International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Pastel de Tres Leches

Pastel de Tres Leches Recipe (Central American cake of three milks)

(Central American cake of three milks)

Average: 4.4 (214 votes)

The famous cake of three milks, pastel de tres leches is believed to have originated in Nicaragua. It has become very popular throughout Central America and is becoming more and more common in the United States. Soaking the cake in three kinds of milk gives it a rich, dense quality, almost like a cheesecake.

8 to 10 servings



  • Flour -- 1 1/2 cups
  • Baking powder -- 1 teaspoon
  • Unsalted butter, room temperature -- 1/2 cup, or 8 tablespoons
  • Sugar -- 3/4 cup
  • Eggs, room temperature -- 5
  • Vanilla -- 1/2 teaspoons
  • Whole milk -- 1 cup
  • Sweetened, condensed milk -- 1 cup
  • Evaporated milk -- 2/3 cup

Whipped Cream Frosting

  • Whipping cream -- 1 1/2 cups
  • Sugar -- 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla -- 1 teaspoon


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease and flour an 8x11-inch baking pan.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Reduce mixer speed to medium-low and add the eggs one at a time, allowing each one to get incorporated before adding the next. Finally add the vanilla and continue beating until foamy.
  4. Remove the bowl from mixer and fold in the sifted flour until it is well incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 30 minutes, or until done. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  6. Pierce cake all over with a fork, toothpick or skewer. Mix the whole, sweetened, condensed, and evaporated milk together and pour the mixture over the whole cake.
  7. Refrigerate cake for anywhere from 2 to 8 hours, or until liquid is completely absorbed and cake is well chilled.
  8. Beat the cream, sugar and vanilla together until the cream holds soft peaks. Frost the cake with the whipped cream and serve.


  • Substitute coconut milk for the whole milk if you like. Scatter the frosting with coconut flakes.
  • Substitute 1/2 cup rum for half the whole milk for a pastel with a punch.
  • If you would like a layer cake, divide the batter between 2 prepared, round cake pans. For layer cakes, you can add a fruit filling between the layers. Try pineapple filling, peaches, bananas or any fruit that suits your fancy.


  • Because of the milk ingredients, pastel de tres leches is perishable. Leftovers should be refrigerated.


i hate it

no offence but to the anonymous person that wrote a comment before me i know that everyone has they're own opinion but don't write back that you hate it thats not nice if you didn't like it then move on're making the person who wrote the recipe feel bad.

The only person that is OTR is obviously you, as I know 7 year olds who can at least articulate why they dislike something. So, next time mommy lets you on the computer without supervision, find a site meant for haters...not a cooking site, unless you learn how to 1)cook and 2)express a useful opinion in other than monosyllabic, "the world needs to hear my opinion because I think I'm so cool" anonymous form. And yes, even though the Constitution guarantees your right to "speak" it also gives us the right to tell you to bugger off until you learn how to engage in a mature civil exchange.

dont say you hate it. thats just a stupid thing to do.

Well I like it and if u don't u r the first person I've heard you didn't like it.

Really? Do you still like to play childish games? If you are a chef, you aren't very good of one because you NEVER insult another chef's work. If you don't like it, just keep it to yourself and don't comment or just say it was delicious. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!

You are all a bunch of idiots!
Clearly that person rated it 5 Stars. Do you not get sarcasm?!?!

well excuse meh !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I made for school and got an A+, thanks so much!

my family and I enjoyed alot maybe less sugar on every thing ,delicioso!!!!!!

i agree with the person who commented before me. by the way this cake is the bomb you will love it if you have a sweet tooth. and it will be a big hit at parties.

it was awesome!!!!!!!!

this cake was absolutely the sh**. made it for foods and nutrition class everyone wanted seconds.=)mmmmmmmm great.

Cake was great but I ended up with a lot of frosting leftover and it was a bit too sweet...I'm going to try it with less sugar next time. But seriously tasted like the real thing!

Very Sweet and Dilisioso!!

Can i cook more than one cake at a time at the same temp?

As long as you don't totally crowd your oven and block the flow of heat, you should be able to bake more than one cake at a time at the same temperature. Just make sure to preheat your oven well so that its temperature doesn't fall too much when you open the door and insert the cakes. And I recommend turning the cakes halfway through the baking time to make sure they bake evenly.

i took this to my daughters school and to my co workers and they all loved it. i changed the whole milk to half and half. and i added only 2/3 cup surgar to the whipped topping. we will do this again. thanks

I made the recipe for a school and everyone loved it thnx

I'm doing a report and we have to have a recipe! Is this cake really really good?

Good recipe--another variation is to add 1/4 c of Kahlua with the liquids to be absorbed. I use one can of evaporated, 1 can of sweetened condensed & 1 can of "media crema" along with the Kahlua. I also add 1 TBSP of real vanilla. Yum!

This brings me memories of my grandmother baking in Managua. Im so happy that Nicaragua is getting its recognition for creating the cake they deserve. Its always mistaken for Mexican and or Spanish origin, which is a fallacy. The cake was invented in Nicaragua. I tried not dignify the first response in regards to hating it. But, Obviously this person is missing taste and class.

Will the amount of ingredients change much if I use a 8x13 inch pan, thats all I have, please reply soon because I am goint to the store in about an hour to get the ingredients and i do not want to waste money because i am not paying for it. Thanks so much

Probably too late for you now, but 8x13 should be okay. It's just going to come out a little bit thinner, and you could probably shave a few minutes off the baking time.

