The Best Banana Cake I’ve Ever Had

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. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Remember that time I told you about the best banana cake I’ve ever had? It was over on Instagram.

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?

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. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 more moist. 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.

How to make the best banana cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Mashed bananas for the best banana cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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!

I really love the mix of brown and white sugars in this banana cake. Brown sugar and banana pair wonderfully together and the brown sugar leaves the cake even more moist. Plus, a little brown sugar flavor is never a bad thing!

Let’s see, what else. Oh! The cinnamon. Just a little bit, nothing overpowering. 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon pairs with the brown sugar and banana flavors.

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

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

How to make the best banana cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

But anyway, as you guessed, buttermilk is the moist-maker. The cake wouldn’t be what it is without it! I rarely have buttermilk in my refrigerator, unless I have a ton of baking to do that day, so I always sour whole milk instead. For this recipe, you’ll need 1 and 1/2 cups of buttermilk. So here’s what I do instead: measure 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar, then add enough whole milk until I reach 1 and 1/2 cups. Stir it around, let it sit for a minute, then pour into the batter. To keep the cake extra rich, I do recommend whole milk when you are souring milk– not any other milks.

So, soured whole milk OR buttermilk. Your two best bets in this banana cake.

The silkiest, best cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

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. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

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Banana cake recipe

The Best Banana Cake I’ve Ever Had

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 hours
  • 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 temperature1

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: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can add 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice or white vinegar to a large liquid measuring cup. Then add enough regular room temperature milk (whole milk is recommended) to make 1 and 1/2 cups total. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. This soured milk can be used in the recipe instead of buttermilk.
  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.

PS: Happy National S’mores Day. Here’s a new video for you. Try these. Try these!

Also, there may have been too much puppy partying on Kevin’s birthday yesterday…

pups 8-9-16

Creamy, silky, smooth, and simple cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com
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. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

781 Comments

  1. Omg!!! As per your suggestion I made this cake into a 3 layer 8 inch cake and added chocolate chips. It is DIVINE!! Seriously so moist and banana-y!

    1. As you said, super moist! Of course being the type of person that doesn’t follow recipes to the “T” I eyeballed the baking soda and powder, vanilla and used cream to sour with lemon. And voila! It was as delicious as you said and rather foolproof :). I baked it in two square ins for 37 minutes? (About) and it could have stood another 2 min. But then it gets better because I cut each square into two and then iced between layered it with your icing and chopped pecans between. Then used the rest of the plain icing to finish). Too good for words and thank you. It’s our new family banana “br-are” recipe.

  2. Hi Sally,

    Thank you for the recipe. My niece and I tried out this receipe and the banana cake was amazing -my sons could not have enough. Only difference is we used 200g of granulated sugar only and it cooked for one hour (we used the foil as advised to stop the cake from burning/browining too much on the top)

  3. I am super excited to try this recipe. I have several browning bananas that need to be baked. I usually just do banana bread and banana waffles(my hhubbies favorite). It will be nice to try something different

  4. I made this for work. I used all my brown bananas (7 medium ones), and added a whole teaspoon of cinnamon – and it turned out delicious.

    Also used a special brand of margarine instead of butter for both cake and frosting, and low-fat cream cheese to “semi-make” it better for my cholesterol.

    The colleagues gobbled it up. Thanks for a very nice recipe!

  5. I may have already reviewed this, but just in case, I will do it again. I don’t do well baking cakes from scratch. However, this cake is amazing. I baked 2 smaller cakes and gave one away because I couldn’t stop eating it. I did add a handful of chopped walnuts because who doesn’t love walnuts! Thanks Sally

    1. Hi Josephine! Fresh (ripe) is best, but you can use thawed frozen bananas. I would drain them if there’s a lot of liquid.

  6. Since all your recipes are absolutely amazing I am sure this one will be too. The banana cake looks fabulous but for some reason I do not absolutely like cream cheese, are there any other icing options you would recommend as really want to make this cake!

    1. Oh yes! It’s great with just regular vanilla buttercream and AMAZING with salted caramel buttercream or peanut butter frosting. You can find the recipes on my frosting page: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/category/frostings/

  7. I have a similar recipe (same amount flour, bananas, buttermilk, butter) that says to directly put it in the freezer from the oven for 45 minutes which will make it very moist. It does!

  8. My husband helped me make this last night. It is excellent. One change we made was to the frosting recipe. I wanted the frosting to have a banana flavor too – like the Sara Lee version had so we added 1/8 tsp of banana extract. OMG, it was fabulous. And it makes SO much frosting. Loved it. I think next time I will play with the spice/flavoring a little on the cake. Loved the consistency of the cake. Very moist and not at all crumbly or crummy. The house spelled fabulous even hours after it was done. Thanks so much for the recipe

    1. Hi Ginny, I haven’t personally tested this with GF flour but I have heard from other readers who have tried it successfully. Let me know if you try it!

