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slice of banana layer cake on a light blue plate with a fork

Happy eclipse day!! Doing anything special for the big event? Did you get your hands on those coveted eclipse glasses? My answers: no and no. I’m so boring. I’ll just stay inside with the pups and feel weird for those few minutes when it’s a little dark out at 2:30 in the afternoon.

Come back and tell me how cool it was to see, ok?

banana layer cake on a plate with brown butter cream cheese frosting and chopped pecans on top

Let’s get into the good stuff. I’ve been meaning to bake my favorite banana cake as a banana layer cake for the past year. Do you remember when I shared my love/obsession for this banana cake? You know, the cake recipe I stalked Kevin’s cousin for like a complete lunatic? Turns out, it’s just as moist/perfect/unbelievable as a layer cake too.

Here’s why it’s my favorite banana cake:

  • Front-and-center banana flavor.
  • Buttery and cakey.
  • Cinnamon-spiced.
  • Dense without tasting too heavy.
  • Soft crumb that holds its shape.
  • Easy to make, very basic ingredients.

Just read the reviews– banana cake is phenomenal. Like next-level banana bread!

Baking the banana cake as a layer cake changes the frosting to cake ratio. More layers = more frosting in each bite. That’s certainly something we’re all OK with. Also, aren’t layer cakes a bit more fancy? I don’t know about you, but I always feel more accomplished/fancier serving a layer cake vs a sheet cake.

La-di-da look at my tall masterpiece sort of thing.

banana cake batter in a glass bowl with a metal whisk

But we’re not only changing the shape and presentation of the banana cake today. We’re also serving it up with THE BEST FROSTING TO EVER HIT YOUR LIPS. Dramatic? Who… me?

And the frosting is what I really want to focus on today.

I’m not sure why I waited over 30 years to turn regular cream cheese frosting into brown butter cream cheese frosting? Learn from my mistake and don’t waste any more time. It’s everything you love about cream cheese frosting– tangy and sweet, but not as tooth-decaying sweet as buttercream. Creamy, thick, silky, smooth. Yep, all of the above. But this version has brown butter hiding inside. Those specks of nutty toasty buttery goodness bring cream cheese frosting up about 700 notches on the delicious scale. Do you want to upgrade a great dessert into the mega-watt billionaire of desserts? Add brown butter. I wrote an entire tutorial on how to brown butter so you can learn exactly how it’s done!

2 images of brown butter in a skillet and frosting in a glass bowl with a hand mixer

Let’s break it down.

√ Brown butter on the stove. (above left)
√ Refrigerate it until solid. Cream it. (above right)
√ Add cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla ,and salt.

brown butter cream cheese frosting in a glass bowl with a spatula

Time saving tip: Browning the butter and refrigerating it until solid is a whole extra step, but do this before you even start the cake. By the time the baked cake has cooled, the brown butter is ready to be whipped into frosting.

Have I mentioned how creamy this stuff is?

spreading brown butter cream cheese frosting onto layer of banana cake on a plate
zoomed in image of brown butter cream cheese frosting with chopped pecans on top

I brought this cake over to our friends and it was like I gave them a block of gold or something. They were impressed by the cake’s flavor and texture, but kept enthusiastically raving about the combination of banana/cinnamon/cream cheese frosting/brown butter.

I promise you’ll understand what all the fuss is about after 1 bite.

banana layer cake on a plate with a slice of cake on a dessert serving utensil being removed showing the layers
slice of banana layer cake on a light blue plate with a fork

Can’t get enough of this frosting? You’ll love it on top of fresh apple cake also!

Print
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slice of banana layer cake on a light blue plate with a fork

Banana Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 55 minutes
  • Yield: serves 1012 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Want to serve the most impressive homemade dessert? This banana cake with brown butter cream cheese frosting is loved by all!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 large ripe bananas (about 1 and 1/2 cups mashed)
  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) buttermilk, at room temperature

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 8-ounce blocks (12 ounces) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups (480g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper rounds, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans. (If it’s helpful, see this parchment paper rounds for cakes video & post.)
  2. **Time-saving tip** Brown the butter in step 8 now, then place into the refrigerator to solidify as instructed below. This will save time when you’re ready to make the frosting.
  3. Make the cake: Mash the bananas. I usually just use my mixer for this! Set mashed bananas aside.
  4. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
  5. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the mashed bananas. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix. The batter will be slightly thick. A few lumps is OK.
  6. Divide batter evenly between 3 pans. Bake for 22-26 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Remove the cakes from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely in the pan.
  8. Make the frosting: Slice the butter up into pieces and place in a light-colored skillet. (Light colored helps you determine when the butter begins browning.) Melt the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam. Keep stirring occasionally. After 5-8 minutes, the butter will begin browning– you’ll notice lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan and it will have a nutty aroma. See photo above for a visual. Once browned, remove from heat, and immediately pour into a heat-proof bowl. Refrigerate until solid.
  9. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the solid brown butter on high speed until creamed. Add the cream cheese and beat on high speed until combined, smooth, and creamy. Add 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add the extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar.
  10. Assemble and frost: Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and evenly cover the top with frosting. Finish with the third cake layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Garnish with chopped nuts. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before slicing or else the cake may gently fall apart as you cut.
  11. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Prepare cake through step 7. Wrap the individual baked cake layers tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature, make the frosting, frost, and serve. Frosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature or serve cold.
  2. Buttermilk: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a DIY sour milk substitute. Add 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough whole milk to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1 and 1/2 cups. (In a pinch, lower fat or nondairy milks work for this soured milk, but the cake won’t taste as moist or rich.) Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in the recipe.
  3. 9×13 Cake: Use my Banana Sheet Cake recipe.
  4. Cupcakes: For about 2 dozen cupcakes, fill the cupcake liners halfway and bake for about 20-22 minutes. Same oven temperature.

