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Tres Leches Cake

If you like sweetened condensed milk then you’ll enjoy taking a bite into a Tres Leches Cake.  It’s simple, easy and perhaps the moistest cake you’ll ever have with a unique flavor you cannot find in most nonhispanic bakeries and restaurants.

Tres Leches Cake |

Please tell me you’ve tried a tres leches cake?  I beg you, please tell me because if you haven’t I highly suggest you do.  If you can’t find it in a grocery store, bakery or at your favorite restaurant (which I’d be very surprised if you did) then you can easily make this one.  Better yet, you may be in luck if your bodega happens to sell small cakes.  If you and your neighbors use the term “bodega” then you’re probably in the right neighborhood and already know how great this cake already is (*wink*)!

Every time I’ve thought of what my next cake will be, I reminisce of the day when I first had this one and I kept telling myself like a constant battle in my brain, “not yet, not yet- just wait a little longer.”  I remember the first time I tried it, LOVED IT and have been dreaming about it ever since and that was back in November!  I absolutely looove this cake and what better time to show you than now with Cinco de Mayo coming up!

Tres Leches Cake |

I know it looks simple and no where near as complex as my Sweet & Salty Boozy Irish Truffle Cake but don’t let its bland appearance fool you in flavor.  Sometimes the simplest things in life (which applies to cakes too) can surprise you the most.  Since you can pretty much guess how the Irish Truffle Cake may taste, if you’ve never had tres leches, it may be a little more difficult to understand its flavor but I’ll do my best.

Taking it back a notch with a little schooling (HA!) tres leches is Spanish for “three milks.”  I get the feeling you probably already knew that.  But does it sound weird, for a cake?  Well, this cake is literally soaked in three different milks which may possibly rank it to be the moistest cake in the world, at least in my book.  If you look closely where the bottom of the slice meets the plate, you’ll see it looks somewhat “wet.”  This is from the 3 milks plus the added rum.  (I was a bit of a neat-freak when taking these photos constantly dabbing the edges with a napkin to soak up the liquid but you can see it more clearly in the Chocolate Coconut Malibu Rum Cake photo below this post)

The three milks used are sweetened condensed milk, regular milk (fat-free is okay), and heavy cream.  The majority of the flavor comes from the condensed milk.  I like to think of the other added milks as a way of “watering down” the sweetness which does an excellent job!  Add a bit of rum and there you have it, a cake with one of the most unique and satisfying flavor.  Now try that for your Cinco de Mayo party.  Everyone will love you for it!

Tres Leches Cake |

Tres Leches Cake

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

Yield: 15-20 squared slices


  • CAKE
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons rum extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons rum extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a 13x9-inch baking pan, grease and flour bottom and sides; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat all cake ingredients together until just combined. Pour evenly into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile in a medium bowl, whish together all filling ingredients; set aside.
  5. Once cake has slightly cooled but still hot to the touch, pierce the top using a long-tined fork approximately every half-inch apart. See bottom of this post for a visual.
  6. Pour the 3-milk (tres leches) mixture evenly onto the cake. Loosely cover and refrigerate up to 3 hours or until majority of the tres leches has been absorbed.
  7. In a large chilled bowl, beat topping ingredients until stiff peaks form.
  8. Once cake is ready, spread whipped cream over cake and lightly sprinkle with cinnamon. ENJOY!


Full fat versions of ingredients may be used to substitute any fat-free ingredients found in this recipe.

Do not pour tres leches immediately into the hot cake. Allow cake to cool to warm before pouring the tres leches into the cake to prevent curdling of the milks.

Tres Leches Cake recipe is slightly adapted from Chocolate Coconut Malibu Rum Cake.

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Want more easy recipes like this one?  Click photo below to see more:

Chocolate Coconut Malibu Rum Cake!

Chocolate Coconut Malibu Rum Cake |

90 Responses to Tres Leches Cake

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    • Hi Natalie,
      It would be the same as it states for fat-free or reduced fat milk. 1 1/4 cups of milk for the cake and 3/4 cup of milk for the filling.

    • Hi Tamara,
      I’m happy to hear this recipe was a hit! I’m sure you can make this cake into cupcakes. If you do, it should make up to 24. I would bake it for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Keep in mind however, if you use cupcake liners, the liner itself may become soggy after you pour the milks. You may want to go without it and simply use a baking spray (butter and flour) to coat the cavities. Hope this helps.
      Would love to hear how it turned out for you!
      – Connie

  1. Can I make this cake in advance? Ie can I make it in advance and hold it in the fridge until the “poke and soak”? Or complete the “poke and soak” and then hold it for about 24 hours. I can wait to frost it until just before serving but I have a huge menu to make that day and am trying to complete some stuff ahead of time.

    Tannice McCoy says: September 15, 2016 at 8:35 AM
    • If you make this cake in advance, be sure to poke and soak the cake soon after it has baked. Frosting of the cake can be done ahead of time as well. Be sure to store the cake in the refrigerator up until serving. Hope this helps for your menu!

  2. This sounds delicious but I do not like the flavor of rum. What would you say would be a good substitue? Thanks.

    • I use vanilla and almond I don’t care for rum flavor, either. My friend who taught me to make it (and was born and raised in Mexico) doesn’t use rum, she uses a good quality of vanilla instead. It’s wonderful, my daughter had it for her wedding and people are still talking about it 15 years later it was so good!

      PL Penderhausen says: September 4, 2016 at 2:25 PM
  3. I made this for a taco Tuesday dessert for friends! It was a hit! So so good!! Instead of rum extract (because I didn’t have any..) I used the real thing.. Plus a little ;). Everyone loved it! Especially me! Lol it didn’t last long! I think I’m going to use this recipe for more cakes and alter a little. Thank you! So good!!

    • Hi Katy! You’re welcome!
      I love that you used this dessert for a Taco Tuesday. Sounds fun and I’m so glad it was a hit with your friends! Thank you for sharing your experience :)
      – Connie

  4. This is definitely my “GO TO” Tres Leches cake! It’s easy peasy and delicious! THANK YOU!
    El Paso, Texas

  5. Good morning… Just a quick update: I made mistakes in my 1st try, although it was good. My 2nd attempt on New Years Day was flawless, as I corrected my mistakes. It literally came out of the oven absolutely perfect. My topping was perfect. I don’t have a problem with the rum, although next time, I will probably cut the rum in half because of my wife… Absolutely LOVE it. Our New Years Day tradition includes Tamales, Black Eyed Pea Salsa Dip with Chips, and now: Homemade Tres Leches. Thanks, Slu

    • Hi Slu! I’m so happy this cake came out perfect on New Years Day… how wonderful! And thank you for retrying too. Sometimes the first go around isn’t always the best for me either.
      PS: Tamales sounds good any time of the year. Thanks for the reminder; I should make these!
      – Connie

    • Hi Amber,
      Thank you for your opinion. Curious to know, before you began this recipe, did you already know you didn’t like rum? In the future, you can certainly eliminate the rum extract. I hope that works for you.
      – Connie

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