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Easy Tres Leches Cake

6 hrs
15 mins
Jessie Sheehan
6 hrs
15 mins


  • cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • cups all-purpose flour
Milk soak
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
Whipped cream
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Fulfilled by

Chef notes

A tres leches cake is traditionally a sponge cake that is soaked with a mixture of three different types of milk: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and whole milk. It’s hardly a difficult recipe, but it has more steps than some of us would like. So, in an effort to simplify the recipe and assembly, we have changed things up a bit (you’re welcome). 

Instead of preparing a traditional sponge cake, which requires you to separate eggs and separately whip both the yolks and whites, this recipe calls for a simple one-bowl vanilla cake. The cake is intentionally slightly over-baked so that it will fully absorb the milky soak, just as a sponge cake does, without getting soggy. 

In another effort to simplify the traditional recipe even further, you’ll use heavy cream as the third “milk” in the soak instead of the usual whole milk, since heavy cream is already a required ingredient in this tres leches cake, as the cake is topped with billowy whipped cream. Ultimately, this will streamline the ingredient list and add a little lusciousness, but by all means, feel free to use whole milk in both the cake and soak, if you’d prefer. 

And in an effort to speed along the cake’s assembly, poke the cake with holes (to encourage absorption) as soon as you remove it from the oven and immediately pour the soak over the cake (some recipes call for cooling the cake first). Because the cake takes some time in the refrigerator to fully absorb the soak, there’s no need to add any extra time post-bake and pre-soak. Finally, do not be alarmed if the cake does not absorb every last bit of soak when you pour it over the cake, or even after it has rested in the fridge for several hours: a little milky sauce around its edges once it is plated is 100% fine. The cake will keep tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Technique Tip: Make sure to bring the heavy cream to room temperature, as that will help it to more easily absorb into the cake. Additionally, Make sure that when you poke deep holes in the cake, the skewer actually touches the bottom of the pan. This will ensure that the cake properly absorbs the liquid. 

Swap Option: You can use vegetable oil instead of melted butter in the cake. 




Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray or softened butter.


In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, melted butter and vanilla for 30 seconds. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, and then the cream. Vigorously whisk in the baking powder and salt, one at a time. Gently fold in the flour just until the last streak disappears.


Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, smoothing the top, and bake for about 30 minutes. The cake is ready when a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake has begun to come away from the sides of the pan. Set aside to cool while you make the soaking liquid.


In a 4-cup glass measuring cup, or a medium bowl, add all three types of milk and whisk to combine. Poke the warm cake all over its surface with a fork or wooden skewer, making lots of deep holes that extend to the bottom of the pan. Pour about ¾ of the soaking liquid over the cake, pausing periodically as you do so, to let it soak in. Wait 5 minutes and then pour the rest of the liquid over the cake.


Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, uncovered, or overnight. If chilling overnight, cover the pan in plastic wrap once cool.


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream and sugar on medium to medium-high speed, until soft peaks form. Spread the cream over the cake, slice and serve.