Coconut Tres Leches with Boxed Cake Mix

By using boxed cake mix, the only thing you need to prep for tres leches is the three-milk soak. Coconut milk lends a tropical flavor.
1 cake
Wait Time
24 Hrs
Active Time
40 Mins

Don't look down on boxed cake mix, even if you know how to make a cake from scratch. Boxed cakes always turn out great, even with minimal effort and attention! Trust them to deliver in high-pressure situations (like a DIY wedding cake!), spontaneous celebrations, or spur-of-the-moment cake cravings.

This tres leches recipe uses boxed cake mix so you can focus on what really matters: the three-milk soak. Using coconut milk instead of regular milk adds a pleasant tropical note.

What is tres leches?

Tres leches (also pastel de tres leches) is a popular Latin American dessert. To make it, you poke holes into a cake for it to soak in the eponymous three-milk mixture: condensed milk, evaporated milk, and whole milk. After soaking overnight, the moist cake acquires a rich, almost custardy texture.

Other milks to try

Not a fan of coconut milk? You can either switch it out with equal amounts of whole milk or cream and stop there, or infuse some flavor into it for a nice twist:

  • Cereal milk: Combine whole milk / cream and evaporated milk with your favorite breakfast cereal (like cornflakes). Let cereal soak for at least 30 minutes. Pour through a mesh strainer to remove cereal, then add condensed milk to make your three-milk soak. Add more cereal as a garnish to the cake.
  • Coffee milk: Dissolve instant coffee in whole milk / cream warmed in the microwave or in a saucepan, then combine with evaporated or condensed milk. You can also substitute half of the plain milk with strongly brewed coffee or cold brew concentrate.
  • Milk tea: Steep a strong dose of earl grey, Thai tea, or a black tea like Ceylon or Assam in gently warmed whole milk / cream + evaporated milk. If using finely ground tea such as matcha or hojicha, no need to heat anything up—just combine it with the condensed milk first.
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