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 & 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.
  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.

761 Comments

  1. Sally, this is not only the best banana cake i’ve ever had, but the best i’ve ever made. I make banana cake about once a month and have never stuck to one recipe, always looking for the “perfect” recipe. We had guests over today and I made them this – even I was blown away at how amazing it was!! Thank you SO much for another great recipe, Sally. I have finally found the perfect banana cake!! 🙂

  2. I don’t usually write reviews – but this time I had to. This cake was out of this world!!! Thanks for the great recipe!

  3. I’m making this for my husband’s birthday and I’m just curious whether anyone knows if I’ll need to double the recipe to do two 8 or 9″ rounds for a 2-layer round cake. I can mix it and see but I’d rather not be surprised and have to run out in the middle for more bananas!

    1. Hi Michelle! This recipe, as written, can make a two layer cake. I’m unsure of the bake time for each layer though.

  4. Hi Sally,

    I love your blog! My addiction is Sally’sbakingaddiction…and baking of course! 🙂 I just wanted to let you know I’ve made this banana cake two days ago and it was a huge success, I mean EVERYONE loved it from the first bite! Another great recipe from you, thank you for the great work you do 🙂

  5. This turned out so well. So many people commented on it. I added a 1/2 tsp of nutmeg as well and sprinkled nutmeg lightly over the icing. I will definitely make this again!

  6. I just made this cake for brunch to celebrate my son’s graduation. It was moist and delicious. Cream cheese frosting was a big hit. I used very, very ripe bananas that I’d stored in the freezer.

  7. This was SO GOOD. Everyone who tried it loved it. Thank you for the recipe – I will definitely keep making it!

  8. I’ve used this recipe at least twice already and every time it turned out perfect. Tasted heavenly and had the perfect moist texture. Although, it took me awhile to make the batter, it was totally worth the wait! Everyone loved it and this recipe is a keeper! Serves so many people and lasts long in the fridge. 😉 Couldn’t ask for a better recipe!

  9. Lili Mefford says:

    I made this cake and didn’t even frost it and my family loved it! My husband said it was the best thing I’ve ever made. 🙂
    Thank you, I’ll be making this often!

  10. This cake was a hit.. we all loved it!! Even my grandson who doesn’t like bananas!! 

  11. I made this recently and it was a big hit with the whole family, and we’re not even really banana fans! Great texture and flavors. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Do you think I could make this in a bread pan? I’m wanting something a little different than my normal go to banana bread recipe( which is good)but I want something different. Thanks!

    1. Should fit into 2 loaf pans.

  13. I made this cake for a co-worker’s birthday and it was a hit at the office! I am not usually a fan of bananas at all but my roommate gave me three over-ripened ones, so I decided to give this cake a go. The crumb is seriously so soft! I opted for Sally’s peanut butter meringue frosting because bananas+peanut butter+marshmallow=dreamy. I also decorated it with chocolate chips which was even better! I forgot what measurements were and put this cake into my 11×17 pan without even thinking about it and it came out perfectly after 45 minutes. Thanks for a great recipe, Sally!

  14. Best banana cake I have ever tasted! The frosting is excellent too. Texture, taste and appearance, this cake has it all.

  15. Great banana flavor! My only issue was that 45 minutes was a little too long in my oven. I used a darker colored steel pan, so my bad–I should have been checking at 35 minutes. Even though the crust is darker than I like, it is still really good.
    Thank you for the measurements in grams and the quantity of mashed bananas–my bananas were a little small and I needed four.

  16. Christine says:

    I finally made this the other day – has been top on my list to try for a long time! I may have used too much banana (I was too lazy to measure it) but like others I thought this was similar to banana bread in density HOWEVER it is amazingly delicious!!! I will absolutely be making it again…makes a nice, big pan to share!

    I didn’t have quite enough cream cheese so I weighed out additional butter to make up for the difference. I added a little espresso to the frosting to give it a little something extra…I am not sure it added anything special but it was delicious enough to eat by the spoonful! Would be fun to maybe do a peanut butter flavor or even add a little rum!

    Thank you so much! Great recipe!!

