Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake

Pastel de tres leches
10 to 12 servings
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: cake, evaporated milk, mexican vanilla, milk, pati's mexican table, Sweetened Condensed Milk, tres leches, whipped cream
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 42 minutes
Tres Leches Cake recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 2, Episode 6 “Fonda Favorites”


For the cake:

  • 9 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 12oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

To Prepare

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13-inch pan, lining the bottom with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the pan.
  • Pour the egg whites into the bowl of your mixer and beat on medium-high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they hold soft peaks. Slowly stir in the sugar and continue beating until they hold harder or stiffer peaks. Turn off the mixer and, with a spatula, move the egg white mixture into a large mixing bowl.
  • Rinse the mixer bowl and its whisk. Now, pour the egg yolks into the bowl and beat on medium-high speed for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until the yolks become creamy and puffy and their color has toned down to an almost cream color rather than a loud yellow. Stir in the vanilla and continue beating for another minute.
  • Pour the egg yolk mixture onto the egg white mixture and, with a spatula, in circular motions, combine them into a homogeneous single batter. Do so gently, trying not to lose too much volume gained from beaten egg whites. Fold in the flour, scraping the bowl with the spatula so that all the flour is well mixed.
  • Pour batter into the prepared cake pan and place into the oven for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. It can be a bit moist, but not wet. The top of the cake should be tanned or golden brown.
  • Once it cools down, turn it onto a platter. Remove parchment paper, cover the top with an upside-down platter and invert again. The platter should be large enough to hold the cake and the vanilla sauce you are about to prepare. Using a fork, or two, poke holes all over the cake so that it will better absorb the vanilla sauce.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, milk, and vanilla extract. Pour the vanilla sauce over the cake. It may appear like too much sauce, but it will all be absorbed!
  • In the bowl of your mixer, whip up the heavy cream with the confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture holds up stiff peaks. Spread the whipped cream all over the already-wet cake and place it in the refrigerator. You can decorate the cake with berries or any other topping of your choice.

59 comments on “Tres Leches Cake

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  1. Please tell me how to make this a chocolate tres leches cake? My cousin who has married into a Mexican family has asked for one for her husband’s birthday this weekend. I don’t want to embarrass her or myself. Should I bake this a day ahead to allows for all the sauce to be soaked up into the cake?


    1. Let the cake cool a bit in the pan, but once it is cool, you can poke holes in it and pour over the sauce in the pan. Enjoy, Anna!

  2. Patio, I love your show and I have made this cake several times for my co workers and they absolutely love it and so does my family. They request often for their birthday dinners.

  3. I would like to make this cake in a glass pan for which I have a lid, and carry it to a house party. Is it safe to bore holes and pour the milk mixture over the top of the cake while leaving it in the glass baking dish? thank you.

    1. You can make the cake and pour on the tres leches sauce up to 3 days ahead, Jen. Keep it covered in the refrigerator. You can make the whipped cream topping separately, maybe the night before, and keep it refrigerated in a tightly sealed container. Enjoy!

  4. HI Pati-
    I would like to make the cake a day ahead of my dinner party, but I worry that it will be messy storing in the fridge on a platter with all the sauce. Would it work to take the cake out of the oven, cool the cake in the pan, cover with sauce as directed in the pan and then refrigerate? I assume this method would mean that I have to add the whipped cream and then serve fright from the pan. Have you tried this method?

    I enjoy your show – keep it going!

  5. I made this recipe today along with your brown sugar carnitas recipe and both came out phenomenal!! I feel so proud of myself to have made such a delicious meal for my family. Thank you, Pati!

  6. I have been using this recipe for years. I had recently lost it. Was freaking out. Its been the most requested birthday cake every year since i first made it. From my family to the extended latino family all request i do it better then anyone else. Thank God i found it again. There is no other when it comes to this cake its surely the very best. If you follow directions that is.

  7. Can’t wait to bake this cake! I need it for Sunday but I want to make it on Thursday night. Do you think that’s to far in advance ?

    1. You can make the cake and pour on the tres leches sauce up to 3 days ahead and keep it covered in the refrigerator. You can make the whipped cream topping separately, maybe the night before, and keep refrigerated in a tightly sealed container. Have fun on Sunday!

  8. I made this for a girlfriend’s baby shower. She’s from Mexico and all her friends are from Central and South America. They named me – the white lady – an honorary Latina because they said the cake was soooo good! Thank you, Pati!

  9. I have made this cake twice now and it has been a hit every time. I find that it is best enjoyed the day after when the flavours really sink into the cake. Just finished making it today and added some cinnamon to the whipped cream and it was delicious! Thank you for posting such a flawless recipe!

  10. I saw how you added chocolate to half of the better on your show. Could you explain how you did that? I don’t remember the measurements.

  11. Thank you Pati! Today is my husband’s birthday and I made this cake for him. I am topping with fresh Colorado peaches. We enjoy watching your show. God bless you and your family.

  12. This Tres Leches was a duper delicious recipe. I particularly enjoyed learning about “Fonda” meals a lot. My mom tells me that in Cuba, back in the late fifties, Fonda’s were popular everywhere and the best ones were Chinese/Cuban. These places, according to my mom, had booths you could actually close a little curtain around to be private. Cuban Chinese meals included fried rice which was “desgranado”, meaning the grains of rice are separate and the the way Cubans like rice.

  13. I am making this cake in the morning for an anniversary party. If I leave it in the baking pan should I still use all of the milk sauce when pouring it over the cake?

  14. I’m getting married (to a Mexican!) and we want to have a Mexican bakery do a Tres Leches cake for our reception. I’ve heard it’s not safe to have it sitting out for very long (especially if it’s covered in whipped cream), even in an indoor reception because of the dairy. How long can one of these cakes sit out safely?

      1. ¡Mil gracias! I am so excited that we will be able to enjoy a tres leches at our wedding! It’s about two months away now!

  15. I’m making this for a birthday party tomorrow. I followed the directions exactly. I hope it looks as good as yours. Although, mine does have an eggy scent. Is that how yours smelled too when coming out of the oven? I’m sure the 3 milks will cover that up.