Gluten-Free Tres Leches Cake

4.94 from 46 votes
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Authentic homemade gluten-free Tres Leches Cake. A sponge cake soaked in a sweet milk mixture and topped with fresh whipped cream and cinnamon. You are going to love this traditional Mexican gluten-free dessert! 

a slice Gluten-Free Tres Leches Cake on plate with another piece and strawberries in the background.

I was first introduced to Tres Leches cake years ago by a dear friend when we lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Tres Leches means three milks in Spanish, and this gluten-free cake is soaked in a sweet and creamy mixture of whole milk, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk.

It is a traditional cake made in Latin America. It is very popular in Mexico and often made for Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

How To Make A Gluten-Free Tres Leches Cake

Traditional Tres Leches cake is made in a few easy steps.

The Egg Yolks Step

Gluten-Free Tres Leches Cake recipe steps 1-4 photo collage

  • In a large bowl combine the gluten-free flour, gluten-free baking powder, and salt.
  • Separate the eggs into egg whites and eggs yolks into two separate small bowls.
  • In a large bowl mix the 3/4 cup sugar and the egg yolks together on high speed until yolks are pale yellow.
  • Add the 1/3 cup milk and pure vanilla extract to the egg yolk mixture and mix on low to combine.
  • Pour the egg yolk mixture over the gluten-free flour mixture and stir gently just until the ingredients are combined.

The Egg Whites Step

Gluten-Free Tres Leches Cake recipe steps 5-8 photo collage

  • In a large bowl beat the egg whites on high speed, adding the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar gradually. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  • Fold the egg whites into the batter gently, just until combined.
  • Pour batter into a greased 9×13 pan. Smooth the top of the batter to make it even as you can.

The Three Milks Step

Gluten-Free Tres Leches Cake recipe steps 9-12 photo collage

  • Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool completely.
  • Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk in a small bowl and stir to combine.
  • Using a fork to poke holes all over the top of the completely cooled cake.
  • Slowly pour the milk mixture all over the top of the cake. Make sure you pour all over the cake, even the edges.
  • Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour or overnight. This will allow the cake to soak up the milk.
  • When ready to serve, whip the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and pure vanilla extract until stiff peaks form.
  • Smooth the whipped cream over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve with fresh sliced strawberries.
  • Enjoy!

pan of Gluten-Free Tres Leches Cake with one piece cut out and strawberries in the background

Tres Leches cake is similar to angel food cake when it is baked. It is a light and spongy cake because of the whipped eggs whites in the cake batter.

Soaking the cake in the sweet milk mixture totally changes the taste and the texture of this gluten-free cake. It transforms it into an ultra moist sponge cake.

piece Gluten-Free Tres Leches Cake on a plate with strawberries and another slice in the background

Topped with fresh whipped cream, a sprinkle of ground cinnamon and a sliced strawberry it is to die for! I promise no one will even know it’s a gluten-free cake.

Gluten-Free Tres Leche Cake Pinterest pin 3

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Recipe adapted from Tes Leches Cake from The Pioneer Woman.

4.94 from 46 votes

Tres Leches Cake {Gluten-Free}

Servings: 18 servings
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
Total: 55 minutes
slice of gluten-free Tres Leches Cake with the cake and strawberries in the background
Authentic homemade gluten-free Tres Leches Cake. A sponge cake soaked in a sweet milk mixture and topped with fresh whipped cream and cinnamon. You are going to love this traditional Mexican gluten-free dessert!

Ingredients 

Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour, (I like Pillsbury gluten-free)
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum, (Leave out if your flour already has it)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large eggs, , separate whites from the yolks
  • 1 cup sugar, , divided
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • ground cinnamon, , for the topping
  • fresh strawberries, (optional)

Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon  pure vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to350° F .
  • In a large bowl combine the gluten-free flour, gluten-free baking powder, and salt.
  • Separate the eggs into egg whites and eggs yolks into two separate small bowls.
  • In a large bowl mix the 3/4 cup sugar and the egg yolks together on high speed until yolks are pale yellow.
  • Add the 1/3 cup milk and pure vanilla extract to the egg yolk mixture and mix on low to combine.
  • Pour the egg yolk mixture over the gluten-free flour mixture and stir gently just until the ingredients are combined.
  • In a large bowl beat the egg whites on high speed, adding the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar gradually. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  • Fold the egg whites into the batter gently, just until combined.
  • Pour batter into a greased 9x13 pan. Smooth the top of the batter to make it even as you can.
  • Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Please watch your cakes because all ovens are different.
  • Check the center of the cake by inserting a toothpick to make sure it is done.
  • Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool completely.
  • Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk in a small bowl and stir to combine.
  • Using a fork to poke holes all over the top of the completely cooled cake.
  • Slowly pour the milk mixture all over the top of the cake. Make sure you pour all over the cake, even the edges.
  • Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour or overnight. This will allow the cake to soak up the milk.
  • When ready to serve, whip the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and pure vanilla extract until stiff peaks form.
  • Smooth the whipped cream over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve with fresh sliced strawberries.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

Mama says, "Check all of your labels!"
Recipe adapted from Tes Leches Cake from The Pioneer Woman.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 282kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 6gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 111mgPotassium: 219mgSugar: 27gVitamin A: 570IUVitamin C: 1.1mgCalcium: 164mgIron: 0.6mg

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

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
Tried this recipe?Mention @mamaknowsglutenfree or tag #mamaknowsglutenfree!

About Audrey Roberts

I'm Audrey Roberts, a busy mama of four and I love sharing the recipes that I make for my family. I make gluten-free family-friendly recipes that are simple and delicious that you can too! I use easy to find ingredients that won't break your budget. You will also find dairy-free options and Paleo recipes. I am also the author of The Everything Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Cookbook, which is an Amazon Best Selling Cookbook in the US and Internationally. Living gluten-free since 2010. I hope by me sharing my journey it may help you with yours.

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62 Comments

  1. I needed a GF dessert for Cinco de Mayo. This was excellent. I questioned that it only used 1 cup of flour, but that was the correct amount. I will definitely be making this again soon.

  2. This is an old post so I don’t know if you’ll see this…but do you think it’s possible to make this in an 8×8 pan so it will be a taller cake? Thank you!

    1. I think it helps to wait to add the egg yolk mixture to the dry ingredients until after whipping the egg whites. In other words, do step 6 after step 7. This way, the baking powder is not sitting reacting to the wet ingredients for an extended period of time. I did this and my cake rose nicely and was quite “spongy”. It then soaked up the “three milks” nicely and there was no puddle of liquid in the bottom of my pan. I am a retired science teacher trying to be a better baker. I will make this cake again, so good! I also found a recipe for stabilized whipped cream in which you add some unflavored gelatin to the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla. It worked great. You will need to search on this method if you want to give that a try. It was from Sugar Spun Run.

  3. Hi! Do you think this would work baked as cupcakes? Would you recommend changing anything (Besides the bake time)? Thanks! Can’t wait to try.

    1. Hi KC, we haven’t tried that, but it certainly could work with a lower baking time. Start at about 15 minutes.

  4. Absolutely delicious! I used Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 flour blend, then I used a combo of Lakanto’s monk fruit/erythritol sweetener and coconut sugar and cut that amount by almost half, using a heaping half cup, and it was still pretty sweet. Next time I will just do a level half cup of sweetener. I also used a combo of sweetened condensed coconut milk, half and half, and reduced fat coconut milk to pour over the cake. I used less than a half can of the sweetened condensed coconut milk (which is absolutely delicious, by the way) to keep the sugar lower. Then I used some of the reduced fat coconut milk in the cake batter and the rest in the milk mixture. It’s not completely dairy free, but not as much of a “dairy overload” which seems to make a difference for those of us that seem to be sensitive to dairy, which is practically my whole family. This recipe is a winner! 🏆And I have made quite a few tres leches cakes (gluten free and the wheat variety) because it is one of my very favorites. I will never make another recipe except for this one when making a tres leches cake!

  5. I made this for my birthday dessert and it was insanely delicious I used half the amount of sugar because I’m super sensitive and it was still so yummy my boyfriend and I couldn’t stop eating it lol ! Per his request I am making it again for thanksgiving thank you so much for this absolutely fantastic recipe !!!!

