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This Easy Tres Leches Cake uses a tasty shortcut (a cake mix!) to create one delicious, chilled dessert. It’s heaven!

We love Mexican Desserts, especially this Easy Tres Leches Cake. Mexican Wedding Cookies, Churros, Fried Ice Cream, and Flan are also family favorites!

A square slice of easy tres leches cake on a plate topped with a fresh strawberry.


The easiest THREE milk cake

Tres Leches Cake or “Three Milk Cake” is a popular Latin dessert made by baking a sponge cake and then pouring a sweet milk mixture over the top.

The milk mixture is made using 3 different kinds of milk. In this recipe, I used evaporated milk, half-and-half, and sweetened condensed milk.

The airy sponge cake provides many nooks and crannies for the milks to settle into. When you cut the cake, or poke the slices with a fork, the milk will seep out in sweet puddles of goodness.

Today’s Tres Leches Cake is a simple version of a family favorite dessert. It uses a cake mix, which makes thing not only easier, but quicker – and still delicious!

Ingredients for making tres leches cake with cake mix measured and prepared.

Making Tres Leches Cake with Cake Mix

PREP. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 10×15-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

BATTER. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, eggs, water, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and mixed well.

BAKE. Pour batter into a prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for 22-24 minutes. Let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes, then poke holes all over the cake with a bamboo skewer.

MILK LAYER. In a large bowl, combine evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and half and half. Slowly pour over the cake, making sure to get in all the holes.

CHILL. Top cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

SERVE. Before serving, make the whipped topping by whipping cream with sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer or with a stand mixer. Mix until soft peaks form, then spoon and spread over the cake.

Spreading batter in a pan for tres leches cake with cake mix.

Recipe Tips

Texture. Do not overmix the cake batter. Over-mixing can cause a dense cake that will be unable to absorb all of the milk mixture.

The cake should be a wet cake, but not so soggy that the cake disintegrates.

Cake mix. Use your favorite white cake recipe or follow this from-scratch Tres Leches Recipe. For those who love shortcuts and like to elevate bland cake mixes, this is your recipe. A few things to keep in mind when making this cake mix recipe:

  • Use a box of white cake mix between 15-18 oz. 
  • Follow the directions on the recipe and not the directions on the box.
  • Use a fork or wooden skewer to poke holes over the baked cake.
  • To make serving easier, line the baking dish with parchment paper.

The icing on the cake

Frosting. Making this frosting is similar to making a fluffy Whipped Cream, except we use a little more powdered sugar. It is important not to overmix this heavy cream frosting.

Test the frosting for soft peaks by lifting the beater out of the cream. The whipped cream will rise up like a little mountain peak. If you have soft peaks, they will hold their shape for a second before melting back down. Stiff peaks will hold the shape. 

Toppings. After adding an even layer of whipped cream frosting to the top of the cake, slice and serve or add some extra color, flavor, and texture by adding other toppings.

My favorite is to add sliced strawberries on top of the whipped cream topping, but some other ideas include:

  • raspberries or sliced peaches
  • shaved white chocolate
  • sprinkles of toasted coconut or chopped nuts
  • a dusting of cinnamon on top
Frosting the top of a tres leches cake with cake mix.

Storing info

This dessert must be kept in the fridge until it is ready to serve.

STORE leftover cake in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

FREEZE the Tres Leches Cake for up to 3 months. Wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap and again with foil. Thaw in the fridge before serving.

  • Store the cake and whipped topping separately, especially if making the cake in advance. 
  • Sometimes the cake can harden if the refrigerator is too cold. Let it come to room temperature before serving.
A close up of a slice of tres leches cake with cake mix topped with a fresh strawberry.

Recipe FAQ

How long does is take for tres leches to absorb milk?

The cake needs to absorb the milk for a minimum of three hours, but you can make it up to a day in advance to really let all the liquid absorb.

Can tres leches cake sit out overnight?

Because this cake contains so much milk and dairy, it’s best to keep it refrigerated. Plus, it’s traditionally served cold anyways!

For more Fiesta Foods:

5 from 20 votes

Easy Tres Leches Cake Recipe

By: Lil’ Luna
This easy tres leches cake uses a tasty shortcut (a cake mix!) to create one delicious, chilled dessert. It's heaven!
Servings: 15
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
chill: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 45 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 (15.25-ounce) package white cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cold water
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • strawberries, optional

Frosting:

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 10×15-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, eggs, water, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and mixed well. Pour batter into a prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 22-24 minutes.
  • Let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes, then poke holes all over the cake with a bamboo skewer.
  • In a large bowl, combine evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and half and half. Slowly pour over the cake, making sure to get in all the holes.
  • Top cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  • Before serving, make the whipped topping by whipping cream with sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer or with a stand mixer. Mix until soft peaks form, then spoon and spread over the cake.

Nutrition

Calories: 349kcal, Carbohydrates: 50g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 72mg, Sodium: 324mg, Potassium: 238mg, Fiber: 0.4g, Sugar: 36g, Vitamin A: 463IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 243mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
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About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Recipe Rating




19 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I can’t wait to make this dessert for my “vanilla” family!
    we LUV this cake & I’m all about taking shortcuts – if they’re good ones
    & this one is!!!
    thx Kristyn

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I love Tres Leches cakes but, until now, haven’t had the time to make one. Since this recipe uses a boxed cake mix, it’s a much easier and quicker way to enjoy a delicious homemade version. Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    Such a decetent cake. Love it. Moist, and so easy to make. The only hard part, is waiting for it to chill and eat.