Classic Tres Leches Cake

Total Time

Prep: 45 min. Bake: 20 min. + chilling


10 servings

Updated: Dec. 29, 2023
Tres leches means "three milks." This cake gets its name because it uses three kinds of milk—evaporated, condensed and cream. This tres leches cake's light and airy texture has made it a classic in Mexican kitchens for generations. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen


  • 4 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar, divided
  • 2/3 cup cake flour
  • Dash salt
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon rum extract
  • 1-1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Optional: Dulce de leche or sliced fresh strawberries


  1. Place egg whites in a large bowl. Line bottom of a 9-in. springform pan with parchment; grease the paper.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. In another large bowl, beat egg yolks until slightly thickened. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar, beating on high speed until thick and lemon-colored. Fold in flour, a third at a time.
  3. Add salt to egg whites; with clean beaters, beat on medium until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high after each addition until sugar is dissolved. Continue beating until soft glossy peaks form. Fold a third of the whites into batter, then fold in remaining whites. Gently spread into prepared pan.
  4. Bake until top springs back when lightly touched, 20-25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Place cake on a rimmed serving plate. Poke holes in top with a skewer. In a small bowl, mix cream, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and extracts; brush or pour slowly over cake. Refrigerate, covered, 2 hours.
  6. For topping, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar; beat until peaks form. Spread over top of cake. If desired, top cake with dulce de leche or strawberries just before serving.

Tres Leches Cake Tips

How far ahead of time can you make tres leches cake?

You can make tres leches cake a day or two in advance (with the exception of the whipped cream topping). In fact, letting the cake sit overnight is ideal. This will allow for the milk to fully saturate the cake for that just-right texture.

How should you store tres leches cake?

Because of the fresh dairy, always store tres leches cake in the fridge. It will last 3 to 4 days, so you have some time to enjoy it. Be sure to keep it covered, though, so no other fridge odors infiltrate your dessert. Due to the milk soak, tres leches cake is not a good candidate for freezing.

How can you keep tres leches cake from getting soggy?

Tres leches cake is, by its nature, a very moist cake. That's all thanks to the three kinds of milk that get brushed over the top of the cake after baking. As you soak the cake, it may look like you're adding too much milk, but rest assured that this is all part of what makes this cake unique and delicious.

What are some toppings you can put on tres leches cake?

This classic tres leches cake is topped with homemade whipped cream. You can also top this cake with dulce de leche, fresh strawberries or a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Lisa Kaminski, Taste of Home Editor

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 392 calories, 23g fat (14g saturated fat), 142mg cholesterol, 104mg sodium, 40g carbohydrate (33g sugars, 0 fiber), 8g protein.