  6. A bit to sweet sweet for us but God it was the same that we had eaten in local bakeries!!!! Will definitely be making this recipe in future decreasing the amount of sugar in cake base n less condensed milk

  7. This cake is unreal! I am already planning on making a second one this month alone because I can’t stay out of it. No one would even know it was gluten free. So light and airy. My husband already told me this will be his future birthday cake that he will be asking for forever.

  8. I made this recipe for Father’s Day, my dad prefers gluten free. I cut the sugar in the cake by half and just used a teaspoon in the whipped cream. I used half almond flour and half white rice flour- it tasted just like the cakes I made with wheat flour! Everyone commented that it was better- less sweet and less heavy. It is now a family keeper:). We topped with fresh berries and a splash of Gran Marnier.

  9. I cannot count how many time I made this cake! I fell in love with Tres Leche cake before being diagnosed with celiac. And found this one after paying $60 for one from a baker. I actually have this in my fridge right now for my birthday. It is so amazingly delicious you cannot tell its GF. The ONLY thing I change is actually double the milks and soak over night. And I use HWC instead of whole milk. I cannot recommend this recipe enough!

  10. OMG … you’ve got to make this !!! I’ve made this twice, in as many weeks, and turned out fabulously. The first one was very moist, and I was concerned it would be too mushy … but it wasn’t. Don’t be afraid of the milks … they are what makes the cake. My 93 year old father-in-law asked me to make one for his birthday. Made another, yesterday, for my VERY critical sons birthday. He had TWO a pieces, which says ALOT !! No one could believe it was GF … rave reviews. Yesterdays cake was made with 1/4 cup Baileys Espresso liqueur instead of the whole milk. Next time I’ll use more and decrease the evaporated milk. This one is a WINNER !!! (I am celiac and had zero issues). Thank you for this cake for my gf rotation.

  11. All it took was making this recipe one time and now my family requests it to any family event or birthday celebration. They never know weather or not it’s gluten free unless I tell them. It is so delicious. I’m putting together a recipe book as a wedding gift to a cousin with all the family recipes and had to come back and re find the source of this amazing cake recipe to write down in the book so she knows the source and that it wasn’t my invention.

  12. This was surprisingly delicious – you would never know it was GF. As some of the other reviews mention, I also made it dairy free with the coconut milk alternatives (and unsweetened almond milk instead of whole milk) and also didn’t add all of the milk mixture because I don’t prefer it too wet and soggy. I also took a shortcut with the whipped cream topping and used So Delicious Cocowhip – which is literally so delicious. Highly recommend this recipe (with strawberries on top!) and will definitely make again!

  13. WOW!!! That’s all I can say! I made this recipe and everybody loved it! I am Mexican and I’ve been living in America for 16 years (about the same time that I was diagnosed gluten intolerant). I never thought I would be able to enjoy this cake! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this delicious recipe! I will add it to my recipe book and I’m looking for ears to make more of your recipes! God bless!

  14. Whoah!! We made this yesterday for our daughter’s 1st birthday and it was the best we’ve ever made, hands down. ADDICTING! So, so delicious. The perfect recipe. I am thrilled to have found this!

  15. I had a hankering for this cake- and this recipe is MAZING!!! The only thing I did different was that I made a 2nd batch of the 3 milks (and I used 2%, didn’t have whole) to pour on the cake after leaving the cake in frig over night to soak, We like it really wet. I didn’t use the whole 2nd batch of the 3 milks either, used about half, and the rest we used for coffee.

  16. This Tres Leche Cake is AMAZING. The first time I tried it was in Costa Rica, I was hooked. Since then I’ve become intolerant to gluten…so when I found this recipe I was sceptical. However I found out this is BETTER than the cakes I enjoyed & remembered from Costa Rica. Que Rico😋

  17. PLEASE Y’ALL TRY THIS RECIPE!! Truly Simple, inexpensive everyday(GF)ingredients with clear, easy to follow directions. Mama, would you quit coming up with recipes that make me feel like I’m committing a sin with every bite?! LOL Seriously, I use ALL your recipes for my baking needs and have yet to meet one that doesn’t dazzle my taste buds!! Thank you again and please don’t.ever.stop!! You truly mean the world to those of us with debilitating allergies

  18. My only complaint is that I waited so long to make this! I got a little yolk in the whites so they didn’t whip correctly, but I just kept on going and though it didn’t soak up all of the milk mixture, it was absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to try it the “correct” way next time.