  17. Hi Sally! Can I half the recipe and make it in a 8×8 square pan? If so would I need to adjust the baking time? Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hi Alyssa! This is a great question. Yes, you can halve the recipe but I fear the 8×8 pan would be too small. Do you have a 9×9 pan instead? If not, only fill the 8×8 halfway and use any extra batter for cupcakes. I’m unsure of the exact bake time, but it will be slightly shorter.

  18. Paul Atlas says:

    This “IS” the best banana cake recipe. I have now made it 4 times. Today I made it for the 5th time in a 9″ X 9″ pan and did not frost it. It was still delicious. I followed the recipe to the “tee.”
    It didn’t bake any longer then using the 9″ X 13″ pan. I also made a parchment paper sling and removed it from the pan after letting it rest ten minutes. I removd the parchment as soon as I got it out of the pan. I liked the extra hight of the cake. Awesome recipe! Frosted or unfrosted you will not go wrong.

  19. Guess what everyone! The riper the bananas=the more dense your cake will be! Check out serious eats. They recommend using bananas that are just about to spot or has very little spots verses using bananas that are over ripe.

  20. Becky Allen says:

    I made this yesterday and IT IS the best banana cake I’ve ever had. My coworkers agreed! I followed the recipe exactly. My bananas were very spotty but I made sure not to over mix and the cake turned out amazing. It’s not super fluffy…it’s not supposed to be am right?! I did NOT think it was heavy like banana bread. I definitely had to keep myself from going back for fourths and fifths 🙂

  21. Hi, love this cake. Any idea how long to cook if you double the recipe? Going to make it for a birthday cake and quite a few people coming. Thanks!

    1. Hi Jenna! I recommend making 2 batches instead of doubling. Working with double the batter (and this is A LOT of batter to begin with!) often leads to over or under-mixing. You can make two 9×13 cakes this way. For a larger pan, use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  22. Hi Sally. Is there much of a difference between the cream cheese frosting on this cake versus your Red Velvet cake recipe? The cream cheese frosting on the RV cake was OUTSTANDING but wondering why it wouldn’t be the same for this cake.

    Thanks for responding at your leisure.

    1. Hi Gina! The recipe is a little different because this frosting yields less. They’re pretty similar in taste and texture, but there’s a little less cream cheese for the amount of butter. As a result, it tastes silkier and more buttery. You can, of course, use the cream cheese frosting recipe/ratio from the red velvet cake instead.

  23. Hi Sally,
    Is it possible to add chocolate chips?

    1. Absolutely! I’d add about 1 cup.

  24. Would adding walnuts to this recipe change cooking time or ingredient proportions? Thanks, Julie

    1. Not at all! You can add 1 cup.

  25. Thanks Sally for this yummy recipe, I’ve done it many times and it always comes out amazing. This is my son’s favorite and today is his 7th birthday, he asked for banana cake. So just put it in the oven. Thought I would finally leave a review! Thank you again for this gteat recipe!

  26. Hi Sally! I want to thank you for this great recipe! My boyfriend and I have never baked once in our loves, but just one day we decides to bake banana cake. I stumbled upon your recipe and we found it so easy that for our first ever try, the cake turned out great! We brought it to work and it was a hit. Thank you so much, this gave us more confidence to yry more beginner recipes.
    I also have a question. Can I make 2 pans of this recipe and be able to bake them at the same time, 45-50min at 350F, in the oven? I was planning to bake them on different racks in the oven, and not beside each other. What can you advise me on this?

    1. Hi Clare! I’m so glad you enjoy this banana cake so much! You can bake two cakes at the same time. I recommend next to each other on the same oven rack. The bake time will be slightly longer than instructed.

  27. Sooooo delicious! Thanks so much for this amazing recipe – and for all the great advice you give as well! Love your site!

  28. Moist, delicious, perfection. I halved the frosting recipe and used a bundt pan (added 7 minutes to bake time). Instant hit!

  29. This is so easy and delicious! My husband almost ate half the cake in one sitting (that’s saying something as he usually is very self-controlled when it comes to desserts!).

  30. Most yummmmmmmmmiest banana cake I’ve ever had. It tastes so yumm even without the frosting. Perfect texture perfect taste. I just love it.

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