This easy Tres Leches Cake with Cake Mix recipe uses boxed cake mix, sweetened condensed milk, and cinnamon for the best shortcut dessert you'll find!
Who doesn't love a good (and easy) Tres Leches cake? If you've never had this incredible, rich, moist cake, let me tell you – you're missing out.
What is Tres Leches Cake?
Tres Leches Cake is a traditional and very popular Mexican dessert that's made its way stateside over the years. It's a rich cake that you soak in three different kinds of milks (hence tres leches) that come together to form this decadent sweet milk mixture, so it's kind of a cross between a pudding and a cake. I top mine with homemade whipped cream and a little sprinkle of cinnamon.
But just because it's sounds complicated doesn't mean it is! Making this cake is just as simple as baking a plain old boxed cake mix (that's revved up a little) in the oven, mixing together a few kinds of milk that are readily available at your nearest grocery store, and pouring it over. Super simple and so incredibly tasty.
That brings me to one of my favorite kitchen hacks (and one of my most popular Instagram posts ever). I shared this a while back and people went nuts over it! The way I make boxed cake mix taste homemade is simple: milk instead of water, butter instead of oil, add an extra egg. Since originally putting that on Instagram, I've also started adding about a teaspoon of vanilla extract into this mix to really enhance the flavor. In my opinion, this tastes better than trying to make a cake from scratch.
That's kind of the secret to making such a simple cake taste so rich. You would absolutely never know that this is an easy recipe.
Variations for Tres Leches Cake
There are so many different ways you could make this easy Tres Leches Cake recipe your own! It all depends on the type of boxed cake mix you use with this recipe. Chocolate Tres Leches Cake has always been a popular variation on this recipe. Simply use chocolate cake mix instead of yellow cake mix, add a little bit of cocoa powder into your whipped cream topping, and top with mini chocolate chips. You could also make a Pumpkin Version by using a spice cake mix and pumpkin coffee creamer, a coconut version by subbing in a coconut cake mix and topping with shredded coconut, or a strawberry tres leches cake by using strawberry cake mix and topping with fresh strawberries.
Really, if you can find that flavor of boxed cake mix, you can make that variety! The possibilities are endless.
Why not make it from scratch?
If you want to make a more authentic version of a Tres Leches Cake using from scratch ingredients, they're out there. Knock yourself out. But, if I an find a good fake-out recipe that tastes similar to the real deal with a fraction of the work, I use it! I've always used this easy recipe and I get requests for the recipe almost every time I make it. You won't disappoint with this shortcut version.
Can I make this recipe with whipped topping?
Absolutely! I use whipped heavy whipping cream to make my whipped cream topping, since I already have it on but you can definitely use a pre-made whipped cream like Cool Whip for your topping if you're in a little bit of a hurry. But, if you're never made homemade whipped cream before, don't be intimidated by it. It's incredibly easy to whip together (literally) with an electric hand mixer.
How long do you soak tres leches cake?
That one is totally up to how much time you have on your hands. One of the reasons I like making this recipe in advance is because it is always better the day after. If you can possibly prepare your Tres Leches Cake the night before you need it, it allows that sweet milk mixture to really soak into the yellow cake, making it even more rich and creamy.
However, the minimum amount of time I recommend to soak the Tres Leches Cake is one hour. It needs a little time for everything to meld together!
How Long Does Tres Leches Cake Last?
If you can resist eating it for this long 😊, this cake can typically last 3-4 days in the fridge. I recommend covering your baking dish (with the cake uncut) in the refrigerator after serving. This is definitely not something you want to store on the kitchen counter – there's lots of milk in this cake! I also tend to think this cake is better the day after, when it's nice and chilled and all of the flavors have had a chance to work together. So, don't be afraid to make your cake in advance…the day before you need to serve it would be perfect. Just make sure to cover your baking dish while storing in the fridge so the whipped cream on top doesn't dry out and deflate.
How To Make Tres Leches Cake
You'll want to make this easy Tres Leches Cake with cake mix ASAP. It's such a delicious cake that ends up being one of those great fake-out recipes. Your guests will think it's so complicated, but you'll know it's as simple as making a boxed cake mix and sprucing it up! Let's see how to make it.
Easy Tres Leches Cake With Cake Mix
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 stick butter melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 16 oz carton heavy cream
- 12 oz can evaporated milk
- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- Spray a large baking dish (9×13") with cooking spray. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together cake mix, whole milk, butter, teaspoon vanilla extract, and eggs. Pour cake batter into the prepared pan and bake cake according to package instructions.
- While yellow cake bakes, whisk together half of the heavy cream, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk.
- Once cake is baked and allowed to cool for 10-15 minutes, use a toothpick or fork to poke holes all over the cake. A little bit at a time, pour milk mixture over the cake, allowing it to soak in before pouring additional mix. Continue until all milk is poured and soaked in.
- Use other half of the heavy cream to make whipped cream; mix powdered sugar in slowly as you beat heavy cream in another large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed. Beat until soft peaks form on beaters.
- Spread whipped cream over top of the cake. Sprinkle cinnamon to over the top of the whipped cream. Refrigerate cake for about an hour before serving.
Hope you enjoy, friends! I also have a Pumpkin Spice version of this cake – click here to see.
More Dessert Recipe Inspiration:
See more of my recipes here.