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Tres Leches

Tres Leches Cake | Photo by Zoë François

Tres Leches Cake is a light sponge cake soaked with three kinds of milk: sweetened condensed, evaporated and heavy cream (milk-ish enough to count), hence the name. Today is Cinco de Mayo and this cake seemed just the thing to celebrate with.

It’s a rather simple cake, both in its presentation and in the making of it. Just bake a sheet cake, soak it and cover in whipped cream. I added a layer of cinnamon for the intensity of flavor and because I like how it looks. The recipe is from the newest cookbook by the America’s Test Kitchen folks, The Perfect Cake.

As is suggested in their name, they test the living daylights out of every recipe they print, so I always trust they will work. The book is filled with the hows and whys of baking cakes, so you understand what you are up to while baking. You know how I love a good tutorial on baking, so this is right up my alley. It’s a great book and covers all the basics of cake baking.

The only place I went off script was in the whipped cream topping. I had a little bit of homemade creme fraiche left over from my Pot de Creme, so I added it to the whipping cream and made a slightly more decadent topping. I also wanted a slightly thicker layer of the cream, so the creme fraiche stretched it for me. Then I dusted with cinnamon, which is not required, but it’s delicious.

There is a version of tres leches cake—Cinco Leches—in my book, Zoë Bakes Cakes!

Tres Leches Cake and The Perfect Cake cookbook | Photo by Zoë François
Tres Leches Cake | Photo by Zoë François

Tres Leches

from The Perfect Cake by The America’s Test Kitchen

Tres Leches Cake | Photo by Zoë François
Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches

Tres Leches Cake is a light sponge cake soaked with three kinds of milk: sweetened condensed, evaporated and heavy cream (close enough to count as milk!). This version is simple and tasty, with a little cinnamon to add to the depth flavor.
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  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
  • 1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 large eggs, room temp
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup crème fraîche optional
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • cinnamon for dusting


  • Pour condensed milk into a large bowl, cover and microwave (set to low power) for about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until it is thick and slightly darker.
  • Stir in the evaporated milk and heavy cream. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour a 9×13″ baking dish.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.
  • Heat the butter and milk until butter is melted, cool completely.
  • Whip the eggs (stand mixer or handheld will work), until foamy, then slowly add the sugar. Whip until thick and glossy, about 7 minutes. Reduce speed and slowly add the cooled milk mixture. Then add the flour mixture in three additions.
  • Transfer batter to pan and bake until a skewer comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  • Let cake cool for 10 minutes, then poke it with a skewer to create holes in 1/2-inch intervals. Pour the milk mixture evenly over the cake. Let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, then refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 3 hours, but overnight is best.
  • When ready to serve, let the cake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then make the whipped cream. In a bowl whip the cream, crème fraîche, sugar and vanilla on medium speed until medium peaks. Spread over the cake, dust with cinnamon and serve.
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229 thoughts to “Tres Leches”

  1. My granddaughter is celebrating her 19th birthday and admission to college tomorrow. Her favorite cake in the world is the Tres Leches sold at our local Mexican bakery, but they are closed this weekend… so I scoured the internet for the best recipe I could find. The cakes are now cooling and looking wonderful! Can’t wait to surprise her tomorrow with this treat made from scratch with love! Please do enter me in your drawing for a copy of “The Perfect Cake!”

  2. Chocolate cake with PB frosting is my ultimate favorite.
    I am going to try making this for some work friends. Thanks for sharing!

  3. One of my favorites is from Women’s Day Favorite recipes from 1961. It’s called Strawberry Dream Cake and always gets a standing ovation.

  4. Hey Girl!! OMG LOOKS DELICIOUS!! Cant wait to try it!! My fav cake is a simple one my grandma used to make, yellow dough, strawberry preserves as a filling with chocolate frosting….#home

  5. My favorite cake is a made from scratch old fashioned German Chocolate with a cooked coconut pecan frosting. It was my dad’s choice for bday and fathers’ day. My second favorite is a coffee infused carrot cake with a large grate of carrots and raisens. Dense and moist, it could be eaten out of hand, which may be part of why my grandpa loved it. Traditionally mom made it without frosting since grandpa didnt like sweets. But sometimes we could talk her into powdered sugar on top.

  6. My favorite cake is the Turtle Cake from Cafe Latte! So glad that recipe was printed in the Star Trib at some point so I can make it at home!

  7. Favorite cake always changes, it’s usually whatever is set before me:) Buy lately I have been loving angel food cake!

  8. My favorite cake is always carrot cake. I love carrot cake. But German Chocolate and Black Forest are right up there too!

