A luscious sponge sheet cake soaked in milk and flavored with pineapple, coconut, and rum— a piña colada treat to whisk me back to the beach in Mexico.

Pina Colada Tres Leches Cake from completelydelicious.com

Coming home from Mexico was extremely hard. The week we spent on the Riviera Maya was the best vacation in recent memory and I wish it could have lasted a year.

I wish I was still there on the beach, with a margarita in hand.

A beach massage + reef snorkeling + as many margaritas as I want = the perfect last day of vacation. Never coming home. #vacation #mexico #puertomorelos
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We took the toddler with us and joined Steve’s folks at a resort just south of Cancun. The 5 of us had a blast sampling beaches and food up and down the coast.

We did everything, and nothing, in that week. We binged on guacamole, snoozed in the sun, danced in the waves, sipped on cold drinks, visited ruins, and snorkeled amongst tropical fish. It was low key, relaxing, and just what I needed.


My only regret? Not enjoying a true piña colada while I was there. We had a bottle of coconut rum that disappeared far too quickly, but I didn’t get my pretty cocktail topped with a wedge of pineapple and maraschino cherry.

So here it is… in a cake. For all of us to enjoy.

Pina Colada Tres Leches Cake from completelydelicious.com
Pina Colada Tres Leches Cake from completelydelicious.com Pina Colada Tres Leches Cake from completelydelicious.com
Pina Colada Tres Leches Cake from completelydelicious.com

Taking boozy drinks and turning them into desserts is always a good idea if you ask me, and tres leches cake seemed like a recipe ready to team up with a tropical cocktail.

Pina Colada Tres Leches Cake from completelydelicious.com

Tres leches cake is a Mexican dessert made by soaking a simple cake in 3 different kind of milks— sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. I swapped the heavy cream for coconut milk; and chunks of pineapple, a few splashes of rum, and toasted coconut completed the piña colada ensemble.

Pina Colada Tres Leches Cake from completelydelicious.com Pina Colada Tres Leches Cake from completelydelicious.com
Pina Colada Tres Leches Cake from completelydelicious.com

The cake is rich and moist, and perfect for cinco de mayo, a summer party, or even just a weeknight treat. It’s not quite the same as sipping a piña colada on the beach, but it’s a not-too-distant second and I’ll take it.

Pina Colada Tres Leches Cake from completelydelicious.com

How to toast coconut

It’s easy! Just follow these steps:

>> Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

>> Spread shredded, flaked or shaved coconut evenly on an ungreased sheet pan.

>> Bake, stirring every few minutes, until golden brown. This will take about 7-10 minutes, depending on how toasted you want your coconut.

Pina Colada Tres Leches Cake from completelydelicious.com

Piña Colada Tres Leches Cake

Yield: 12 servings

Piña Colada Tres Leches Cake

A traditional Mexican cake scented with the flavors of a pina colada cocktail - pineapple, coconut and rum.


    For the cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1 cup (240 grams) pineapple, finely chopped (see Notes)
  • For the leches:
  • 1 cup (237 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • For the whipped cream topping:
  • 1 1/2 cup (355 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup (130 grams) coconut, toasted (see Notes)
  • Pineapple wedges, for garnish
  • Maraschino cherries, for garnish


    To make the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 9x13-inch baking pan.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or in a bowl with a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium high speed until thick and pale in color, and falls in ribbons when you lift the whisk, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk, vanilla and rum. Gently fold in the flour mixture.
  5. In another mixing bowl (you can also transfer the batter to another bowl and clean the mixing bowl), beat the egg whites on medium high speed to soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the rest of the batter in 3 additions. Stir in half of the pineapple chunks.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared sheet pan. Sprinkle the remaining pineapple on top of the batter. Bake until cake is golden brown and the center bounces back when touched gently, about 30 minutes.
  7. Let cool completely.
  8. To make the leches:
  9. Combine the coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. Add the vanilla and rum.
  10. Use a skewer or fork to poles holes in the cake, pressing them all the way down to the bottom. Pour the leches mixture over the cake, careful to cover it all. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight (see Notes).
  11. To make the topping:
  12. Whip the heavy cream until it starts to thicken. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and whip to soft peaks. Spread the whipped cream on top of the cake. Top with the toasted coconut, slices of pineapple and maraschino cherries.
  13. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Notes: If desired, you can use canned crushed pineapple.

You can use sweetened or unsweetened flaked coconut, per your preference.

If you do not have time to let the cake sit for 3 hours, you can pour only some of the leches mixture on top of the cake so there is less to be soaked up. The cake won't be as moist, but it will work in a pinch.

Recipe adapted from The Candid Appetite.


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12 Responses to Piña Colada Tres Leches Cake

  1. This cake is absolute perfection! One of my most favorite drinks made into dessert!I love it!
    your vacation looks and sounds perfect! you’re making me crave one!

  2. Janine says:

    I love this idea! I was never sure what tres leches cake was before, so thanks for showing me. Will definitely be trying this. I am also very jealous of your beach holiday.

  3. I am a total tres leches cake CRAZY PERSON! Love it so hard. And this pina colada version looks super yummy!

  4. Perfect! I have try this cake. The milk soaked sponge is making me drool.

  5. Maria says:

    Glad you had a fun trip! The cake looks fab!

  6. Your pics were major! So glad you had a blast. Now, pass me this cake, yo!

  7. Emily R says:

    OMG. Trying not to drool over here! Two of my favorite things combined into one! I most definitely plan on making this soon. :-)

    (also – so jealous of your trip! You should do a review post on where you stayed, the best restaurants you ate at, etc.)

  8. I absolutely LOVE this cake, and your description of your vacation… it sounds like it was a slice of heaven. And this tres leches would be, too! I can’t wait to try it. Wonderful recipe, Annalise.

  9. Mary Frances says:

    This cake looks so fun and festive. Beach party in a pan!

  10. I can’t think of a better cake for summer! YUM!

  11. Liren says:

    Sigh, vacation! It’s always hard to face reality once it’s over, but this cake helps!

  12. Lindsay says:

    I would love to know where you stayed! I am planning to go to Mexico for vacation this summer for my birthday!

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