Tres Leches Cake

16 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Tres Leches Cake is an authentic Mexican cake soaked in three kinds of milk, topped with whipped cream and cinnamon. The ultimate indulgent dessert recipe!

Sheet Cake desserts are a fun and easy way to make desserts to serve for a crowd and even easier to decorate! We’ve topped this one with Easy Whipped Cream but you could easily use Cool Whip too!

Slice of Tres Leches Cake on plateTRES LECHES CAKE

Tres Leches Cake isn’t your regular sheet cake. It isn’t even close. It’s like your classic Easy Vanilla Cake recipe/sponge cake (this is my favorite cake) that’s been taken up about 5 notches because you add condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream, whipped cream, cinnamon and extra eggs for richness. Did I mention a cup of sugar to round things out? We don’t hold back in this recipe. Next time I’ll share an Angel Food Cake recipe with you all to even things out.

Tres Leches Cake translated literally means “three milks” because the cake itself is soaked with three types of milk: Condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy whipping cream (some people prefer to use whole milk here, coconut milk or even half and half).

This Tres Leches Cake also happens to be extra light while having all these rich flavors because we are using a sponge cake as the base of the cake. A sponge cake is a cake that is made by separating the eggs and beating the egg whites to create a lighter batter. This helps to give the batter extra lift.

Make sure you use a nice high walled cake pan for this recipe, we are adding a lot of ingredients to this cake batter and to the cream topping! We don’t want to lose any of the deliciousness along the way.

Because we are beating the egg whites and the butter/sugar mixture I highly recommend using an electric mixer for this recipe. Trying to make it with a whisk and a bowl will result in a sore arm and you will probably not get the airy mixture we need for the cake.

And this recipe is much more authentic than my Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars, but I won’t say the cheesecake bars aren’t just as delicious. We actually baked these on the same day and they both were eaten about as fast as each other.

This isn’t diet friendly, but it doesn’t have to be because it is an indulgent once in a while amazing dessert you can serve to guests for a special occasion. Or, you know, a Wednesday after you’ve had a salad for lunch and dinner.

While this cake would be an obvious perfect dessert for Cinco de Mayo, we also love serving the Tres Leches Cake with other fun toppings. On top of the cake you can add toppings like shredded coconut, maraschino cherries, Vanilla Ice Cream, Strawberry Topping, Pineapple Topping or any other fun dessert toppings you love.

How to make Tres Leches Cake:

  • Bake a rich vanilla cake in a 9×13 cake pan.
  • Remove from oven while hot and poke holes with fork all over.
  • Whisk together condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream and pour over cake.
  • Let cake cool completely in the fridge.
  • Top with whipped cream and ground cinnamon before serving.

Pan of Mexican Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake Milks:

Let’s take a quick minute to understand the differences in the milks you’re going to be using to soak this Tres Leches Cake.

Condensed Milk:

What is condensed milk? Condensed milk is cow’s milk that has had about 60% of it’s water removed like evaporated milk, but it has had sugar added to create a syrupy texture to the milk. Condensed milk is often used to flavor desserts and make caramels, sauces and when cooked properly it can also be turned into and easy dulche de leche.

Condensed milk is generally about 40-45% sugar so when trying to remember the difference between condensed milk and evaporated milk remember it comes down to the sugar content. Evaporated milk has no sugar added while condensed milk does.

If you are shopping in the store and you see cans that say “sweetened condensed milk” or “condensed milk” you can buy either one. They are both the same product. There is no unsweetened version of condensed milk or it would be labeled evaporated milk.

Evaporated Milk:

Speaking of evaporated milk, this is a product that is the healthier cousin to condensed milk. It is a cow’s milk that has had 60% of it’s water removed. It contains 6.5% milkfat compared to whole milk which contains 3.5 % milkfat so if you want you can use it in recipes for an added indulgence where you would be using whole milk.

We sometimes like to use evaporated milk in Easy Mashed Potatoes during the holidays to add an extra indulgent kick to the recipe or to our Baked Mac and Cheese for the same reason.