  9. One of my favorite cakes is a nostalgic one, “Brownstone Cake,” with a caramelized, candy-like frosting. My mother used to bake it when I was growing up.

  10. I love Tres Leche cake and when I eat a piece, I feel true sadness for people who are lactose intolerant and unable to enjoy this fabulous milky cake! It is my favorite cake and we enjoy one on Christmas Day.

  11. Would love a copy of the book! While Inlove chocolate, I’d have to say my favorite cake flavor is either pistachio or spice cake!

  12. My favorite cake right now is Carrot Cake! Just can’t beat the mix of golden raisins, toasted walnuts, and carrots!

  13. So yummy looking!! This cake is definitely getting made sometime in the future. Hopefully sooner rather then later!! Thanks for sharing and for the awesome videos to go with the recipe!

  14. Either chocolate or lemon cake with a lightly sweetened cream cheese frosting. Classic combos that are easily dressed up just by adding fresh berries or caramel. But speaking of tres leches, I once had it made with chocolate cake and it was to die for! Need to try and replicate that some day…..

  15. I love to bake celebration cakes because it makes everyone happy including the baker. There is joy in celebration and cakes are emblematic of celebrations. I plan to try the Tres Leches cake-can’t wait!!

  16. Thank you for always sharing your amazing and easy to understand tutorials on instagram! I never miss a video you put out 🙂

  17. Tres Leche Cake is my favorite but I’ve never made it. A semi-fancy neighborhood restaurant always had it on the menu. I ised to stop in for a slice and a cup of coffee. They closed recently so the timing of this is perfect. Also, thanks for the whipped cream tip in your Instagram story. Now I know why my whipped cream always collapses!

  18. While tres leches is up there, I’m obsessed with this Meyer lemon pudding cake recipe with blackberries I found like, 10 years ago. It’s sooo tasty!

  19. I love a good Tres Leches cake!! I have tried Tartine’s version but need to practice it again 🙂 and my favorite Tres Leches to purchase is from Angel Maid Bakery in my neighborhood, close to Culver City, CA. As far as “A” favorite cake.. I have too many, including a raspberry lemon curd chiffon, my mom’s chiffon cake.. and this one amazing chocolate chocolate cake from Sarah Kieffer!!!!

  20. I like any kind of cake, but chocolate is my favorite. Made one yesterday and filled half with raspberry jam and the other half with peanut butter frosting. I think chocolate goes nicely with either, but the party guests were quite divided on their favorite.

  21. Vanilla cake with vanilla Swiss or Italian buttercream with a custard filling lightened a bit with whipped cream or a
    variation with berries added to the custard or a layer of jam under the custard filling…

  22. Vanilla cake with vanilla Swiss or Italian buttercream with a custard filling lightened a bit with whipped cream or a
    variation with berries added to the custard or a layer of jam under the custard filling…

  23. I love carrot cake! But tres leche has become a close second thanks to my husbands family introducing it to me.

    Thanks for your helpful videos! I especially love the little tips you give such as adding 1 tablespoon of sugar to help the milk from scorching. Those kinds of words of advice are invaluable!

  24. Tres leches is the best! Can’t wait to try this version. Thanks for all the great tutorials. They’re my favorite to watch and reference!

  25. My mom is not a big fan of frosting, so I grew up eating plain, dark chocolate bundt cakes with powdered sugar dusted on top. They’re still my go-to. But if we’re going the frosting route, there is nothing better than Black Forest cake. Pure heaven!

  26. My favorite cake is a 12 layer old fashioned fudge cake. I have always wanted to make a Tres-Leches cake. This looks delicious!

  27. I want this cookbook! I am such a fan on America’s Test Kitchen and have several of their cookbooks and several years of magazines. This would be a welcome addition to my collection.

  28. A cake that’s been in my family for years! Oatmeal spice cake with a broiled coconut walnut topping.
    I’ve seen it come up in a few recipe books, but I will always follow my old family recipe!

  29. My favourite cake is Blackforest Cake. Growing up in India, this was the fanciest cake available, and we ate it for almost all important occasions. I love all cakes, but this is the cake I crave.

  30. How to pick a favorite cake, Zoe? I like baking, so every cake is a favorite of sorts. however, a German Apfelkuchen is my go to.

  31. My fave cake ever is carrot cake! Stella Parks has been my go to recipe but I’m open to being swayed!

  32. My favorite cake is my mom’s Lucy Nugent yellow cake – nobody remembers why it has the name, but it is a rich, dense, delicious creation of moist yellow cake and amazing lemon frosting. Yum!! Now I need to go make one…

  33. I’ve always wanted to try a Tres Leches cake so maybe this is the one I’ll try. My favorite cake has always been angel food cake. Mom made the best!