  19. Whoooah!! We made this yesterday for our daughter’s 1st birthday and it was the best we’ve ever made, hands down. ADDICTING! So, so delicious. The perfect recipe. I am thrilled to have found this! Thank you!

  20. I’ve made this several times and the recipe is really easy to follow and delicious. It’s a big favorite with my family and any guests we have had when we serve it.
    We have also used the sponge recipe to make a sherry trifle. Thanks for the recipe. Ian

  21. This is the best tres leches cake and extra points for it being gluten free! I often make it the night before so it’s really soaked and flavorful the next day. Thank you for such a great recipe!

    1. I’ve been looking for a great gf tres leche cake and this is it! I’ve brought it into work multiple times and people have no idea it’s gluten free. Now I’m working on making it dairy free! The cake is easy enough but getting the right 3 milks so they absorb into the cake well is the trick!

  22. This turned out so well!! Couldn’t even tell the cake was gluten-free. Pretty simple recipe and tastes delicious!

  23. I’ve made this recipe 3 times now and it is incredible! Nobody can ever tell its gluten free.

  24. I’m making this recipe for the sixth time! It’s amazing every time. No one can believe it’s gluten free.

  25. I made this for my Mother’s Day dessert and it was so good!. Thanks for the great recipe. I didn’t change a thing.

  26. Your cakes are simply the best! This is my go-to site for gluten free cakes. Each one is a crowd pleaser, and often plenty of people eat the cake none the wiser that it’s gluten free and love it.

  27. Fantastic recipe! I made it dairy free with Nature’s Charm evaporated and sweet condensed milk. I recommend it!

  28. First time to make a Tres Leches cake. Everyone at that party loved the cake. I had a piece the next morning and it was even better after a night in the frig. Of course everyone wants to know what three milks. I told them the cow and goat were easy to milk. It took a while to milk that lizard. I will be using this recipe for a second time today to take to our family thanksgiving dinner. It is also a blessing to find a gluten free baking option.

  29. This is the first tres leches cake that I have ever made. I took it to work for two coworkers who threw down the challenge on Facebook one night to make a gluten free one. They loved it and my granddaughter loved it so much that she threw a fall-on-the-floor fit because there was none left for a second piece. To say I will be making it again is an understatement. Thanks for consistently successful recipes!

  30. I made this last year for my daughter’s birthday. She requested it for her birthday this year. When I told her she could make it anytime it blew her mind that it was a homemade cake that it was that good!! btw she’s 29 today. Extremely good cake. Fairly simple to make too. Until I had come across this recipe I didn’t imagine a gluten free cake and a tres leches cake was even possible, Simple delicious!!!

  31. Absolutely amazing!! Definitely a must have at every family birthday from no til forever. Thank you so much. It’s been so hard to find a dessert that everyone can eat and everyone LOVES!!

  32. I made this cake dairy free using coconut milks (evaporated, sweetened condensed and regular unsweetened coconut milk in a carton). Then for the top I made whipped coconut cream. This was the moistest cake I’ve ever had (I’m not a huge fan a cake because it’s usually too dry for me)…what a treat! I will definitely make this cake again!

  33. I literally could not stop eating this cake! It was sooooo so so dangerously good! I added sliced strawberries on top and it was pure heaven! It definitely is worth waiting overnight for- I snuck a piece shortly after it was all assembled, and while very yummy, it could NOT compare to the amazing decadence this cake offered the next day. I can’t wait to make (and eat ?) this again! THANK YOU!

    1. Thank you so much Courtney for the awesome 5-star recipe review, it really made my day! I am so happy that you enjoyed the tres leches cake. I totally agree with you, as this dangerously good. You are so welcome, I love sharing the recipes I make for my family. Thanks again!

    1. Hi Danielle! Some people use guar gum instead of the xanthan gum in gluten-free baking. I have not tried the guar gum. If you try it, please let me know how it turns out.

