Preheat your oven for a family favorite recipe for The Best Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting made with a surprising technique twist!

A slice of banana cake with cream cheese frosting on a plate

I always hesitate to name a recipe “The Best.” It makes you wonder where you go next once “The Best” is achieved.

Behind-the-scenes look at decorating a cake and capturing the perfect image

And the answer is nowhere. You go nowhere.

You bake this cake. You sit down. You eat this cake. And then you never search for another banana cake recipe for the rest of your life. Deal?

Stand mixer paddle attachment over glass bowl with batter

This banana cake is one of those recipes I grew up on, never really knowing where the mysterious notecard splattered with cake batter and vanilla extract—the pre-online indication of a well-loved recipe—came from.

Freshly baked cakes cooling on a wire rack

But thanks to the interwebs, it’s been digitized, and in return, it’s floated from recipe site to food blog, magazine to cookbook. And now it’s landed here.

Banana cake can often get a bad rap for being secondary to its carrot cake counterpart. But there’s room for veggie-packed and fruit-filled cakes at our table. This cake is a great way to make use of overripe bananas, but if your bananas aren’t looking as speckled (read: sweet!) as you’d hope, check out my simple trick for how to ripen bananas in less than 15 minutes!

The Best Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting on a wooden cake stand

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Dessert

The Best Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Make the most of overripe bananas with this recipe for The Best Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.
4.88 from 8 votes
A slice of banana cake with cream cheese frosting on a plate
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Servings 12 servings

Ingredients 

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 1/8 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

For the frosting:

  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, chilled
  • 11 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions 

Make the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 275°F. Grease and flour two round 9-by-2-inch cake pans. (See Kelly’s Notes.)
  • In a small bowl, combine the mashed bananas with the lemon juice and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time.
  • Add the vanilla and then beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk.
  • Fold in the mashed banana mixture and divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. (See Kelly’s Notes.)
  • Bake the cakes for 55 to 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Remove the cakes from the oven, place them on baking sheets and immediately transfer them to the freezer for 45 minutes to cool while you make the frosting.

Make the frosting:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into the bowl, then add the vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Remove the cakes from the freezer and transfer one cake onto your serving platter. Top the cake with half of the cream cheese frosting. Place the second cake on top and frost it with the remaining cream cheese frosting. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the chopped walnuts (optional). Slice and serve.

Kelly’s Notes:

  • The secret tip that makes this recipe the best-ever banana cake is that the cake bakes up low and slow at 275°F for about 1 hour. It will be less moist if you try to rush the cooking time and avoid placing it in the freezer straight from the oven. The blast of cool air helps seal in the moisture.
  • It’s important to note that the round cake pans are 9 inches wide by 2 inches tall. The amount of batter in this recipe will not fit in round cake pans that are only 1 inch tall.
  • This recipe will also work with a 9-by-13-by-2-inch cake pan. The baking time will vary, so it’s important to test the cake with a toothpick after it’s baked for about 50 minutes.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to give it a star rating below!

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Recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. Please do not reprint this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.


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Nutrition

Calories: 568kcal, Carbohydrates: 82g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 14g, Cholesterol: 102mg, Sodium: 237mg, Potassium: 196mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 55g, Vitamin A: 800IU, Vitamin C: 2.8mg, Calcium: 53mg, Iron: 1.7mg

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Comments

  1. Hi! Quick question, is it ok if I make this without the lemon juice? I dont have any with me at home.

  2. Hi, sounds wonderful, but I can’t get buttermilk in the country where I live. Can I substitute regular milk or something else? Thanks

    1. 5 stars
      Question: Can I put a glass 9 x 13 pan straight into the freezer? I’m worried that it will crack…

    2. 5 stars
      I can’t find buttermilk where i live also ( in a big city ) so i make my own…
      for every cup of milk add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice ( or white vinegar )…
      I like lemon juice better, enjoy…

  3. 5 stars
    This showed up on my feed just as I was starting to look for a recipe for my banana loving friend’s birthday – fate!! It was a huge hit and so so delicious. I did make it in a 9×13 pan with no problem. Baked a little past 60 minutes. Even worked at elevation in my mountain town. Thank you!!

  4. Are you freezing it in the cake pans or removing from the pans before you put the cake on the cookie sheet?

    1. Hi Marley! You should place the cakes (still in the pans) onto a baking sheet then put the baking sheet in the freezer.

