Search the website

Pati's Mexican Table : TV Recipes

Pati Jinich

Pastel de tres leches
Serves 10 to 12

Cake Ingredients:
9 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour

Sauce Ingredients:
1 14oz can La Lechera sweetened condensed milk
1 12oz can evaporated milk
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Topping:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13-inch pan, lining the bottom with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the pan.

Pour the egg whites into the bowl of your mixer and beat on medium-high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they hold soft peaks. Slowly stir in the sugar and continue beating until they hold harder or stiffer peaks. Turn off the mixer and, with a spatula, move the egg white mixture into a large mixing bowl.

Rinse the mixer bowl and its whisk. Now, pour the egg yolks into the bowl and beat on medium-high speed for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until the yolks become creamy and puffy and their color has toned down to an almost cream color rather than a loud yellow. Stir in the vanilla and continue beating for another minute.

Pour the egg yolk mixture onto the egg white mixture and, with a spatula, in circular motions, combine them into a homogeneous single batter. Do so gently, trying not to lose too much volume gained from beaten egg whites. Fold in the flour, scraping the bowl with the spatula so that all the flour is well mixed.

Pour batter into the prepared cake pan and place into the oven for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. It can be a bit moist, but not wet. The top of the cake should be tanned or golden brown.

Once it cools down, turn it onto a platter. Remove parchment paper, cover the top with an upside-down platter and invert again. The platter should be large enough to hold the cake and the vanilla sauce you are about to prepare. Using a fork, or two, poke holes all over the cake so that it will better absorb the vanilla sauce.

In a mixing bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, milk, and vanilla extract. Pour the vanilla sauce over the cake. It may appear like too much sauce, but it will all be absorbed!

In the bowl of your mixer, whip up the heavy cream with the confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture holds up stiff peaks. Spread the whipped cream all over the already-wet cake and place it in the refrigerator. You can decorate the cake with berries or any other topping of your choice.


I made your Tres Leches cake this afternoon and it is delicious. I don’t think I know of another cake that can be said to be refreshing, but this is a keeper of a recipe.
The only thing I would change was the time it takes to get the egg whites to soft peaks. My mixer is a bottom of the line stand KitchenAid mixer and it only took two minutes to get to soft peaks with eggs at room temperature.

Hola Ann, It is so great to hear that you think my tres leches cake recipe is a keeper! And thank you for the insight on the length of time it takes to get the egg whites to stiff peaks. It always helps me to hear feedback from the person using my recipe. Let me know if you try anything else.

Tres Leche cake is special to me. For my twenty first birthday, years ago, my mother and aunt surprised me with a trip to Florida. The night of my birthday, I wanted to try Cuban food. We were told to go to a place that from the outside looked rundown. The food however was amazing. The meal was polished off with the non-Cuban tres leche cake which instantly became my favorite dessert ever. Sadly, I’ve yet to find it on a menu here in Virginia.

A few weeks ago, by a happy accident I discovered your show on PBS. I was instantly taken with your bubbly personality and all your food made my mouth water. I’m so thrilled to find your recipe for this cake which I know will be amazing. When I get around to making it, I will think back to that special birthday dinner and then tell everyone about you and your wonderful show. Thank you :)

Hola Brandon, I am so happy you like my show. Thank you for watching! You will have to let me know what you think of the tres leches cake when you get a chance to try it…

I think I’ll have to pass on this cake, or use some no calorie sugar in place of the granulated sugar, since it already has the sweetened condensed milk. As a new diabetic have to watch sugars and carbs. Granted the cake reads as a really yummy one, but trying to be good and follow my nurse practitioner’s orders.