  34. Success! I made this last night for the fam and it turned out really nicely! Simple and sweet. My 9×13 was full of something else, so I baked mine in 2 9″ rounds. It took only 30 min to bake. I didn’t have evap milk, so subbed with 1-1/4 c. half & half. I also didn’t pour on the last 3/4 c of 3-milk mixture because I was afraid of the sog-factor. It was light and lovely with just the right amount of moisture for my kids who have anti-squishy-foods texture issues. I used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 baking flour and (even though it already contains some) added the xanthan gum suggested. (I was nervous). I also found my strawberries had molded on me, so my slices went out without them. I let the batter rest a bit before folding in the egg whites. For baking and pancakes and things like that, I have come to find that allowing the GF flour mixture to rest with the liquid mixed in for 15 or 20 minutes before finishing a recipe helps to tone down the grainy texure (unless that time messes with the particular leavening process). Anyhoo, all 6 kids and my hubby and I really enjoyed it. Was the perfect finish for our street taco dinner. Thanks so much!!!
    PS: Bakers, Don’t be scared of this recipe!! It’s actually very easy, as long as your cool with separating eggs!

    1. Thank you so much CJ for the awesome 5-star recipe review! I am so happy that you and your family enjoyed the cake. Thank you for sharing your tips as I know that they will help others. Thank you again!

  35. This was the BEST gluten-free thing we’ve had since my husband and son were diagnosed with celiac in December. Thank you so much for taking the time to work this out and publish. The sponge is the perfect base for the strawberry cake my husband’s used to having for his birthday every year since he was 3.

    1. Thank you so much Julie for the wonderful 5-star recipe review! I can’t tell you how happy it makes my heart to hear that you and your family enjoyed the cake. I know how hard the transition is to going gluten-free and how important it is to be able to still eat your favorites. That’s why I started this blog. You are so welcome, I love sharing what I make for my family. Thank you again!

      1. I finally made this cake and it was delicious. I will definitely be making it more often. Thanks for sharing it

        1. Thank you so much Juana for the 5-star recipe review! I am so happy that you enjoyed the cake and you will be making it more often. You are so welcome, I love sharing what I make for my family. Thank you again!

    1. Thank you so much Chris for the wonderful 5-star recipe review! You are so welcome, I love sharing what I make for my family. I hope you enjoy the gluten-free tres leches cake. Thank you again!

  36. I bake gluten-free on occasion because I have several friends and family members who don’t eat gluten. This cake was amazing! You can’t tell that it’s gluten-free. I used Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gf flour. Almost the entire 9×13 pan was gone by the end of the night. I served with strawberries and blueberries. Perfection.

    1. I am so happy that everyone enjoyed the cake Jennifer! It makes my heart so happy. I love sharing what I make for my family. Thank you so much and for the wonderful 5-star recipe rating.

  37. I can’t thank you enough for this recipe. I’m almost a year into my diagnosis of Celiac disease, and this recipe turned out so lovely! I am also going to use it in the future as my stand by for Angel Food Cake. Thank you soooo much. I’m excited to try your other gluten free recipes.

    1. Hi Heather. This makes my heart so happy! You are so welcome, I love sharing what I make for my family. I’m working on an Angle Food Cake recipe, so I will email you when I have it posted. Thank you so much for the wonderful rating and letting me know that you enjoyed the cake!

  38. I made it for a Cinco de Mayo potluck for a Santa Fe crowd. They loved it and no one knew it was GF, except that’s all I bake. Our hostess took out her Pioneer Woman cookbook when she heard your inspiration. To save time, I used So Delicious frozen whipped coconut cream topping. Topped it with toasted coconut and served fresh mixed berries with it. The leftovers keep well and taste better with age. A great addition to my GF Santa Fe menu planning. Thanks!

    1. Thank you so much Marcia! I am so glad that everyone enjoyed it. I love it when one else knows it’s gluten-free. I love Pioneer Woman’s recipes and it’s always fun to try and modify them to be gluten-free. Using the coconut cream topping and toasted coconut and mixed berries sound divine. You are so welcome! I love sharing what I make for my family.

    1. You are so welcome Dana! I love sharing what I make for my family. I hope you enjoy it and have a wonderful Mother’s Day!