Many people don’t think about the additional uses for evaporated milk, but it is really an unsung hero in your pantry (and less expensive than it’s higher milk fat cousin heavy whipping cream). While I wouldn’t drink it like a glass of milk, you can add it to coffee, or to your recipes in place of milk when needed, so keeping additional cans as a backup is always a good idea (we keep 6 extra cans on hand at all times).

You can also reconstitute evaporated milk to make it more like whole milk by adding water (again I don’t recommend drinking it like a glass of milk) if you’d like. Uses are endless. One thing that I don’t recommend it using it in place of heavy whipping cream as heavy whipping cream contains 36% milk fat.

Heavy Whipping Cream:

Heavy whipping cream is the king of all dairy when it comes to indulgence. With the highest content of milk fat, second to only butter, it will be doing double duty in this recipe in the milk mixture and as a topping in the form of whipped cream.

Heavy cream is best kept as cold as possible before using, so keep the heavy whipping cream in the refrigerator until just before making your whipped cream. Since it doesn’t have any ingredients to stabilize it, if your cake sits out at room temperature the whipped cream will begin to break down.

If you’d like to have your cake sit out longer you can use Cool Whip or a stabilized Whipped Cream in it’s place. The recipe below includes cream cheese and powdered sugar to add stability, and the added sugar will help to offset the tangy flavors of the cream cheese. The mixture has enough heavy cream in it that the flavors won’t be nearly as thick or as pronounced as a New York Cheesecake.

Stabilized Whipped Cream (with Cream Cheese)

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
  • ¾ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream, ice cold
  1. In a stand mixer beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla on low until just combined then on high for 1 minute until completely smooth, then remove from the bowl.
  2. Add in the heavy whipping cream and beat on low-medium speed until soft peaks form, add in the cream cheese mixture then turn on the mixer to medium-high until light and fluffy, for 30 seconds.

Tres Leches Cake in pan

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Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake is an authentic Mexican cake soaked in three kinds of milk, topped with whipped cream and cinnamon. The ultimate indulgent dessert recipe!
Yield 16 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 large eggs , separated
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 4 cups Whipped Cream (recipe)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13 pan with baking spray or butter and flour it.
  • Sift together your flour, baking powder and baking soda
  • In a large stand mixer whip your 5 egg whites to stiff peaks form(if you remove the whisk the tip of the egg white stands instead of fallon medium-high speed.
  • Remove the egg whites to a large bowl and add the butter and sugar to your stand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Add in the egg yolks one at a time, then add in the vanilla and milk.
  • Add in the flour mixture until just barely combined, then fold into the egg white mixture gently.
  • Pour into the baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • While the cake is baking whisk together the heavy cream, condensed milk and evaporated milk.
  • Remove from the oven, pierce all over with a fork and pour the milk mixture over the cake, then cover and chill for at least 3-4 hours.
  • Top with whipped cream and sift ground cinnamon on top before serving.


Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 98mg | Potassium: 248mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 590IU | Vitamin C: 1.1mg | Calcium: 174mg | Iron: 0.9mg

Mexican tres leches cake

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. Great recipe and my first time making tres leches! The only thing for my family and I was that the milk was not enough to wet the whole cake. The center part was pretty dry. Im going to add more milk to it next time I make it. It’s definitely a keeper!

  2. So good! First time making tres leches cake. and it was so easy to follow this recipe. It was a hit with my family, it was gone. I will be making this tres leches again!

  3. This recipe was perfect! I served this at a family party and everyone went crazy for it. The kids were scraping their plates and my son has requested it as his next birthday cake. Will definitely be making this cake again and again.

  4. Is it possible to make this with non enriched flour and cleaner ingredients like coconut milk? I’m afraid it will mess with textures. Has anyone tried it?

  5. I had a helper at my home and each Christmas his wife made us this cake but it was cocolate with cocolate icing. there was no white streaks in the cake. they have now moved away but my husband now wants me to make it! How can I make it like she did???? PS Best cake ever!!!