I am thinkin about using this recipe for my spanish cultural day at school and from all the other comments i am pretty confident it will come out Great!! and it is great to know that its is actually from Nicaragua. it is something new i learned. well thnx!!

I'm going to make this cake for a country expo at my son's school. If I make it today for tomorrow, should I wait and do the frosting tomorrow or is it OK to make the cake, frost it and leave it in the refrigerator overnight (will probably be in refrigerator for about 12-15 hours before actually take to school to be served).


I would wait until the day of the expo to frost it. Unlike a buttercream or shortening-based frosting, the frosting for this cake is just whipped cream. It would probably just turn back into cream overnight and make the cake soggy.

"soggy" - Good one Brad. Never heard that it would make Tres Leches "soggy."

The last time I made this, it kept very well in the fridge. In my experience I did not see the whipped cream lose it's whipped consistency.. now I am sure that if you left it out for an extended period of time (several hours), then yes.. the whipped cream would probably melt... Also, as with many recipes I noticed that the longer it was refrigerated, the more the flavors, for lack of a better word, balanced. Anyway, as I said as long as the cake is refrigerated it lasts several days.

I have made this cake on several different occassions and everyone loved it!

I am doing a project on Nicaragua for spanish class and I want to know if it is too sweet? If it is, how much sugar do I add to make not too sweet yet not too plain?

Just Decreace a tiny bit (1/3 to 1 cup) depending on your sweet tooth

This is an awsome cak,my husband is from ElSalvador and he loves when I make this cake for him.

well my name is mauricio and im not a chef just yet but i am in my second year of culinary and the recipe written here is really good i have one that is almost the same just a few different things but this is a recipe that some one knowing of baking can follow. well howp to see more of these recipes soon.. mauricio from barrie, canada

My daughter was marrying a Mexican man so I decided I wanted to bake a few cakes mostly for him and his friends that would be attending. This was one of them. Actually, I added a twist since the only pans I had was 11 x 13 and the cake would not be as tall as it should. I made two layers and put frozen peaches between the layers, as the one of the local Mexican restaurants (that caters to Mexican citizens) puts peaches in one of their tres leches cakes. I made two batches of the milk mixture, of course the bottom layer soaked up most of the liquid, after a couple of days I put another batch of the milks on the top layer. The fourth(last) day I poured off as much of the leftover milk that I could. I used no liquor on the cake.

We ate other traditional food including some huge tamales and everyone was very full after the meal. I left before they tackled the cake a few hours later. Everyone was pleased and wanted to know who made the cake. (most attendees didn't know I made it) Most agreed that it was much better than the ones made at the restaurants. (the only taste I got of it was a small piece I ate before I left just to make sure it was edible)

A hint I have been given is to turn the cake out onto a platter before adding the whipped cream to let the excess milk drain.

Thank you very much for posting this recipe.

Wow. Easy to make and so good. I have made it four times now and different each time I loved this cake.!

does any one know how to make Nicaraguan cakes? would this be the same recipe? how does the frosting become hard?

yalls talk american real good.

I made this for school too. Thanks for the recipe! (:

Also, to fellow commenters:
y'alls talk american real good.

Delicious....I first had this while visiting Honduras. Very close to what is made down there but a bit sweeter. I'll reduce the sugar to 3/4 c. next time and should be more to my liking.


I'm from Nicaragua and always wonder how my grandma made this delicious cake when i was a kid...I cant wait to make it for the holidays YAY!!! thanks for the recipe!

made this cake for a fiesta of 300 people. it went so well i had people asking me how to make it, it was the biggest hit of the party, way out did the mariachis!!!!!!!!!!! :) smooches to the recipe sharer pecas.................

It says that this cake needs to be refrigerated. Will it be okay if I take it to school for a project?

I'm a senior at bellefontaine high school bellefontaine ohio, and I've made this six times since my sophomore year I started spanish 1 that year and have made it for the fiestas. I'm in spanish four this year and I'm making it again, but if your class is toward the end of the day, ask your foods teacher to use thier fridge, or admins to use the kitchen fridges if you don't have a foods room w/ fridges. trust me, it's worth it

I first had this cake in an El Salvadorian - Mexican restaurant called Pupusas Plus in Emporia, KS. I ordered it all the time... I found this recipe on here about a year. I finally made it.. and my only complaint was that it didn't last long enough... lol. The only other concern that I have about the recipe was how much fat is in it. My parents are health conscience, so I made it with no fat evaporated milk and used 2% milk... it still tasted great.

This is my favorite cake in the entire world, and I used this recipe to make it for the first time, thanks for the information. The first time I added strawberries and pecans, but the second time, used strawberries, pineapple and sliced pecans for toppings, absolutely amazing. Thanks again...

I wouldn't like it(i can't stand milk)but it does sound like it would be a very a good recipe to try out.My sister would absolutely LOVE it!

Thanks sooo much for posting this recipe! This was my first time making it and it came out wonderful! I made it for a cook's birthday at the restaurant I work at and wasnt sure how they would respond as most of the cooks are hispanic...they absolutely loved it! They all want the recipe! Thanks again!!!

This recipe has a permanent place in my recipe box!! Great cake for the summer!!

My daughter took this into school for a Spanish project - all the high school students loved it!. Its different than the usual cake, but so moist and tasty. Loved it.