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. I just tasted this cake 15 minutes ago and I will definitely be making it. Cake is so moist and the flavor of icing is fantastic!!!

  2. Hi,

    This looks amazing. My daughter requests chocolate chips in it. How many would you add and at which point in the process? Thank you. Stay healthy!

    1. Hi Talia! You can gently fold in 1 – 1.5 cups of chocolate chips at the end after you’ve combined the wet and dry ingredients.

  3. Hello Sally, I made this for Easter and it was unbelievably good. The brown butter cream cheese frosting really took this cake to another level. Why did I wait so long to try this?! and next time (which will be soon) I will add cinnamon to it like you mentioned for your banana cupcakes!
    I have done a few of your cakes and you are my go-to for all cake/ frosting making in our house. Thank you for providing such great recipes that are easy to follow that are mouthwatering . You have given me confidence in my kitchen !!!

  4. I just made this banana cake with the browned butter frosting.
    Wow!
    How had I gone this long without knowing about browned butter frosting???

    The cake is fabulous and the frosting is, just wow! Buttery and nutty tasting… fantastic.

  5. Sarah Bourg says:

    LOVE this recipe thanks Sally!!! ❤️

  6. Sally….You are making me into a huge hit !! This cake was so moist and delicious even after 2 days in the fridge… I used 2 -10 inch rounds, i think i shouldve double the recipe. the cake tasted amazing, i think i wanted the layers a tad thicker…you called for 9inch rounds. I want to make it again as people are asking for it, but want to do 2×10 inch, 3inch deep rounds..would you suggest doubling?
    Let me know..AKBAKES

    1. I’m thrilled you enjoyed this cake, Allison! If you want to change the size of the pan here is everything you need to know about Cake Pan Sizes & Conversions.

  7. Jessica Marvel says:

    Hi Sally!
    I’m looking for a banana cake recipe that I could use for a small wedding cake. Would this recipe be sturdy enough if I switched the frosting to a brown butter swiss meringue possibly? Perhaps I could fill between the layers with a vanilla pastry cream.
    It sounds delicious with the cream cheese but I know how cream cheese frosting can be haha! Thank you!

    1. Hi Jessica, yes you can use a different type of frosting or filling for this cake. Enjoy!

  8. Heather Hahn says:

    Followed this recipe 100% and it was so light and fluffy!!! I’m not a fan of cream cheese so I omitted it on my slice of cake… However my husband was raving about it. Next time I’ll add fresh bananas and raisins in between the layers for more of a banana punch!!

  9. Hi Sally. Your banana cake recipe is absolutely delicious, the cake is super moist & not too sweet. I bake this for mothers day & everyone loves it ❤️ But the frosting is too sweet for me. I only use half measurement of confectionary sugars but it still too sweet for me. Do you sure it is the right measurement? Afterall, the banana cake recipe is just spectacular, so easy to follow for beginner baker like me. Thanks ya. Love from Malaysia

  10. I have the fondest memories of a moist Banana Cake with Buttercream Icing from my childhood and your recipe sounds like the closest version I’ve seen, to date. I have 2 ripe bananas ready to go, but my third is in the freezer. Is it ok to thaw it and use it in the recipe? I suspect the texture may change. Thanks so much for your recipes and tips!!

    1. It should be just fine. Simply thaw the frozen banana at room temperature and drain off the excess liquid.

  11. This was fantastic and fulfilled my banana bread/cake craving I was having. So much flavor from 2 bananas. I made 2/3 of the batter and made a 6inch 3 tier cake. I also added a little extra salt to the frosting for more salty/sweet combo.

  12. I love this cake, made it yesterday, assembled this morning. Absolutely delighted. Delicious. Thank you.

  13. Thank you for the recipe and helpful tips! I made this cake today for my hubby’s birthday. He follows you on Twitter and selected this cake for me to bake. The frosting is amazing and the cake is so dense. A small slice goes a long way!

  14. Hey Sally! I would LOVE to bake this recipe for my grandfather next week as a Father’s Day gift because he absolutely lovess bananas!! However, as I only have one 9 inch cake tin, can I combine the batter and bake in one go? How should I adjust the time for it? Also, I have 3 overripe bananas sitting in my fridge already, would you recommend me to put them in the freezer and use it next week? Or should I buy new ones? I hope to hear from you soon!! Thank you so much:D
    – an amateur baker

    1. Hi Erika, This would be way too much batter to bake in at once in a 9 inch pan. You can bake a single layer 9×13 inch cake. You can move your bananas to the freezer if they are already too brown.

  15. I made this as an afterthought for my son’s birthday in addition to your chocolate sheet cake and funfetti cupcakes and to my surprise it was the clear favorite of my guests. This flew off the dessert table and everyone RAVED about it. The icing is really out of this world and well worth the extra step! I scaled it down 2/3rds because I only have 2 round cake pans but I can see why it was suggested for 3 layer, the height isn’t really there with 2. Delicious all the same though! New summer go to, after I buy another cake pan. 🙂 For the millionth time, thank you SO much for making me look like a baking genius to my family and friends! My loved ones (and all the kids in the neighborhood) have become so spoiled by my addiction to YOUR addiction lol.

