Easy Tres Leches Cake

This easy Tres Leches Cake recipe is perfect for any occasion! With two options of toppings: whipped cream, or marshmallow. This cake is moist, sweet, and delightful!

Tres leches cake slice on top of a plate.

Here is how to make this delicious and easy Tres Leches Cake (Three Milks Cake) Recipe. Tres Leches Cake or Pastel de Tres Leches is a popular dessert in Latin cuisine. It’s said to be originated in Mexico, or Nicaragua, but it’s popular between all Latin countries.

This delicious and simple Mexican dessert can be found in pretty much any Mexican restaurant across the United States, and has become quite popular here as well.

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tres leches cake with toasted meringue on top and one slice cut out.

Easy Tres Leches Cake Recipe

To make this Tres Leches Cake, we will start by making the sponge.

This is a simple sponge, very easy to make. It doesn’t have any butter or oil, which makes it extremely light.

Separate the egg yolks and egg whites. Place the yolks in a large mixing bowl, and whisk it with part of the sugar until ribbon consistency.

first picture: cracking eggs, second picture: separating the yolks from the whites, third picture: beating the yolks with the sugar, fourth picture: showing the mixture whipped.

Add the milk to the mixture along with the vanilla extract and mix.

Next, add the flour and mix to combine.

Set this bowl aside.

adding milk to a bowl of batter, then adding the flour to the bowl, then showing the batter ready.

Start whipping the egg whites in a clean bowl. Add the remaining sugar. Whip until the mixture becomes light and fluffy, and the meringue achieves stiff peaks. It means if you tilt the bowl over your head, the meringue shouldn’t fall off, it should remain stiff. It also shouldn’t slide around in the bowl.

whipping the egg whites with sugar, until they are a thick white cream.

When you achieve this stage, add half of the whipped egg whites to the batter bowl. Fold until incorporated.

Add the remaining whites and fold again until you achieve a very light, fluffy, with a foamy consistency batter.

Pour batter over the greased pan, and use a spatula to smooth out the top and evenly distribute the batter.

adding meringue to batter, folding until combined, pouring over the pan and spreading out with a spatula.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool down before proceeding with the milk soak.

Tres leches cake slice on top of a plate.

Three Milks

The three types of milk for the milk soak can vary a bit depending on the recipe. Basically sweetened condensed milk is a staple, and the other two milks can vary. Some people use a mixture of evaporated milk and regular whole milk. Other recipes call for heavy cream and milk, or heavy cream and evaporated milk. And some recipes even use half-and-half, or table cream.

After trying a few different ways and combinations of different milks, I’ve arrived to the one I like the best: sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, and evaporated milk.

It makes a very thick and rich cream. If you use regular milk in place of the heavy cream or the evaporated milk, the mixture can be a bit more watered down.

Picture showing three containers with heavy cream, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk.

To make the milk soak, simply mix the sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, and evaporated milk inside of a spouted cup or bowl. This makes it easier to pour it over the cake.

mixing sweetened condensed milk with evaporated milk in a bowl, whisking to combine.

Poke holes in the cake with a fork, or knife.

Pour the sweet milk mixture over the cake.

The cake should be covered in milk. As it sits in the refrigerator, it will absorb the milk.

Cover the cake with foil or plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a few hours, preferably overnight.

pouring the milk mixture over the cake to make easy tres leches cake.

The next day, or when you are ready to serve, make the topping.

For the topping, I will give you two options: a whipped cream topping, and a delicious marshmallow frosting, which you can toast.

Whipped Topping

The whipped topping is pretty easy and straight forward, simply whip the cream with the powdered sugar and then add vanilla.

Pipe over the cake.

If you wish to make stabilized whipped cream, simply dissolve 1 tsp of unflavored gelatin in 1 tbsp of hot water. Then pour in the heavy cream when it’s done whipping, and mix briefly to combine. This will help the whipped cream hold its shape nicely for a few days in the fridge.

whipped cream in a bowl, and then whipped cream being piped on top of a cake.