Keywords: banana cake, brown butter cream cheese frosting

You might also like my hummingbird cake!

slice of hummingbird cake on a teal plate

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I’m excited to try this recipe as a birthday cake for my son. He’s sensitive to cinnamon, so I was thinking I would just leave it out. I’m planning to crush up some ginger snap cookies and pecans to use as ‘dirt’ decorations for the cake… how do you think subbing ginger for the cinnamon would be?

    1. Hi Alexia! You can certainly add some ginger to this banana cake recipe, though 1 tsp may be a bit strong. We would try 1/2 tsp!

  2. Question about the servings. The recipe uses three 9 inch pans but yields 10-12 servings. Would you mind clarifying as I would love to make this but need it for 20 people. 🙂

    1. Hi Vanessa! That’s typically how many good sized slices we can get out of a cake this size, but feel free to make smaller cake slices!

  3. I am a cookie baker, but after watching a lot of cake shows (and seeing black bananas on my counter), I decided that even I should be able to bake a layer cake. I am suspicious of excited reviews as they they seem too good to be a truthful review. This cake is absolutely delicious. The icing is incredible and could be used for many other recipes (carrot cake, chocolate cake, the possibilities are endless). I followed the recipe exactly and browned butter is a game changer. I am going to try to use it in other recipes.

    Note – after I evened out my layers to build the cake, I kept the leftover cake and mixed it with leftover icing and formed cake balls. I then put them in the freezer for a bit. I melted semi-sweet chips and then rolled the balls into it. Then chilled. Seriously – incredible. If I didn’t give a bunch away, I would have eaten them all.

  4. I made this recipe for my son’s first birthday cake smash and I’m making it again this year for his second birthday because it was so delicious!! I’m so excited to eat it again. Great recipe?

  5. Quick question on the frosting – I accidentally bought salted butter – should I decrease the salt amount to 1/4 tsp. or omit it altogether? Thanks!

    1. Hi Joni, for the frosting, give it a taste without the salt and then you can add to your preference. Enjoy!

  6. I generally love Sally’s recipes but this one missed the mark for me. The cake and icing are both good but the icing really overpowers the cake. The cake layers were also a bit thin which probably doesn’t help. If I made it again, I would probably make two thick layers and double (or triple) the spices so the cake stands out more.

  7. I want to make this for. Birthday this weekend. I’m always confused when
    It says to add the dry ingredients alternatively with the wet. So do you add dry, mix it and then add the wet and mix again? And then repeat? I don’t want to over mix.

    1. Hi Gail! We usually do that step with the mixer running continuously on low speed. If you’re using a hand mixer, you can very briefly mix in-between each addition. But yes, be very careful not not mix more than needed! Hope you loved the cake.

  8. Hi Sally, I was wondering if this recipe would do well with cake flour as well, or is that type of flour too light and won’t hold everything together in this recipe?

    1. Hi Ashley! Cake flour is too light for this moist banana cake. Best to stick with all-purpose!

  9. hi! loved this cake,is it okay to add coconut to it or would it dry out?or even coconut extract?

    1. Hi Kathy! Shredded coconut acts as a dry ingredient in baked goods and would dry the batter out. It make take some testing to get right! Otherwise, coconut extract would definitely work. You may even enjoy this coconut cream cheese frosting recipe on top! Let us know what you try 🙂

  10. Do you happen have the nutritional facts on this recipe? My daughter‘s best friend is type one diabetic and I would love to make this cake but I would need to know how many grams of carbs and sugar is in this recipe.

    1. Hi Cayia, We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://www.verywellfit.com/recipe-nutrition-analyzer-4157076

  11. Hello! I’m wanting to make this cake this weekend but we are wanting to ice it with sharp edges. Is this icing solid enough to do that? If not any tips on how I could make it more solid?

