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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 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.

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 1x
  • 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

Scale

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.

Keywords: The Best Banana Cake I’ve Ever Had

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. This cake is so moreish, light and moist, got to be the best ever. I made it for my ladies group yesterday, and they all had two pieces, that speaks for itself. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe.

  2. Simply sensational. Easy to make, wonderful texture and Gorgeous taste. Our new fav recipe. Thank you very much

  3. I made this exactly as written and it turned out fantastic! Just a described!
    Thanks!

  4. I made this for my family and it went over very well! For a banana cake it was actually very rich and satisfying. I was serving the cake out of the pan so I halved the frosting recipe and it was plenty for the top of the cake. I will definitely be making this again!

  5. It’s true, this is the best banana cake I’ve ever had! I followed the recipe exactly, right down to the extra 1/4 cup of icing sugar in the cream cheese icing. My husband had 4 pieces, and he usually hates anything with banana in it.
    This is a winner!

  6. Finally! I have tried so many banana cake recipes that tasted more like bread than cake that I was ready to give up . This recipe was my last try and I’m so glad I made it. It was moist and it was cake! Everyone loved it.

  7. I love that this is not sweet and its light but dense at the same time perfect as a cake. The icing as any recipe Ive tried is not stable for a hot weather and find it sweet for my liking thus the4 stars but everything else is great. This is going to be my go to banana cake recipe without the frosting. Thanks

  8. I always read the comment section before trying a new recipe. It was just like the comments, my first ever banana cake and its delicious, the kids have already eaten half of it. Its a keeper in a recipe book. Thank you

  9. You can, yes, but I find it’s not quite as moist when baked in the Bundt shape. Use a 10-12 cup Bundt pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, give or take. Use a toothpick to determine doneness.

  10. I made this cake for my son’s first birthday. He loved it! Thank you for this great recipe.

  11. Hi Sally,
    The banana cake turned out so delicious..the texture was super soft and moist..this is the first time im trying a cake..you inspire me to try baking new dishes..Thank you so much..

  12. Just made this cake, it’s a keeper, was moist and had a good banana flavor, will certainly be making this again

  13. Awesomely tasty, moist, delicious. Really the best banana cake that I’ve ever baked and served.

    1. Hi Phyllis! This batter will fit into a 1/2 sheet pan. The cake will be thinner and require a shorter baking time, of course.

  14. Thank you for the amazing recipe Sally. Turned out well, however I had an issue with the cake being fluffier on top but dense on bottom. Could I have over-mixed?

    1. Overmixing could be the culprit as it over develops the gluten and you cake doesn’t rise properly. Always check that all of your ingredients are at room temperature and that you are measuring correctly also 🙂

  15. I desperately wanted to bake a banana cake so I tried this recipe because of the high ratings. Imagine my horror when I discovered (after pulling a perfect cake out of the oven), a bowl of mashed bananas that I had set aside and had somehow forgotten to add to the cake mixture! The cake tasted delicious nevertheless and after my mother, who was a witness to this disaster, had stopped laughing at me, we enjoyed the cake with a hot cup of tea. I will try recipe again (with bananas this time) but will certainly try the “banana-no-banana” cake again. I don’t normally bother to rate recipes but this one deserves 5 stars.

  16. Just made this and was so happy with the result. I think the cream cheese was a little too sweet and prefer just humble banana cake alone. Subscribed to your blog thereafter! Can’t wait to try more recipes from you. Thank You!

  17. Perfect! Something to try is chopped pecans in the icing. Really good.
    Thanks

  18. Hi Sally. I saw a recipe for a banana bread cheesecake online and though it looked good, several of the comments by those who made it made me concerned on how it might turn out. I was wondering if a combination of your banana cake atop your no bake cheesecake scaled to a 9″ springform pan might be an ideal pairing. Any ideas?

    1. Hi Eric! I’m nervous about the outcome of that. The baked banana cake would weigh down the no-bake cheesecake filling. You could maybe try scaling down this recipe and have it be the base for a portion of the no bake cheesecake filling, but this isn’t something I’ve tested. Let me know if you do!

  19. I just finished cooling my banana cake on the plate and it was so good! Moist and smelled so good! I used 6 smaller sized bananas and it came out still as good! Thank you for the recipe!

  20. I just made it and it smells heavenly in my house right now!!

  21. Can you use frozen bananas in this recipe? I have some just waiting to be used!

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

  22. Can this be baked in 8 or 9″ layer pans? Will it still be as moist? I would use cream cheese frosting as you would normally ice a layer cake. Thanks for the recipe

  23. This recipe is a keeper! My husband loves all things banana. I can officially say this recipe will be used time and time again.

  24. Too sweet so I will cut the brown sugar by half next time. I think 3/4 of the cream cheese next time for the frosting. Deliciously moist though. Will make it again.

  25. Yes!! During baking, my husband said three times, “geez, that cake smells good.” I made sure the toothpick was clean when testing. Cake has been cooling for 30 minutes, no sinking in the middle. Huge thank you for making me a better baker.

  26. Hi Sally,
    I’m from Suriname, a small country in South America and I love to bake. I have tried making banana cake twice already, tried two different recipes, but they didn’t turn out as cakey as your recipe. Yours is really the best banana cake I have ever had!! Even my mother-in-law who is a vegetarian loves it and my 2 year old daughter….thank you!!!

  27. Cake was made and was delicious even without the frosting the frosting I had to put in 2 tablespoons of milk but it was delicious very good recipe

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