Tres Leches Cake

The BEST authentic Tres Leches Cake recipe is a must make Mexican dessert!

This authentic Tres Leches Cake recipe will blow your mind!  A sweet sponge cake is riddled with holes then drenched in sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream and evaporated milk to create a soft, melt-in-your mouth cake all topped with light and airy whipped cream and cinnamon.  The emerging easy Tres Leches Cake is ridiculously moist without becoming soggy, decadent yet light and exploding with sweet, cinnamon, cream flavor with a hint of caramel.  This dreamy indulgent dessert is the ultimate make ahead dessert because it only gets better the next day, perfect for holidays (looking at you Christmas), and entertaining.  I’ve included step-by-step photos of how to make Tres Leches Cake and tips and tricks so you can create this show-stopping dessert at home!

showing how to serve tres leches cake recipe cold on a plate dusted with cinnamon

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What Is Tres Leches Cake?

Decadent, dreamy deliciousness. But to get technical, “Tres Leches Cake” (sometimes, yet inaccurately called Tres Leche Cake) literally means “three milks cake,” also known as pastel de tres leches or torta de tres leches. Tres Leches Cake is a light yet sturdy sponge cake, poked with holes, then soaked in “tres leches” or three kinds of milk, usually sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. 

The cake is allowed to sit overnight as the milks soaks into every nook and cranny.  The combination of milks creates a rich, layered flavor and ridiculously moist, perfectly sweet, melt-in-your-mouth cake.

The Tres Leches Cake is finished off with an airy sweet whipped cream topping and either a dusting of cinnamon or fresh fruit. It is served cold so it’s refreshing yet rich at the same time.

Authentic Tres Leches Cake is a simple to make yet always impressive.  I guarantee it will be the hit everywhere you bring including Christmas dinner!

showing how to serve authentic tres leches cake by removing from pan with a spatula

Tres Leches Cake Recipe

Tres Leches Cake is one of my all-time favorite desserts that I always order at my go-to Mexican restaurant.  I was hopeful I could recreate the deliciousness at home, but in all honesty, it took a few attempts.  In the end, however, I landed upon a better-than-my-favorite-restaurant Tres Leches Cake recipe!  Between my husband and I, we devoured the 9×13 cake in 24 hours!  Shameless?  Maybe, but I’ll just go with irresistibly delicious, addicting BEST Tres Leches Cake I’ve ever sunk my teeth into.    

I started my recipe creation process by researching some Tres Leches Cake recipes online.  Some recipes call for butter, some call for zero butter (blasphemy!), some use a standard sponge cake and some use a yellow cake.  My first attempt using a standard sponge cake was met with sad, soggy results.  My husband still ate it, but there was no way I was posting that recipe. 

My search and experimenting continued until I found the Tres Leches Cake recipe by Cooks Illustrated.  This recipe is perfection my friends.  I usually always adapt recipes to make them better and because that is the thrill of my creative process, but this Tres Leche Cake is perfection as written! 

Best Tres Leches Cake

Cooks Illustrated Tres Leches Cake recipe is different (and better!) for four reasons:

  1. An airy hot-milk sponge cake is used instead of a traditional sponge cake.  This means warm milk with melted butter is whipped with whole eggs.  This creates a light and wonderfully flavorful cake that’s spongy but sturdier than just using egg whites.  Our cake will not deflate or become soggy when soaked in the tres leches.   
  2. The quantity of the three milks is cut back by half a cup to create the perfect amount of liquid to saturate the cake without it becoming soggy.
  3. The sweetened condessed milk is microwaved for 15 minutes to infuse the cake with a hint of caramel.  This technique is a shortcut for creating mild dulce-de-leche flavor which traditionally requires boiling sweetened condensed milk for an hour. 
  4. The heavy cream topping is stabilized with corn syrup.  I’ve gone into greater detail below, but essentially, stabilized whipped cream is sturdier which allows you to make the entire cake WITH the topping in advance instead of waiting to the last minute to add the topping which will deflate if stored.