Hola Lauralee, I’m sorry you will have to pass on the Tres Leches Cake. Maybe you can try my baked plantains with only a little bit of sugar or honey for dessert:

Right now I use a lot of your recipes in my kitchen. I love the tomatillo jam with lime. The chochoyotes that are small dumplings of masa in that rich broth with meat is just wonderful ( I looked it up – the amarillito mole recipe); I think I could eat that once a week and never tire of it. The chicken with brown sugar,chipotle and tomatillo has a problem: I cook enough to have leaft overs, but there aren’t leftovers (ever). Your Immaculate Comception empanada filling is great but I make it in empanada dough taht is a lot lower in fat (so my husband can dip them in melted queso and not drown in fats). Not only did I make your Chicken with Tamarind, I found a seed in my tamarind paste and it’s now a two foot tall tree growing in a pot in my kitchen window.
So, Pati, I think can call myself a fan of yours and of your recipes. Thank you for the fun you’ve given us.

Ann P., hola! You have no idea how much it means to me that you are trying all these recipes. And you’ve just inspired me to grow my own tamarind tree!

Pati! I love your show and watch it on both my local PBS Channel and (from time to time) on their Create Channel.
I have watched other Mexican Cooks and your show is the most vibrant, fun and interesting.
Today, I learned how to make REAL Tres Leches Cake. I’ve had the real deal and some from folks who don’t really know how to make it. As a baker, I like to be authentic when possible. Soooo, I’ll be making Tres Leches Cake now. The right way!!!
Thank you!

Hola Pati,
I’ve been studying Spanish language and culture and I must say this is my favorite recipe! Absolutamente sabroso. I am going to prepare it for one of my classes – Can’t wait!

Hola Alex, I am thrilled that you are going to prepare my tres leches cake for your class. Thank you for telling me! Good choice of studies as well. All the best to you.

Hi, I think your website might be having browser compatibility issues.
When I look at your website in Chrome, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, great

Felipa, Thank you so much for taking a moment to bring this issue to my attention! We are looking into it.

Hi, Pati:

My husband (of Mexican descent) and I both watch your show—and love it! I try many of your recipes, and they have all been delicious. My husband says that my cooking, based on your recipes, brings back fond memories of his childhood when his “Abuela” cooked for him. Thank you so much for your wonderful show—so informative, and so much fun! Oh, I’m intrigued by that HUGE stand mixer you use—what is it?

Hola Sandra, It’s wonderful to hear you are using my recipes, and it’s bringing back memories for your husband of his abuela’s cooking. The mixer you mention is made by Viking. Thank you very much for watching the show!!!

Wonderful recipe, Pati! Thank you for sharing. I had a problem with losing some volume on the egg whites when I added the sugar but, other than that, the cake turned out delicious. I noticed someone with an earlier post had the same problem and I wonder what I could have done differently.

I’m looking forward to your book release. I have it preordered through Amazon. I’m curious though, is there somewhere that I can either purchase or just watch your show? Thanks!

Hola Natalie, Thank you so much for pre-ordering my book!! I don’t have DVDs of the show released for sale at this time, but you can watch episodes everyday on CreateTV at 6:30pm, 9:30pm and 3:30am EST. For the cake, it’s natural the egg whites will loose some volume as sugar is added. The key is to add the sugar slowly with the mixer still going at a medium-low speed. Once all the sugar is added, you can turn up the mixer and let it go until the egg whites form stiff peaks. I hope this helps!! I appreciate you writing me with your question!!!

a pinch of Cream of Tartar helps with the volume of the egg whites not being lost. Love the shoe.

Great tip!

Hi Pati,

I’ve been watching your show on Create as well as my local PBS channel for a while now. I happened to catch it today and saw you making this cake. It was perfect timing since I’ve been looking for a special dessert to make for my husband’s graduation. I can’t wait to get started on it today!

Hi Pati! I caught your show on PBS and I’m going to try this cake at our Christmas Dinner!
I have a 2 questions – the cake still rises without using baking powder or soda? And no salt?

Thanks, Pati! Love your show,

Hi, I want to make this cake for my husband’s birthday. He’s been asking me to make one for a long time. What size can is the evaporated milk? It comes in small 4 or 5 oz. cans & larger 12 oz. cans.


