You guys. This cake is absolutely PHENOMENAL. To be honest, I’ve never really been that excited about tres leches cakes, but I’ve always been interested in creating my own recipe for a tres leches cake. And I am SO glad I did! What I love about this recipe is that the milk mixture doesn’t all run out and pool at the bottom of the pan. Instead, all of that creamy goodness stays inside the cake where it belongs. The texture, the flavor, the consistency – this is the BEST Mexican tres leches cake recipe.

Serve it up alongside some Pork Carnitas and my Mexican Street Corn Casserole for the perfect Cinco de Mayo feast. For more Mexican desserts, don’t miss my Fresas con Crema (Strawberries and Cream) and Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding). Or try my Chocolate Tres Leches Cake for a delicious twist on traditional tres leches cake.

An authentic Mexican Tres Leches Cake slice on a white plate, topped with a slice of fresh strawberries, with a bite taken out of the tres leches cake.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Easy tres leches cake. Mexican tres leches cake is a single-layer cake that you eat out of the pan, so it’s super simple to prepare. And while some recipes require separating out the egg yolks and egg whites, we just whip whole eggs together. Then you pour over your milk mixture and let the cake chill. Easy!
  • Best tres leches cake. Some traditional tres leches cakes use whole milk in the mixture, but this recipe uses heavy cream. This is what helps the milk mixture stay inside the cake, rather than pooling at the bottom, which improves both the texture and flavor. Plus, I’ve added a special ingredient to the fresh whipped cream topping so it’s stabilized and won’t melt away.

Ingredient Notes

  • Eggs: Make sure to bring your eggs up to room temperature so they mix well with the other ingredients. The eggs provide the majority of the structure and rise in this tender cake.
  • Unsalted butter: By melting our butter, we’re adding less air to this cake. But don’t worry, this cake is not unpleasantly dense – having a slightly more dense cake helps hold onto the milk mixture that makes the texture so amazing. Plus, melted butter is so easy to work with, don’t you think? 
  • Milk: The only regular milk in this tres leches cake recipe is in the cake itself. I recommend using either whole milk or 2%, nothing lower than that. 
  • Sweetened condensed milk: One of the three kinds of milk for our milk mixture, this milk adds a delicious unique flavor and needed sweetness. 
  • Evaporated milk: Contrary to what you may think, evaporated milk is not milk powder – it’s milk that’s been boiled until it’s a little more thick and concentrated.
  • Heavy cream: Here’s one of my two secret ingredients to make this the best Mexican tres leches cake recipe. Using heavy cream in the milk mixture, instead of regular milk, keeps the mixture thick and helps it stay soaked into the cake. Heavy cream is also used to make the whipped topping that covers this cake. 
  • Light corn syrup: This is my other secret ingredient in this recipe for tres leches cake. Adding corn syrup to the whipped cream topping – just a tablespoon – stabilizes the whipped cream so it doesn’t melt away as it sits.
  • Vanilla extract: Vanilla makes an appearance in every aspect of this cake, making it a very vanilla tres leches cake! 
  • Cinnamon: It wouldn’t be a Mexican tres leches cake without that hint of cinnamon.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Prep your oven and pan. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. Mix dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon. 
  3. Whip eggs and sugar. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, add 4 room temperature eggs and whip them at medium speed until foamy. This takes about a minute. Then, add 2 cups granulated sugar and whip on medium speed for 5-7 minutes, or until thick and glossy. 
  4. Add wet ingredients to egg mixture. Reduce the speed of your stand mixer to low and add ½ a cup of melted butter, 1 cup room temperature milk, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Mix until just combined. 
  5. Add dry ingredients. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed to ensure everything is combined. Don’t overmix.
Four photos showing the making of authentic tres leches cake batter with cinnamon in a glass bowl.
  1. Bake cake then allow to cool. Spread the cake batter evenly into your prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. After the cake is done baking, remove it from the oven and let the cake cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
Four photos showing the best Tres Leches Cake batter in a glass bowl, then it in a baking dish, and then baked, and a skewer poking holes around the entire cake.
  1. Make the milk mixture. While the cake cools, add a 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk, 12 oz evaporated milk, a ¼ cup of heavy cream, and a ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract to a large bowl and whisk to combine. 
  2. Poke your cake and pour. Use a skewer or a thin wooden spoon handle to poke holes in your slightly warm cake, leaving about a ½ inch of space between each hole. Pour the sweet milk mixture over the cake. Let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes then put it in the refrigerator, uncovered, for a minimum of 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
  3. Make whipped topping. Half an hour before you plan to serve this cake, make your whipped topping. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, add 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream, 1 tablespoon light corn syrup, 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix on medium speed until combined, then turn the speed up to high and whip until soft peaks form.
How to make an authentic Mexican tres leches cake, four photos, top left is a three milk mixture in glass cup, top right is a milk mixture being poured over the milk cake, bottom left photo is the cake soaking up the milk mixture, bottom right is whipped cream in a metal bowl.
  1. Serve. Spread in an even layer over the top of the milk-soaked cake and enjoy the best tres leches cake you’ve ever had.
A whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkled tres leches cake in a glass rectangle bowl on a white marble surface.