  5. Delicious cake! The tip about putting it in the freezer resulted in an amazingly moist cake! I did customize it with another recipe that I love by substituting one cup of the white granulated sugar with one cup of brown sugar, plus I added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. The result was a subtle yet full of flavors that I love! The result was amazing!

  6. Can one freeze this cake for future use? Obviously, I would frost later after defrosting from the freezer. IF it can be frozen would you do it as it comes out of the oven as you suggest in the recipe (would wrap after it had a chance to cool in freezer as recipe indicates)?

    1. Absolutely, Marsha! Do exactly as you’ve written. For maximum freshness, wrap each layer in plastic wrap then in aluminum foil and store in a freezer-safe storage bag. You can freeze the cake for up to 3 months. To thaw, transfer the cakes from the freezer to the refrigerator one day before decorating/serving.

    1. Hi Susan – I’ve only ever made this cake with two round layers, but it’d definitely work in a larger single pan. Unfortunately I can’t provide the exact size or bake time, but let me know if you give it a shot!

  7. 5 stars
    HI KellY, this looks good! At the part where you mention to keep the cake in the freezer, are you talking about the top part of the fridge which makes ice? I’m just confirming cause I’ve never heard of this method, ever. Thanks!!

  8. 5 stars
    This really is the best banana cake I have ever made, thank you. I was wondering are there there other cakes you can make and put them in the freezer for the moistness.

  9. 5 stars
    Outstanding recipe! The cake is moist, yet slightly dense, and the frosting is just the right balance of sweet and tangy.

  10. Hi Kelly,

    Have you tried to make this cake gluten free? This is one of my favorite recipes, but my father in law can’t have gluten. Would love your advice on how to modify if you have tried it. Thanks!

    1. Hi Christina! You could try using a gluten-free flour such as Cup4Cup that’s a 1:1 ratio as regular flour. I’ve never tried this substitution so I’m not sure what the result would be. Curious to hear your results if you give it a shot!

  11. My husband absolutely adores this recipe. I was thinking of turning them into cupcakes next time. Any advice on how to do that?

    1. Hi TK – I have never made this cake in cupcake form, so I can’t say with certainty if there would be any differences. You’ll just have to adjust the bake time :)

  12. This part of your instructions has me confused and hoping to get clarity even if it is a couple of years ago that you posted this.

    Here is where I am lost: “It will be less moist if you try to rush the cooking time and avoid placing it in the freezer straight from the oven. The blast of cool air helps seal in the moisture.”

    You mention to avoid putting it straight into the freezer but then explain that the blast of cool air will help it’s moisture… so do you not avoid putting it in the freezer then?

    Thanks for any clarification … I am looking forward to making this.

    1. Hi Cristi! That is in reference to the temp of the oven. Most cakes bake at 350F but this one bakes at 275F :)

    2. It will be less moist if you rush AND it will be less moist if you avoid/skip putting directly in freezer.

  13. So this really IS the best banana cake. I love to find my “go to” recipes, and this is now one of them. I used to always make Dorie Greenspan’s banana bundt cake (which is also so so good), but I love layer cakes and a good frosting. This is my new banana cake recipe, and that’s now my banana “bread” recipe.

    The cakes are super, super moist and perfectly flavored. I also love the volume of batter makes really thick layers that flatten on top after baking.

    Of note, I’ve never made this with the listed frosting recipe. I always use a cream cheese, mascarpone, whipped cream recipe I have. I’m super picky about frosting and this one is my favorite and PERFECT with this cake.

    Every time I make this I get rave reviews. From everyone. “You should open a bakery.” “I don’t usually like cake but this is really good.” “Can I have the recipe?!” My boyfriend eats this for breakfast every time I made it (and for dessert, etc.)

    Thanks for an awesome recipe!!

  14. you are a darling!!! this cake is everything ..i made ith for my son’s second birthday..i wish i could show you the picture of the final product …sending huggs your way..

  15. Hey! I’m making this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday but I’m afraid it won’t be large enough. Do you think it’d work if I added .5 of the ingredients and made a 3-tier instead of two?

    1. Hi there, Katie! I have never tried upping the ingredient amounts so I’m not certain the quantity of batter and if it’d be enough for a 3-tier cake. Definitely let me know if you give it a shot!

  16. I love this cake! However mine came out very dense in the end…did I do something wrong. Maybe I missed a step between thet wo kids and their, I wanna try this, fighting fingers, and let me put a nut on top mom.

