Tres Leches Cake Homemade

Homemade Tres Leches Cake is a delectable creation that hails from Latin America and is one exceptional dessert. There are few desserts in the world that can claim the title of being both a culinary masterpiece and a comfort food.

This delightful confection, with its moist and spongy texture soaked in a luscious blend of three different kinds of milk. It is also the epitome of sweet indulgence.

In this article, we will explore the origins, ingredients, preparation, and cultural significance of this Homemade Tres Leches Cake, and reveal why it has captivated the hearts and palates of people around the world.

The Origin of Homemade Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake, which translates to “three milks cake,” has its roots in Latin America. It’s associated with countries like Mexico, Nicaragua, as well as the Dominican Republic. But its exact origin remains somewhat uncertain.

There is also the theory that it was popularized by Nestlé in the 1930s. Because recipes using evaporated and condensed milk became very commonplace around that time.

Another theory suggests it was influenced by similar European desserts like the British “sponge cake.” Whatever its origin, Tres Leches Cake has become a beloved icon in Latin American cuisine.

homemade tres leches cake in a 9x13 cake pan with strawberries on top

The Ingredients That Make It Authentic

Our Homemade Tres Leches Cake starts with a simple sponge cake, typically made with basic ingredients like flour, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. However, the magic lies in the soaking process and the three milks that give it its name.

Evaporated Milk: This is the first milk to be used in the soaking mixture. It’s thicker and creamier than regular milk due to the removal of about 60% of its water content. The natural sugars in evaporated milk add sweetness and a distinct creamy texture to the cake.

Condensed Milk: The second key component, condensed milk, is rich and incredibly sweet. It’s created by simmering regular milk until most of its water content evaporates, leaving behind concentrated milk sugars. The addition of condensed milk in Tres Leches Cake contributes to its unforgettable sweetness.

Whole Milk or Cream: The final milk in the trio can be either whole milk or heavy cream. This milk adds an element of richness, ensuring the cake remains moist and luscious.

The Preparation of Homemade Tres Leches Cake

Making an authentic Tres Leches Cake is a straightforward process, but the precision in each step is crucial to achieving perfection.

Prepare the Sponge Cake: Begin by baking a simple sponge cake. Then, allow it to cool completely.

Create the Three-Milk Mixture: In a bowl, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and whole milk or cream. This mixture serves as the lifeblood of the Tres Leches Cake.

Tres leches cake with holes poked in it for leche

Soak the Cake: Once the cake is cool, pierce it all over with a fork, creating little pockets for the milk mixture to seep into. Gradually pour the three-milk mixture over the cake, ensuring it soaks thoroughly. Refrigerate the cake for a few hours, or even overnight, to allow the flavors to meld.

Toppings and Garnishes: Before serving, the cake is often adorned with whipped cream and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon or garnished with fresh fruits like strawberries or cherries. The contrast between the airy topping and the moist cake creates a delightful balance of flavors and textures.

The Cultural Significance

Tres Leches Cake has transcended borders and become a beloved dessert in many parts of the world. In Latin America, it’s often served at special occasions and celebrations, from birthdays to weddings.

Its rich, creamy sweetness is a symbol of indulgence and festivity.

Additionally, the cake’s widespread popularity in the United States and other countries underscores the global reach of Latin American cuisine. Tres Leches Cake stands as a testament to the power of culinary traditions to bridge cultures and create a shared appreciation for delicious food.

In conclusion, Tres Leches Cake is a masterpiece of Latin American culinary artistry. It’s simple yet effective combination of ingredients, along with the meticulous soaking process, results in a dessert that is both comforting and indulgent.

So, if you’re ever looking for a taste of authenticity and a delightful journey into Latin American culture, a slice of Tres Leches Cake is the perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth and your wanderlust.

Ingredients for the Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

The Tres Leches Mixture

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Whipped Cream Topping

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preparing the Homemade Tres Leches Cake

Preheat the Oven:
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking dish.

Prepare the Cake:

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a separate large bowl, beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of sugar until they become pale and creamy.
  3. Stir in the milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract into the egg yolk mixture.
  4. Gradually fold the dry ingredients into the egg yolk mixture until well combined.

Beating the Egg Whites

  1. Beat the Egg Whites: In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.

Combining The Batter and the Whites

  1. Combine the Cake Batter: Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the cake batter until no streaks of white remain.
  2. Bake: Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking dish and spread it evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Combining the Tres Leches

  1. Prepare the Tres Leches Mixture: While the cake is baking, combine the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract in a bowl. Mix well.
  2. Soak the Cake: Once the cake is out of the oven, let it cool slightly for about 10 minutes. Then, poke the cake all over with a fork or skewer. Pour the Tres Leches mixture over the warm cake, allowing it to be absorbed. Cover and refrigerate the cake for at least 4 hours, or overnight for the best results.

Icing the Homemade Tres Leches Cake

  1. Whip the Cream: Just before serving, prepare the whipped cream topping. In a mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until it forms stiff peaks.
  2. Frost the Cake: Spread the whipped cream over the chilled cake.
  3. Serve: Cut the Tres Leches Cake into squares and serve cold. You can garnish it with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top, and fresh sliced strawberries, if desired.


Enjoy this delicious Homemade Tres Leches Cake as an end to all your favorite Mexican dishes like Grilled Fajitas or Caldo de Res.

one piece of tre leches cake on a plate with a fork

Homemade Tres Leches Cake

Indulge in the creamy delight of our Homemade Tres Leches Cake. A sweet Latin sponge cake soaked in 3 milks. A perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 12


  • 1 9×13 baking dish glass or metal


For The Cake

  • 1 cup All-purpose flour
  • teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 5 whole Eggs, separated 5 yolks, 5 whites
  • 1 cup Sugar Divided 3/4 cup, 1/4 cup
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • cups Milk

Tres Leches

  • 1 12 ounce can Evaporated Milk
  • 1 14 ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • ¼ cups whole milk

For the Whipped Topping

  • 2 cups Heavy Cream For Whipping
  • 3 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
  • cinnamon sprinkle if desired


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Separate the eggs into two bowls. (5 yolks in one 5 whites in the other.)
  • Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla.
  • Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
  • Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, add in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff.
  • FOLD egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.
  • Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Allow cake to cool in 9×13 pan. (Optional: Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter to cool)

For Tres Leches

  • Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and whole milk in a small bowl. Set aside. When the cake is cool, poke several holes in the top with a fork.
    Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the top. Make sure you get as much around the edges of the cake as you can. Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes.

For the Whipped Topping

  • Whip 2 cups (1pint) of heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar until thick and spreadable.
  • Spread over the surface of the cake. Optional: Sprinkle with cinnamon and decorate cake with whole or chopped maraschino cherries. Cut into squares and serve.


Calories: 433kcal
Carbohydrates: 50g
Protein: 9g
Fat: 22g
Saturated Fat: 13g
Cholesterol: 152mg
Sodium: 171mg
Potassium: 344mg
Sugar: 41g
Vitamin A: 865IU
Vitamin C: 1.7mg
Calcium: 242mg
Iron: 1mg
Keyword tres leches cake

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