Tres Leches Cupcakes – Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Tres Leches Cupcakes Recipe

One of my favorite cakes in the whole world is Tres Leches Cake. I prefer it to almost any other kind of cake because it’s so moist, tender, and practically juicy without being heavy.

These homemade vanilla tres leches cupcakes are exactly the same. 

Whether you are looking for a fabulous cupcake recipe for an upcoming event, birthday or graduation party, or want to make the most out of your Cinco de Mayo fiesta, these easy three milks cupcakes are absolutely irresistible.

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

The cupcakes themselves have a three milk mixture made with evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream soaked right in. As you can imagine, this keeps them scrumptiously moist.

They’re not overly sweet at all. In fact, more of the sweetness comes from the homemade buttercream frosting.

Although it’s not uncommon for homemade whipped cream or store bought whipped topping to be used in tres leches cake or tres leches cupcakes. You just can’t pipe it on and need to spread it instead.

Whatever frosting route you go, everyone is going to go crazy for these very authentic tasting tres leches cupcakes!

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Ingredients in Tres Leches Cupcakes

For these ultra moist tres leches cupcakes, you’ll need the following easy-to-find and very common fridge and pantry ingredients including the following:

Cupcake Batter:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Light brown sugar
  • Eggs, separated
  • 2% or whole milk
  • Vanilla extract
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Baking soda

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Three Milks Mixture:

  • Evaporated milk
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Heavy cream

Ingredients in Buttercream Frosting for Tres Leches Cupcakes 

For the easy buttercream frosting used to top top your tres leches cupcakes, you’ll want to have on hand the following ingredients:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Confectioners’s sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt
  • Heavy cream
  • Strawberries or other fruit for garnishing, optional

How to Make Frosted Tres Leches Cupcakes

To make tres leches cupcakes that everyone will swoon over at your next event, summer barbecue, Cinco de Mayo party, or birthday party, follow these basic steps:

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Step 1: Beat together the butter, sugars, and egg yolks until whipped and yellow.

Step 2: Add the milk, vanilla, and beat until combined.

Step 3: Combine the dry ingredients and then gently beat them in.

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Step 4: In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Step 5: Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Step 6: Fill your lined cupcake pan with the batter and bake.

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 7: Stir together the three milks mixture.

Step 8: Poke holes in the cupcakes after they have baked and slowly pour the three milk mixture over the top.

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 9: Beat together the frosting ingredients and then pipe, dollop, or spread on the frosting.

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 10: Optionally garnish with strawberries and serve!

Can I Make Substitutions to Any of the Milks?

Although tres leches cake implies that there are three types of milk in the recipe, there are actually four types of milk:

  1. 2% or whole milk in the cupcake batter
  2. Evaporated milk in the 3 milk mixture
  3. Sweetened condensed milk in the 3 milk mixture
  4. Heavy cream in the 3 milk mixture

I have never tried substituting any of the milks with a plant-based or non-dairy milk such as almond or cashew milk. 

If you were to make substitutions, I think reduced fat coconut milk in a can (not in a refrigerated carton) would be a decent swap for the 1 cup combined of evaporated milk and heavy cream.

However, you will be missing the sweetness you get with sweetened condensed milk so you have to compensate for that somehow – either just use it OR add another half-cup of coconut milk and a half cup of sugar.

Bottom line though, I recommend sticking to the recipe as written for optimal results.

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Do I Have to Add Frosting to Tres Leches Cupcakes?

Tres leches cupcakes ought to be frosted for both taste and appearance. Those little holes you poked into the cupcakes, which allow the three milk mixture to seep in, aren’t the prettiest and frosting covers them up.

For these tres leches cupcakes I use a very simple buttercream frosting that I pipe on. However, you can dollop it on with a spoon instead to save time.

Or, you can just make whipped cream and spread that on with a knife life I do in my Tres Leches Cake with Whipped Cream.

In a pinch, whipped topping like Cool Whip will also work just fine.

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Can I Make Tres Leches Cupcakes as a Tres Leches Cake Instead?

While you probably could simply bake this exact recipe in an 8×8-inch pan and make a cake out of it, I haven’t tested the recipe that way.

However, I do have the most amazing tried and true recipe for The Best Tres Leches Cake which you can make in a 9×13-inch pan.

It’s a different cake base than this one. It doesn’t use any butter and it uses all white sugar and no brown sugar. 

It is truly a winning tres leches cake recipe so just make that recipe if you want to make a tres leches cake! 

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Serving and Storage Suggestions for Tres Leches Cupcakes

Homemade tres leches cupcakes will continue to absorb the three milks mixture for a few hours after it’s added. Therefore, it’s best to make your cupcakes at least a few hours in advance. For an afternoon or evening gathering, make them in the morning. 

