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. 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?

slice of banana cake on a wood plate with a fork

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.

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. The bananas you see above are just right (and it’s what you want for banana bread 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!

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

banana cake batter in a glass bowl with a whisk

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.

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 our 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. 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.

slice of banana cake on a wood plate with a fork

The best banana cake I’ve ever had. We love it so much we turned it into a chocolate marble banana Bundt cake, too. 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. Bake for 60-70 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.

709 Comments

  1. This is the second time I have made this cake. I only had two bananas both times and it came out perfect anyway. This beats the “best” recipe I used for years. Because I live alone, I half the cake, slice one half into squares and freeze it as one. Then when I get the yearning for dessert I just reach in and take out one piece. It doesnt last long. It is OMG good. Thank you so much.

  2. Hi, can we substitute yoghurt or sour cream for the buttermilk? If so, how much?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sandra, the buttermilk is essential in this recipe. If needed, you can use regular milk and vinegar or lemon juice to make a DIY version of buttermilk — see recipe notes for more details on this.

  3. Made this for the first time tonight and my frosting is grainy, do you know why this would be? I don’t have a paddle mixer but I used the regular attachments to mix the butter and cream cheese – would that have caused the sugar to not mix in well?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kelly! Your regular attachments should be just fine. Usually grainy frosting is from the powdered sugar – the consistency can vary by brand. We recommend sifting it next time!

  4. Just make this tonight and it’s already almost gone it is absolutely delicious!!!

  5. Hi sally is it possible to use half butter half oil for a layer cake to make sure the layers remain moist when refrigerated?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ophelia, We don’t recommend that substitution. It’s not possible to cream oil. The creaming step is crucial to this cake’s texture. You’ll also lose a lot of flavor. You could try solid coconut oil instead, but I fear the texture will be greasy (and, of course, lacking butter flavor). The cake will still stay plenty moist using butter!

      1. Betty Livengood says:

        I have only two big bananas will that work. I also have King Arthur’s “Banana Flavoring” will that be alright since I do not have 3 bananas?

  6. Can you add pecans?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes you can! Gently stir in about 1 cup nuts (pecans or walnuts) after the wet and dry ingredients are mixed together.

  7. Annie Hildebrandt says:

    Just made it today. It was delicious! I didn’t add all the frosting because not everyone here likes as much on their cakes as I do.

  8. Can I make this info 3 layer 8 inch round cake?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kristine, we’d recommend following our banana layer cake instead — you can use your 8 inch pans there for slightly thicker layers (bake time will be a few minutes longer). Hope it’s a hit!

  9. If I wanted to cut this in half for a 6 inch round what should my bake time be?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sam, for a 6 inch cake, we’d recommend following our banana cupcakes recipe — it makes the perfect amount of batter for 3, 6 inch layers. If you only want one layer, you can try making 1/3 of that recipe, or, make it as is and fill the pan half way, then use the leftovers for a few cupcakes. You can follow the bake time and directions from this 6 inch cakes post. Hope this helps!

  10. Omg
    This cake was Amazing !!!
    Everyone I shared it with
    Also Loved it ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  11. Gracie Marsh says:

    Can you use a 13 by 9 inch pan?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Gracie, yes! This recipe is written for a 9×13 inch pan.

      1. Hi Sally,

        I have a 9 x 11 pan. Is it going to ruin my cake if i use this?
        Thanks so much

      2. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Gurit, your cake will be quite thick in your smaller pan – we suggest you make the batter as written, fill your 9×11 pan half way, and use any extra batter for a few cupcakes. Let us know how it goes!

  12. Hi Sally! Do you think I can substitute the cream cheese frosting for cashew frosting or something else? Or would it not taste right with a different frosting?
    Thanks!!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kiley, you can certainly use a different frosting if desired — the type / flavor is up to you and your personal taste preferences. Hope you enjoy it!

  13. Hello Sally, this recipe appears to be the best one I could find and I’m ready to give it a go.
    Although I’m not gluten free I would like to substitute the flour for almond flour yet keep the recipe as close to the original as possible. Do you have any suggestions?
    Thank you, Barbara G.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Barbara, we have not tested this recipe with almond flour — almond flour has very different baking properties and is not always a 1:1 substitute. It would take some recipe testing to guarantee results. If you play around with it, though, you may want to adjust the wet ingredients since almond flour can’t absorb liquid like all-purpose flour does. Hope this helps!

  14. Another home run from SBA! Every recipe I’ve ever made from your site has been excellent: the Triple Chocolate Cake, Best Ever Vanilla Cake, THE CARROT CAKE (my fave!), the Blueberry Peach Almond Galette, and Blueberry Streusel Muffins are all on long-term repeat, and now this Best Ever Banana Cake will join the roster! I am a really good cook, but seriously NOT a really good baker (unless it’s sourdough bread) but somehow your recipes are just un-F-upable; they never fail me! You make my friends and family think that I actually AM a great baker – I love living this lie, courtesy of SBA! The banana forward flavor of this cake is wonderful. The crumb is dense and toothsome. The mouthfeel of the cake and frosting together makes me swoon! I did use your marvelous brown butter cream cheese frosting in place of the regular cream cheese frosting because why wouldn’t you use brown butter if you have the option? Thanks for sharing your recipes in gram weights (that alone has made me hate baking so much less than I used to!) and for being a baking genius and a trusted resource for the absolute best recipes!

  15. Patricia Rogers says:

    I would like to bring this cake to a cottage. Can I make it the day before leaving it in the pan and when at the cottage serve it direct from the pan? Thanks

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Patricia, absolutely! Just be sure to cover it well overnight so that it doesn’t dry out.

  16. Regina Roman says:

    I made this cake yesterday and the flavor is great, but it seems that the cake didn’t really rise–it was almost brownie-like in consistency. Is that to be expected?
    Thank you.

    p.s. I did put a couple pieces into the freezer, as one other baker suggested. Great idea!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Regina, if your cake seemed overly dense, it’s possible that the batter was over mixed. This often leads to dense cakes, but thankfully it’s an easy fix for next time! This post on how to prevent dry and dense cakes might also be helpful to review. Thank you for giving this recipe a try!

  17. I used 4 bananas. Made this with my niece, her first cake making experience. We had no leftovers!

    Thanks!
    kk

  18. Absolutely the best Banana Cake I’ve made and I make lots of cakes. I added lemon juice to icing and put walnuts on top. Lovely.

  19. Can you use Bisquick instead of all purpose flour?

  20. Tracey Oxley says:

    This is the best ever banana cake I’ve ever made thanks heaps for the recipe the family loved it.

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