Remember that time I told you about the best banana cake I’ve ever had?
enjoyed obsessed over it at a family reunion the other weekend. My 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?
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.
She 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.
How to Make Banana Cake
The recipe starts with 1 and 1/2 cups (345g) mashed bananas, or about 4 medium or 3 large ripe bananas (above). Now, make sure those bananas are nice and spotty. The bananas you see above are just right (and it’s what you want for banana bread and banana muffins, too). 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!
Can I Use Frozen Bananas?
Yes and I do this often. Thaw the frozen bananas at room temperature. Drain off any excess liquid, mash, then use as instructed in the recipe below. See How to Freeze & Thaw Bananas for Baking.
Here’s the batter. There will be some lumps.
One more thing to note: buttermilk. 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.
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 our cream cheese frosting that we use for carrot cake, 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. 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.
If you love baking with brown butter, the brown butter cream cheese frosting from my zucchini cake would be fantastic here. If you are not into cream cheese frosting or just want to try something different, try it with this salted caramel frosting or white chocolate buttercream frosting instead. Both are seriously delicious combinations!
The best banana cake I’ve ever had. We love it so much we turned it into a chocolate marble banana Bundt cake, too. And if you can’t get enough sheet cakes, you’ll want to try this fresh apple cake next!Print
The Best Banana Cake I’ve Ever Had
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 5 hours (includes cooling)
- Yield: serves 12
- Category: Cake
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
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.
- 1 and 1/2 cups (345g) mashed bananas (about 4 medium or 3 large bananas)
- 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour (spooned & 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
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9×13-inch pan.
- Make the cake: Mash the bananas. I usually just use my mixer for this! Set mashed bananas aside.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare cake through step 6. 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 or unfrosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature, and then frost if needed and serve.
- Frozen Bananas: You can use frozen bananas here. Thaw the frozen bananas. Drain off any excess liquid, mash, then use as instructed in the recipe. See How to Freeze & Thaw Bananas for Baking.
- 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.
- 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.
- Can I Turn This into a Banana Bundt Cake? I recommend using my extremely similar recipe for chocolate marble banana Bundt cake instead. (There’s a little extra baking powder for lift, which is helpful when baking in a large Bundt pan.) You can leave out the chocolate swirl in that recipe.
- 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.
Keywords: The Best Banana Cake I’ve Ever Had
Reader Comments & Reviews
The batter looked curdle after I finished beaten in the flour and butermilk, is it supposed to be like that?
Hi Carmina, were all of your ingredients at room temperature? When ingredients are varying temperatures (i.e. if your buttermilk was cold), that can often cause the batter to become a bit curdled.
Followed the recipe exactly. Cooked it for two hours and still came out raw…bit too moist I think!
Hi Harriet, were you perhaps using a different sized pan or made any changes to the ingredients? The cake should take just under an hour to bake through (about 45-50 minutes), so the fact that it was still underbaked at two hours has us wondering if there was too much batter in the pan. We’re happy to help troubleshoot further!
Sally- I’m not an accomplished bake and when a friend bemoaned he never had birthday cupcakes in school or really ever, I thought I’d do something about that. I knew he liked banana so when I stumbled upon your recipe The icing convinced me. It was late and I may have had some wine with dinner. Somehow I wound up making both frostings AND the caramel sauce. Late into the night I was thinking “Golly this is a lot of work for cupcakes.” When I went into the kitchen to finish the icing with the recipe, I laughed realizing I had clicked through on others and just kept going the night before! Well, thank you for having recipes that even a first time cupcake baker can follow. Thank you for posting three icing/sauce recipes that work exactly as you say. Lastly, you can use all three on top of a cupcake and everyone thinks that’s how they are supposed to be made! This site is amazing btw Thank you again!
The first time I made your cream cheese frosting, it was perfect. I’ve made it 2 times since and both times, the frosting curdles. This last time I even made sure my butter was not hot.
Hi Marlena, I’m sorry to hear your frosting didn’t turn out well. The butter and cream cheese should both be room temperature, which is actually still a little cool to the touch. You can read more about what room temperature butter really means here. I hope you give it another try!
This is a rlly good recepie, I doubled it and I didn’t have buttermilk, so I just used normal milk. Also, I didn’t have all purpose flour (I just ran out) so I just used whole wheat flower and added a tsp of baking soda to it. It turned out AMAZING. The best thing I made in a long time
Another fantastic recipe from Sally. This is no exception. The cake is rather large so I made two and layered them. Family loved it.
The cake is in the oven and I made the frosting absolutely the best frosting recipe ever! Can’t wait to taste the cake!
Can cake flour be used instead of all purpose flour
Hi Roberta! With the addition of heavy banana, cake flour is too light for this cake recipe. Best to stick with all-purpose flour here.
This truly is the best banana cake I’ve ever had! I used to always make a banana bread, but my husband asked for it to be more cakey, so I googled banana cake and found this recipe and now I’m never baking the bread again!! The cake is perfect, the frosting is perfect, and abundant, and the combination of both is pure heaven!
This is a perfect recipe and I so love it. My new go-to recipe. Thank you so much.
Made this cake yesterday it was delicious my hubby loved it! You have some great recipes
I doubled the recipe when I made this cake because I have a very large family with an extreme sweet tooth. The cake was a big hit so moist. So good
Had really ripe bananas that i needed to use up. My husband wanted a cake for a change. OMG. He said this is now his favorite cake. I went to this recipe because it had buttermilk. My favorite chocolate cake has buttermilk, which makes it so moist. I had to make 1/2 the frosting since he got into the cake before it was cool enough to frost. Will DEFINITELY be adding this one to my recipe box.
The banana cake is cooking; I’m about to make the frosting, thinking, “hmmm, I guess the buttermilk (which I surprisingly had, and was a reason I chose this recipe) goes in the frosting.” Nope. Completely missed that last direction about adding the buttermilk to the cake mix. But even the mistakes are great when the recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I’ll try this recipe again with the buttermilk, but even without, more than edible. My number one site for anything baking.
Go to banana cake recipe! It’s SO yummy and simple to make!
3rd time I made. We love it. Gets better every time I double the frosting cuz we can eat it by the spoonful it’s so goog
What do you think about making this with oil instead of butter?
Hi Cat, you could try using solid coconut oil instead, but we fear the texture will be greasy (and, of course, lacking butter flavor).