cake mix. It’s so much easier than making it from scratch and it tastes equally as delicious! If you know me, you know I love to doctor up a box of cake mix!
Eggs: You’ll need 4 large eggs (or about 5 medium or small eggs).
Vegetable oil: The vegetable oil that’s included helps to create an extra light and moist texture. I use 3 Tablespoons of oil.
Milk: The 3 different types of milk/cream is how this dessert got it’s name (tres leches means three milks). You’ll need sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream.
Whipped topping: The whipped topping makes the cake! It’s so light, fluffy and absolutely delicious. To make the topping, you’ll need heavy cream, confectioners or granulated sugar and vanilla extract.
Extras: I love to add on extra toppings like cinnamon, toasted coconut, fresh strawberries or even maraschino cherries.
How to make tres leches cake
For the cake:
- Preheat oven and spray pan. Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 9×13″ pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
- Mix together ingredients and bake. Combine cake mix, eggs, oil and water in a mixing bowl. Beat for 2-3 minutes with an electric mixer. Then pour batter into baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes clean. Let cool for 10-20 minutes.
- Poke holes, then pour milk mixture over top. Whisk together sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream. Once it has slightly cooled, poke the top with a fork (about every inch or so). Then pour the milk mixture evenly over the top of cake.
- Refrigerate. Let chill in the fridge for at least one hour, or preferably overnight to allow milk to soak into the cake.
For the frosting:
- Freeze beaters. Place the beaters and bowl in the freezer for a couple of minutes to help the peak form faster.
- Beat together ingredients. Then beat together cream, sugar and vanilla on high speed, until stiff peak forms.
- Spread on top. Once topping thickens, spread over the cooled cake.
- Top and serve. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on top if desired and serve with fresh strawberries, maraschino cherries or toasted coconut.
TIP: If you’re looking to make a tres leches cake from scratch, check out this recipe from The Pioneer Women. I’ve made it and it’s very yummy – it just takes more time.
Should it be served cold?
Yes, this recipe is typically served cold. It’s usually refrigerated over night to allow the milk mixture to soak into the cake. When ready to serve, you’ll just top it with the whipped cream and add on any desired toppings. The chilled cake is perfect for Spring and Summer!
Tres Leches Cake Recipe
For the cake:
- 15 ounce box french vanilla cake or yellow mix (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist)
- 4 large eggs
- 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 14 ounce can evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
For the topping:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3-4 Tablespoons confectioners or granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Optional toppings: ground cinnamon, fresh strawberries, maraschino cherries or toasted coconut
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x13" pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
- Combine the cake mix, eggs, oil and water in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes. Then pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean. Let cake cool for 10-20 minutes after it comes out of the oven.
- Whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream. Once then cake has slightly cooled, poke the top with a fork, about every inch or so. The pour the milk mixture evenly over the top of the cake.
- Refrigerate the cake for at least one hour, or preferably overnight to allow the milk to soak into the cake.
- To make the whipped topping, place the beaters and bowl in the freezer for a few minutes to help the peak form faster. Then beat together the cream, sugar and vanilla on high speed, until a stiff peak forms. Once the topping has thickened, spread over the cooled cake.
- Sprinkle ground cinnamon on top if desired and serve with fresh strawberries, maraschino cherries or toasted coconut.