  6. How long does the cake last in the fridge once it’s been “iced” with the cream please? Made this for my husband’s work friend today & everyone in the office loves it!

    1. So glad you enjoyed the Tres Leches Cake! You may store Tres Leches Cake in the refrigerator, covered, for 3-5 days.

  7. I made this for my husband’s birthday, I meant to take a picture but the entire cake was gone before I could get one. It was a hot day and it was the perfect dessert. I just served with a dollop of cool whip on top and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. It made a pretty presentation.

    1. That is unusual. You creamed the butter with the sugar by itself? Was the butter room temperature? Then added the egg yolks one at a time slowly?

  8. This cake came out so delicious! The cake did come out quiet over baked but that’s my fault since I used a heart shape pan, it still came out spongy. Even without the milk the cake is very delicious, my grandpa was a huge fan of the cake by itself lol. Whipping the egg whites first and then adding the rest of the ingredients was the greatest method I’ve tried for a tres leches. I will most definitely make it again using this recipe.

  9. Just used this recipe for my baking class at the high school where I teach. We were asked by the Spanish teachers to make for their Cinco du Mayo celebration today. (For 400 kids). We doubled the recipe and baked in half sheet pans and all 4 cakes came out amazing! Everyone was raving about the cakes! This will be a staple in my
    Room moving forward for events and spring bake labs.

  10. I want to make this cake but I don’t like to use butter so I always replace it with Applesauce and mix it with baking soda and they always turn out amazing my question is do you think it would work for this cake as well or would it make it go too soggy when adding the milk mixture after being baked?

    1. Sorry for the late response. How did it turn out with your ingredients substitutions?

  11. This cake came out amazing! I took it to church and there wasn’t a piece left. A lot of people, up in NH, had never heard of Tres Leches. Made it that much more fun! Thank you for such a great recipe. I didn’t change a thing. =)

    1. I want to make this cake but I don’t like to use butter so I always replace it with Applesauce and mix it with baking soda and they always turn out amazing my question is do you think it would work for this cake as well or would it make it go too soggy when adding the milk mixture after being baked?

  12. Is it possible to freeze any leftover cake?
    I made this cake for a big party and everyone enjoyed it. I’d like to make it again for a smaller venue but know we would have so much left over.

    1. Yes, tres leches cake can be frozen. It should be wrapped well in plastic or foil before freezing.

  13. Truly disappointed. I bake regularly and decided to try this recipe. I’ve follow the steps to the detail and the result is far for what we know as “tres leches”. The cake is really hard and too sweet. It doesn’t soak the liquid to get the typical moisture of this Latin dessert. I doth understand why this got good reviews

    1. If flour gets overmixed, it can leave you with a dried-out, harder end product. Mixing with flour can be tricky! Hope you give the recipe another try, we’ve really enjoyed it each time we’ve had it.

  14. Can I use mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese? And if so, would I still follow that same recipe with powdered sugar?

  15. My 11 year old granddaughter who does not normally like any kind of cake, loves this cake! It’s her birthday cake of choice. Thank you for sharing a family favorite!

  16. Hi from the land down under ??
    I am about to make this beautiful cake but would like to ask a question.

    Is it better served on the day or leave overnight?

    Thank you ?
    Kind regards

  17. Can I substitute cake flour for the all-purpose flour? If so, will I need to adjust my ratios? Thank you! Excited to try this cake 🙂

  18. My husband isn’t fond of cake but he raved about this cake last time I made it. So guess what I’m making for Father’s Day this year ?

  19. LOVE this recipe! I’m chicana and have never made tres leches! This recipe was PERFECT and delicious! It was a hit for my family and for our friends! I plan on making this for my son’s 4th birthday party this weekend! Wish me luck! I plan on making two large sheet pans of cake and then making it into tres leches!

  20. Delicious!!!!! My new favorite recipe for tres leches cake!!! Followed the recipe and had no issue. I issued Mexican vanilla bean flavor. Next time I might double the recipe for a birthday party.