Recipe Tips

If you don’t want to make the whipped topping from scratch, Cool Whip or another stabilized whipped topping will do in a pinch! 

You can absolutely make and serve this cake in the same day, but if possible, I recommend letting the cake and milk mixture chill in the fridge for a full 24 hours. This gives the milk mixture plenty of time to absorb and make the cake even more delicious. 

For prettiness and an extra flavor punch, add a sprinkle of cinnamon over the top of this cake before serving. It’s also common to top tres leches cake with strawberries, but you can top this cake with any fruit you like. Peaches or other fresh berries would be yummy, but any fresh fruit would be great. Some people also top their cake with maraschino cherries.

Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing

Make Ahead: This cake tastes best with a full 24 hours to chill, so it’s ideal for making ahead.

Storing: Store leftovers, covered, in the fridge for 3-5 days. I recommend keeping the cake in the pan it was cooked in for ease.

Freezing: Do not freeze the assembled cake, as the dairy will likely separate and it will be a mess when it thaws. However, you can freeze the baked and cooled cake – see my How to Store and Freeze Cakes Guide for more info. When you’re ready to use the cake, let it thaw in the fridge overnight before adding the milk mixture.

The best Mexican tres leches cake topped with fresh strawberries.

Recipe FAQs

What’s the origin of tres leches cake?

Like many iconic dessert recipes, the history of tres leches cake is a bit murky. While tres leches is considered to be a Mexican dessert, many credit their introduction to the dessert to a Nicaraguan restaurant located in Miami. However, tres leches cake – or at least the inspiration behind it – may have originated even earlier in the Middle Ages in England as a type of trifle cake. If you enjoy learning about food history, a food writer details her investigation into tres leches cake origins in this Food52 article.

Can you freeze tres leches cake?

I do NOT recommend freezing tres leches cake. All that dairy will not do well in the freezer. However, you can freeze the baked and cooled cake for up to three months, thawing it in the refrigerator overnight before adding the milk mixture.

Is tres leches cake Mexican?

Tres leches cake may have originated in Nicaragua, but it has since spread to many Latin American countries, including Mexico.

Is there a chocolate tres leches cake recipe?

Yes, and it’s amazing! Check out my tres leches chocolate cake recipe here.

A slice of Tres Leches Cake on a white plate, with a fresh strawberry on the whipped cream.

More One-Pan Cake Recipes

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A slice of Mexican Tres Leches Cake on a white plate with a fork next to the cake.
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Mexican Tres Leches Cake Recipe

Tres Leches Cake, also known as "Three Milks Cake," is a popular dessert that features a sponge cake soaked in a mixture of three different types of milk, hence the name. "Tres leches" is Spanish for "three milks."
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 15 servings



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs - room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter - melted and still warm
  • 1 cup milk - room temperature or slightly warmed (preferably use whole milk or 2% milk)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Milk Mixture

  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped Topping

  • 1 cup heavy cream - chilled
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup - (this will help stabilize the whipped cream so that it doesn't collapse or deflate over time)
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Make the cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 9”x13” pan. In a medium sized bowl add the flour, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. 
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment whip the eggs on medium speed until foamy (about 1 minute). Add the 2 cups of granulated sugar and beat on medium speed for 5-7 minutes or until thick and glossy. Reduce the speed to low and add the melted butter, milk, and vanilla extract, mix until combined about 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix until partially combined, about 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until fully combined about 30 seconds. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, spread into an even layer and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. 
  • Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. 
  • While the cake is cooling make the milk mixture: In a large bowl (I like to use a large liquid measuring cup) whisk the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. 
  • Use a skewer and poke holes throughout the cake leaving about ½ inch spacing between each hole. Pour the milk mixture over the cake. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes then refrigerate, uncovered, for 2 hours or up to 24 hours. 
  • 30 minutes before serving add the heavy cream, corn syrup, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract to a stand mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix on medium speed until combined, then turn speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, about 1-2 minutes. Spread the whipped topping over the cake, and spread into an even layer. Serve chilled. 


Store leftovers in the fridge for 3-5 days.
The assembled cake cannot be frozen, but the baked and cooled cake can be frozen. When you’re ready to use it, thaw it in the fridge overnight before adding the milk mixture. 
You can substitute Cool Whip for the whipped cream topping.


Calories: 441kcal (22%)Carbohydrates: 60g (20%)Protein: 8g (16%)Fat: 19g (29%)Saturated Fat: 12g (60%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 106mg (35%)Sodium: 246mg (10%)Potassium: 304mg (9%)Fiber: 0.5g (2%)Sugar: 47g (52%)Vitamin A: 704IU (14%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 204mg (20%)Iron: 1mg (6%)
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
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