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.

762 Comments

  1. This is by far the most moist cake I’ve ever made. But then, your recipes have never disappointed me! I’m normally a 9×13 pan gal, intimidated by the layer cake but I went for it with this recipe and it was a success!! I love that you give all the different baking options. Absolutely delicious!! Going to try your carrot cake next!!

  2. I have made this cake several times it is absolutely delicious. The name fits the cake well. The best banana cake I’ve ever had! Thanks Sally!

  3. Hi Sally!
    This is THE best banana cake EVER! Very soft and moist. I used soured cream as there was no buttermilk at the shop. It was super moist (a little too much) hot but cool it’s perfect with cream cheese frosting – I cheated and mixed cream cheese with icing sugar and it was fine. This is now my go to banana cake recipe. My only issue is how to make it firmer to be able to decorate with fondant?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Krystal, we’re so glad you enjoyed this cake! We recommend using our regular vanilla buttercream under the fondant, as it’s a bit sturdier. You can still use the cream cheese frosting between layers, if desired.

  4. Vanessa Taylor says:

    Was wondering if you can freeze it after it’s been frosted?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Vanessa, sure can! Frosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature or serve cold.

  5. One of the most amazing cakes I’ve ever had. So moist. I made peanut butter frosting instead of cream cheese, and it was delicious. My husband loves bananas and peanut butter, and this was for his birthday!

  6. LAURIE ANN METE says:

    I made this recipe and it turned out excellent and moist! Only thing I didn’t make was the cream cheese frosting because my husband has a lactose problem but the cake was great! I sprinkled powdered sugar on top is there a substitute for cream cheese?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Laurie! We’re so glad you enjoyed this cake. Unfortunately there’s no dairy-free substitute for cream cheese that we’ve found – let us know if you find something!

  7. I have made this recipe multiple times. I have followed every step of the recipe concisely. I must say that this cake has gotten me in serious problems. My family wants me to make it every week. I add chopped walnuts and sift the powdered sugar. I use very dark sugar and since I have various lemon trees, I make my own buttermilk. Sally thanks for sharing this awesome recipe.

  8. I know 24 cupcakes come out of this batter. My question would be, can this cream cheese/butter frosting be used for the cupcakes? If so, what do you recommend, pastry tip or the good ole angled spatula? Thanks.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Angel! This cream cheese frosting would be perfect for cupcakes. Either a round tip or a spatula would be best – cream cheese frosting is usually too thin to pipe with intricate piping tips. You can see how we frosted these banana cupcakes for inspiration (or follow that recipe instead). Hope you love them!

  9. Making ahead for my mom’s birthday this weekend. The cake turned out great! Will the frosting be sufficient for a 2-layer 9 in. cake, or do I need to augment?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Julie! This should be enough for a two layer cake. If you want extra for decoration or an extra thick layer you could multiply the recipe by 1.5x. Hope it’s a hit!

  10. Abby Williams says:

    Do you know how many grams or ounces for the bananas? They vary in size significantly.
    Thank you for publishing this recipe, can’t wait to try!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Abby! You’ll need 1.5 cups of mashed bananas which should be about 340 g. Enjoy!

  11. This cake came out delicious, fluffy, and moist – probably because I followed the recipe exactly. Thank you and I will definitely be saving this recipe to use again and again.

  12. Can this be made in a sheet cake pan?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shari, our cake pan sizes and conversions guide will be helpful in scaling this cake for different pans. Hope you enjoy it!

  13. Came our perfect all three times that I used it. The second time I didn’t have buttermilk or milk , it still turned out pretty nice. However, the simple addition of buttermilk does wonders!! Thanks for sharing this recipe, God bless you.

  14. Thank you for this great recipe. Simply delicious! Deliciously simple!

  15. Any thing special to add for high altitude baking?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

  16. Hello… thank you for sharing this recipe!
    I’m just wondering why it needs refrigeration?

  17. David Ritchie says:

    Hi. In the cake I added 1/2 tsp powdered ginger and 1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon.
    For the icing I beat 1/4 cup cocoa into the butter and cream cheese. The icing was a bit stiff. I added a few tbsp sour cream.

  18. Yummy! I added a half tsp of nutmeg. Just because I love nutmeg. Otherwise followed recipe exactly. Nice and moist and so delish.

  19. Omg yessss I made this, and I think it’s the best banana cake I’ve ever had. I think the proportions of ingredients are perfect. I’m keeping this in my binder of recipes.

  20. Shari Campbell says:

    I followed directions to a T, but my cake seems way, way too heavy? It was too filling with just a very small piece. I must have made a mistake somewhere?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shari, if the cake tasted heavy over overly dense, it’s possible the cake batter was over mixed — that’s usually the culprit for dense cakes. We share more helpful tips on how to prevent dry and dense cakes here, that you might find helpful for next time. Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try!

  21. Cake was tasty and moist but even though I used 1/2 the sugar in both the cake and icing recipes, it was way too sweet for us!

  22. Can I use frozen bananas? If so, should I then reduce or cut any other ingredients out?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jackie, Fresh (ripe) is best, but you can use thawed frozen bananas. We recommend draining them if there’s a lot of liquid.

  23. Claire Cave says:

    I have just made the mixture as per the ingredients, but it seems way too runny??

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Claire, did you use fresh or frozen bananas by chance? If you used frozen, it’s possible that there may be too much liquid in the batter. Or, was your butter too soft? We’d also recommend taking a look at the video if you haven’t already — that should give you a good idea of what the batter texture should be like.

  24. My son and I found the cinnamon too over powering. But obviously there are some spice cake lovers out there. We were disappointed because the cinnamon disguised the taste of the banana. I made it again, at a later date, without the cinnamon and it was a home run!
    I used a buttercream icing with maple flavouring.

  25. First of all, thank you for sharing this recipe!
    I’ve had the same problem two times: the upper half of the cake is perfect, but the bottom half doesn’t have that crumbly texture. The bottom layer has a very dense pudding-like texture. The toothpick inserted came out clean though. Do you have an idea of what went wrong?
    I followed your recipe exactly, except that I used half the ingredients listed for a round 9-inch tin.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Christine, it sounds like the cake simply hasn’t been baked through long enough. When halving the recipe, is it filling your pan more than half way? If so, there’s likely too much batter which is causing it to heat and bake unevenly. For next time, fill the pan only half way and then use the leftover batter for a few cupcakes. Or, if you have a 9×9 square pan, that should work a bit better, too. Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try!

  26. Janice DeAngelis says:

    I made this cake for my girlfriends birthday and she said it was the absolute most wonderful birthday cake she had ever had!! It really was delicious and quite frankly better than anything I’ve ever had in the bakery thank you for all your recipes.

  27. Hi Sally,
    This is the beat banana cake recipe ever. Thanks so much!

  28. Favour Emmanuel says:

    I loved it and it came out beautiful, I’ll surely recommend this recipe to my friends, thank you so much

  29. Does the cake (without the frosting) have to be refrigerated? I was planning to bake it and take it to my family reunion but there will be no room to store it in the refrigerator.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sasha, the cake should be okay at room temperature for a few days without the frosting.

  30. Bettyann Sonn says:

    I just made this banana cake. It smells wonderful. It is cooking and I am going to make the icing on a little while. I will be tasting it later this evening. To continue.

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