Hi Erin, It’s a 14oz can sweetened condensed milk and a 12oz can evaporated milk. I hope your husband enjoys the cake!

I just found your show and really liked watching. I then went to your website and saw this recipe for TRES LECHES CAKE. I want to make it for a get together for some of my friends but was wondering about the fact that there isn’t any fat in the cake recipe…is this right? Do the eggs provide all the rising capabilites so you don’t need baking powder or soda? Thank you for any help you can provide.

Hi Carol, Yes, the eggs will provide the volume. You will beat the whites to stiff peaks, which will give the cake it’s volume. I hope you will give the recipe a try! All the best to you.

I tried this, followed the directions to the T, but the cake came out flat and hard. i still poured the sauce over it and put it in the fridge and cross my fingers that it will resurrect in the morning. I also used King Arhtur all purpose flour if that matters.

Hola Maria, the cake is quite sturdy and hard… then you poke it all over with a fork and pour the sauce on top. Should be fine! It is hard on purpose, so it will be in a way resilient to the sauce.

King Arthur flour is on the high-end of “all-purpose” flours in terms of protein content. It has 13-15% protein, where Gold Medal has about 10-12%, and Soft-as-Silk has about 9%. So it is as close to “bread flour” as it gets in that category of flours. If you had problems with it, maybe try a different brand, but I think that cake flour would not give you the structure you need.

Thank you for sharing this info!!

Hi Pati,

I made this recipe today for my husband’s work. Someone requested a Tres Leches cake for their birthday. It turned out wonderful when I added the coconut and the blueberries. I was never a fan of tres leches up until this cake because all of the others don’t call for nearly enough vanilla. Thanks for liberating me of bland tres leches!!

Thank you, Abby!! I’m so glad I could “liberate” you from bland tres leches.

typo on last, love the show. sorry for typo

No worries, I do typos ALL THE TIME

Hi Patti,
I enjoy watching your show and am planning to bake the Tres Leches Cake for a party.
Do I have to make high altitude adjustments for your recipe listed on your website?
Thanks, Maxine

Hi Maxine, There are always shifts and changes depending on where you are located in the world. I recommend you try the recipe as it is, and if by the end of the cooking time you insert a toothpick and it still comes out very wet, leave it in another 5-10 minutes and check again. Thank you so much for watching the show!!

I don’t know anything about Mexican cuisine. I cook French & Italian almost exclusively. Not for any reason other than habit & familiarity. Been watching your show on PBS, and am starting to get a bit familiar with your totally new (to me) pantry of ingredients. As I’m trying to get up the courage to try some new techniques, flavors, & recipes, this was a great low-pressure way to start. This cake was flat-out yummy.

Now time to get more adventurous and try out a few of your savory recipes. Thanks for the intro to this new type of cuisine. If you ever wonder to yourself, “Is anybody out there learning anything?” – the answer is “YES”. Thanks again.

Jeff, Thank you for your message!! I am so happy you are interested in trying you hand at Mexican cuisine. Please let me know what else you try and how it turns out. Jump in!

Hi Pati,
I started watching your show in Dec. 2012. I made your Tres Leches Cake for our Christmas party. I have been laid up due to surgery on my foot and unable to cook. I found your show at 3am so that’s when I watch it. It seems to have changed so I had to get on today to find new times.
I love your show. Today I Pre-ordered your cookbook. I get to start walking again on Thur. which means I get to start cooking. I have looking up your receipts on line and planning my meals.
Continued blessing on all you do.

Hola Mary, I am so sorry to hear about your surgery, but am glad you will be on your feet again soon! I am happy you have found the show and are enjoying it! It is great to hear. Please let me know how your meals with the recipes turn out. And thank you for ordering my cookbook!! All my very best to you.

Hi Pati,

First of all I love your show. What size eggs do I use for the tres leches cake.

