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This simple recipe for tres leches cake is to die for. A spongey yellow cake is soaked in a subtly sweet mixture of 3 kinds of milk, topped with fluffy Cool Whip, and dusted with warming cinnamon. Its subtle sweetness will keep you coming back for more.
I am excited to share this tres leches cake recipe with you. It is one of my friend’s specialties and holds a warm place in my heart. The base of this dessert is a spongy yellow cake doused in a sinful mixture of whole milk, evaporated milk, and condensed milk (tres leches!)…yum.
The milk mixture soaks into the cake, making it almost soupy. Not something you might typically think of as an ideal quality in a cake, but trust me…it’s amazing. Top it off with a fluffy layer of Cool Whip and a dusting of cinnamon and you’ve got yourself a dessert that will send your taste buds to heaven. I can guarantee that you will be hard-pressed to find a cake so delicious AND so simple to make. Check out the recipe below and give it a try.
Why You’ll Love This Easy Cake Recipe
Just in case you need any more convincing, here are a few reasons to love this delectable dessert.
- So easy. In just a few steps, you will have a delicious dessert. All you have to do is follow the directions on the back of a cake box mix, poke some holes in the cake, douse it in a milk mixture, cover it in Cool Whip, and sprinkle some cinnamon over the top. That’s it!
- Adaptable to any skill level. This recipe is so simple that anyone can do it. That being said, if you are someone who wants to push themselves in the kitchen, you can adapt this recipe to make it more challenging. Consider making your own whipped cream topping or even making your own cake. The cake portion of my Strawberry Sponge Cake recipe would work beautifully.
- Versatile. This recipe can be a fun starting point for creativity. Feel free to experiment with a different kind of cake or put your own spin on the milk mixture. Check out my Eggnog Tres Leches Cake recipe for some inspiration.
What Is Tres Leches Cake?
Tres leches cake is a Latin American classic. This subtly sweet, almost soupy dessert is comprised of spongey cake doused in a mixture of 3 different kinds of milk (sweetened condensed, evaporated, and whole milk) and topped with a fluffy whipped topping and a dusting of cinnamon.
Why do they call it Tres Leches Cake?
This cake utilizes 3 kinds of milk: sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and whole milk. Hens the name! This slightly sweet 3 milk mixture defines the cake as it seeps throughout, filling every bite with flavor and moisture.
What does Tres Leches Cake taste like?
This typical Latin American dessert tastes nothing short of delicious. The mild flavor of the spongey cake allows the subtle sweetness of the condensed milk and the hint of warming cinnamon to shine through and delight your taste buds.
Here is an overview of what you will need to make tres leches cake. Make sure to scroll to the bottom of this post for more details.
- Yellow cake mix – Not just the mix. Make sure to pick up all of the ingredients required to make the cake. Those can be found on the box.
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Evaporated milk
- Whole milk
- Cool Whip or Dream Topping
How to Make Tres Leches Cake
This tres leches cake is so easy to make. Here is a general overview of the steps. You will find the full recipe at the bottom of this page.
- Make the cake. Follow the instructions on the cake mix box and bake in a 9×13-inch pan (nonstick is best). Allow it to cool completely before proceeding.
- Poke holes in the cake. With a fork, poke the entire surface of the cake. These holes are what allow the milk mixture to seep through the cake, so be generous.
- Time for the milk. Combine all 3 kinds of milk in a pitcher (or any container that is easy to pour from) and slowly pour the mixture over the cake. Slow is the keyword here. Give the milk time to absorb into the cake.
- Chill. Wrap the cake in saran wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours.
- Finish it off. Evenly spread the Cool Whip or Dream Topping over the cake (I like using a rubber spatula) and finish with a dusting of cinnamon powder.
Tips for Success
As with any recipe, there are some little tips and tricks that, if followed, will take your tres leches cake from good to fantastic. Here there are.
- Pour milk slowly. The milk mixture needs time to soak into the cake. Pour it slowly so as not to flood the cake all at once.
- Poke enough holes…but not too deep. The holes you poke are what allow the milk mixture to absorb into the cake. So don’t be shy with that fork! When it comes to depth, don’t poke all the way to the bottom. The milk mixture will drain straight to the bottom as opposed to absorbing more evenly throughout the cake.
- Don’t skip the chill. It might be tempting to dig right into this delicious dessert. Try to be patient. Time in the refrigerator allows the milk mixture to fully absorb into the cake, imparting the flavor and moisture that this dessert is known for.
- Thaw the whipped topping. The Cool Whip or Dream Topping will not spread properly unless it has been thawed in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours first. So think ahead.
Enjoy this dessert after your favorite Latin American meal. Enchiladas followed by tres leches cake anyone? If you enjoy a warm beverage with dessert, I suggest serving this cake with coffee or Mexican hot chocolate or even horchata. It can also be fun to add shaved dark chocolate to the top of the cake when serving.
How to Store Milk Cake
This cake will likely fly out of the pan, but, on the off chance that you have some leftovers, make sure to store them properly. Simply wrap the baking pan in saran wrap and place it in the refrigerator. It will remain edible for up to 3 days.
Can I Freeze Tres Leches Cake?
Yes! Simply wrap the cake pan in saran wrap and place it in the freezer. It will be happy there for up to 3 months. When you are ready to enjoy, transfer the pan (or just the portion/s you need at the time) to the refrigerator and allow the cake to thaw for several hours.
More Easy Cake Recipes:
Making a cake can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Recipes like this one are good examples of how making a delicious dessert can actually be quite simple. Here are some of my other favorite easy cake recipes.
- Apple Almond Cake
- Lemon Sheet Cake
- Blackberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Dark Chocolate Mug Cake
Tres Leches Cake
- 15 ounce box of yellow cake mix
- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 12 ounce can evaporated milk
- ½ cup whole milk
- 8 ounce container of Cool Whip
The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.
- Bake cake according to instructions on box in a 9×13" inch baking pan.
- Let cake cool completely then use a fork and poke multiple times throughout the cake.
- Mix together the milks then pour over top of the cake slowly, letting it absorb slightly before pouring more. It will seem like it’s too much but the cake will definitely soak it all up!
- Cover and transfer to the fridge for 3 hours.
- Once chilled, spread Cool Whip/Dream Topping on top and sprinkle with cinnamon powder.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Tuesday 31st of January 2012
This looks delicious! I've always loved tres leches, but I've never actually made it. Maybe now I have a good excuse to give it a go?
Also, your post about VOLT is AMAZING. Looks like you had a wonderful experience!
Skye (Skye Loves...)
Monday 30th of January 2012
A condensed milk cake. How utterly delicious.
Elina (Healthy and Sane)
Sunday 29th of January 2012
Wow, wow, wow. I'm drooling :)
Friday 27th of January 2012
Aww, love that you teamed up with Cassie! What a beautiful piece of cake!!
Friday 27th of January 2012
Loved your guest post! Popping over from Cassie's say hello :)