Tres Leches Cake

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This Tres Leches Cake is a moist white cake soaked with a blend of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream then topped with fluffy whipped topping. Made easy with boxed cake mix, this three milks cake will quickly become a family favorite.

Tres leches cake on a white plate.

People have been making tres leches cakes for decades using various methods and different types of cakes. I absolutely love this method because it uses white cake mix as a shortcut in a sense. So, if you aren’t comfortable making a cake from scratch, the boxed mix is a great option!

Now, I’m about to climb up on my soapbox here, so bear with me. Many people have left comments on social media saying my recipe isn’t authentic and it’s not how you make a tres leches cake.

Ok, folks. This is how I make tres leches cake, and it’s different from a lot of other people. I’ve never once said it was authentic or traditional. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it’s not.

I got the recipe from a co-worker in 2003-2004 while I was working at Olive Garden. She jotted down her recipe for me, and I tucked it away never to be seen again for years.

After a few cross country moves, I found it in a folder. We’d moved to Florida by that time, and John had tried a tres leches cake from Publix. He was hooked and wanted something homemade.

I remembered this recipe and made it for him. Now it’s on our blog for all of you, and it’s not authentic. And that’s ok! I’m climbing off of my soapbox now. Lol!

But, now you have some of that lovely life story stuff that no one wants included in recipe sites, including me. But, I felt it necessary to include this time.

Enough of that. Let’s move on to the good stuff like this cake! And if you’re looking for other poke cake recipes try our lemon poke cake, strawberry lemonade cake, and gingerbread poke cake.

Kim’s Tips


Whipped Topping. If you don’t want to use homemade whipped cream, buy a tub of Cool Whip and use it instead. Make sure it’s completely thawed before spreading it over the cake.

Add the milk mixture slowly. This cake is technically a poke cake, so you’ll want to pour the three milks mixture over the cake slowly so it has time to soak in.

Use another variety of cake mix. I love to use white cake mix in this tres leches cake, but yellow cake also works.

Add fresh fruit. This cake is delicious with sliced fruit like fresh fruits like cherries, kiwi, strawberries, and mango.

Be careful when making the holes. Use a skewer to poke holes about ⅔ – ¾ through the cake. Even though some of the milk mixture will seep through, you don’t want to poke holes all the way through.

How to Store Leftovers

Refrigerator: Store leftover tres leches cake in the fridge for up to 4 days. The cake softens the longer that it sits.

A piece of tres leches cake garnished with a sliced strawberry.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can I freeze tres leches cake made with cake mix?

Yes, you can freeze this cake. Ideally, freeze the cake before adding the three milk mixture to prevent it from becoming soggy. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil. It should stay fresh for about 2 months. Thaw in the fridge before adding the milk mixture and whipped topping.

Can I use homemade cake instead of boxed cake mix?

Absolutely, a homemade cake can be used instead of a boxed cake mix. It needs to be one of similar size (9×13-inches) and flavor.

This cake is a little too soft. How can I fix it?

If your cake turned out a bit too soft, there are a couple of things to try before adding the milk mixture. Let the cake sit out, uncovered, at room temperature for a day to dry out (think day old bread).

If the cake is still softer than you’d like, consider reducing the amount of the three milk mixture. Less liquid means the cake will keep more of its original structure.

A slice of tres leches cake sitting on a white saucer.

Tres Leches Cake Recipe

4.9 from 25 votes
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Author: Kimberly
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 20 Slices



  • 15.25 ounces white cake mix
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil, or canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Three Milks Mixture

  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk, 1 can
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk, 1 can
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Whipped Topping

  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract



  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. 
  • Using a stand mixer, or large bowl and hand mixer, combine the cake mix, milk, water, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Mix on low speed for 1 minute then increase to medium speed 2 minutes. The batter should be mostly smooth but may have a few small lumps.
    15.25 ounces white cake mix
    ½ cup milk
    ½ cup water
    3 large eggs
    ½ cup vegetable oil
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pour the batter into the baking dish, and bake for 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow the cake to cool for about 30 minutes before adding the topping.

Three Milks Mixture

  • While the cake cools, make the milk topping. In a medium bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream. 
    14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
    12 ounces evaporated milk
    1 cup heavy cream
  • Once the cake has cooled for 30 minutes, use a skewer to poke small holes throughout the cake. Don’t press the skewer all the way through to the bottom. Only go about ⅔ – ¾ through the cake.
  • Slowly pour the milk mixture over the cake, then use a spatula to evenly distribute it into the holes.
  • Cover the cake with plastic wrap, and transfer it to the refrigerator to finish cooling (about 1 hour).

Whipped Topping

  • While the cake is in the refrigerator, make the whipped cream topping. Using a stand mixer, or large bowl and hand mixer, combine heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form.
    1 ½ cups heavy cream
    ⅓ cup powdered sugar
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • After the cake has cooled completely, add the whipped cream to the top in an even layer.


The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients and a serving size of 1 piece of cake when the entire cake has been cut into 20 equal sized pieces. The calorie count does NOT include the strawberries seen in the photos. Actual calories will vary.
*You’ll see several ingredients listed under the “Cake” section. These were listed on the box of cake mix that I used. Then I added some milk and vanilla extract. Use whatever amounts are listed on your box of mix in addition to the milk and vanilla.
*Skip to Tips.
*Skip to Storage.
*Skip to FAQs.


Serving: 1piece | Calories: 345kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 219mg | Sugar: 24g
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  1. Hello. This recipe is so good. Good job!
    I already baked this cake twice for my daughter’s 21 bday and mother’s day. Everyone loves it!

  2. SO easy and delicious! I brought this over for family dinner and it was a hit! I topped it with sliced strawberries. I will definitely make this again.

    1. Thank you, Carlos! Kim and I are glad your family enjoyed the cake. Thank you again for coming back to comment on the recipe. Have a lovely day 🙂

    1. Good Morning, Maria! We’ve seen that in the stores here, but have never used it. Kim and I will give it a try some time. Thank you for commenting and have a lovely day 🙂

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