Marshmallow Frosting

The meringue frosting to pipe over the cake, sort of reminds me of marshmallow fluff. But it’s super easy to make and the results can be impressive, specially if you have a torch or a broiler to toast the marshmallow.

To make it, place the sugar, cream of tartar, salt, and egg whites in a bowl. Preferably a thick glass bowl because it will be used over the double boiler.

Place the pan over a pan with 2 inches of simmering water.

Whisk mixture until it reaches 140ºF. If you don’t have a thermometer, just make sure the syrup is barely hot, and there are no sugar granules left.

Remove the bowl from the heat and begin to whip the meringue with a hand mixer or stand mixer using the whisk attachment.

making meringue frosting by whisking sugar and egg whites over a double boiler, and then whipping with an electric mixer.

Whip the meringue until it achieves stiff peaks, it can take about 10 minutes. The peaks should be stiff, and the meringue should be glossy. Add the vanilla and mix.

whipping sugar and egg whites into stiff peaks.

Pipe or spoon the meringue on top of the cake. Use a torch to toast the marshmallow, or place the pan under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes.

I am a little biased because I love meringue, but this cake topped with toasted meringue really tasted delicious.

You can serve the cake cold straight from the fridge or at room temperature.

Tres leches cake slice on top of a plate.

To decorate

When I make tres leches, I usually serve it with fresh strawberries. The delicious milky cake goes so well with the strawberry taste.

If making the whipped cream topping, I sprinkle the cake generously with cinnamon before serving.

It can be served with other berries, or you can leave the cinnamon sprinkle out. Some people serve it with canned peaches or pineapples, or coconut flakes.

tres leches cake decorated with strawberries on top.

Tips for making tres leches cake

  • You can make the sponge 1-2 days in advance and keep it covered until ready to use.
  • When making the cake, don’t over mix the batter once you add the flour in.
  • When folding the whipped whites into the cake, make sure to do so gently, to prevent deflating the cake batter.
  • The sponge will shrink slightly when it comes out of the oven. Run a knife around the edges of the cake as soon as you remove it from the oven, to ensure the cake won’t tear as it shrinks.
  • Let the cake soak for a few hours, preferably overnight for the best consistency and taste.
slice of tres leches cake with strawberries on top.

Different methods of making tres leches

Tres Leches Cake is a favorite in my house, and I’ve been making it for years.

Over the years I have tried several different methods for making tres leches cake. I’ve tried making the sponge cake with butter, without butter, with more sugar, less sugar. I tried making it with water instead of milk, or without the liquid altogether, and without separating the egg yolks from the egg whites. Whatever method you can think of, I’ve done it.

pan with tres leches cake and a slice removed from the pan.

For the milk mixture, I’ve tried making it with milk, heavy cream, half-and-half. And I’ve tried serving the cake with whipped topping or with meringue frosting. So the recipe I’ve achieved below comes after much experimenting, and I am presenting to you the method that has achieved the best texture and taste in my personal opinion.

Moreover, I am adding two topping options for the cake: a whipped topping, and a marshmallow frosting. I couldn’t decide which one I liked better, and I think both are worth trying at least once!

So make sure to save this recipe to make it at least twice, once with the whipped topping, and then another time with the toasted marshmallow on top.

three milks cake with a fork running through it.

If you liked this recipe, here are a few more recipes you may enjoy:

Tres leches cake slice on top of a plate.
Tres leches cake slice on top of a plate.

