Latin American 3 leches cake

3 Leches cake – a soaked cake desert from Latin America

3 Leches cake (three milk cake) is a traditional desert from Latin America and if you ask us, it is one of the most delicious deserts on earth! The only reason why we do not make it every week is that we love it too much and we would eat too many calories. Attention: it is very hard to stop eating this delicacy!

What is a 3 leches cake?

It is a soaked cake desert. The cake acts as a sponge that soaks up three varieties of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk and whipped cream.

Depending on the country, the 3 leches cake can be prepared in different ways. For example, chocolate, cinnamon, coffee, an alcoholic beverage or different fruits can be added. If you add chocolate powder to the milk mix, it turns into a 3 leches chocolate cake.

However, more variations are possible. For example, you can add dulce de leche or whole milk. In that case, it is called 4 leches, because another type of milk is added. If you also add coconut milk, it will turn your desert into a 5 leches cake.

In our recipe, we added whole milk, thus making it a 4 leches cake.

3 leches cake from Costa Rica
A piece of the mouthwatering 3 leches cake

The origin of 3 leches

The first time Janice ate 3 leches cake was in Costa Rica. Her host mother and host sister made it several times while she was living there for a year. Anyway, the origin of this desert is not clear. The desert is very popular in México, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Panamá, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries.

Either a producer for tinned milk or of hand mixers probably developed the recipe to use in advertisement. In the 1940s, Nestlé printed pictures of the recipe on milk tins in Mexico. In the 19th century, there were several similar recipes in the Mexican cuisine, which often contain sponge cake soaked in alcohol. These probably were based on other recipes from the European colonial powers. For example, the British trifle and rum cake as well as tiramisu from Italy use the method to soak cake in a liquid.

3 leches cake

A sponge cake soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk and whipped cream. Be careful, this desert is addictive!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Resting time3 hrs
Course: Cake, Dessert
Cuisine: Costa Rican, Latin American
Keyword: 3 leches cake, Cake


  • Mixer
  • Big bowl
  • Baking dish


  • 250 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 250 g sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 pkg vanilla sugar
  • 125 g butter (liquid)
  • 5 eggs
  • 250 ml sweet condensed milk
  • 250 ml condensed milk (10%)
  • 250 ml milk
  • 1 tbsp rum
  • 400 ml whipped cream
  • 1/2 pkg vanilla sugar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Rasped chocolate (you can also use cinnamon, strawberries etc. for the topping)


  • Preheatthe oven to 175° C.
  • Beat 125 g butter with 250 g sugar, a pinch of salt and ½ package of vanilla sugar until fluffy.
  • Add the eggs and stir.
  • Finally, add the flour and backing powder and stir until all is mixed well.
  • Put the dough into a big baking dish. The dough should be around 3 cm high.
  • Bake it for around 30 minutes.
  • Let the dough cool down and prick several small holes in it with a toothpick or something similar.
  • Mix the sweet condensed milk, the condensed milk, the milk and the rum. Add it equally to the cake.
  • Cover it with wrapping film and let it rest for at least 3 hours.
  • Whisk the whipped cream with the sugar and vanilla sugar until stiff, and spread it on the cake.
  • Decorate with the rasped chocolate.
  • Cut into squares and serve.


The 3 leches cake stays good in the fridge for a couple of days. It even tastes better when resting for a little longer.

Do you love cakes as much as we do? Then also try out our German strawberry cake!

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