This tres leches cake recipe is SO much easier than making from scratch and tastes equally as delicious! It’s perfectly light and refreshing with the best sweet flavor.
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The Best Tres Leches Cake
This tres leches 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 dessert!
Ground cinnamon is the typical topping for a 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!
Although this dessert tastes delicious as is, adding a few extra toppings really takes it to the next level. Any of the below ideas would taste amazing!
- A sprinkle of ground cinnamon
- Toasted coconut
- Freshly sliced strawberries
- A drizzle of salted caramel sauce
- Maraschino cherries
3 Delicious Layers
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.
- Cake: 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.
- 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. You’ll poke holes throughout the cooled cake and pour the milk mixture over top. Then chill in the fridge to let the milk mixture really soak in.
- Whipped topping: The final layer of homemade whipped cream really makes this dessert! It’s so light, fluffy and absolutely delicious. Trust me, making this layer from scratch makes all the difference and takes hardly any time.
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!
- Let cool. It’s important to let the cake cool for about 10 to 20 minutes before adding the milk mixture. You don’t want to pour it over while it’s still super hot.
- Soak. Similar to a jello poke cake, you’ll poke holes throughout the cake and then pour the milk on top so that it soaks in through the holes. It should then soak in the refrigerator for at least an hour, but preferably overnight. The longer it soaks, the more moist and flavorful it will be.
- Freeze beaters. Before making the whipped topping, place your bowl and beaters in the freezer for about 15 minutes to help the peak form faster.
- Sturdier whipped topping. You can make a stabilized whipped cream with the simple addition of gelatin. The stabilized version will hold it’s shape a bit longer.
- Homemade version. 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.
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.”
Traditionally, Tres Leches cake is a Latin American dessert. You might see it on the menu at a Mexican bakery or restaurant.
Tres Leches cake is an extremely moist cake that is sweet, but not overly sweet, with a hint of cinnamon.
Yes, this recipe should be served cold. It’s usually refrigerated over night to allow the milk mixture to soak in. When ready to serve, you’ll just top it with the whipped cream and add on any desired toppings. The chilled dessert is perfect for Spring and Summer!
This recipe is ideal for making in advance, as it needs to soak in the fridge for awhile. If making the day beforehand, wait to add the whipped topping until right before serving. It can deflate if you add the topping too far in advance. This way it will taste super fresh and delicious!
Love easy poke cake recipes? Try this chocolate poke cake recipe next!
More Chilled Desserts
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Tres Leches Cake Recipe
- 1 (15-ounce) box French vanilla cake or yellow mix (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist)
- 4 large eggs
- 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 ¼ cups water
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 Tablespoons powdered or granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Ground cinnamon , optional
Optional for serving: Fresh strawberries, Maraschino cherries, or Toasted coconut
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the cake mix, eggs, oil and water 2 to 3 minutes on medium speed. Fold in the sour cream. Pour into the baking dish. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool 10 to 20 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream. Poke the top of the cake with a fork, about every inch or so. Pour the milk mixture slowly and evenly over the top.
- Refrigerate at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight to allow the milk to soak into the cake.
- Place the beaters and bowl from a stand mixer in the freezer for a few minutes to help the whipped cream form peaks faster. 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 using. Serve with fresh strawberries, maraschino cherries, or toasted coconut, if desired.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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