The Best Banana Cake I’ve Ever Had

slice of banana cake in a glass baking dish

Remember that time I told you about the best banana cake I’ve ever had?

I enjoyed obsessed over it at a family reunion the other weekend. Kevin’s cousin made it and I stalked her down like a dessert creep and proceeded to talk her ear off about cream cheese frosting and spotty bananas for 35 minutes straight.

What? You don’t do that at parties?

slice of banana cake on a wood plate with a fork

Ok but this banana cake.

It was the moistest cake I’ve ever eaten. Stick-to-the-back of your fork moist. The perfect cream cheese frosting, both sweet and tangy, sinking into the top of the cake made it even moister. Sweet, but not overpowering. Mega banana flavor, certainly more banana flavor than any banana bread I’ve ever eaten. Very buttery and cakey from creaming the butter and sugars. Ridiculously rich, decadent.

The banana cake was dense, but not heavy. If that makes any sense? (Coming from the lady who talks about rotting bananas at social gatherings, but stick with me here.) The crumb was very soft, but they were tight crumbs. The cake didn’t fall apart when you took a forkful.

Lori told me this cake comes out perfect every time she makes it. And such perfection is reinforced, she told me, when absolutely everyone who has a slice begs her for the recipe. It is, hands down, the best banana cake I’ve ever had.

And I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

ingredients for banana cake

mashed bananas in a glass stand mixer bowl

How to Make Banana Cake

The recipe starts with 3 mashed bananas (above). Now, make sure those bananas are nice and spotty. As you know, I’m very passionate about spotty bananas. The bananas you see above are just right. More brown spots = sweeter, more banana flavor. Your cake will thank you. I simply mash the bananas in my mixer– the same mixer I use for creaming the butter and sugars. Beat the bananas on high speed for a minute, then transfer to another bowl. I don’t even wash the mixing bowl– just throw the butter right in and start creaming!

Here’s the batter. There will be some pretty lumps.

Ok, let’s face it– are lumps ever attractive? Ever?

banana cake batter in a glass bowl with a whisk

One more thing to note: buttermilk. Hey, how often do I express my love for buttermilk in desserts? You’re lucky I don’t hunt you down at parties and talk your ear off about… dairy.

As you guessed, buttermilk is the moist-maker in this cake. The cake wouldn’t be what it is without it! You also need the acid in buttermilk to help the baking soda do its job. I rarely have buttermilk in my refrigerator, so I always sour whole milk instead. For this recipe, you need 1 and 1/2 cups of buttermilk. If you don’t keep buttermilk on hand either, measure 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar. Pour into a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough whole milk until it reaches 1 and 1/2 cups. Stir together, let it sit for 5 minutes, then use in the recipe. To keep the cake extra rich, I recommend whole milk when you are souring milk.

cream cheese frosting in a glass bowl with a hand mixer

Is this not the silkiest and smoothest cream cheese frosting you’ve ever seen? Well, it’s the silkiest and smoothest cream cheese frosting I’ve ever tasted! It’s pretty similar to my favorite cream cheese frosting, but there’s a little less cream cheese for the amount of butter. So, this makes the frosting a little more silky. And definitely more buttery!

There’s also a lot of cream cheese frosting. You will think I’m crazy (-er than you already think I am). When you begin slathering it onto the cake, you’ll probably go “Sally, this is way too much frosting!” But it’s not. You want a nice thick layer. It’s essential to the cake’s overall awesomeness.

slice of banana cake on a wood plate with a fork

\The best banana cake I’ve ever had. Let me know if you try it!

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slice of banana cake in a glass baking dish

The Best Banana Cake I’ve Ever Had

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 hours (includes cooling)
  • Yield: serves 12
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This is absolutely the best banana cake I’ve ever had! It’s supremely moist with cream cheese frosting, tons of banana, brown sugar, and cinnamon flavor.


Ingredients

Banana Cake

  • 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
  • 1/2 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*

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar, plus an extra 1/4 cup if needed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. Make the cake: Mash the bananas. I usually just use my mixer for this! Set mashed bananas aside.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
  4. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add both sugars and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. 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 and a few lumps is OK.
  5. Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top of the cake is browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. After about 45 minutes, I usually place it in the refrigerator to speed things up.
  7. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add 3 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 (I add it). Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. This helps sets the frosting and makes cutting easier.
  8. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Prepare cake through step 5. Cover the cake 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: Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk if needed. Add 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough room temperature 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. Cupcakes: I’ve gotten a few questions about turning this cake into cupcakes. For about 2 dozen cupcakes, fill the cupcake liners halfway and bake for about 20-22 minutes. Same oven temperature.
  4. Bundt Cake: You can bake this batter in a 10-12 cup bundt pan, but I find it’s not quite as moist when baked in the bundt shape. Bake for 50-65 minutes, give or take. Use a toothpick to determine doneness. Same oven temperature.
  5. Layer Cake: I 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.