  34. Since it’s Cinco de Mayo –
    I’ll go with a constant favorite, flan cake! Or Flan Imposible – it’s my (Mexican) husband’s favorite and I haven’t met a person who doesn’t love it ❤️
    Love watching all of your stories, I always learn something!

  35. My favorite cake is Joy the Baker’s s’mores layer cake. It’s fun to torch the top and it’s so delicious!

  36. I’m not sure if Boston Cream Pie is still my favorite (def my childhood fave and only from Maries Callender’s), but a good sponge cake layer is so satisfying!

  37. I’m going to have to try this. Your videos are so good and make it easy to follow.

  38. Favorite cake?!? That’s like my favorite child, depends on the day. I have a chocolate and peanut butter cake in my fridge so that’s my favorite today

  39. Tres leches has always been my favorite cake! I’ve been looking for a reliable recipe for a very long time, so thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to make this!

  40. my favorite cake is probably a german chocolate cake or an oreo ice cream cake. Two things I never make myself but when I eat them it’s such a treat!

  41. While I love nearly every kind of cake, coconut has to be my favorite. One of my goals for 2018 is to get outside my comfort zone with flavors and bakes, so this is perfect!

  42. Love these Instagram videos. I’m going to the culinary Institute in September and knowing that you’ve gone there and seeing everything you can create just makes me so excited to go! My favorite cake is this Graham cracker cake that my coworker at the bakery I work at makes. It’s soo good and the meringue frosting just makes it that much better.

  43. My favorite cake is called better than sex but when I was growing up my mom told me and my siblings it was called better than heaven cake. We would like holes in it after it was baked and then pour sweetened condensed milk in it much like you did for this tres leches!

  44. Oh wow, ATK always delivers and with you making the cake there is no chance to not expect anything less than mind blowing amazingness!

    My favorite is your key lime cheesecake!

    Tomorrow I’ll get on to trying this one. This looks super delicious!

  45. This is looks delicious. My favorite cake is from the Mission District in San Francisco. The St. Honore from Dianda’s. Rum cake and pastry cream puffs, and honey glazed bottom crust

  46. Can’t wait to try this! Tres Leches happens to be in my top 3 favorite cakes along with carrot cake and hummingbird!

  47. My longtime favorite cake is the fragrant, light & fluffy pandan chiffon cake. However, Venezuelan colleague once brought the tres leche to share and I thought it was a real contender to my childhood favorite! It was a very memorable cake – the first of its kind I tried and I enjoyed every bite.

  48. This looks awesome. I love your insta stories. I also love America’s Test Kitchen recipes! My favorite cake is their devils food cake, so much the perfect chocolate cake. I make German Chocolate Cake every year for my husband for his birthday & use the ATK recipe. We all look forward to his birthday;)

  49. This looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it! Though I would say my favorite cake is any cake with chocolate and hazelnut as ingredients…because there is no better pairing!

  50. My favorite cake is a red velvet cheesecake cake. It was one of the first recipes I remember finding online (long before Pinterest!). It continues to be my go to birthday cake (the red and valentines go so well together <3 ). Although the red velvet cheesecake cake is my favorite I have fond memories of the several flavors of poke cake my mom made as a child.

  51. This is my Nieces favorite cake. I’d love to give it a try. Thanks for the chance to win.

  52. I love a good tres leches cake, but one of my favorites is angel food cake with a thin layer of vanilla icing and topped with blueberry sauce. It’s the best! Love your blog and your fun videos! Keep up the great work!

  53. Hi – love your videos and recipes so thank you! Curious to know if you can substitute normal fresh milk for the evaporated? What does evaporated milk do? Thanks

  54. how have i never made tres leches cake?? this looks so yummy. definitely need to try this one out!

  55. My traditional birthday cake is a pound cake with fresh grown berries baked in a Bundt pan. I grew up in St Louis Park near the NordicWare building, so I have such fond memories of that even though I now live many states away! I’ve never tried a tres leches though, and it’s much more common here so now I feel I can attempt it!

  56. This looks delicious and I loved watching you make it in your Instagram stories, as usual. I usually bake chocolate cakes but love Tres Leches…going to have to try making it!

