Banana Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

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— the cake is phenomenal.

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

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 10-12
  • 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

  • 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) and grease three round 9×2 inch cake pans. Set aside.
  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: Here is that recipe.
  4. Cupcakes: For about 2 dozen cupcakes, fill the cupcake liners halfway and bake for about 20-22 minutes. Same oven temperature.

You might also like my hummingbird cake!

slice of hummingbird cake on a teal plate

245 Comments

  1. Oh my life! How did I not find the before?? I made if for my mum’s birthday yesterday & we are all so impressed with it. I did a test run on Saturday & it didn’t make it past Sunday evening. I halved the quantities & made a 5 inch 3 tier cake with the cheats buttermilk. So moist & the browned butter frosting sets it off perfectly. Thank you so much for this recipe. It is going in my to keep book!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We’re thrilled this was a hit for you mom’s birthday, Pippa! Thank you for using our recipe to celebrate.

  2. made this for my mom and she absolutely loved it!!!!!

  3. I’ve made this cake 4 times now and it’s been amazing. Every. Single. Time.
    I’ve used many of your recipes and they always turn out perfectly. Thankyou!! X

    1. Can the Icing be frozen or put in the fridge? This is such a lovely recipe, thanks for sharing!

  4. Hey Sally! I ran out of butter after I mixed the flour, and mashed banana. I don’t know what to do and since I can’t leave my house to grab it I don’t know what to use!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Evalyn! Do you have any coconut oil on hand? Solid coconut oil should work for creaming. The final taste and texture will be a little different though.

  5. Mandy Zevenbergen says:

    A friend asked me if I could make a banana cake for her daughter’s birthday yesterday. Of course I agreed, and immediately went online to look for a good recipe. I made four 6″ layers, and a double batch of frosting (just in case). The frosting is divine, and the leveling scraps from the layers were REALLY good. I topped the cake with chocolate ganache and chopped pecans, and brought it to the birthday girl. They all said it’s the BEST cake they have ever eaten!! I wish I could post a picture of my little masterpiece. I will definitely be making this one again.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We love to read this, Mandy! So glad the cake was a hit.

  6. I’ve made this banana cake recipe many times and it’s perfect every time! My family love it. I’ve not used the brown butter cream cheese frosting before though. I’ve made the banana cake into muffins this time and want to pipe the frosting on. Would the brown butter cream cheese frosting be thick enough to hold shape when piping on?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ali! Cream cheese frosting will hold with a basic round tip (like we do with these cupcakes), but we don’t suggest using other intricate piping tips. One pointer: Cream cheese frosting will hold its piped shape better if you refrigerate it prior to piping. Fit your piping bag with a piping tip, fill your bag with the frosting, then refrigerate it for 20-30 minutes before piping. Here’s our recipe for banana cupcakes as well. Enjoy!

      1. Is there a different icing you would suggest for the banana cake that holds its shape better for intricate piping tip?

  7. The brown butter is only in the icing, right? The cake uses regular softened butter?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, that’s correct!

  8. Carol Segal says:

    Can I make this with two 9 inch pans?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Carol, this recipe yields too much batter for just two layers. If you only want make 2 layers you can use the extra batter to make some cupcakes!

  9. This is an excellent recipe! It’s like banana bread with delicious frosting. Speaking of, this is the best frosting recipe I’ve ever tried and will definitely be using it again!

  10. Hi! This recipe was super awesome, but I was thinking about making some cupcakes and I want to use banana buttercream. Do you have any recipes for it, since I love this website? Or should I not use banana in frosting?
    Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Eddie, We are so happy that you enjoyed these cupcakes! We have never actually made banana flavor buttercream but you have a few options. You can either simply use banana extract or you can try to use actual pureed bananas in the frosting. If you can find freeze dried bananas you can make a powder with them to add to the icing. This is actually our favorite method for adding real fruit to frostings without changing the consistency. You can see how it’s done in this strawberry buttercream.

  11. Ramanjot Jawanda says:

    Hi there. I currently only have 2 cake pans. I was wondering if 1/3 of the batter can wait to be baked after the other two are done baking. Will the leveling agents still help the cake rise? Are there any tips or tricks I can use to keep the batter viable?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ramanjot! You can leave the last third of the batter sitting at room temperature until you can bake the third layer. Enjoy!

  12. Can these be made into cupcakes instead? We probably won’t eat a whole cake, although I’m sure we’ll want to. That way I can bring some to work and not feel guilty. How long should I bake them for?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Aracely! See recipe notes for cupcake directions. Or you can use this banana cupcakes recipe instead for a smaller batch. Enjoy!

      1. Aracely See says:

        Oh gosh. Thanks. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t read that far!

  13. Hi! This recipe sounds amazing. Can’t wait to try it.
    How stable is this icing for piping and frosting a cake? I imagine it won’t crust like american buttercream? Trying to gauge how soft it will remain and whether I should just use it for the cake layers and then do normal american buttercream on the outside…
    Thank you!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Olivia, It’s not a super thick frosting (compared to American buttercream) so it won’t hold an intricate shape when piped. You can use it for simple shapes or you can try adding more sugar to make it thicker and also place your filled piping bag in the refrigerator before piping to help it hold a shape. Or, as you mention, use it for covering the cake and then make a small batch of buttercream for piping. Happy baking!

  14. Would the brown butter frosting be good with carrot cake, too or would it be lost with the other flavors of the cake?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Liz! This brown butter frosting would be delicious on carrot cake – you can’t go wrong either way.

  15. Hi there!

    I’m to make a wedding cake and Banana is requested.

    How many batches would I need of this recipe for a 4 tier cake?

    Thank you!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ashley, what a delicious choice for a wedding! It really depends on the size of your layers. However, our handy Cake Pan Sizes and Conversions guide can help you scale this recipe for your specific needs. Happy baking!

  16. Hi Sally, I’ll be making this for my friend’s son’s first birthday! If I want to make a regular cake + a small version for his cake smash (like a 1 or 2 layer 3 inch cake). Would I make 1.5 of this recipe? Or do this recipe and the cupcake version?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nica! Our banana cupcakes recipe makes enough batter for a 3 layer 6 inch cake – so you could reduce that batter by 1/3 for a 2 layer 6 inch cake, or make the whole cupcake batter recipe and make a few cupcakes with the extra. Would love to hear how your cakes go!

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