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

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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

156 Comments

  1. Just made this recipe today. The cake is amazing and that brown butter icing is divine. Will definitely make this again!

  2. I made this for a birthday party and everyone loved it! Amazing flavor with the brown butter. 

  3. Hi Sally!  How would you suggest to thicken the frosting somewhat to make it a pipable consistency?

    1. If you chill the cream cheese frosting before piping it, it will hold its shape SO much better!

  4. Hi Sally! I’ve been a long-time lurker of your site but have yet to make any of your recipes until last night when I made this cake. And oh-my-goodness! It was divine. So moist, tender, and flavorful! The frosting was unbelievable — when I tasted it I swore I would never make regular cream cheese frosting again. Thank you for such an outstanding recipe! This one is definitely a keeper. 

  5. I made this today because of all of the reviews and it was DELICIOUS! Perfect I’m every way and I wouldn’t change a thing.
    It was a cake for my MIL ‘s birthday and she just loved the frosting!
    Thank you so much!

  6. Sally, your cake has once again hit the jackpot! It was just incredible ❤️ I made it for our huge dinner party today and the cake disappeared within minutes! Everyone was commenting on how moist it was. I was even worried that it would come out dry because I placed it in the fridge even though I never place any of my cakes in the fridge, but I felt it would taste much nicer cold. Yet it was still delicious and as moist as ever! I have recommended your recipes to everyone who asks! Thanks again

  7. THIS FROSTING!! I made it last fall for the first time and just kept using it over and over. I always make sure I have a little extra to give to my mom, who likes to eat it with graham crackers. So easy yet so yummy!! Thanks Sally!!

  8. Hi there! Thinking about making this for my sons birthday. He loves bananas. I’m wondering if you ever tried browning the butter for the cake itself? Do you think this would be good? Thanks!

    1. I personally haven’t, but I’m sure it would be fantastic. The butter would need to be solidified in the fridge and then softened slightly at room temperature in order to work properly though. I recommend browning a little extra butter to ensure you have 3/4 cup softened brown butter.

  9. Peter McConnell says:

    This was the best banana anything I’ve ever had and the frosting…oh. My god!!! Out of this world. I will literally never make cream cheese frosting any other way ever again. Even my friends who don’t like banana or cream cheese loved it. It’s now in my top ten cakes rotation. Thank you, Sally!!!! You’re the queen of cakes and your recipes never let me down.

  10. Hi Sally! If I wanted to use this frosting recipe for your Best Banana Cake recipe (the one in a 9×13 pan), how would I adjust the proportions accordingly? Or would I just use the same amount of frosting?

    1. You can probably cut this frosting recipe in half for the 9 x 13 cake.

  11. OmG!! I made this today I followed the exact instructions and the cake turns out beautifully and so flavorful!! Absolutely yes, the brown butter elevates everything to a whole new level… thanks for share your knowledge and experience with the world! From now on this is my “go to” banana cake..

  12. This is a wonderful recipe!! I had a question, I was wondering if I could
    make this cake in 4 9 inch rounds instead of 3?

    1. Yes, Just keep in mind each layer will be thinner and will likely require a shorter bake time.

  13. Hi Sally, do you think this recipe would work in 2x 8inch pans?

    1. I use 3 9 inch pans. You can use 8 inch pans (your layers will be a bit thicker) but you should use 3 of them! It’s too much batter for just two. If you only want make 2 layers you can use the extra batter to make some cupcakes!

  14. Can I add chocolate chips to this without them sinking to the bottom?

    1. Yep! The batter is thick enough that they won’t sink.

  15. This was really delicious. I found the icing a little too sweet for me so I put in about a teaspoon of good quality flaky salt. It was amazing!

    The cake was quite moist, too.

  16. Delicious cake and easy to make. Just did two cakes …. looks impressive

  17. Tried this recipe today….the banana cake with brown butter cream cheese frosting…..it was absolutely SLAMMING!!!!

    Utterly, utterly delicious!
    This makes it your second recipe which I have tried ( the spice cake was another winner)

    Thank you for sharing your recipes. They are delightful….x

  18. Hi Sally! Do you think I could substitute finely chopped apples for the bananas?

    1. Hi Leslie! It would be better to use shredded apples– peel and shred apples with a box grater. The apples are MUCH more moist this way. Finely chopped apples would be more of an “add in” instead of a wet ingredient, like this cake needs.

  19. Hi! For the Brown Butter Frosting, step 9: when you say solid butter, do you mean straight out of the fridge? Usually, I let my butter soften before putting into the mixer to make buttercream but want to follow the recipe as intended. I will be making the brown butter ahead of time as you suggest. Thanks!

    1. Hi Katie, You want it to be solid – not the melted liquid. If you place it back in the refrigerator it will help it solidify more quickly to become more like the room temperature butter you are used to working with.

  20. I’m in love with this recipe. I made this, and it is outstanding! I bake for my office co-workers at times. For the ease of traveling, as well as space limitations, I baked them into 4 small loaves. I made my own buttermilk and used some sour cream in the cake. The browned butter in the frosting is scrumptuous! It goes great with a big ol’ cup of coffee!
    So, sorry I changed up the recipe a bit, but it is terrific and everyone loved it. In fact, I’m getting ready to bake some more right now. Thank you!

  21. Hi Sally,
    The old recipe now been replaced with this new one. WOW!! The icing is to die for!! I can’t say enough about how well this recipe turned out and how much everyone loved it. Thank you!!

  22. I’m a novice baker. From the confidence derived from successfully baking three cakes i decided to try out a different frosting for the cake i want to surprise my sister with on her anniversary. Thats when i came across this recipe.
    The flavor of brown butter combined with cream cheese is out of the world. Thanks a ton for this. Keep inspiring!!!

  23. Can I make this recipe into cupcakes?

    1. Sure can! Or here is my banana cupcakes recipe, which is this recipe only slightly reduced down.

  24. I made this cake, it was fantastic. I used 3 9” cake pans, same brand and model so I weighed them with the batter, the layers were almost perfect! I’m going to use this frosting as my go-to cream cheese frosting!

  25. I made this recipe yesterday. I wasn’t sure I would love banana cake, I do! This cake and icing combo flavor was similar to banana pudding in my opinion. It was delicious, thank you!

  26. Hi Sally! Trying this for hubby’s birthday.

    Can I do the brown butter days before, pop in the fridge then bring to room temperature again when I need to use it? How long does it take to go to room temperature when it’s been browned?

    Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Liz, You can cover and store browned butter the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. For more information see my tutorial on How to Brown Butter.

  27. Hi, I want to make a smaller cane just single layer how can I adjust the recipe for that?

    1. Hi Shanze, You can follow my single layer Banana Cake recipe which is written for a 9×13 inch pan and cut the recipe in half for an 8 or 9 inch pan. Or if you wish to use a different size pan you can see my post on Cake Pan Sizes and Conversions for more help.

  28. Will this cake turn out if baked in a bundt pan like your hummingbird cake?

    1. Absolutely! It’s hard to give a specific bake time, but make sure you bake it in a large 10-12 cup Bundt pan. Same oven temperature.

  29. I made this cake & frosted it with chocolate frosting. Absolutely outstanding! Everyone loved it.
    Any cake I’ve made from Sally’s Baking Addiction is sooo delicious.
    I’m thankful for her recipes.

  30. Simply delicious. I made this exactly as written. I only have two cake pans so I made a two-layer; they just had to cook a little longer. This was for my daughter’s 21st birthday and it was a huge hit! It’s definitely a keeper 🙂 Thanks!

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