  57. Beautiful! My favorite cake is any homemade vanilla cake, but I’m gusssing this could be my new fave. Mmm!

  58. Hello! my favorite cake is banana cake with chocolate pieces and cream cheese frosting!

  59. My favorite cake has to be a tres leches as well! It’s so yummy with a cup of hot black coffee!

  60. My nostalgic favorite is one my aunt used to make, that was a boxed mix chocolate cake with a creamy frosting with 8 Hershey bars chopped up and folded in!! It sounds ridiculous, but it’s to die for! My more grownup favorite is Julia Turshin’s Afternoon Lemon Cake, with some blackberry jam swirled into the batter. Delicious!

  61. I loved watching you make this on Instagram – thank you for sharing! I’ve been really into citrus upside-down cakes lately 🙂

  62. Any chocolate cake is my favorite. I’m a new follower and really enjoy the baking inspiration. Thank you for a chance to win!

  63. I like most cakes , chocolate and carrot are top contenders . Learning tons from you! Keep the recipes and tips coming

  64. My favorite cake is vanilla almond with raspberry buttercream filling. This looks delicious too, and is my husband’s favorite cake!

  65. This looks wonderful, not too sweet! My favorite is caramel cake with salted caramel frosting!

  66. Any cake that I get to watch you make!! My kitchen is going through a remodel right now and I can’t wait to get back in there! Thanks for all the inspo.

  67. Great recipe! I especially love watching the process on Instagram. My current favorite cake is a whole wheat date cake with burnt sugar frosting. Thanks for the giveaway!

  68. Tees leches is definitely one of my favorites! In al it’s many permutations! Or any cake with a pastry cream filling. Would love ! That cookbook!

  69. This looks delicious! My favorite cake is strawberry cardamom cake; so great in the spring time!!

  70. Wow this looks amazing!!!! Coincidentally, one of my most favorite cakes is très leches! Been thinking abt it a lot lately and am now inspired to make some myself soon!

  71. Honestly it’s a toss up betweenclassic yellow cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles, or pistachio cake with mascarpone frosting and raspberries. Either way you can’t lose!

  72. Tres Leches is one of my and my 94 year old Mexican born father’s favorites! I never considered that I could possibly make it, now I know I can thanks to Zoe’s IG video and American Test Kitchen’s The Perfect Cake!

  73. This is my (Mexican born) 94 year old father’s favorite dessert! I never considered that I could possibly make it, now I know I can. I can’t wait to make it for my dear Papa!

  74. I just made a lemon”love” cake that turned out pretty good for me..but i love tres leche, and chocolate too..whats not to love

  75. I’m loving lemon and other citrusy flavors right now. Lemon pound cake with strawberries? Sign me up!

  76. My favorite cake idea at the moment: many alternating layers of chocolate and vanilla cake,with whipped cream, ganache and raspberry jam between the layers, covered with whipped cream, all the berries and shaved chocolate on top!

  77. How does one have a *favorite* cake??? If I had to choose, it would probably be a Black Forest torte, but not too sweet. I like the cherries to still be tart and the whipped cream unsweetened. Second to that, Nigella Ladin has a cornmeal and rhubarb cake I love. And, and, abd….

  78. Thank you for this awesome post. I love Tres Leches on a sunny Summer day but I would have to say Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream always steals my heart <3

  79. My favorite cake is coconut cake. I love baking and trying new recipes and I collect cookbooks. Thanks for the opportunity to win The Perfect Cake. I enjoy watching your Instagram posts and appreciate you sharing your tips with all of us. #zoebakes #testkitchen #i♥️baking

  80. Tres leches is my absolute favorite! I’ve tried a few recipes with terrible luck! Excited to try this recipe- it looks delicious!!

  81. Tres Leches will always be one of my favorites because growing up my mom always bought one from the same bakery in East Los Angeles for my birthday. It’s simple and has been making the same cakes since 1972.

  82. My favorite growing up was Joy of Cooking Fudge Meringue cake. I didn’t like it as much grownup so I make Maglieri’s moist chocolate cupcakes (sometimes as cake).

  83. My favorite cake is a yellow cake covered in chocolate buttercream then topped with hot caramel that hardens and then cracks when you cut into it!!! So so dreamy and delicious 🙂

  84. Lemon cake with raspberry frosting and raspberry jam in between each layer! Perfect and refreshing 🙂

  85. This cake looks fabulous! I can’t wait to try the recipe. My all time favorite cake is strawberry wedding cake.

  86. I love the classic vainilla cake with meringue frosting as my mom did for birthdays, but I think I need this tres leches cake and the book in my life, just beautiful!