  12. Hey! What if I have just one round 9×2 inch cake pan? Is it ok to let the batter rest while the first batch is in the oven? If yes, how can I set aside the batter while the cakes are baked one by one?
    thanks

    1. Hi Zara, absolutely! Just leave the remaining batter in a bowl at room temperature. Cover it with a clean towel until ready to add to the pan and bake.

  13. Hi, I want to make this recipe but wanting to add walnuts to it, how much should I add please?

    1. Hi Claudia, we recommend about 1 – 1.5 cups total.

  14. Thank you, how would I convert measurements for an 8inch tin please

    1. Hi Claudia! You can use three 8 inch pans for this cake (your layers will be a bit thicker).

  15. Can I make the frosting ahead of time and freeze it until I need to use it

    1. Hi Saadia, yes. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and re-whip it with your mixer to smooth it out a bit.

  16. My kids LOVE banana cake, but wondering if you can adjust the sugar content or substitute for honey?

    1. Hi Sarah, you can certainly experiment with reducing the sugar, but keep in mind that it plays an important role in the taste, texture, and structure of baked goods. We don’t recommend swapping with honey, as it would take some tweaking of the other ingredients as well. Let us know if you give anything a try!

  17. Hi Sally! I love all your recipes. I want to try this one but use 2 6inch cake rounds. Will it work to half this recipe? Will it be enough?

    1. Hi Regis, half will plenty with even some leftover batter for a few cupcakes on the side. Be sure to only fill your pans half way. Or, you can use this banana cupcakes batter. It makes the perfect amount for 3, 6 inch layers. You can follow the baking time and instructions in this 6 inch cake recipes post. Enjoy!

  18. Mine came out thin, dense, and heavy, but tasted great. It was not fluffy and cake textured at all. Any idea what I could have done wrong? I typically have great success with your cake recipes.

    1. Hi Elizabeth! This is a more dense cake recipe because of the moisture from the bananas. If it was too dense, it could have been over-mixed, or perhaps your bananas were extra large? Did you measure your bananas by cup? Thanks for giving this recipe a try!

      1. It must have been the bananas. They were pretty big, and I didn’t think to measure by cup. I was careful not to overmix. It’s delicious, though! Thanks for the feedback; I’m still learning.

  19. I plan to make this for my son’s birthday. Two questions? Can I add chocolate chips and if so, how much? And how long should I bake the cakes in 3 8” round tins. Thanks

    1. Hi Jody, You can gently fold in 1 – 1.5 cups of chocolate chips at the end after you’ve combined the wet and dry ingredients. You can use 3 8-inch round pans. We’re unsure of the exact bake time, but it will be a few minute longer since your layers will be thicker. Keep a close eye on them and use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  20. This cake came out perfectly and is one of the most delicious I’ve had in a while due to the unique frosting. I only had two pans so I made slightly larger layers and added to the cooking time. I’m going to make it again today but only have 2 bananas. Hope it works out OK!

  21. I loved this cake and the brown butter icing is off the charts. I do have a question though. About how high should a baked layer be? (Maybe this batter does not rise too high?) I baked this recipe twice and the cakes had hardly risen. I weighed all ingredients, the baking soda and powder were fresh, all ingredients were at proper temperaturse as was the oven. Now, I did mash the bananas using my cake mixer and am wondering–if I mixed the bananas so much that they liquified, could that have accounted for the less-than-stellar rise? Any advice would be HIGHLY appreciated.

    One other difference: I used Fat Daddio’s 9 x 3-inch high cake pans. (I changed to 3 inch high pans about a year ago, after reading in a respected baker’s cookbook as to why she prefers the extra height.)

    1. Hi John, we’re glad you liked the cake and icing! It sounds like you’re doing everything right, so maybe it’s just the depth of the pan? Does the cake taste overly dense?

      1. It wasn’t light, but no, it wasn’t overly dense. I’ll try using 2-inch high pans. (I was hoping that I had mashed he bananas to the point that they liquified was the culprit.) Does this cake have a good rise to it?

  22. I love cream cheese frosting and this brown butter version sounds amazing. How many cups of frosting do you get with this recipe. Thanks

    1. Hi Deb, we haven’t measured the cup yield of this recipe. Let us know if you give it a try!

  23. This looks just like my mom’s lost recipe for banana cake so I’m excited to try it. I don’t have three cake pans; could this be made in two 9″ cake pans? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kathy, there is too much batter for 2, 9-inch rounds, but here are two options. You can make two layers (filling your pans no more than 2/3 way full) and use the leftover batter for a few cupcakes on the side. Or, you can simply make the two layers and leave the batter for the third layer covered at room temperature while the others bake. Once those are baked and cooled, you can use one of the pans to make the final layer. We hope you love this cake!

  24. The cake recipe is fantastic but the icing was a disaster- complete waste of ingredients. First it was wayy too runny and then when I added the full amount of icing sugar recommended it was unbelievably sweet and overwhelmed the rest of the cake. Will stick with just the recipe for the cake and make my own cream cheese frosting next time

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