Hola Sonia, Thank you for watching the show! Large eggs will work just fine.

Made this awesome cake and feel so accomplished. My family adores this cake. Yum yum

Aww, thank you!! I’m so happy you tried it. :)

I also tried your beans and rice both were delicious.
I pre-ordered your cookbook. It should be in my mail
box tomorrow. I can hardly wait.
I saw your going to be in San Francisco this month. I had just
canceled my trip there for the same weekend. I was so disappointed.
I would love to meet you.
Safe travels and blessings on your book.

Can I use heavy cream instead of regular milk?

Hmmmm that may make the milks sauce a bit too heavy… But you can give it a try!

Pati, could i make this cake with some sliced strawberries in the middle as well?

Of course!!

hi pati!
I absolutely love your show and I am so looking forward to baking this tres leches cake. you made it look so easy and yummy. keep the easy and delicious recipes coming please!

Thank you!!


Can I make this with ordinary cake mix?

Hi Matt, I recommend using my recipe because it is a sturdier cake than most. But you are always welcome to experiment!

Hola Pat,

Im a PR girl from bklyn. tried to make the tres leche cake. sad to say it wasnt right. took longer to cook then 25 mins. then it sucked the sauce up like a sponge finally it was very (very)eggy. I did use extra lge eggs was that the problem? it didnt specify in the recipe Thanks, Deb Lewis

Hi Deb,
I always go for normal size eggs, so that may have been an issue… Did you poke it all over and let it cool a bit before adding the sauce??

Just made this last night and it turned out perfect! Thank you so much for the recipe. I think this will be a go-to recipe for potluck dinners.

Yey!!! I am about to post a recipe for Three Leches Jello, say tuned!

Hola Pati:

I made the 3 leches cake last night. I haven’t tried it yet, but I noticed that when I poked it with the fork before adding the sauce, some of the cake came out on the fork. Did I take it out too early? (Also, when I flipped it on the rack, a little of the cake stuck to the rack, too). Thanks, Pati. I LOVE the book. My boyfriend is Mexican, so I’m doing my best to try to learn some of the Mexican favorites. Can’t wait to try other recipes. Saludos de, Maureen

Hola Maureen, I’m so happy you are trying the tres leches cake! It’s ok if the fork comes out moist, but if it’s really wet it may have come out a little early. You want to bake it until a toothpick comes out clean when you test it and the top of the cake looks tanned or golden brown. But, not to worry, I’m sure your cake will still be fine. :) You’ll have to let me know how it is when you taste it.


Sorry: one other question. If I make the 2 layer version, for the first layer that I’m topping w/ strawberries and whipped cream, do I poke that layer with holes, too? Not sure how the leches would get to that layer. I know that I would make a double portion of the leches, but please advise re: poking that first layer or not:)–Saludos de, Maureen

No worries, Maureen! Ask as many questions as you would like!! I would poke holes in first layer, pour the leches over it, and top it off with the strawberries and whip cream. Then, add the second layer of cake, poke holes, and pour leches over it.


Thanks so much for the replies. Update re: the cake: I brought it to work (para que mis colegas hispanas lo probara) y fue un exito total:)–I’m taking a piece to my novio tonight, so I will remake the cake for his birthday this Saturday w/ the 2 layer version. !Mil gracias! Saludos de, Maureen

I saw this in create tv, Pati’s Mexican table, I went to my work, couple days later, we were talking abt this cake, at this restaraunt, that doesn’t make this anymore. I told the lady, who was talking abt this cake, didn’t know the name, but remembered the sauce over it, I saw this recipe on tv. I am going to make this, thank you, for sharing

Hi Robin, I love your story!! I’m so happy you happened to catch my episode with the Tres Leches Cake! Let me know how it turns out.