Now we have the BEST Tres Leches Cake recipe worthy of your family, friends and Christmas table!

up close of a slice of best tres leches cake on a spatula

What country is tres leches cake from?

The actual origins of Tres Leches Cake are hard to pin down. Many Latin American countries have their own versions from Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica, and of course, they all claim to be the originator. What we do know is that antes (bread soaked in wine and layered with milk custard and fruit or nuts) came to Mexico in the 19th century. Tres Leches Cake is no doubt a descendant of this traditional dessert that dates back through colonial Mexican history to medieval Europe.

We also know easy Tres Leches Cake was popularized by Nestle as a brilliantly delicious marketing ploy (no arguments here). Nestlé established manufacturing plants in Mexico around World War II, which led to them publishing Tres Leches Cake recipe on their can labels.  This helped popularize this Mexican recipe in the United States and has remained a favorite ever since.

Easy Tres Leches Cake Recipe Ingredients

The ingredients for easy Tres Leche Cake recipe are pantry friendly – you probably have almost all of them right now! You will need:

  • Tres leches:  Sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream are poured over the poked sponge cake to create our mega tender, creamy cake. Using three cakes also creates the layers of flavor. More info on the tres leches below.
  • All-purpose flour:  I have not experimented with gluten free flour, but I assume gluten-free 1 to 1 flour like Bob’s Red Mill would work great Please do NOT use cake flour or your Tres Leches Cake is more likely to become soggy.
  • Baking powder:  is an acidic leavening agent that gives your cake lift and makes it fluffy. Take care your baking powder is fresh, (throw out after 6-12 months) so it works!
  • Salt: enhances the flavors, cuts through the sweetness and improves the texture of the easy Tres Leches Cake.  You want to use good old table salt.
  • Cinnamon: delivers sensationally flavorful.
  • Sugar: granulated sugar please.  The sugar sweetens the cake and helps tenderize it as well.
  • Butter: please do NOT substitute butter with margarine or oil or you will be missing out on some serious flavor. Use unsalted butter so we can control the salt in the recipe.
  • Eggs.  You will need 4 large eggs at room temperature.  They provide structure and binding properties.  Take care they are at room temperature for fluffier results.
  • Milk:  you will need one cup whole milk for the actual cake.  I usually purchase 1 percent, so to make whole milk, add some heavy cream (which we will need anyway in this recipe) to a one cup measuring cup, then fill the rest with your leaner milk to equal 1 cup.
  • Vanilla extract:  use quality extract for maximum flavor.
a bite of authentic tres leches cake on a gold  fork

What Are the Three Milks Used in Authentic Tres Leches Cake?

The three milks used to pour over authentic Tres Leches Cake are: sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream.  You need all three kinds of milk to make the best Tres Leches Cake otherwise it would just be Dos Leches Cake!   Here’s the breakdown:

Condensed Milk:

Condensed milk and sweetened condensed milk are used interchangeable and are the same thing.  Condensed milk is essentially thick, sweetened milk that is about 40-45% sugar.  To make condensed milk, whole cow’s milk is heated with sugar until 60% of the water evaporates resulting in a sweet, thickened, milk syrup.  Condensed milk is sold in cans and can last for years if not opened.

Condensed milk is often used in desserts such as no-bake cheesecakes and fudge, caramel and of course is simmered to create easy Dulce de leche. I also use it in my Mud Pie, Rocky Road Ice Cream and Key Lime Cheesecake Dip.

In this Tres Leches Cake recipe, the condensed milk is microwaved for a kiss of caramel flavor.  It also provides rich sweetness. 

Evaporated Milk:

Evaporated milk is similar to condensed milk in that 60% of its water is removed BUT it does not have any sugar added.  Because a large percentage of water is removed, it contains higher milk fat than whole milk (approx. 6.5% to 3.5%) but still far less than heavy cream which 36% milk fat. 

Both sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk were developed in the 19th century in order to deliver milk without refrigeration.