1214 Comments

  1. I have made this recipe twice now. The first time as a gift and I had to just trust it was wonderful. Just made it again for Christmas dinner dessert and added a cup of chopped walnuts and a cup of shredded coconut. Everyone loved it! You have become my go-to for new recipes and I have passed on your site to many others!

  2. If I use a steamer, how long should I steam it? Gonna make it into a cupcake! I definitely want to try this recipe for New Year’s Eve! Happy New Year!!

  3. I only eat bananas because I am told they are good for me…and it often gets to the point of spotty brown bananas…I actually prefer my bananas a little green….but I have some overly ripe ones and I never met a banana bread I liked…whether I added chocolate chips or peanut butter frosting…I just consider banana bread a waste of butter sugar and flour…but this banana cake is a whole different story…this is where my brown spotted bananas have their future…awesome recipe…I do a good bit of baking bread and often have the need for buttermilk…I find it handy to have the dried buttermilk in my pantry

  4. Anne Capezzuto says:

    Can you use King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour in this recipe?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Anne, we haven’t personally tested it, but many readers have reported success using 1:1 gluten free flours in our recipes. If you do give it a try, we’d love to know how it goes!

      1. Anne Capezzuto says:

        I will definitely let you know! Thanks for the quick reply and have a spectacular New Year!

  5. Can this be baked in a Bundt pan?

  6. Hi, is the 3 cups 375 grams each or all the flour is a total 375g?

  7. Love the recipe but had to modify the sugar quantity and make it more diabetic friendly. I used half the amount of sweetener as I felt that 1.5 cups of sugar was excessive, especially as ripe bananas are quite sweet. I found that I needed to add more sugar. However with the cream cheese frosting sorted out the problem. Many thanks for excellent recipe!

  8. Made this for the holidays and added 1 cup walnuts and half cup raisins. Eating it is addictive. Great recipe. Thanks!

  9. I made this last night and came out great! I skipped the frosting and did some alterations. Instead of buttermilk I mixed 1 3/4 tablespoons of vinegar into 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. Instead of the 9 x 13 pan, I used two loaf-type pans around 7 x 3 in. I also added walnuts around the end.
    Sooo, very good and moist!
    Thanks for your awesome recipes!

  10. Megan Polanski says:

    WOW!!! This banana cake was delicious! It was so full of flavor and the cream cheese frosting was absolutely perfect! I knew I couldn’t go wrong with this recipe. I have found Sally’s baking addiction to have some of THE BEST recipes. Thank you for sharing this. My family LOVED it!

  11. Elizabeth Pointer says:

    I made this for the second time this week. I made it as a 9×13 the first time. I may have overcooked it but it seemed a little too heavy or dense. This time I made it in a 15×20 inch pan. I baked it at 325 for 17 minutes. I wish I’d rotated it in the middle to brown evenly.

    I made a 3 layer cake out of the sheet cake. It is so so so good. Not dense in the least. I added an extra teaspoon of vanilla to frosting this time. Thanks for a great recipe!!

    Elizabeth

  12. My my my! Yeah! I’m a fan for this. I love banana cakes so I didn’t hesitate to try it out. My mom has had me make this cake to the point of no return.. Very delicious, moisture is perfectly melt in your mouth perfection LOVE IT..Now A favorite in my recipes.
    I just use a glaze on it because the cake itself is sweet enough and moist enough to enjoy without the added frosting. I did try it both ways. It’s just so enjoyable that you don’t need all those xtra toppings and in my opinion you taste the wonderful bananas rather then frosting. Thanks for sharing
    Lisa H.

  13. This is absolutely fabulous I have made it 3×2 times is a cake and one time and cupcakes and it just went over so good I’ve got it in the oven now for tonight‘s get together at our church New Year’s Eve absolutely wonderful

  14. Rovina Schofield says:

    Oh my goodness this is was sooooo good. The best banana cake I have ever made. Thank you so much

  15. Amazing – so dense and moist. Truly is the best banana cake ever!

  16. Very delicious and moist banana cake, my family really enjoyed it. Thank you

  17. Daphne Nelson says:

    I’ve made many banana cakes in the past, but this by far is the best! I split the recipe in half because I only had two bananas and I used a loaf pan. The cake was very moist and flavorful and airy. I didn’t have any frosting, but it still tasted amazing!

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