  87. Hmm I might have to give this a try… but I’ll admit my favorite cake is probably a lemon cake….

  88. My favorite cake is a chocolate bundt cake that I tweaked from other recipes to make it my own! I call it The Big ‘O’ Chocolate Cake, mostly because “better than sex cake” was already taken. It has mini chocolate chips within for texture, sour cream in the batter, and and amazing ganache and more mini chocolate chips on top. BUT, if I’m making a cake with buttercream, YOUR buttercream (Zoe Bakes) is my favorite!

  89. Love love love tres leches cake! It’s pretty much the only cake I ate at home growing up (we’re Cuban…Cubans are not known for their great cakes!) Thank you for sharing and for this awesome giveaway! Love your blog and Insta recipe stories! <3

  90. My all time fave cake is angel cake! Fluffy and airy reminds me of my deep love towards Asian pandan chiffon :)) I cant wait to try this tres leche cake recipe !

  91. Wow! That looks incredible! I can’t wait to try to make this. I always love everything you bake! My go-to cake has to be a flourless chocolate cake. So simple, yet so delicious.

  92. Would love to win this book!!! Our favorite is carrot cake w lots of cream cheese frosting. Yum!

  93. I love to make layer cakes for birthdays, and my favorite is classic yellow birthday cake with cream cheese frosting.

  94. I adore trees leches cake! This version looks fabulous and your videos are always so helpful.

  95. I love chiffon cakes for their light and fluffy texture but have tried several times without success. My chiffon cakes tend to shrink down (sometimes to half the original size) while it’s cooling. Perhaps you would consider doing a video tutorial??? 🙂

  96. My mom used to make me a strawberry cake with strawberry icing that I requested every year for my birthday. Mmmmm, I loved that cake. Miss it.

  97. My favorite cake was a chocolate cake I had at my best friend Anna’s house as a kid. My mom only ever (and still does) made box cake mixes. I guess I knew enough about food at 12 to realize that there was a gigantic difference! I begged her mom to give me the recipe, and I now I make it for my own kids birthdays! Can’t wait to try this tres leches cake.

  98. Alas I can’t enter this one coz I’m in the UK. We don’t have Tres Leche Cake here but I have become obsessed with trying it out. Your recipe is timely. I know what we’re having for dessert tomorrow. Thanks Zoe

  99. This looks delicious! Every time I watch one of your instagram video tutorials or read your posts, my mouth waters. Ha! All your desserts look amazing! I definitely want to try making this one.

  100. I make this AMAZING churro cake by the Kitchy Kitchen one year for my birthday and it blew my socks off

  101. My favorite cake is just about any cake! I really do love Tres Leches… looking forward to trying this recipe! Love ATK recipes as well!

  102. This looked sooo good on your Instagram stories. I look forward to your stories! My fav cake is white cake with white buttercream :). Would love a copy of the book – I decorate cakes for friends and would love to get some great recipes for those.

  103. I made a red velvet cake from scratch that I was pretty pleased with however now I look forward to making this tres leches dessert!

  104. Such a tough one – I love quick cakes for easy everyday baking! For spring I’ve been LOVING an easy olive oil orange cake. This tres leches sounds like the perfect cake for a get together though sooo delicious.

  105. My favorite cake would have to be a lucky date cake that my grandma would make for every Christmas. She later passed the recipe down to me.

  106. I enjoyed Tres Leches cake before I became lactose intolerant so I know how good it is…now, if I even read the recipe I start to bloat…..just kidding. I wish I could enjoy it. I could if sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream was ever offered in a lactose free product. Too much to ask, I know.

    1. You can always take Lactaid pills. My husband is lactose intolerant and he does just fine eating ice cream and other milk and cream things.

  107. I love watching ur cake videos on instagram. You make it look so easy and elegant. My fave cake is Chocolate cake . Always a chocoholic .

  108. Hi Zoe! Your Tres Leches cake is beautiful! I will be making for my mom’s birthday this year. My favorite cake is angel food. My grandma would make one for me for my birthday every year. ❤️

  109. I open Instagram everyday to catch your stories, Zoe! You are the best! I love your recipes, they have always worked great for me 🙂

  110. Recently made a 3 layer carrot cake that changed my mind about carrot cake in the best way and now I crave it! I’ve recently become obsessed with baking layer cakes and would love this book!

  111. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE watching your IG story tutorials! Tres Leches is my current taste of the moment cake I am feeling so I especially enjoyed this video and would love a copy of this book! Thank you so much for your willingness to share!

  112. Thank you for always sharing and one of my favorite cakes is chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream. I love the way they marry each other and bring the best out in each other.

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