I like to use evaporated milk in my Caramel Sauce , Queso Blanco, baked pastas such as Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese and crockpot soups such as Potato Soup because it does not curdle.

In this easy Tres Leches Cake recipe, evaporated milk is used to thin the heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk but is richer than just using milk which would make the cake soggy due to its higher water content.

Heavy Cream:

Heavy cream or “heavy whipping cream” as it is labeled, is the thick, fat-rich part of milk, which rises to the top when milk is fresh and is skimmed off before homogenization.  It is rich, indulgent and can be used in many applications such as pasta sauces, whipped cream, soups, etc. Some of my favorite recipes using whipped cream are Rigatoni in Tomato Cream Sauce, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Tomato Basil Soup and Pan Seared Steak with Balsamic Herb Cream Sauce.

In this authentic Tres Leches Cake recipe, the heavy cream adds buttery richness to the cake.

Stabilized Whipped Cream Topping

Now for the crowning Tres Leches topping! Traditional whipped cream toppings will deflate and even start weeping within a couple hours.  Stabilized whipped cream, on the other hand, holds its shape for DAYS so you can make this easy Tres Leches Cake recipe 100% ahead of time without worrying about the topping melting.

You will need:

  • heavy cream
  • corn syrup
  • granulated sugar
  • vanilla extract

The corn syrup stabilizes the whipped cream so its sturdier and dependably dreamy; seriously, culinary changing!  If you are vehemently opposed to using corn syrup, then you can replace it with granulated sugar but be aware your whipped cream topping is no longer stabilized and you should add the topping just before serving.

How to Make Tres Leches Cake

There are a few different steps to make the best Tres Leches Cake, but they are all very simple and worth EVERY single second!

  • Make hot-milk.  In a small saucepan, melt butter with milk over low heat, stirring occasionally until butter is completely melted; refrigerate to slightly cool.
showing how to make tres leches cake by melting butter with milk
  • Mix dry ingredients.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.
  • Whip eggs and sugar until glossy.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip eggs on medium speed for 30 seconds, then slowly whip in sugar until incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and whip for 5-7 minutes until the mixture is very thick and glossy.
showing how to make tres leches cake recipe by beating eggs and sugar until thick and glossy
  • Add dry ingredients.  Reduce speed to low and slowly add melted butter mixture and vanilla. Add flour mixture one third at a time, scraping down bowl as needed, then mix on medium speed just until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds; don’t overmix.
  • Transfer batter to pan.  Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread into an even layer.  Drop the pan a few times on the counter to remove excess air bubbles.
  • Bake.  Bake at 325 degrees F until toothpick inserted into center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Transfer cake to wire rack and let cool 60 minutes.
  • Make tres leches mixture. Meanwhile, pour condensed milk into large microwave-safe bowl or large glass measuring cup and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on low power (10%), for 15 minutes, stirring and replacing plastic every 5 minutes.  Remove bowl from microwave and whisk in evaporated milk, heavy cream, and vanilla.  Refrigerate to cool. 
  • Poke cake with holes.  After 60 minutes (cake will still be slightly warm), use a serving fork (or regular fork if you don’t have one), poke holes all over the top of cake.
  • Drench cake with tres leches. Slowly and evenly pour milk mixture over cake.
showing how to make tres leches cake recipe by pouring tres leches over cake
  • Let cake rest. Let cake sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then refrigerate UNCOVERED for at least 6 hours, best if overnight.  
showing how to make authentic tres leches cake by letting the tres leches sink into cake
  • Make whipped topping. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip cream, corn syrup, granulated sugar and vanilla on high speed until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes.
showing how to make tres leches cake by making whipped topping
  • Finish cake. Frost the cake with whipped topping and dust with cinnamon and/or desired garnishes.
showing how to make best tres leches cake by frosting with whipped cream

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR BEST TRES LECHES CAKE RECIPE

