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. Kathleen Roth says:

    I’ve never critiqued anyone else’s recipe before but…. this was the most amazingly, delicious cake I’ve ever made! Thanks so much. I’ve made other “scratch” cakes but they’ve always kinda tasted like a regular box cake. I might have screwed it up by baking it in three 9” cake pans, so it came out almost like a torte (?) but it was so moist anyway. I used your cheater buttermilk recipe, which I’m sure helped. I didn’t use the browned butter frosting but I frosted and filled it with a stabilized whipped cream cheese frosting and added some crushed pecans to the top. It wasn’t pretty but the family didn’t care! Already have requests to make it for Thanksgiving so I’ll try your freeze ahead instructions. Again, Thank you so much

  2. How pipeable is the brown butter cream cheese frosting in comparison to your regular cream cheese frosting?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Megan, It’s not a super thick frosting (compared to a 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.

  3. This is the second cake I’ve made from the blog, and both times my cakes did not rise. I followed the recipe exactly, didn’t overmix, and even had fresh baking soda/ powder. I own an oven thermometer and watch it closely. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong 🙁

  4. Hi! I made this as the single sheet 9×13 and frosted with the brown butter cream cheese frosting. How would you suggest freezing the frosted cake (in individual portions wrapped tightly or the whole thing in foil or the pan itself)? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kelsey, Either way works, it just depends on how you think you will eat the leftovers. If you only want to defrost one or two slices at a time then you can wrap individual portions. If you are planning to defrost the entire cake at once then no need to freeze portions individually. You can see this post for exactly how we freeze cakes.

  5. This recipe is absolutely perfect! And the cake and frosting is to die for! I made this for my cousin’s coworker’s birthday and got several compliments on it. And now my cousin has requested it for her own birthday. Definitely a keeper!

  6. 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!

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

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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!

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

  21. Sofia Almeida says:

    Hi! I want to make this cake for my birthday and I was wondering if plant based butter would work like the normal butter?
    Thank you 🙂

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sofia, we haven’t tested this recipe using a plant-based butter, but we’d love to know if you decide to give it a try.

  22. WOW this cake!! So so good. I made it as a test run today for a couple smash cakes and a larger adult cake. The recipe made a four layer 6” cake and two 2 layer 4” cakes with plenty of frosting. Seriously in love with the browned butter in the frosting. Such a great nutty flavor to match the cake. Thanks for this!

  23. Sofia Almeida says:

    Hello! It make the cake but since I was not sucessfull with the brown butter with plant based butter I switched to your Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting and it was AWESOME.
    I switched all the butter to plant based on (from Alpro), the cream cheese to vegan creem cheese and the whole milk to alpro whipping cream.
    It made my birthday. Thank you for the recipe!

  24. I plan to bake this in a springform pan (9 in) and top it with your no bake cheesecake for a cool, refreshing Mother’s Day dessert. Any idea on baking time? I realize I may have to split the batter into two springform pans.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jazmin, that sounds delicious! You could divide batter between 2 greased 9-inch pans, and bake at 350°F (177°C) for 26-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  25. Can we substitute banana for any other fruit like mango? Is it also possible to use whole wheat flour instead of all purpose?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Matt, we’re unsure of how the mango would work here — it would require a bit of recipe testing to ensure the mangos don’t release too much liquid into the cake. You could use whole wheat flour if desired, but the cake will be quite dense and taste and texture will be different as well. You could try using 1/2 all purpose flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour — but for best results, we recommend sticking to all purpose flour here!

      1. Thanks so much! I tried with 1/2 1/2 flours and I heard what you said about mango releasing water so strained mango purée which had been frozen, to remove excess water as it defrosted.. cake came out great!! Thanks for replying to my message, I really appreciate it! Love your recipes, I use them all the time

  26. Turned out great! Followed the recipe to the T. Only thing I would change for next time is double the icing recipe. I ran out after putting icing between the 3 layers and had to make a vanilla buttercream frosting for the sides and top of the cake (still turned out great but that browned butter cream cheese frosting is NEXT LEVEL!! ) thanks for a great recipe!

  27. Emma Gyuris says:

    Had a pile of bananas so this cake seemed a perfect fit. I baked the cake in one springform pan. Covered top loosely with foil for last bit of baking to prevent over coloring top, as the bigger volume in a single pan required extended baking time. However I like to split my layer cakes rather than make three cakes, each with a bit of a crust and each with a bit of a central bump.
    The frosting is way too sweet! Americans may like that much sugar we down under like to tone down the sweetness. Your cake portioned into 12 results on 65 g of sugar each serving! That is nearly 3 times the recommended sugar intake per whole day! Still resulted in a spectacular cake for my book club meeting! Thank you!

  28. hi,
    to double check and confirm, can I bake this cake in 2 of the 9-inch cake pans? seems that this recipe is the same as the best banana cake i’ve ever have. In the best banana cake i’ve ever have recipe’s foot note: use this recipe to make my banana layer cake. If you want to make a 2 layer cake, divide batter between 2 greased 9-inch cake pans, and bake at 350°F (177°C) for 26-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

    Thanks

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Syuhada, this recipe yields too much batter for just two layers. If you only want to make 2 layers, you can use the extra batter from this recipe to make some cupcakes or make our banana cake and follow the recipe notes for baking it as a layer cake!

  29. Yay! Just made this cake. So moist and tasty…but that icing is killer! LOVE brown butter taste. Who knew?! Thanks so much…as always your recipes are the best!

  30. I have made this cake for two birthdays now and it has been ADORED by all. As a lover of brown butter I can’t believe I never thought of making this frosting before seeing this recipe. Pure genius

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