  16. Hi Sally,
    Trying to make this for 4th of July. Do you recommend adding fresh bananas to the cream cheese filling?
    Thanks!

    1. Layering fresh bananas in between the cake layers would be delicious!

  17. Can you add chocolate chips to the cake batter?

    1. Absolutely! I recommend about 1 cup.

  18. I thought this cake was just very mediocre. I’ve made plenty of things from Sally and loved almost all, but was quite disappointed in this recipe. The frosting was tasty, but the dessert only tasted good if you ate a bite with frosting included. The frosting was hiding the lackluster cake underneath. The cake itself was gummy & dense, and really lacked a lot of flavor. I used perfectly ripe bananas and weighed out all my ingredients so I know it wasn’t an error on my part. The cake just tasted like nothing. Bite after bite I kept trying to detect flavor, but you only taste it when you eat it with the frosting. If you’re looking for something to really scream “banana” with each bite, this is not it unfortunately.

  19. Michele Greiman says:

    OMG!!!!! This was the BEST cake and the ULTIMATE HANDS DOWN BEST YUMMY, SMOOTH, CREAMY, DELICIOUS frosting we have ever had!!!!!! Do not put this on your baking list, get up right now and bake this cake and frosting. I’m dreaming of what I can put the frosting on since I don’t have any ripe bananas right now. I’m not a cream cheese frosting lover, but with the browned butter, I didn’t taste the cream cheese, it is just DELICIOUS. Can you tell I loved the cake?? 🙂

  20. Would this banana cake recipe go well with a Nutella frosting?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      It would be absolutely delicious!!

  21. Allison L Lyons says:

    Hi Sally,

    I am going to make this cake for a small wedding ceremony and the groom (our son) would like to me add walnuts to the batter. How much would you recommend?

    Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Allison, I recommend about 1 – 1.5 cups total. I hope he loves it!

  22. One more quick question. They want a naked cake, so I don’t want to waste the extra frosting the recipe calls for, so would you suggest cutting the recipe in half or by a fourth? I will be making it while I am traveling and staying at an Air BNB.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Allison, If you take a look at the photos above you can see that there isn’t a thick layer of frosting on the outside. Cutting it by a fourth would likely be just fine. Enjoy!

  23. I haven’t tried the cake yet, but I just finished icing and my word… The browned butter in the cream cheese icing is unreal. So excited to try the whole thing tomorrow!

  24. I used this recipe to make a wedding cake and everyone loved it. Great recipe!

  25. Always stress out when I’m making something with brown butter that I’m adding too much or too little since it cooks down a lot in the browning process. Does anyone know how much of the brown butter ends up whipped into the icing for the best flavour? Thanks

  26. Hi Sally, this cake looks absolutely delicious! I’d love to bake it but i only have a mini oven at home. Is it ok to pour it into 3 pans and let the other 2 batters wait while i bake each one? Thank you

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Linda, You can leave the remaining batter loosely covered at room temperature while the first layer bakes if needed.

  27. I only have two 8″ round pans – can I do this as a two layer cake?

    1. Hi Josie, if you have 2 9-inch cake pans, that would be more ideal. Two 8-inch cakes will be a little too small. You can, however, make 3 8-inch layers. Fill the cake pans halfway or a little more than halfway, then save the batter for the 3rd layer at room temperature (lightly covered) until 1 cake pan is ready again.

  28. Hi Sally, can I use the cream cheese frosting for piping? Hope to hear from you. Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jack, You can pipe simple shapes with cream cheese frosting (for example round tips like the Wilton 12 or the Ateco 808). For more intricate shapes like star tips it won’t hold it’s shape as well as a buttercream. One tip is to fill your piping bag and then place the entire bag in the refrigerator for a bit so that it holds its shape better when piped.

  29. Would this taste different from your banana muffins recipe (the one with sour cream or yogurt)? I did that recipe and it was so good! I was planning to make this for my cousin’s birthday but he doesn’t like cinnamon. Can I leave that out? Another thing any other recommendation for frosting? Something with caramel perhaps? Thank you, Sally!

    1. Hi Risse! The taste is similar to the banana muffins, though those are a little denser. You can leave out the cinnamon. You can try my regular cream cheese frosting recipe and add about 1/4 cup of this salted caramel to it. It’s delicious that way!

  30. If making the brown butter a day ahead of time, when I’m ready to make the frosting the next day, does it have to be at room temperature to cream it, or does it get creamed when cold? Sorry if this seems like a silly question. I can’t tell if you are specifying room temperature in order to make the brown butter or to cream it after it chills/hardens. Thank you. Loved your regular banana cake recipe and am looking forward to making this one.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Connie, If the brown butter is in the refrigerator overnight then it will likely need to sit out at room temperature to be soft enough to cream for the frosting. Happy baking!

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