  • Use parchment paper:  This cake is likely to stick due to the tres leches sinking to the bottom.  Parchment paper ensures your slices come out cleanly every time and makes for easy cleanup.
  • Use room temperature eggs. As in all my cake recipes, you will need room temperature eggs for this authentic Tres Leches Cake recipe. Room temperature eggs mix much easier – you can literally feel the difference. This makes it hard to overmix your batter which results in a softer, fluffier, more tender cake. Cold eggs result in a dry, denser cake.
  • To quickly bring eggs to room temperature: add warm (not hot) tap water to a bowl then add eggs (still in their shells) for at least 20 minutes. 
  • DIY whole milk: I usually purchase 1 percent, so to make whole milk, add some heavy cream (which we will need anyway in this recipe) to a one cup measuring cup, then fill the rest with your leaner milk to equal 1 cup.
  • Don’t overmix. For the lightest, most tender, best Tres Leches Cake, take care not to overmix the flour mixture, mix just until combined. You never want overmix a flour mixture once combined with eggs as this will overdevelop the gluten and result in a tough cake.
  • Make sure the cake is level:  Spread the batter evenly in the pan with a spatula to ensure it is level prior to baking then drop the pan on the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles.  A level cake will evenly soak up the tres leches instead of it pooling in areas.
  • Don’t over-bake.  If you overbake the cake then it will fall in the middle after you remove it from the oven. Bake until the middle is set and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
  • Don’t open oven door early. It is important to not even crack the oven door until it’s time to check your cakes for doneness. Opening the doors can cause your cake to cook unevenly and to fall in the center. 
  • Don’t poke holes to the bottom.  Poke the holes into the cake about ¾ of the way down so you aren’t breaking the bottom of the cake.
  • Clean fork. Wipe your fork occasionally for a clean piercing because the warm crumbs will want to stick to it.
  • Let tres leches cool.  After you have combined the tres leches, refrigerate it until completely cold before pouring over the cake.
  • Add tres leches to warm cake.  Pouring cold tres leches over a slightly warm cake produces the best results as the cake sucks up the liquid as it cools.
  • Don’t shortcut the soaking.  While you can soak the easy Tres Leches Cake for as little as six hours, it is really best to soak overnight.  The longer the cake has a chance to soak, the more milk mixture it can absorb, resulting in a richer, more flavorful cake.
  • Don’t over-beat whipped cream.  Beat the whipped topping until soft to medium peaks but don’t over beat because this can cause the cream to separate.
  • Corn syrup substitute. The corn syrup stabilizes the whipped cream so it doesn’t deflate or weep. You may substitute the corn syrup for an equal amount of granulated sugar but be aware your topping is no longer stabilized and will need to be used and served immediately.
  • Top with plenty of cinnamon.  I highly encourage a generous topping of cinnamon  – it is divine!
up close of serving a piece of easy tres leches cake recipe from a 9x13 pan

HOW TO AVOID SOGGY TRES LECHES CAKE

In order to avoid soggy Tres Leches Cake, please use the homemade hot-milk sponge cake in this recipe and avoid any boxed sponge cake mixes or yellow cake mixes.  Traditional sponge cake will dissolve under the large quantity of liquid and traditional yellow cake doesn’t have enough structure and can become a soggy mess. 

Furthermore, don’t under-bake your cake or you are setting yourself up for a soggy cake. Lastly, don’t substitute heavy cream or any of the milks for plain milk.

What should I top Authentic Tres Leches Cake with?

Topping authentic Tres Leches Cake can be as simple as dusting with cinnamon or you can get all sorts of fancy by garnishing with tropical fruit such as mangos or pineapple, berries such as raspberries or strawberries, drizzling with caramel or chocolate or topping with toasted coconut, lime zest or nuts.

Does Tres Leches Cake need to be refrigerated?

Yes, Tres Leches Cake should be refrigerated because it is saturated with three types of dairy plus the whipped topping.

Is Authentic Tres Leches Cake Served Cold?

