Pastel de tres leches recipe

A pastel de tres leches is also known as a tres leches cake or three milk cake. It is basically a cake that is soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream.  The pastel de tres leches is typically thought to originate in Latin America.  From Texas, my husband was already familiar with the pastel de tres leches but it isn’t a dessert that I had ever made before.  This cake takes two days from start to finish so make sure you plan on enough time.

Pastel de tres leches recipe
Recipe type: Dessert
Three Milks Cake
  • For the Cake:
  • 2¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla
  • ¾ cup cold water
  • For the Milks:
  • 2 12 oz cans evaporated milk
  • 2 14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 1 pint containers heavy whipping cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F
  2. Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk until light & fluffy
  3. Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  4. Mix vanilla and cold water. Set aside.
  5. Add the flour mixture & water mixture to eggs alternating.
  6. Mix well until it is smooth.
  7. Grease a 13x9 baking dish.
  8. Pour the batter into the baking dish. Bake 45 minutes.
  9. Mix 1 can evaporated milk, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, and one pint heavy whipping cream.
  10. Once the cake is baked and while cooling, poke holes in the cake every ⅛th of an inch.
  11. While the cake is still hot, pour the milks over the cake & let the mixture seep through the holes.
  12. Cover the cake and refrigerate overnight.
  13. The next day, pour another batch of the 3 milks over the top and let as much as possible seep into the cake.
  14. Cover and chill until it is ready to be served.
  15. When serving, pour a tiny bit of the milks over the cake, top with whipped cream and a fresh strawberry.

Tres leches cake

The pastel de tres leches is amazing.  It is moist but not at all soggy.  Traditionally, the cake would be topped with a cherry but I prefer strawberries.


Ellen is a busy mom of two teenagers who left the corporate world in 2008 to focus on a more eco-friendly life. She lives in rural Vermont where she juggles family, two blogs and a career in social media. You can find her at Confessions of an Overworked Mom