Love tres leches cake? It’s even more delicious and pretty in cupcake form. These from-scratch tres leches cupcakes are sure to be a hit!

These tres leches cupcakes are a hit every time I make them! Lovely in presentation, the taste and texture and flavor are the real stars of the show.

I’m giving you all my tips and tricks below for how to make these showstopper cupcakes!

A tres leches cupcakes topped with frosting and chopped strawberries on a white muffin liner.

Fantastic Base Cupcake

The vanilla cupcake recipe on its own is incredibly fantastic. It has become my go-to vanilla cupcake recipe for all things.

It is light and fluffy and so wonderfully easy (no electric mixer needed, no fussy ingredients).

Even if tres leches cupcakes don’t seem like they fit in your wheelhouse (hint: I’ll try to change your mind about that in a minute), the plain cupcake recipe is a winner.

Three tres leches cupcakes in silver muffin liners lined up on a white platter.

How to Add Tres Leches to the Cupcakes

In the interest of full disclosure, it is a bit tedious soaking the cupcakes with the tres leches mixture.

I tried about seven different methods to drizzle, spoon, pour on the milk mixture and finally settled on the method that works best for me.

There are more details below in the recipe, but I use a squeeze bottle and a small offset spatula {aff. links for both}.

It’s not hard! Just a little time-consuming.

Three pictures showing a cupcake getting milk mixture squirted on top.

Here are a few other ideas/methods from the comments on adding the milk mixture:

  • use an eyedropper
  • piping bottle with metal tip
  • large syringe found in baking aisle
  • clean meat syringe (here are the full details of the comment: I found a great and fast way to put the milk mixture in the cupcakes. I use a meat injection syringe. Obviously one that is clean and maybe one that you buy, a cheap one from Big Lots or some place like that. I keep the mixture in the bowl I mixed it in. Pull back the plunger to fill the syringe. Hold the cupcake. Inject the needle on the side at a steep angle and placing it as far in as you can. Slowly push the plunger in. You’ll wait till you see the mixture come up in other areas on top. I’ve done this multiple times and can do two recipes worth in under 15 minutes.)
A tres leches cupcake topped with frosting and strawberries with a bite taken out.

Make-Ahead Dessert

These cupcakes are out of this world. Even having made them over and over, I’m still looking for reasons to serve them because they make everyone so insufferably happy.

One huge advantage of these lovely little cupcakes is they can be made ahead of time. In fact, they should be made ahead of time. And you know how I feel about make-ahead desserts, right? They make life worth living.

One Year Ago: Whole Grain Pumpkin Blueberry Muffins
Two Years Ago: Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells
Three Years Ago: Chipotle Chicken Skewers with Creamy Dipping Sauce

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Divine Tres Leches Cupcakes

4.6 stars (326 ratings)

Ingredients

Cupcakes:

  • 1 ½ cups (213 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (113 g) salted butter
  • 1 cup (212 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Milk Mixture:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Topping:

  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • cup (38 g) powdered sugar
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • Fresh berries, for topping

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with foil liners (don’t use standard paper liners; the milk mixture will soak through). This recipe makes about 16 cupcakes so you can line another 4 muffin cups in a second pan as well or bake a second batch.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In a microwave-safe bowl (you can also do this in a pan on the stovetop), melt the butter. Whisk in the sugar and continue whisking until the mixture is no longer warm to the touch. Whisk in the egg, buttermilk and vanilla until well-combined.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and whisk until the batter is mostly lump-free without overmixing (maybe 20-30 strokes of the whisk total).
  • Portion the cupcake batter evenly in the tins. Don’t overfill! For this recipe, in particular, it is best to have the baked muffins sit slightly below the rim of the muffin cup to help when adding the tres leches mixture. I use my #20 cookie scoop to portion the cupcake batter – about 3 tablespoons batter, or slightly less, per muffin cup.
  • Bake the cupcakes for 14-16 minutes until the tops spring back lightly to the touch.
  • Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely. When cool, use a thin skewer to poke holes all over (and I mean, all over) the cupcake. Go crazy, but don’t poke all the way through the cupcake liner.
  • For the milk mixture, in a large liquid measuring cup or in a blender, whisk together or blend the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. The milk mixture needs to be drizzled or spooned over the top of each cupcake one at a time. I find it works best to pour the milk mixture in batches into a squeeze bottle (pictured below) and slowly squeeze the milk mixture onto the top of the cupcake while simultaneously pressing the milk mixture into the top of the cupcake with an small offset spatula. This tedious step can probably be sped up by using a thicker skewer to poke the holes. I use a fairly thin skewer which means the milk mixture doesn’t soak in quite as quickly. You’ll want to use about 2-3 tablespoons of milk mixture per cupcake (depending how soft and soaky you want them).
  • Refrigerate the cupcakes for at least an hour, or cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 12 hours.
  • When ready to serve (up to two hours ahead of time but not before that), prepare the topping by whipping the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract together until stiff peaks form. Dollop
  • the sweetened whipped cream on top of each cupcake and finish it off with a fresh berry. Serve immediately or refrigerate for 1-2 hours until serving.

Notes

Leftover Milk Mixture: just a heads up that there will be left over milk mixture. There’s no way around it since the ingredients aren’t sold in smaller cans, but since many of you have been irked about leftover components in recipes before, I thought I’d let you know that in advance. You can definitely halve the milk mixture recipe and then decide what to do with the half leftover cans of sweetened condensed and evaporated milk (of course you could just double or triple the cupcake recipe and then, problem solved).
Don’t Skip This Step: I know the milk mixture part of the recipe (spooning it onto the cupcakes) seems a bit labor intensive, but these cupcakes are so worth it. Turn on Netflix or have your kids tell you entertaining stories to pass the time. The method I outline in the recipe (and pictured below) really is the fastest way I’ve found to do it. I use a really thin bamboo skewer to poke the holes but I’m guessing if you use something thicker, the milk mixture will soak in more quickly (just take care not to poke holes so big that the cupcake falls apart).
Serving: 1 Cupcake, Calories: 403kcal, Carbohydrates: 41g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Cholesterol: 93mg, Sodium: 206mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 31g
Follow @MelsKitchenCafe on Instagram and show me the recipes you are making from my blog using the hashtag #melskitchencafe. I love seeing all the goodness you are whipping up in your kitchens!

Recipe Source: inspired by tres leches cupcakes I had at a book group several months ago (Heather, lovely book group hostess, gave me the milk mixture recipe); the cupcake recipe is one I’ve been working on for a while