Yes, authentic Tres Leches Cake is traditionally served cold.   It is best to make it a day ahead of time so it can sit in the refrigerator overnight and absorb all of liquid.

showing how to serve authentic tres leches cake by dusting a slice with cinnamon

How long does easy Tres Leches cake keep for?

Tres Leches Cake should be tightly covered and stored in the refrigerator.  It is good for up to five days – if it lasts that long!

Can You Make Tres Leches Cake recipe Ahead of Time?

Yes!  This authentic Tres Leches Cake recipe can be made 1-2 days in advance and will taste even better as the cake has more time to soak up the tres leches.  You can even add the whipped cream topping IF you use the corn syrup because this stabilizes the whipped cream.  If you don’t use the corn syrup, you will want to add the topping right before serving or it won’t be as fluffy.

If you want to make the cake further in advance than a couple days, I suggest making the cake portion, poking with holes, then freezing.

CAN I FREEZE TRES LECHES CAKE?

 You may freeze the cake portion of the Tres Leches Cake but not the assembled, soaked cake or it will become mushy.  The topping also doesn’t freeze well.

To freeze the cake portion:

  • Bake and poke holes in cake according to directions.
  • Let cake cook completely.
  • Tightly double wrap the cake while in the pan with plastic wrap.
  • Freeze cake for up to 3 months.   
  • Allow the cake to thaw overnight in the refrigerator then unwrap and come to room temperature on the counter.
  • Proceed with drenching the cake in tres leches, refrigerating and topping with whipped cream according to recipe instructions.

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Tres Leches Cake

This authentic Tres Leches Cake recipe will blow your mind! A sweet sponge cake is riddled with holes then drenched in sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream and evaporated milk to create a soft, melt-in-your mouth cake all topped with light and airy whipped cream and cinnamon. The emerging easy Tres Leches Cake is ridiculously moist without becoming soggy, decadent yet light and exploding with sweet, cinnamon, cream flavor with a hint of caramel. This dreamy indulgent dessert is the ultimate make ahead dessert because it only gets better the next day, perfect for holidays (looking at you Christmas), and entertaining. I’ve included step-by-step photos of how to make Tres Leches Cake and tips and tricks so you can create this show-stopping dessert at home!
Servings: 12 slices
Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins

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Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup whole milk see notes for DIY
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick) cubed
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Tres Leches Milk Mixture

  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stabilized Whipped Cream Topping

  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup see notes
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper then spray the entire inside of the pan with nonstick baking spray with FLOUR; set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, melt butter with milk over low heat, stirring occasionally until butter is completely melted; refrigerate to slightly cool.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip eggs on medium speed for 30 seconds, then slowly whip in sugar until incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and whip for 5-7 minutes until the mixture is very thick and glossy.
  • Reduce speed to low and slowly add melted butter mixture and vanilla. With the mixer still on low, add flour mixture one third at a time, scraping down bowl as needed, then mix on medium speed just until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds; don’t overmix.
  • Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
  • Bake at 325 degrees F until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Transfer cake to wire rack and let cool 60 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the milk mixture: Pour condensed milk into large microwave-safe bowl or large glass measuring cup and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on low power (10%), for 15 minutes, stirring and replacing plastic every 5 minutes. (Make sure you are microwaving on low after every time you stir otherwise the mixture will explode!) Remove bowl from microwave and whisk in evaporated milk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Refrigerate to cool.
  • After 60 minutes (cake will still be slightly warm), use a serving fork (or regular fork if you don’t have one), poke holes all over the top of cake (rows about ½-inch apart, see photos).
  • Slowly and evenly pour milk mixture over the cake. Let cake sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then refrigerate UNCOVERED for at least 6 hours, best if overnight.

Topping

  • After the cake has been refrigerated for at least 6 hours (or anytime after), you can make and add the whipped topping. After frosting, you can serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • To make topping: Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip cream, corn syrup, granulated sugar and vanilla on high speed until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Frost the cake and dust with cinnamon and/or desired garnishes.

