Tres Leches Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting & Toasted Coconut

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These Tres Leches Cupcakes are a clever take on the popular dessert of the same name which originated in Mexico. You will be taking a basic cake mix and enriching it with three kinds of milk to make these delightful cupcakes. They’re topped with vanilla frosting and toasted coconut. Delicioso!

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A tres leches cupcake topped with frosting and toasted coconut, with more toasted coconut scattered around in the background. Text overlay says"Tres Leches Cupcakes". Same cupcakes featured throughout from various angles, with different text overlays, unless otherwise described.

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Tres Leches Cupcakes

The full ingredients list and instructions are found in the printable recipe card at the end of this post. I highly recommend reading the blog post all the way through so that you don’t miss any tips or substitution suggestions and ensure that you have all the ingredients and equipment required and understand the steps and timings involved.

A tres leches cake which translates as ’three milks cake’ in Spanish is a sponge cake soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. Tres leches cake is a uniquely traditional Latin American cake.

Inspired by this delicious cake, we’ve made tres leches cupcakes, and think you should too!

If you’re throwing a Cinco de Mayo celebration or a Mexican-themed event, put these cupcakes on your “desserts to serve” list!

Starting life from a box of vanilla cake mix, the cooked cupcakes are doused with three different kinds of milk as in the original recipe and then topped with creamy frosting, toasted shredded coconut, another swirl of frosting, and a final sprinkling of cinnamon sugar to finish.

A taste sensation I’m sure you will agree – read on to get all the info you need to make these three-milk cupcakes!

How To Make Tres Leches Cupcakes

Ingredients & Equipment Used In This Recipe

For your convenience, any specialized or notable ingredients and equipment needed to make these cupcakes have been listed below and linked to Amazon or other stores if available online. Standard ingredients such as flour or sugar are not listed, as you are likely to have those in your kitchen. The full list with measurements is found on the recipe card.

Cupcakes & Frosting Ingredients

Cupcake Decorating Equipment

Recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog use both cup measurements and/or weighted measurements. American cups and kitchen food scales are handy pieces of equipment to have in your kitchen as it means you’ll be able to make all of the different recipes on my blog! I try to give American, imperial, and metric measurements in my recipes. You can mix cup measurements with weighted measurements, but never imperial (pounds, ounces, pints, etc.,) with metric (kilograms, grams, litres, etc.,).

Tres Leches Cupcakes with Coconut

Tres Leches Cupcakes Recipe Tips

Cupcake Making Tips

  • These cupcakes are made using a box of cake mix – the flavor is enriched by using butter, milk, and eggs, instead of the usual oil, water, and eggs.
  • Use your choice of cupcake liners – themed to the cupcakes, plain white or black, or a complimentary color.
  • Use an ice cream scoop to equally divide the cupcake mixture between the cupcake liners. Fill them about three-quarters full.
  • The cupcakes should be ready in about 20 minutes – test their doneness by inserting a toothpick into the cakes. It should come out clean when the cupcakes are cooked all the way through. Bake for an extra 2 minutes and check again.
  • Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Cupcake Frosting Tips

  • When making the frosting you want the end result to be creamy, smooth, and hold a stiff peak. You may have to adjust the amount of powdered sugar and cream slightly to achieve the consistency you need.
  • These cupcakes are double-frosted, for the first layer, pipe a thick ring around the edge of the cupcake and cover with toasted coconut to cover completely. Then add a swirl of frosting on top of the sprinkle layer.
  • You will need a large piping bag and a large star tip such as a Wilton #1M
  • If you feel like you are going to be making a lot of cakes and cupcakes in the future, I think it is worth investing in a set of piping tips so that you know you always have the right ones on hand for a recipe.
  • Do not overfill the piping bag with frosting, and make sure you squeeze the frosting down the bag to expel any air bubbles.
  • If you are not confident with your piping skills you can practice on some parchment paper first and scoop the frosting back into the bag to use on the cupcakes.

More Cupcake Recipes

Looking for more cupcakes to make? Check these recipes out next:

Tres Leches Cupcakes (Mexican Inspired Recipe)

How Do I Make Tres Leches Cupcakes?

Check out the printable recipe card below with full ingredients and instructions. Any demonstration photos do not print out to save your ink.

Tres Leches Cupcakes with Coconut Recipe

Tres Leches Cupcakes

Yield: 18
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

These Tres Leches Cupcakes are a clever take on the popular dessert of the same name which originated in Mexico.


For the Cupcakes

  • 1 (15.25-oz/432g) box French Vanilla Cake Mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

For the Milk Topping

  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream (double cream)
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup evaporated milk

For the Coconut Topping

  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut

For the Vanilla Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2½ cup powdered sugar (icing sugar)
  • 4 Tbsp heavy whipping cream (double cream)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Cinnamon Sugar

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Place 18 cupcake liners in cupcake pans and set them aside.
  2. Using an electric handheld or standing mixer, beat the cake mix, eggs, butter, whole milk, and cinnamon until combined.
  3. Use an ice cream scoop to fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full.
  4. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Meanwhile, to make the milk topping, whisk the cream, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together in a medium bowl until combined. Set it aside.
  6. Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and leave them to cool for 5 minutes.
  7. Use a bamboo skewer or a toothpick to poke holes randomly on the top of the cupcakes.
  8. Spoon the milk mixture onto the top of each cupcake (about 2 tablespoons per cupcake).
  9. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

    Baked Tres Leches Cupcakes
  10. To toast the coconut, place the butter into a frying pan over medium heat and add the coconut. Stir to toast the coconut and ensure it doesn't burn.
  11. Once the coconut has evenly lightly browned, remove and place onto a plate to allow to cool
    completely before using.
  12. To make the frosting, use an electric handheld or standing mixer to beat the butter, powdered sugar, cream, ground cinnamon, and vanilla until combined, smooth and holds a peak. This will take approximately 5-7 minutes.
  13. Scoop the frosting into the piping bag fitted with an open star tip.
  14. To make the cinnamon sugar, whisk the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, and set it aside.
  15. Pipe a thick ring of frosting around the edge of the cupcake.

    Frosting Tres Leches Cupcake
  16. Coat the frosting in the toasted coconut.

    Shredded Coconut on Frosting
  17. Pipe a swirl of frosting on top of the toasted coconut layer.

    Swirl of Frosting on Coconut Layer
  18. Sprinkle with some of the cinnamon sugar and enjoy!

    Tres Leches Cupcakes with Coconut Recipe

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 18 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 462Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 293mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 2gSugar: 42gProtein: 5g

This site uses Nutritionix to provide estimated nutrition. Nutritional information is always approximate and will depend on the quality of ingredients used and serving sizes. If you need exact calories and macros, please do your own calculations.

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Make It A Meal!

You’ve made the dessert, but what about the rest of the courses?

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