Hello Pati. I cannot always find you on TV but when I can I really enjoy your show. I made your Tres Leches Cake recently. I am in heaven! There’s still some in the fridge and I can’t wait to eat it again. I found it tasted better and was more evenly moist the day after it was made. I served it with caramel syrup and fresh strawberries. Thank you, Claudia.
PS I am looking forward to trying more recipes.

Yey! So happy to hear, Claudia. And caramel syrup and strawberries w Tres Leches sounds outstanding.

I absolutely LOVE using your recipes. They are so vibrant and full of flavor! I have one question about the Tres Leches: Is there any way to add chocolate and keep the same traditional flavor? I see many recipes for chocolate tres leches but I would like to keep authentic as possible. Thank you!

Of course! You just need to add the chocolate choice of your choice to the Three Milks sauce. You can melt some Mexican chocolate like La Abuelita, in a water bath, or even use chocolate syrup.

My husband loves peaches,can I add this to the cake? Would love to make this for him for Father’s Day!



My wife and I were foodies before the word was invented and have eaten in the very best restaurants all over. Never liked tres leches cake until having one made by a grandmother from the State of Michoacán at Oseguero’s restaurant in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We did not believe we would find one comparable or better until trying your recipe. It is absolutely fantastic! I would however, caution people to wait a full 24 refrigerated hours to enjoy the fully soaked perfection of this cake. We love your show and wish you continued happiness and success.

Nelson & Terrie Caldwell

Gracias Nelson and Terrie!!!!

Patti: Your “chicken a la trash” was great. I made it for my co workers and they keep asking for it. Patti i would love to see you cooking with your dad. Love your show.

So when i made the tres leches my cake turned out rather hard and wasnt as wet either. What do you think i did wrong.

Hm. Did you poke the cake throughout before pouring the milks???

Hola Patti,

I made this cake for my grand-daughters 20th Birthday and everyone loved it. If I were to substitute Almond milk for some of the milk in the receipe, would I just replace the whole milk or what? Looking forward to trying your other receipes as well.

Exactly! Replace the normal milk. That sounds like it will be a tasty twist.

I would like to make this cake as a three layer cake, with each layer being a 12″round. How would you suggest multiplying the ingredients? I am making this for the daughter of my friend who is from Mexico. I am an experienced baker, but have never made tres leche cake before. Thank you for your help in advance!

Hi Bridget, I think you need 1 1/2 recipes. Use one recipe for a round pan. Slice horizontally once it cools down (two layers). Use half another recipe to make thinner layer in the same round pan (should have like 6 less minutes in the oven). Send photo!

Thank you SOOO much for your wonderful recipe and your guidance. I ended up making 2 layers with each layer being one recipe. I filled it with homemade mango lime curd and stabilized whipped cream. I did frost the sides of the cake with Swiss meringue buttercream since I had to take it about a half hour away. I made Dulce de leche and added it to the frosting. It was delicious! I topped the cake with a generous amount of the whipped cream and then shredded coconut. Once I receive the photo from my friend I will send it along. Thank you again, my friend, Karina, said it tasted like home. The BEST compliment ever!

Would love to see the photo!!!! YUM.

Hi Pati,
I’m really excited to try out this recipe, but I was wondering do I really need 9 eggs? I looked at other tres leche recipes and they only required 4-6 eggs. 9 eggs seemed like a lot to me, but I trust your expertise!

Give it a try, Kelley!

The entire time I was making this cake I thought this can’t be right, this is going to be a disaster, I’m wasting all my ingredients…..well it was amazing! So delicious. Follow the recipe exactly and you should have great success. Good Luck!

“Hello Pati; I love your program; Iam Cuban but I love Mexican Food; I leve in California for 51 year and I will said that after the Cuban food the Mexican come next and the American on #3.
You are the best, your receipes are easy and fast,believe me I have learn a lof from you.
I considered myself a good chefs, I took classes in Los Angeles to expand my creativity and knowledge but create has done must of the work when it comes to technique and learning to know the product I am working with.
I love the friendship you have with your children it’s wonderful ,I remember when my two boys were there age and I used to incorporate them in all my cooking,thanks today they are wonderful chefs and there family appreciate them very much.
I wish you all the luck in your program and in your personal life.
” God bless you “

Hola Pati! I can’t wait to make this cake for my Hubby. I do have one question though… is that toasted coconut you used as garnish? Do they sell it like that already? Thank you!