Notes

Tips and Tricks

  • Use parchment paper:  This cake is likely to stick due to the tres leches sinking to the bottom.  Parchment paper ensures your slices come out cleanly every time and makes for easy cleanup.
  • Use room temperature eggs. As in all my cake recipes, you will need room temperature eggs for this authentic Tres Leches Cake recipe. Room temperature eggs mix much easier – you can literally feel the difference. This makes it hard to overmix your batter which results in a softer, fluffier, more tender cake. Cold eggs result in a dry, denser cake.
  • To quickly bring eggs to room temperature: add warm (not hot) tap water to a bowl then add eggs (still in their shells) for at least 20 minutes. 
  • DIY whole milk: I usually purchase 1 percent, so to make whole milk, add some heavy cream (which we will need anyway in this recipe) to a one cup measuring cup, then fill the rest with your leaner milk to equal 1 cup.
  • Don’t overmix. For the lightest, most tender, best Tres Leches Cake, take care not to overmix the flour mixture, mix just until combined. You never want overmix a flour mixture once combined with eggs as this will overdevelop the gluten and result in a tough cake.
  • Make sure the cake is level:  Spread the batter evenly in the pan with a spatula to ensure it is level prior to baking then drop the pan on the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles.  A level cake will evenly soak up the tres leches instead of it pooling in areas.
  • Don’t open oven door early. It is important to not even crack the oven door until it’s time to check your cakes for doneness. Opening the doors can cause your cake to cook unevenly and to fall in the center. 
  • Don’t poke holes to the bottom.  Poke the holes into the cake about ¾ of the way down so you aren’t breaking the bottom of the cake.
  • Clean fork. Wipe your fork occasionally for a clean piercing because the warm crumbs will want to stick to it.
  • Let tres leches cool.  After you have combined the tres leches, refrigerate it until completely cold before pouring over the cake.
  • Add tres leches to warm cake.  Pouring cold tres leches over a slightly warm cake produces the best results as the cake sucks up the liquid as it cools.
  • Don’t shortcut the soaking.  While you can soak the easy Tres Leches Cake for as little as six hours, it is really best to soak overnight.  The longer the cake has a chance to soak, the more milk mixture it can absorb, resulting in a richer, more flavorful cake.
  • Don’t over-beat whipped cream.  Beat the whipped topping until soft to medium peaks but don’t over beat because this can cause the cream to separate.
  • Corn syrup substitute. The corn syrup stabilizes the whipped cream so it doesn’t deflate or weep. You may substitute the corn syrup for an equal amount of granulated sugar but be aware your topping is no longer stabilized and will need to be used and served immediately.
  • Top with plenty of cinnamon.  I highly encourage a generous topping of cinnamon  – it is divine!

Storage

Tres Leches Cake should be tightly covered ONCE YOU ADD THE TOPPING – not before – and stored in the refrigerator.  It is good for up to five days.

Make Ahead 

This Tres Leches Cake recipe can be made 1-2 days in advance and will taste even better as the cake has more time to soak up the tres leches.  You can even add the whipped cream topping IF you use the corn syrup because this stabilizes the whipped cream.  If you don’t use the corn syrup, you will want to add the topping right before serving or it won’t be as fluffy.

How to Freeze

 You may freeze the cake portion of the Tres Leches Cake but not the assembled, soaked cake or it will become mushy.  The topping also doesn’t freeze well.
To freeze the cake portion:
  • Bake and poke holes in cake according to directions.
  • Let cake cook completely.
  • Tightly double wrap the cake while in the pan with plastic wrap.
  • Freeze cake for up to 3 months.   
  • Allow the cake to thaw overnight in the refrigerator then unwrap and come to room temperature on the counter.
  • Proceed with drenching the cake in tres leches, refrigerating and topping with whipped cream according to recipe instructions.

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Recipe slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, Best Ever Desserts, pg. 18

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22 Comments

  1. Heather says

    I’m assuming that we have to microwave the condensed milk to get it to slightly carmelize. I microwaved it at 10% power for 15 minutes and nothing happened. It didn’t even get that warm. Perhaps a difference in oven wattage? Or am I mistaken in the carmelization assumption? Love your recipes! Thanks for the help!