Tres Leches Cake

Camila Hurst
This easy Tres Leches Cake recipe is perfect for any occasion! With two options of toppings: whipped topping, or marshmallow. This cake is moist, sweet, and delightful!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Resting time 4 hours
Total Time 5 hours 5 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Latin
Servings 12 servings
Calories 310 kcal


Sponge cake
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 191 grams
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 large eggs separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar divided (200 grams)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk 60 ml
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Milk mixture
  • 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
Whipped Cream
  • 4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon for sprinkling on top
Marshmallow Frosting
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar 100 grams
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Sponge cake
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.
  • Prepare a 9×13” cake pan by greasing it with butter, or with oil spray.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks. Place the whites in a large bowl or in the bowl of a mixer.
  • Add the yolks to another large bowl.
  • Mix 3/4 of the sugar in with the yolks and whisk by hand, or you can either use a stand mixer or a hand mixer. You should whisk until the yolk and sugar mixture is pale in color, fluffy, with a foam consistency, and falling off the whisk in ribbons, which can take a couple of minutes of whisking with a mixer, and 3 or 4 whisking by hand. This is called the ribbon stage and it refers to the flow of the mixture falling from the whisk.
  • Add the milk and vanilla extract to the bowl and mix. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  • Set this batter aside.
  • In the other large bowl, whip the egg whites with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar using an electric mixer on medium high speed until the mixture achieves stiff peaks, which should take 2 to 4 minutes. If you flip the bowl over, the whites shouldn’t move or slide, they should be firm and stiff. That’s when you know they’re ready.
  • Add half of the meringue you just whipped to the batter containing the yolk mixture. Fold with a spatula until incorporated.
  • Add the remaining meringue to the bowl and fold until you obtain a smooth batter.
  • The batter should be very fluffy and light.
  • Pour it on the prepared pan.
  • Use a spatula to smooth the batter out evenly.
  • Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean once inserted in the cake.
  • When you remove the cake from the oven, I like to run a spatula around the edges of the pan to let the cake loose, this way it won’t break as it cools down, because the cake will shrink once you remove it from the oven.
  • Let it cool down at least 30 minutes.
  • Prick the top of the cake with a fork.
Milk Mixture
  • In a large spouted measuring cup or bowl, add the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream. Whisk to combine fully.
  • Pour the milk mixture all over the cake.
  • Cover the pan with plastic wrap. Place it in the fridge for at least a few hours. I like to leave it overnight.
Whipped Cream
  • Place the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer, or use a hand mixer to whip the mixture for about 4 minutes on medium speed, or until soft peaks form.
  • Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
  • Pour the whipped cream over the cake, spread it with a spatula. Or you can use a piping bag to pipe the whipped cream.
  • Sprinkle the cinnamon on top, I find it best to use a small sifter to do this.
Meringue Frosting
  • Another option instead of the whipped topping for the Tres Leches Cake, you can make a toasted meringue frosting. I like to make it using the Swiss method.
  • Fill a small pot with 2 inches of water. Place it over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer.
  • Add the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt to a large glass bowl, and whisk to combine.
  • Place the glass bowl on top of the pan to form a double boiler.
  • Continue to whisk the mixture over the double boiler, until it reaches 140ºF, or until the mixture is just barely hot, and the sugar has entirely melted.
  • Remove from the double boiler. Either whip the mixture in the bowl it already is using a hand mixer, or transfer the syrup to the bowl of a stand mixer, and whip using the whisk attachment.
  • You should whip the syrup for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. The mixture should be thick, elastic, glossy, forming stiff peaks.
  • Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
  • Place the meringue in a piping bag, and pipe over the cake. Or simply spread it over the cake. Use a spoon to make waves in the frosting. Use a torch to toast the meringue, or place under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Store the Tres Leches Cake in a container in the fridge for up to 4 days.


Stabilized Whipped Topping: If you want to stabilize your whipped cream, simply melt 1 tsp of unflavored gelatin in 1 tbsp of hot water, then add it to the whipped cream right after it achieves soft peaks, and mix to combine.
Serving suggestion: You can serve the cake topped with strawberries or other berries.
Resting time: The longer the cake rests in the fridge before serving, the better the consistency will be. I find optimal at least 12 hours of resting in the fridge.
Evaporated milk: If you can’t find evaporated milk, you can substitute for regular milk. Better yet, make your own by mixing 1.25 cups of water with 1 cup of powdered milk until dissolved, and use in the recipe as you would use the evaporated milk.
Heavy cream: The heavy cream can also be substituted by milk, or by half-and-half.
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