This lemon tres leches cake is a bright, refreshing twist on the classic! Fresh lemon flavor adds something wonderful to this decadent cake. It’s light and fluffy yet indulgent at the same time.

I have a perfect slice of cake for your weekend treat!

simple lemon tres leches cake with whipped cream

For this tres leches cake, we’re infusing some lemon flavor to make it completely irresistible! Where are my lemon lovers at?!

tres leches cake with holes poked in it

While I absolutely love tres leches cake, I know it can be a love or hate kind of thing because of the texture. It’s this delicious spongy cake that soaks up the milks, making the cake part super moist and almost juicy – but in a really good way. 

I love it so much that I’ve made a chocolate version too, which might be my all time favorite cake. Seriously… chocolate cake soaked in chocolate milk? I’m here for it! 

pour milk on tres leches cake

I firmly believe that there is a time and place for lemon and chocolate desserts. I love both almost equally. I’ve said this for years, but it’s like you’re either in a chocolate mood or you’re in a lemon mood.

You know?

You’re either in the mood for something rich and decadent that tastes like chocolate heaven. Or you’re in the mood for something light and bright and almost refreshing. Like lemon! 

So here we are!

fresh whipped cream

This lemon tres leches cake is so, so simple. It almost reminds me of my banana cake with coffee frosting in a weird way. It’s a simple, sort of classic cake that can really be made at any time and definitely shines at dessert. There aren’t any fancy toppings and I didn’t even use sprinkles.

It’s THAT simple.

simple lemon tres leches cake with whipped cream

For the cake base, I include lots of lemon zest as well as a touch of extract. That fresh lemon zest is where all the flavor is. No need for the juice. The lemon zest is close to enough, but I find that using a drop of lemon extract also gives it that perfect lemon flavor. One that is so classic and crave-worthy. Both sweet and smooth but slightly tart all at the same time.

Then come the milks! I’ve used an array of milks over the years. I find that sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk are always the way to go. For the third, I use whole milk or coconut milk interchangeably. It always turns out delish! 

simple lemon tres leches cake with whipped cream

Every time I make tres leches, I think about another cake recipe that my mom and I found in the newspaper when I was a tween. I mean, we are talking when I was probably 10 or 11 years old. The cake was the better-than-sex cake, and yes, that was the title of the recipe in the newspaper. You baked chocolate cake, poked it with a fork all over and then covered it with caramel sauce. We ended up making this off and on for parties for few years to come! I’m sure it has many different names now, but I always think of it when I poke holes in the tres leches cake!

For the topping, I do an ever-so-slightly sweetened fresh whipped cream. I actually like to use a drop of lemon extract here too! It won’t make or break the recipes, as regular whipped cream on top is fabulous too. But if you’re a lemon-loving freak like me, you will be into it! 

simple lemon tres leches cake with whipped cream

Fluffy and decadent heaven!

simple lemon tres leches cake with whipped cream

Lemon Tres Leches Cake

Lemon Tres Leches Cake

This lemon tres leches cake is a bright, refreshing twist on the classic! Fresh lemon flavor adds something wonderful to this decadent cake.
5 from 16 votes
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Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3 lemons, zest freshly grated
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk

lemon whipped cream

  • 1 ½ cups cold heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • teaspoon lemon extract

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 inch pan with nonstick baking spray.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In the bowl of your electric stand mixer (or using a hand held mixer), beat the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the zest, vanilla and lemon extracts. Add in the dry ingredients slowly, with the mixer on low speed. Beat until combined.
  • Pour the cake batter in the 9x13 dish. Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the center is set.
  • When the cake is done, let it cool completely. Use a fork and poke holes all over the top.
  • Whisk together the whole milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk. Pour the milks all over the top of the cake. It will soak into the cake.
  • To make the whipped cream, beat the heavy cream with the sugar and extracts until peaks form. Spread the whipped cream on top of the cake. I like to refrigerate this for at least 1 hour before serving, or longer! Store the cake in the fridge when not serving it.

Notes

adapted from this confetti tres leches
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simple lemon tres leches cake with whipped cream

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