Yep! No, you can toast it, or you can use the candied one, which is also delicious and is sold at the baking isles…

I had this cake yesterday. did everything like it said but my cake isn’t really moist. the bottom is but the middle up is dry. I poked several holes into the cake on top and bottom. I have had this cake at a Mexican bakery before and this one taste nothing like it. Could I need more of the milk mixture? I don’t know where I went wrong.

Hola Brandy, So sorry to hear this! Did you use all of the three milks mixture & pour it on top too?

Yes, I used them all and did it just like it said. Idk???

Hello, I want to take this to a bar for my boyfriend’s birthday. But, how long is it safe to keep it at room temperature? It’s chilly here in NYC, but not refrigerator chilly indoors. Thanks!

Hola Paula, I wouldn’t keep it out for more than 4 hours at room temp. If you think it will be longer, maybe the bar will kind enough to put it in a refrigerator for you!

This Tres Leche Cake was beyond “DELICIOUS”. The cake was the hit of the party!! I will be making this again & again. Thank you for a great recipe and show!

Dear Patty

You are such an exquisite human being! I am impressed with you answering all the posts , taking the time to greet, socialize and answer! than you very much.

I have tried doing the 3 leches before, and I have 2 questions, that I hope you might help me with
1. the cake grows in the oven, but once I take it out, it flattens miserably…. also, 2. many times, when the time ring cooking and it looks cooked in the outside but the middle, in the center of the cake is still pretty liquidy!
THanks so much for your help!


Hola Bin, Thank you so much for your note! Try cooking it for a few minutes longer; it should be springy to the touch in the middle when it’s ready.

Hi, I’m not much of a baker, but wanted to make this cake for our church build your own taco fellowship potluck. Made the two layers with strawberries and whipped cream in the middle. In spite of recipe seeming difficult, I found it very easy and the cake is fabulous. Thanks for sharing your recipe in such an easy to follow manner. You made me look like a professional baker

So happy to hear, Raelynn! Thank you for trying my recipe!!

Hi Patty,

Thank you for sharing your recipe! I made this lastnight and it was very tasty. I’ll be making it again for my family to celebrate our mother’s birthday. I added 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon to the flour and sifted it gradually in to the egg batter. It gives off the most amazing smell along with Madagascar vanilla once fully baked. Thank you again!

Thank you for making my recipe! Sounds great with cinnamon!!

Hi Pati, I discovered you and your delightful personality on-line, not too long ago. I made the tres leches cake for a friend’s b’day party & decorated it with fresh glazed fruit & stand-up ganache fans. Everyone ooh’ed and ahh’ed & thought the cake was just fabulously delicious.I’m so taken with your recipes & the background you provide for most of the recipes, that I bought each of my 3 children (who are all involved in cooking professionally & one is an emmy-winning editor/producer of daytime cooking shows) your book as a gift. We are all busy trying out Pati’s Mexican Table!

Beatrice: you are so kind! Thank you for trying my recipes and thank you for getting my book for your kids and yourself! I am working on the second one, and I do hope you like it even better than the first one :)

I followed this recipe exactly and it turned out terrible.

So sorry to hear this Maureen.

I made this as described and it was an absolute success. I made it the day before the dinner, so all the cream soaked in. You know it is a winner when people take extra slices for home. Might try it with the coconut next time.

Leave a Comment

Home | About Pati | TV Show | Cookbook | Pati’s Blog | Contact | Terms of Use & Privacy Policy
© 2010-2016 Mexican Table, LLC. All rights reserved.
Newsletter Sign Up