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)

4.85 from 38 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.
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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. Joyce Rendahl says

    2 stars
    It was ok but not great. The cake was very dense. It had a beautiful dome shape when done and did not fall but tasted grainy. It was extremely difficult to get the milk/syrup to soak into the cake. I made a gazillion pokes with a long tined cooking fork and it still took at least a 1/2 hour. I ended up pouring and poking at the same time to finally get it all to absorb. I also had a hard time getting the coconut cream to whip. I gave up after trying for about 15 minutes. It was ok but it was more like thick soup than whipped cream.

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