Coconut Tres Leches (Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free)


Think that following a paleo diet means you have to give up tres leches? Not true, y’all! This gluten-free and dairy-free coconut tres leches is so good and tastes even better than the original!

Coconut Tres Leches Cake (paleo, gluten-free and dairy-free) by Ashley of

With Cinco de Mayo just a couple days away, my mind has been on all things Mexican food. When it comes to Mexican desserts, Tres Leches takes the cake! Seriously though, tres leches is without a doubt one of the best Mexican desserts that I’ve ever had. Think: a dense cake soaked with sweet, sweet milk and then topped with sweet cream. Does it get any better?

Yes, yes it does.

My gluten-free and dairy-free coconut tres leches is (in my totally not-so-humble opinion) better than its dairy-filled counterpart. Okay, that’s a bold statement. It is different because of the ingredients I use, but honestly – I like it better and so does my non-gluten-free husband, Roby. Oh and tres leches just so happens to be one of his favorite desserts.

Coconut Tres Leches Cake (paleo, gluten-free and dairy-free) by Ashley of

For my tres leches (three milks) cake I use coconut milk, homemade condensed coconut cream AND coconut whipped cream – which makes for one extremely decadent cake. While this gluten-free tres leches is very sweet, it’s not cloying. The coconut whipped cream is lightly sweetened and complements the cake. It’s light, but also rich. It’s basically awesome.

Coconut Tres Leches Cake (paleo, gluten-free and dairy-free) by Ashley of
Coconut Tres Leches Cake (paleo, gluten-free and dairy-free) by Ashley of

Mmmm, see how the condensed coconut cream seeps into the cake?

This is not a nut-free recipe but for those of you with nut allergies, try making one of my coconut flour cakes (plain or chocolate) and using that as a base. I’m really tempted to try this with my chocolate coconut flour cake – yummm chocolate tres leches!

Happy Cinco de Mayo, friends!

Coconut Tres Leches Cake (paleo, gluten-free and dairy-free) by Ashley of

Coconut Tres Leches (Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free)

Coconut Tres Leches Cake (paleo, gluten-free and dairy-free) by Ashley of

Coconut Tres Leches (Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free)

4.9 from 28 reviews
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Homemade Condensed Coconut Milk:

Whipped Coconut Cream

  • 1 13.5 ounce can of coconut cream (or the cream from the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk)
  • Maple Syrup to taste

Optional Topping


  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Mix the dry cake ingredients together in a large bowl using a hand mixer. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl and mix until well combined.
  • Pour into an 8x8 greased, parchment-lined dish.
  • Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the condensed coconut milk by bringing the coconut milk to a boil. Then, add the maple syrup and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Keep a close eye on this so it doesn’t boil over!
  • Once the cake is done, allow it to cool on a wire rack, then poke the top of the cake with a fork or wooden skewer. Make a lot of holes!
  • Slowly pour the condensed coconut mixture over the cake (take your time with this) so that the milk soaks into the holes in the cake.
  • Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  • Spread coconut whipped cream on top if desired.

Whipped coconut cream:

  • Place a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. This will cause the cream to separate from the milk.
  • Place the cream and maple syrup into a bowl and whip with a hand-mixer until fluffy. If you have a stand mixer, you can also use that to whip the cream until fluffy.
  • Place the whipped cream in the fridge until you’re ready to frost the cake.

Optional Topping:

  • Bake the coconut flakes at 350F for 2-3 minutes or until lightly toasted.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

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Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.


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  1. Laura says

    3 stars
    I usually have no problem following recipes and want to believe I misunderstood some of it. My batter was thick and dense as was the finished product. I added the condensed milk along with butter and coconut liqueur to amp up the taste. All said it tasted great but wasn’t at all what I imagined tres leche cake being. Also the whipped coconut cream didn’t do anything but take the lumps out? Again maybe I misunderstood some steps, I noticed confusion on the amount of coconut milk for the recipe. I only used 1/2 a cup, was an entire cup required? That would have definitely added more moisture. It tasted good because why wouldn’t it, good ingredients equal good food. But can’t recommend this recipe personally. Sorry.

  2. Jo says

    Hello! I just had a few questions before I make this.
    ~Is the 1/2 cup coconut milk mixed in with the wet mixture for the cake?
    ~do you personally use can of coconut cream or coconut milk refrigerated for the whipped topping? I noticed you said you have to refrigerate the milk overnight for the cream to come to the top. So if I use coconut cream, would I just skip this step entirely? (Also which brand? I feel this can make a little bit of a difference in taste)

  3. Aexa says

    Can I just use almond flour without the others? I’m trying to make this for my friends daughter and am having a hard time finding all the ingredients.

  4. Dolce says

    Hi, this recipe sounds wonderful ! But when adding the coconut milk to the dry ingredients do I also add the fat with it?

  5. Jules says

    5 stars
    Great recipe and works well as cupcakes (baked for 18 mins) and rose well. My only problem is that the coconut cream I bought at Trader Joe’s was terrible. There are some coconut products that taste gross to me like petroleum or something. Some oils, creams, etc. The milk was fine but searching for a good coconut cream brand – does anyone have one that doesn’t taste gross? Perhaps it’s like cilantro where only a small % of us have taste incompatibility and you think I’m crazy! 🙂

    • My Heart Beets says

      Great to know that this worked well for cupcakes!! You can try the Native Forest brand that they sell at Whole Foods – I like it better than TJ’s but I do use both. Let me know what you think of that brand if you try it 🙂

  6. Sassy says

    Hi – clarifying question here. If you use store-bought coconut cream to make the Whipped Coconut Cream frosting, then you do NOT have to take the step of creating coconut cream from coconut milk, correct? Thanks!

  7. Isaiah says

    4 stars
    The frosting is excellent, creamy and mildly sweet. However, the cake itself isn’t nearly sweet enough. It tastes more like bread than like cake. Overall the recipe is pretty good though.

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