Tres Leches Ice Cream – No Ice Cream Maker Needed!

tres leches ice creamI remember the first time I had a really good tres leches cake.

It was just three years ago: I was in Houston, visiting the Lone Star state for the first time.  My friends and I went to a Mexican restaurant for a brunch of micheladas (imagine a bloody mary but made with beer instead of vodka) and migas (scrambled eggs topped with tortilla strips). At the end of the meal, we shared a tres leches cake – a tall slice covered in clouds of whipped cream. One bite and I understood why this is one of the most well-loved Latin American desserts. Sweet, moist, and creamy, the cake tasted light and rich, simple and extravagant at the same time.

I wanted a taste of those luscious flavors again and decided to experiment with ice cream. I made tres leches ice cream, no ice cream maker needed, no churning required. And it is muy delicioso!

For those who aren’t familiar with tres leches cake, it’s a soft, spongey cake is soaked in the three kinds of milk (tres leches literally translates as “three milks” in Spanish): evaporated milk, condensed milk, and cream. As the cake absorbs the milks, it turns dense and extremely moist, the texture resembling a cross between bread pudding and custard. The cake is then frosted with fresh whipped cream, and topped with fruit. In Houston, it came with big, juicy strawberries, but since then I’ve had other versions topped with oranges, cherries, mixed berries, cinnamon, chocolate, caramel, or nuts.

no ice cream maker ice creamThe ice cream I made utilizes heavy cream, condensed milk, and coconut milk. I folded in mini Nilla wafer cookies, which in turn softened into cake-like pieces. I’ve used Nilla wafers in no-bake treats before (my favorite is Nutella Banana Pudding) and really like the texture it brings to desserts after being chilled. Next time I would add more coconut milk to dial up the flavor, and maybe garnish with some toasted coconut flakes.

This tastes exactly how I think of tres leches: sweet, creamy, and rich. It was such an easy dessert, and I’m so glad I can make ice cream without needing an ice cream maker. I really loved the sweet cream flavor and the bites with cookies. Originally I was going to fold in crumbled shortbread cookies, but I think the Nilla wafers worked better because the texture was more similar to cake. Next time I would probably double the amount of Nilla wafers for even more texture (and there will definitely be a next time).

tres leches cake ice creamThis tres leches ice cream would be perfect for next week’s celebration for Cinco de Mayo, which highlights Mexican culture, music, and cuisine.  It would also be perfect for just a regular Thursday night at home, watching Cristina Yang’s last episode on Grey’s Anatomy. Or for whatever else you might be doing later.

Yield: about 2 quarts

Tres Leches Ice Cream

No ice cream maker needed, no churning required! This easy-to-make ice cream has the luscious flavors of tres leches cake. The three milks used in the recipe are heavy cream, condensed milk, and coconut milk.


2 cups heavy cream
1 can (14 oz) condensed milk
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup mini Nilla wafers


  1. Whip cream into stiff peaks.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine condensed milk and coconut milk.
  3. Fold in condensed milk mixture into whipped cream.
  4. Stir in Nilla wafer cookies
  5. Pour into a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 6 hours.

no churn tres leches ice creamHave you ever made ice cream without using an ice cream maker? This was my first time and I am looking forward to making other flavors!


45 Responses to “Tres Leches Ice Cream – No Ice Cream Maker Needed!”

  1. #
    Kathryn posted May 1, 2014 at 9:06 am

    No ice cream maker? I’m sold! I love how rich and creamy this looks!

  2. #
    Monica posted May 1, 2014 at 9:47 am

    I imagine the Nilla wafers are perfect here! So good for Cinco de Mayo, or any time, Bianca.

  3. #
    Christina Orso posted May 1, 2014 at 10:17 am

    perfect for summer! i’ve been meaning to tell you, i LOVE your blog design. so pretty!

  4. #
    Stephanie posted May 1, 2014 at 10:36 am

    this looks delicious! and i love that you don’t need an ice-cream maker to make it :)

  5. #
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert posted May 1, 2014 at 11:13 am

    This sounds wonderful and looks amazing. I adore ice cream – and a no churn recipe is worth trying! Thanks

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 1, 2014 at 11:23 am

      Thanks, Tricia! I couldn’t believe how easy it was, hope you try it soon :)

  6. #
    Michelle Lahey posted May 1, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    I’ve never tried making my own ice cream because I don’t have an ice cream maker, so this is a fantastic recipe to hold on to! I love the flavors in this ice cream, too.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 2, 2014 at 8:23 pm

      It’s dangerously easy! Have a great weekend :)

  7. #
    Danae @ Recipe Runner posted May 1, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Oh my goodness this looks good! Tres Leches is one of my favorite cakes and now you’ve made an ice cream with all of the wonderful flavors! This is perfection!

  8. #
    Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough posted May 1, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    OK so I definitely NEED THIS ICE CREAM. Love that I don’t need an ice cream maker for it, either!

