Tres Leches Cake is a beloved Latin American dessert that is indulgent and delightfully decadent.
Unfortunately, the "leches" (milk) makes it off-limits for anyone trying to avoid dairy. But don't worry, I have you covered!
I've whipped up a delicious dairy-free vegan tres leches cake recipe that'll satisfy your sweet tooth and give you a comparable experience to traditional tres leches cake.
Let's dive in!
What is Tres Leches Cake?
Tres leches cake is a fluffy sponge cake base soaked in a sweet milk mixture and topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit.
Tres Leches means “three milks” in Spanish and is a name that is very befitting for this cake since it is soaked in a sweet mixture of three different milks.
Traditionally, the cake is soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk, and whole milk.
Since we’re making this one dairy-free, this recipe has a combination of dairy-free condensed milk, coconut milk, and oat milk.
This combination is the key to making the richest and moistest dairy-free tres leches cake.
Dairy-Free Tres Leches Cake Ingredients
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this vegan tres leches cake:
For the cake:
- Unsweetened dairy-free milk of your choice (oat milk and soy milk work great)
- Lemon juice
- Oil (I used vegetable oil)
- Vanilla extract
- Unbleached all-purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
Three-milk mixture for soaking the cake:
- Unsweetened coconut milk
- Dairy-free condensed milk (use our recipe!)
- Unsweetened dairy-free milk of your choice (almond milk or oat milk are good options)
For topping your cake:
- Sliced strawberries
- Dairy-free whipped cream
How to Make Dairy-Free & Vegan Tres-Leches Cake
Follow these steps to make the perfect vegan dairy-free tres leches cake:
Step 1: To begin, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine dairy-free milk and lemon juice in a small bowl or measuring cup to make vegan buttermilk.
Whisk the mixture vigorously for 1 minute, then set it aside for 5 minutes.
Step 2: In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add sugar and mix well to combine.
Step 3: Next, add the wet ingredients (vegan buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract) to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Pour the batter into a lightly greased 8x8 or 7x11 baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Once done, remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for about 15 minutes. It should still be warm for the next step.
Step 4: In a small bowl, combine coconut milk, condensed milk, and dairy-free milk to make the soaking mixture. Use a skewer, chopstick, or fork to poke holes in the top of the cake about ½ inch apart. The distance doesn’t matter, just poke holes all over.
Step 5: Slowly pour the soaking mixture all over the cake, ensuring that you get it into all of the crevices. Place the soaked cake into the refrigerator and allow it to chill for at least 30 minutes.
Step 6: After chilling, remove the cake from the refrigerator. Top it with whipped cream and fresh strawberry slices, and it's ready to serve.
Tips For Making The Best Non-Dairy Tres Leches Cake
While this recipe is pretty straightforward, here are some tips to make sure your tres leches cake comes out perfectly!
Ensure that you use the right amount of milk to soak the cake and poke just enough holes to catch that velvety, sweet mixture and permeate the cake.
The flavor profile is very similar and unique just like the dairy version.
There are a couple things that should not be substituted for in this recipe like the condensed milk and whipped cream.
You can however add other complementary ingredients and flavors like cinnamon, cocoa powder and even a splash of rum to add to the overall experience.
Substitutions & Alternatives
Dairy-free Condensed Milk
Condensed milk is necessary for this recipe so please don’t omit or substitute it.
This sweet milk helps to elevate the cake’s taste and texture.
This recipe calls for dairy-free condensed milk that you can purchase from the store or, you can check out this recipe (insert recipe for dairy-free condensed milk here)
There are a number of diary-free milk options available and you can honestly use whichever one you prefer.
For this recipe, one with a higher fat and or protein yield works best such as soy milk, oat milk or coconut milk.
How To Store Dairy-Free Tres Leches Cake
To properly refrigerate your dairy-free tres leches cake it is essential that you place it in an airtight container or wrap it tightly with cling wrap so that it does not dry out and lose its moisture.
For the best taste and texture, try to consume it within 2-3 days to avoid the cake from becoming overly saturated and soggy overtime. This might not be a pleasant texture or experience.
What To Serve With Dairy-Free Tres Leches Cake
This humble recipe is a crowd-pleaser and can be enjoyed with coffee, tea or a refreshing glass of fruit juice.
You can also jazz it up with interesting toppings such as shredded coconut, fresh berries or a sprinkle of cocoa powder. Be sure to serve it chilled to contrast the dense, moist texture of the cake.