There is no harm, and in fact I prefer it, to making tres leches cupcakes the night before. 

Let the milk mixture soak in overnight at room temp with the cupcakes covered or airtight on your countertop.

Then, frost them before serving.

Tres leches cupcakes will keep airtight for about a day at room temp. After that, make sure to store them in the fridge where they will keep airtight for up to 5 days.

Note: Some people are more fanatical about not storing anything with butter or milk at room temp, but I am fine with it. If you’re not fine with it, then store your cupcakes in the fridge from the outset to avoid any worry. 

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Tips for Separating Egg Whites and Yolks for Tres Leches Cupcakes

When you’re mixing up the cake batter for the tres leches cupcakes, you will need to separate the eggs and white the whites separately.

However, make sure that you don’t get any egg yolks in the egg whites. Egg whites won’t beat well or whip up into stiff peaks if there is yolk in them. 

To guard against this, I always crack eggs when I need to separate them into a small bowl. I then pluck the yolk out with my fingers and set it aside where it needs to be. In this case, the main mixing bowl.

Then I repeat the process with the remaining eggs, always cracking into a small separate bowl and not the main mixing bowl in case you get a yolk that breaks.

I find it easier to just grab the yolk with my fingers and pull it out than try to be fancy and “pass” back and forth the yolk between two neatly broken eggshells like you would see on a cooking show. Because I am never that lucky!

That way, you won’t accidentally get whites or yolks where they shouldn’t be. 

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Tips for the Best Tres Leches Cupcakes

Making the best tres leches cupcakes of your life isn’t hard at all! I have a few extra tips and tricks to set you up for extra success though.

Make sure you whip the egg whites to stiff peaks, but not so so beaten that they are dry. 

Folding in means gently incorporating the egg whites into the cupcake batter. That doesn’t mean stirring like crazy or over-mixing. That would just deflate all your hard work and will make the cupcakes denser and less apt to rise. 

Poke the holes into the top of the tres leches cupcakes when they are still warm and fresh from the oven. The three milks mixture will soak in better if they are warm.

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Use a toothpick to poke the holes and poke about halfway down, and make about 10 holes per cupcake.

As I mentioned before when talking about frosting these fabulous moist cupcakes, you don’t have to frost them with a piping bag and tip. I used a Wilton 1M tip but use whatever you like. 

Or conversely, just spoon or spread on the frosting and skip the piping bag! Cool Whips works too for anyone who needs a shortcut!

I garnished with strawberries but any type of fresh berry like raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries are a nice touch although optional.

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 
Yield: 12

Tres Leches Cupcakes

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Tres Leches Cupcakes - Homemade vanilla cupcakes with three kinds of milk soaked in giving you the moistest cupcakes ever! EASY to make and the buttercream frosting adds the perfect light touch to these AUTHENTIC tasting cupcakes! Put them on the menu for your next event, birthday or graduation party, or of course a Cinco de Mayo fiesta! 

Ingredients

Cupcake Batter

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup of 2% or whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Three Milks Mixture:

  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla exract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Strawberries (or raspberries, blackberries, blueberries) optional for garnishing

Instructions

  1. Cupcake Batter - Preheat oven to 350F and line a 12-count cupcake pan with liners; set aside.
  2. To the bowl of a stand mixer, or large bowl and handheld electric mixer, add the butter, sugars, and egg yolks on high speed until whipped and yellow. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the 2% or whole milk, vanilla, and beat to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl; set aside.
  4. To a separate large bowl, add the egg whites* (See Notes for Tips on Separating Eggs), and using clean and dry beaters, beat the whites on high speed until stiff peaks form, but they aren't dry. Tips - Make sure that NO egg yolks are in the whites or they won't whip up well. And make sure to use clean, dry beaters and bowl.
  5. Gently fold in the egg whites into the cupcake batter using a large rubber spatula. Do not stir aggressively, this is a gently folding in, turning over the batter with your spatula, over and over, until the whites have folded in.
  6. Fill each cupcake liner 3/4-full with batter and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Rotate pan midway through baking for even cooking.
  7. Poke the cupcakes with a toothpick after they come out of the oven, going down about halfway, and poking them in about 10 spots each; set aside.
  8. Three Milks - To a large measuring cup or bowl, add the 3 milks, and stir to combine.
  9. Gently, slowly, and evenly pour the milk mixture over the cupcakes, allowing a bit of time for it to soak in, and going back and repeating as necessary until it's all been used. Note - The mixture will continue to absorb for a few hours after it's been poured in so it's best to make these cupcakes at least a few hours in advance. Make sure the cupcakes have completely cooled before frosting them.
  10. Buttercream Frosting - To the bowl of a stand mixer, or large bowl and handheld electric mixer, add the butter and beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  11. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, salt, and slowly drizzle in the heavy cream, stopping after 2 tablespoons. Beat on low speed and gradually increase the speed to high, and beat for a few minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  12. Add the remaining tablespoon of cream, and continue to beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. If necessary for consistency, add a bit more cream as needed.
  13. If desired, you can simply spoon on or dollop on the frosting. I transferred the frosting into a piping bag and with a 1M tip, piped it on to each cupcake.
  14. Optionally garnish with strawberries or other berries before serving. Cupcakes will keep airtight at room temp for up to 24 hours or airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes

*Make sure that you don't get any egg yolks in the egg whites. Egg whites won't beat well or whip up into stiff peaks if there is yolk in them.  To guard against this, I always crack eggs when I need to separate them into a small bowl. I then pluck the yolk out with my fingers and set it aside where it needs to be. In this case, the main mixing bowl.

Then I repeat the process with the remaining eggs, always cracking into a small separate bowl and not the main mixing bowl in case you get a yolk that breaks. I find it easier to just grab the yolk with my fingers and pull it out than try to be fancy and "pass" back and forth the yolk between two neatly broken eggshells like you would see on a cooking show.

**The nutritional stats are computer generated and while I don't think these cupcakes are "light" I do believe the stats are skewing heavier than they really are. Some of the buttercream frosting is lost to the mixing bowl, beaters, and piping bag which accounts for the artificially inflated stats in my opinion.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 754Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 27gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 163mgSodium: 308mgCarbohydrates: 89gFiber: 0gSugar: 79gProtein: 6g

More Favorite Cake and Cupcake Recipes:

The BEST Tres Leches Cake — This easy tres leches cake melts in your mouth and requires just 15 minutes of hands-on prep!!  This is an authentic three milk cake your family will love! Perfect for Cinco de Mayo!!

The Best Tres Leches Cake - Soft, tender, and soaked with three milks! It just melts in your mouth and it's the BEST tres leches cake ever!! You need to try this AMAZING cake!!

Sweet Cream Vanilla Coffee Cake – You’ll never guess what special ingredient keeps this fast and easy cake so soft and moist!

Sweet Cream Vanilla Coffee Cake - You'll never guess what special ingredient keeps this fast & easy cake so soft and moist!

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze – You won’t miss chocolate at all after trying this cake! The glaze is just heavenly!

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze - You won't miss chocolate at all after trying this cake! The glaze is just heavenly!!!

Easy Yellow Cake with Buttercream Frosting – If you’ve never made a scratch cake, try this one!! Fast, easy, foolproof, one bowl, and tastes so good! It’s a keeper!

Easy Yellow Cake with Buttercream Frosting - If you've never made a scratch cake, try this one!! Fast, easy, foolproof, one bowl, and tastes so good! It's a keeper!!

Easy Homemade Funfetti Cake – Move over, store-bought cake mix!! This easy cake only takes minutes to make and tastes wayyyy better!!

Easy Homemade Funfetti Cake - Move over storebought cake mix!! This easy cake only takes minutes to make and tastes wayyyy better!!

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze – An easy little cake with big lemon flavor! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze - An easy little cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!!

The Best Pineapple Upside-Down Cake – So soft, moist and really is The Best! A cheery, happy cake that’s sure to put a smile on anyone’s face!

The Best Pineapple Upside-Down Cake - So soft, moist & really is The Best! A cheery, happy cake that's sure to put a smile on anyone's face!

Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Cake – Have ripe bananas? This cake has their name all over it! Dripping with rich, buttery, caramel sauce!

CCaramelized Banana Upside-Down Cake - Have ripe bananas? This cake has their name all over it! Dripping with rich, buttery, caramel sauce!

Peaches and Cream Fluffy Muffin Cake – The softest, moistest peach cake you’ll find with a tender, fluffy crumb just like peach muffins!

Peaches and Cream Fluffy Muffin Cake - Recipe at averiecooks.com

Pineapple Poke Cake with Pineapple Glaze — Fast, easy, one-bowl, no mixer, from-scratch cake that’s easier than a mix! The glaze soaks into every inch and you’ll be in juicy pineapple heaven!

Pineapple Poke Cake with Pineapple Glaze - Fast, easy, one-bowl, no mixer, from-scratch cake that's easier than a mix! The glaze soaks into every inch and you'll be in juicy pineapple HEAVEN!!

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting — Soft, fluffy, moist, very lemony cupcakes from scratch! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe for cupcakes that taste like they’re from a bakery!

lLemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting - Soft, fluffy, moist, very lemony cupcakes from scratch! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe for cupcakes that taste like they're from a bakery!

Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting — These from-scratch yellow cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting taste just like the kind you grew up eating at childhood birthday parties!

Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting — These from-scratch yellow cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting taste just like the kind you grew up eating at childhood birthday parties!

 

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.