  21. Fabulous recipe ~~i adjusted just a couple things to my families taste but an incredible recipe on it’s own ~~will not look for another ~~thank-you ~~Happy Mother’s Day 2021

  22. I’m in the middle of making this delicious cake yet again. Every time I have made it I get the best compliments! Great Recipe!

  23. Tres Leches is not Mexican, it is Swiss-Nicaraguan from Jinotega Province. It was created in this rich fairyland in the 1859s with the Germanic migrations to ?? NICARAGUA.

  24. Delicious!!!! Made this for the first time tonight and my whole family loved it. Added some strawberries as well!

    1. I haven’t tested it but I would make and bake the cupcakes at 325 for 25 minutes. Once baked and still warm, spoon the milk mixture over the tops. Allow them to sit for at least 30 minutes to fully absorb the mixture, even overnight if possible. Then top with whipped cream and ground cinnamon before serving. Good luck!

  25. I am going to make this for work and want to know if I can make the cake the night before and add the whipped topping day of? Looks delicious!!

  26. HI, This looks wonderful and I would like to make it for Father’s Day this Sunday. I live in Colorado at about 7,000 ft. elevation. Do you know if I need to make adjustments to this recipe for this elevation? I really appreciate if you have time to advise.

    Thanks so much!

    1. I am no expert when it comes to adjusting for altitude but usually you’ll need to decrease the amount of baking powder starting with 1/8 teaspoon and going from there. Also, increase the oven temp by 25 degrees f. Good luck!

      1. I haven’t tested this recipe with gluten free flour. I will put this recipe on my list of things to test with gluten free flour.

    1. You can actually make your own by simmering 2 3/4 cups of milk down until it becomes 1 1/2 cups. Enjoy!

  27. Hi, I followed all the directions and my cake came out a little dry. Not sure why? I was expecting it to be moister. What possibly went wrong? It was still delicious and we ate it 🙂

    1. Baking can be tricky but usually if it’s a little dry, it just means that when the flour was added it might have been mixed too much. Glad to hear it still tasted great but hope this helps for next time.

    2. Hi my cake came out super done on the outside but was still completely batter in the middle, what did I do wrong?

      1. If that happens again, try tenting the edges with foil and continue to cook until the middle is also done.

  28. This tres leches cake looks yummy! I want to clarify the details about the whipped cream topping. The ingredients list calls for 4 cups whipped cream. When I click on the recipe, it calls for 2 cups of heavy whipping cream. Am I correct in assuming that the 2 cups in the recipe makes 4 cups once it’s whipped? Thank you for your help!

    1. What about making this recipe in an 11×15 pan what would be the difference in the amount of ingredients in “your recipe” for cake only?! your recipe for whipped cream is plenty for any size ? Please and Thank you!! I have a recipe too but want to compare and try this version out!

  29. My cake batter came out very thick, I had way more egg white mixture than cake batter. It was like a dough consistency. What did I do wrong? How thick should it be?

    1. My cake batter also came out very thick and it was only about 3/4” high after I baked it. Not even as thick as a brownie. Very weird. I’m trying a different recipe that doesn’t require the egg whites.

  30. This cake was delicious! My baking time was half of what was suggested in the recipe, but my oven runs hot, so I’m used to that. I will make this again, but I will double the amount of heavy cream, or maybe do half and half for that portion of the Three Milks. My Tres Leche usually has quite a nice little milky puddle around each slice, and this didn’t. I also did a whipped cream and cream cheese frosting, which I’ve never done with Tres Leche and it was fabulous!!! Thanks for the inspiration !

      1. Should you add the milks when the cake is still very hot? Will the milk get all the way up to the top or the cake? Should you remove the edges of the cake? The cream cheese topping, will it be tart? And how long before can you add it? Need to top the cake the night before, should I use cool whip instead? Sorry so many questions..

        1. No worries about all the questions…let me see if I can help you out. Yes, you’ll want to add the milk when the cake is hot and the milk will soak into the cake. No need to remove the edges of the cake. The topping is a whipped cream topping so it’s not tart but you’ll want to be added right before serving. I hope this helps! Enjoy!