  9. #
    Meg posted May 1, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Well, this just sounds flat-out awesome! We actually received an ice cream maker as a wedding gift, but I’ve been too intimidated to break that thing out. A delicious treat that doesn’t require a contraption sounds much more my speed . . . for now, at least! :)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 2, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      Thanks Meg! Yes, try this version first, you won’t regret it :) have a great weekend!

  10. #
    Meghan posted May 1, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    I just made ice cream without an ice cream maker for the first time. I am definitely making this one!

  11. #
    Kelly - LEFT SIDE OF THE TABLE posted May 1, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    This post made me realize that Mexican desserts don’t get enough attention!! I have had tres leches only maybe once or twice…and this post makes me want it again! Love the addition of vanilla wafers :D SO yummy!!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 2, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      You’re right! I’ll try to make another (easy) one soon :)

  12. #
    Ceara @ Ceara's Kitchen posted May 2, 2014 at 9:49 am

    No ice cream maker ice cream?? I am so happy I stopped by! This looks so refreshing and yummy – Pinned :)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 2, 2014 at 8:24 pm

      Yayy thanks Ceara! Have a great weekend!

  13. #
    Pam posted May 2, 2014 at 11:42 am

    It looks and sounds so tempting and delicious.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 2, 2014 at 8:32 pm

      Yes, so tempting that it’s really hard just having a container in my freezer… But I’m not complaining :) have a great weekend!

  14. #
    Chris @ Shared Appetite posted May 2, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Oh my goodness this looks phenomenal!!! Such an amazingly creative idea! Pinning and devouring as soon as possible :)

  15. #
    Georgia | The Comfort of Cooking posted May 2, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Now that my obsession with no-churn ice creams is established, I can’t stop trying new flavors! This is definitely next on my list, Bianca. It looks incredible!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 2, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      And I saw you just made the tres leches cake so you can fold in actual cake pieces! Well if there’s still any left :) have a great weekend!

  16. #
    Tina @ Tina's Chic Corner posted May 2, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    I’ve never had tres leches ice cream but I’ve never refused eating any kind, even in the middle of a cold winter! This looks delicious. :)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 2, 2014 at 8:25 pm

      Tina, you’re my kinda girl! I love ice cream year round, too.

  17. #
    Megan posted May 2, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    I love how simple this is! And it definitely sounds perfect for watching Grey’s. I watched with a glass of rose in hand last night.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 2, 2014 at 8:26 pm

      Burke was as dreamy as always… *sigh*

  18. #
    Sommer @ASpicyPerspective posted May 2, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    This is so very tempting! I am just drooling over this ice cream! Where is my spoon?

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 3, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      Thanks, Sommer! I’m looking forward to making more variations of this super easy ice cream soon!

  19. #
    Kayle (The Cooking Actress) posted May 3, 2014 at 10:18 am

    BRILLIANT! I love how you translated the flavors into this enticing ice cream!!! Soooo creamy!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 3, 2014 at 11:40 pm

      Thanks girl! I can’t wait to make it again soon!

  20. #
    Cate @ Chez CateyLou posted May 3, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    This looks delicious, and is the perfect recipe for me – I’m always dying to make ice cream but don’t have an ice cream maker! Can’t wait to try this!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 3, 2014 at 11:39 pm

      Hi Cate! It’s so easy, almost dangerously so :) Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

  21. #
    Frankie posted May 4, 2014 at 12:30 am

    This looks amazing!! Gotta love an ice cream recipe that doesn’t require churning!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 4, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      Thanks, Frankie! Hope you get to try it soon!

  22. #
    Alyssa @ My Sequined Life posted May 4, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    This looks like PERFECT ice cream – I can’t believe it was made without an ice cream maker! I’ve never had tres leches anything before but I think it’s my time to try it out (looks amazing!).

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 4, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      Hi Alyssa! Yes, you should try is as soon as possible :)

  23. #
    Polly @ Tasty Food Project posted May 4, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    This looks heavenly and I know I’m going to love it! I’m definitely pinning this!

  24. #
    marcie posted May 5, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    I’ve never had Tres Leches cake, and the way you describe it, I’m completely missing out! I have an ice cream maker, but I love the idea of no-churn ice cream because you can make it (and eat it) that much faster! Pinning. :)

  25. #
    grace posted May 5, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    this is DIVINE, one of the most imaginative and delicious flavors i’ve seen in a long time!

  26. #
    Emma @ Fork and Good posted May 6, 2014 at 4:08 am

    Man that looks good! I haven’t heard of Tres Leches cake before, but there are sadly many mexican / latin american foods missing over here in the UK! Thanks for the recipe, I’m intrigued to try…

  27. #
    Liz posted May 7, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    I must make his ice cream for my daughter…she loves tres leches cake! It sounds amazing!

  28. #
    Molly Galler posted May 21, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    I just had an amazing tres leches cake at China Poblano in Las Vegas. So good.

  29. #
    Andi @ The Weary Chef posted July 14, 2014 at 10:58 am

    I can’t believe it can be that easy to make ice cream! I have to try this recipe, Bianca!

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