Dare to take yellow cake up a notch? This coconut tres leches cake transforms ordinary yellow cake into something positively decadent.

Every dish that I make (and that subsequently appears on this here blog) is tried and tested by my toughest critic and ally: my husband, Brian. He is very, very honest in his reviews, which is a good thing but he isn’t necessarily eloquent in his replies. It usually comes down to:

a) not good (which translates into please don’t make it again…ever…again)
b) fairly decent (which means he’d eat it again in a pinch but it’s definitely not blog-worthy)
c) seriously awesome (which is food-talk for seriously awesome and the recipe is given the thumbs up to appear here)

Piece of tres leches cake with whipped cream and banana slices on top.

When it came to this coconut tres leches cake (made with the ingenious make-ahead yellow cake mix), I didn’t even have time to ask Brian what he thought because he seriously took one bite, looked at me and said, “Wow, this is seriously awesome.” And then, this is where I knew it really was seriously awesome, he went on to say, “Best.Dessert.Ever.”  And followed-up with a resounding, “I could eat this every day for the rest of my life.”

From the man of few words, this was shocking.

And so I must say to you: this dessert is seriously awesome. Best.Dessert.Ever. Make it every day for the rest of your life.

The cake is soaked in a coconut cream milk mixture that transforms this ordinary yellow cake into something positively decadent. Before you get worried about the soggy factor – listen up. I hate soggy foods. Oh, I loathe them.

This cake, after chilling, turns more into a creamy, silky, cake-like pudding. It is velvety, sweet goodness that is absolutely irresistible.

I must implore you to serve the cake with sliced bananas – the simple flavor of the bananas compliments the sweet cake in a way no other fruit could do.

Seriously awesome, people.

Top view of a white plate with a slice of tres leches cake topped with whipped cream and sliced bananas.

Coconut Tres Leches Cake

4.50 stars (95 ratings)



Milk Syrup:

  • 1 (15-ounce) can cream of coconut
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • Sweetened cream, see instructions below
  • 1 cup toasted sweetened flaked coconut, (spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake it at 350 degrees until golden brown, 7 minutes, or toast it in a skillet over medium-low heat on the stovetop)


  • Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lightly spray a 9X13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set the baking dish aside. Place the make-ahead cake mix, 1 1/4 cups warm water and 2 large room-temperature eggs in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes (if using another cake mix or recipe, bake according to box or recipe instructions).
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until it is lightly golden and is slightly pulling away from the edges, 30-34 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool completely, 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, make the milk syrup: in a blender, combine the cream of coconut, evaporated milk, cream, and vanilla and process until smooth.
  • Pierce the cooled cake all over the top with the tines of a fork or a thin wooden skewer. We are talking all over! The more pokes, the more the syrup will soak into the cake. Using a large spoon or ladle, spoon some of the milk syrup over the cake. Let the syrup soak into the cake, then continue spooning the syrup on top until all of it has been used up. When you have finished, not all of the syrup will be completely absorbed and might be pooling on the top but that’s ok because it will absorb as it refrigerates.
  • Cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until all of the syrup is absorbed, 2 hours. Cut the bananas, if using crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Slice the cake and serve it with sliced bananas, sweetened cream and toasted coconut, if desired.
  • For the sweetened cream, pour 1 cup heavy whipping cream into a large (preferably chilled) glass bowl and beat it on high speed until thickened 1 ½ minutes. Stop the machine and add ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar and ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Makes 2 cups.


Cream of Coconut: the recipe calls for Cream of Coconut. This is different than canned coconut milk. I found Cream of Coconut easily in the Asian foods aisle at a large grocery store (but couldn’t find it at some smaller stores nor at Walmart) near the other cans of coconut milk. Several commenters have indicated it is a pretty easy find if you look in the alcoholic drinks/mixes section.
Serving: 1 Serving, Calories: 387kcal, Carbohydrates: 56g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 28mg, Sodium: 297mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 38g

Recipe Source: adapted from The Dinner Doctor