      1. Hi Sally, I just wanted to let you know that I made this cake using GF flour (Cup 4 Cup Brand) and made no other modifications, except I baked it in a half sheet pan. (There was a lot of batter! I was a little concerned it may overflow during baking, but it turned out fine in that regard.) Since GF flour doesn’t get tough during mixing like APF, I felt safe mixing it for a longer period too. ) My results were good, but still need some tweaking. The flavor of the cake was very good. My bananas were previously frozen and when they thawed, there was a lot of liquid, so I put them on the stove to reduce that down. In general, I believe this to be a good tweak on any banana flavored pastry. It concentrates the flavor while removing excess liquid. I measured exactly 1 1/2 cups of the reduced banana puree for the recipe. As I said, the flavor was great, but the texture was a little rubbery, very likely due to the GF flour. I’m not quite sure how to remedy that, but any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. My number one recipe to go to for our family reunion is coming up soon. Can’t wait to see the satisfaction on their faces. As usual. Thank you again ..

    1. Hi Christine, it fits nicely in 3 9 inch pans – you can see how I made it into a layer cake here: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/banana-cake-with-brown-butter-cream-cheese-frosting/

  10. Thank you for sharing your recipe as always! I’ve been looking and tried recipes, and the outcome was sometimes it’s very dense and burnt. We have lots of bananas at home, and we love to eat I will try this one (banana muffin/bread) Thanks again.

  11. made this in a bunt cake pan even though it said it normally turns our dry. I added an extra half of a banana and lowered the temp to 340F in order to prevent it from drying out and it worked! it was a hit and it was gone in no time. everyone went back for seconds! such a great recipe we served it with dulce de leche! yum!

    1. Hi Lynae, I have not tested that pan size. It would depend on if you are using a 10×15 jelly roll pan that is only one inch high or a deeper pan.

  12. I have never made banana cake before. I’m not really sure if I’ve ever really tried it either! But when we came back from vacation, I found myself with a lot of black bananas. I decided to try this banana cake (I also made your banana bread for a friend). Let me tell you, This was the first but definitely not the last time I’m making this, it’s so delicious! Moist, fluffy with perfect banana flavor! Wow! I had some leftover caramel and added a few tablespoons to your basic buttercream recipe, then drizzled it with chocolate ganache. My boyfriend said it looked like an Entennman’s cake, lol, but tasted so much better! Can’t wait to try this with different frostings, I think brown butter frosting is next!

    1. I wish I could help, but I have no experience baking at high altitude. I know some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

    1. Hi Christy, you can yes, but I recommend reducing the mashed banana if adding shredded carrots. For example, remove 1/2 cup of mashed banana and add 1/2 cup shredded carrots.

  13. Holy moly. I would have to agree. That is the best banana cake I have ever had either. Love the tang of the buttermilk and cream cheese icing. Thank you for this delicious recipe!

  14. So delicious, the smells in my house now are incredible! I used demerera sugar and golden caster as thats what I had, unfortunately I had run out of vanilla extract so had to make do without. I used my 5 brown bananas and added white/milk chocolate chips. Very dense but so moist, I’ve not iced it this time but next time I think I’ll add a cinnamon or white chocolate buttercream for a more indulgent cake! And maybe add a little nutmeg to the batter as I love cinnamon and nutmeg. Will use this as my go to recipe now!

    1. I”m so glad you enjoyed it! If you used 5 bananas that would explain why it was dense – I use 3 which is about 1 and 1/2 cups mashed. It would be delicious with cinnamon frosting!

  15. Hi!

    Would it be possible to double-layer this cake? Or would it sink in the middle too much?

    I was thinking of making two batches and putting one on top of the other with frosting on top and in between.

    Thank!

    1. Hi Rade, you can make two 9×13 inch cakes and layer on top of each other. But the cake will be very tall and thick. You could also make it a 2 layer 9-inch round cake. Make 1 batch of batter, divide between 2 greased 9-inch cake pans, and bake for 26-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  16. Loved the recipe. But my cake was very dense, not fluffy at all. Followed instructions and recipe, only thing I can think is that my buttermilk and eggs were not entirely at room temp (but not cold). Would that make it dense? My cake was more like a banana bread texture. Coincidentally my neighbor made the cake the same weekend and hers was dense too. Is this cake really supposed to come out fluffy or are people just not saying it’s dense? I’m going to try making it again today and make sure the temp of ingredients are exact. The frosting is fabulous!

    1. Hi Debbie, This cake isn’t quite as light and fluffy as some of my other recipes. It should be dense, but not heavy. The crumb is very soft, but with tight crumbs. If yours was too heavy it could be that your ingredients were not room temperature which often leads to over-mixing to get everything to come tother. I’m glad you loved it though!

  17. Hi Sally. It’s amazing. Recipie is so easy. I made it today .and it’s best in taste .I serve it without icing wid tea. All love .
    Thanks a lot for best recipe.

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