    • Jen says

      Hi Heather, you are right on in your caramelization assumption, but it won’t be dramatic, but a hint of caramel. The condensed milk won’t look dramatically different but just change to a slightly darker straw color. You can definitely microwave it longer if you prefer.

  2. Munazza says

    Hey!
    I really want to try this cake. But some of my family members are allergic to eggs. Is there any way i can make this an eggless cake?

    • Jen says

      Unfortunately, I’m not sure the best way to do that, sorry!

  3. Olivia says

    That was DELICIOUS!!! I thought you were nuts for adding that much cinnamon on top, but I gave it a whirl and oh was it scrumptious!!!
    We had this to top off our Mexican dinner, your Chile lime chicken tacos and grilled pineapple salsa with that avocado ranch topping! Holy cow it was DELICIOUS!!!! My husband said it was “birthday dinner worthy”!! So we will be making that again as well. We had a good time rounding up an old family members grill, and enjoyed our families company while we threw all of it together. Also that marinade for that chicken!!! WOW! YUM!!
    Thanks for helping us create family memories. Your recipes are always our favorite!! Let us know when you’ll be printing your cookbook because I’m all in to buy it for myself, my mother, five sisters and many sister in-laws!!
    Thank you Jen! I hope all is well for you!

    • Jen says

      Aw, thanks for making my day Olivia! Your Mexican feast sounds amazing and so much fun! No plans for a cookbook but I’ll be sure to let you know if anything changes 😉

  4. Laurel says

    Could I just use a can of dulce de leche instead of the sweetened condensed milk and skip the microwave part?

    • Jen says

      Hi Laurel a can of dulce de leche is a little too strong for what we’re looking for, but you can try it!

  5. Kristina says

    Can I use whole milk instead of diy? If so, is it the same measurment?

    • Jen says

      Yes you can absolutely use whole milk – it is the same measurement. Enjoy!

  6. Michael says

    Hi
    Is there a difference in flavor when it comes to leaving the cake in the fridge uncovered vs covered?

    • Jen says

      Hi Michael, the cake should be uncovered before you add the topping so it doesn’t get too soggy, then covered after you add the topping so the topping doesn’t dry out. Enjoy!

  7. Zaina Khan says

    Just made this for a gathering – it was a hit! Although, we did find it was really sweet & became a bit too wet after a couple hours after serving (at this point, the cake must’ve been made for 10 hours) otherwise it was scrumptious! 🙂

    • Jen says

      Thanks Zaina, I hope it’s perfect next time!

      • Lydia says

        This cake tastes heavenly!!! I made the cake yesterday and soaked it with the milk mixture overnight. Topped up with the whipped cream a couple of hours before dinner. My eldest took 4 big helpings cos he likes it so much. Amazing recipe, as with your other recipes I tried before. Well done once again, Jen!!!

        • Jen says

          Thanks so much Lydia, I’m thrilled you all love it as much as us!

  8. Lynnita says

    I would like to add rum chata to the batter and topping. Please tell me how?

    Thank You,
    Lynnita

    • Jen says

      Hi Lynnita, I haven’t tried it but I think it could be tasty!

  9. Salesha says

    I made this for a family cookout and oh my gosh!!! It was a huge hit!! I didn’t know I was capable of making such a delicious dessert!!!! I love this recipe and will definitely make it again!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for your awesome review Salesha! I’m thrilled it was such a hug hit!

  10. Amy Evans says

    Hi Jen,
    First I would like to tell you i love your strawberry shortcake cake! It is a hit in my house and work! I have made this tres leches but it was a little sweet and I like mine a little more moist. What would you suggest I do, the cake came out perfect and so did the whipped topping!

    • Jen says

      Hi Amy, you can increase the heavy cream in the milk mixture to 1 1/2 cups or even 2 cups and add extra sugar to the actual cake. Good luck!

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