    1. Hi Jamie! The cake is definitely denser than some banana cakes because it’s so moist. I’m not sure if yours is abnormally dense, as it’d be hard to troubleshoot.

  17. I am making this cake for my granson’s first birthday. I love cream cheese frosting, but want to make a vanilla buttercream frosting instead as I know most people will like it, and it’s not too sweet. Do you think that will be ok? And can you recommend a vanilla buttercream frosting recipe? Thanks! This cake makes by far the best ever banana cake!

  18. I spent the better part of my day looking for a banana cake recipe. I had all these over ripe bananas to use up, So i decided to go with your recipe. This is THE BEST cake I have ever eaten! My boys went nuts for this cake! Definitely a keeper! Thanks for the recipe :)

  19. When I baked this I used a pan 9″ x 13″ x 2″ (make sure which ever size you use has 2″ sides!) and it took 80 minutes. Hope that helps!

  20. Have to chime in at some point–This banana cake is probably the only banana cake I will ever make. Made the first time Thanksgiving 2014 and it was a huge success, in spite of being an untraditional choice, the whole family was begging me for the recipe! I have never liked homemade frosting but I LOVE this cream cheese frosting, on or off the cake… ;) Thank you Kelly!

    The past couple of times I’ve made this cake, I used mini loaf pans to save space and keep some for later (we’re only a house of 2). It worked really well. The recipe is enough for 6 mini loaves baked for 65 minutes, if anyone’s interested. :)

  21. Hi Kelly,
    Love this recipe! I’ve made it before and it was certainly a favorite! Have you ever covered your banana cake with fondant? I am wondering if the cake is too moist to support a fondant covering and decorations. Would love to try this for a baby shower cake I am making this weekend. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Kristin! I’ve never tried covering this cake with fondant so I’m not sure how well it’d turn out. It is a pretty moist cake so that may impact your results.

    1. Hi Nadia – I’ve only ever made this cake with two round layers, but it’d definitely work in a larger single pan. Unfortunately I cannot provide the exact size or bake time, but let me know if you give it a shot!

  22. Can I make this cake in a bunt cake pan? Also are you saying to put the cake in the freezer or avoid putting it in the freezer? So excited to try this today!!! Also can I use cake flour versus all purpose flour?

    1. Hi Angela – I have never used a bundt pan, but my guess is that there’s too much batter for a single bundt cake. And yes, you put the whole cake in the freezer. But I would not use cake flour.

  23. This cake is divine! I added toasted chopped pecans to the cake batter and it was a nice crunchy element. Best cream cheese frosting ever ! Will definitely make this again :)

  24. So do you leave it in the pan in the freezer . Or flip it out of 9″pans onto a baking sheet then put in freezer? Sorry I’m confused!

  25. Hello I am planning to make this for thanksgiving dinner. Do you think it will be ok if I made it the day before it will be served. If so where should I keep it stored? Refridgerator? And should I just do the cake part and leave the frosting for the day of?
    Thanks for your reply!

    1. Hi Francesa! Yes, but I wouldn’t assemble it until the day of Thanksgiving (so keep the cake layers wrapped securely in plastic wrap in the fridge, as well as the frosting in the fridge). Then assemble and serve!

  26. Hi. I tried this recipe last weekend and it was a hit. The cake was so moist even though I skip the freezing step. I made two batches wherein in one batch I did not include the lemon juice. So here are some alterations I will try to improve this recipe as per my taste buds (I hope you won’t mind).

    1. I prefer the recipe without lemon juice because for me the banana flavor of the cake is being altered or overpowered by the flavor of lemon.
    2. I will reduce the sugar to 1 1/2 cups because I prefer less sweeter desserts.
    3. I will increase the banana puree to 2 cups for stronger flavor of banana.

    Thank you for this recipe. My friends are so much looking forward for the next batch. =)

  27. Hi – I’ve been making this specific recipe for many months now – and it is always a hit. In fact, it’s the most requested cake that I make. I am now being asked to make it as cupcakes – do you see any reason it wouldn’t work – or do you think I might need to modify it in some way for them to turn out?

    1. Agreed, it’s the best! I have never made it in cupcake form, so I can’t say with certainty if there would be any differences. You’ll just have to adjust the bake time :)

  28. I should’ve readed this before. My cake got stick in my pan :( ….. Anyways, it became so beautiful and quite delicious. :)

  29. I made a double batch of this cake for my son’s second birthday this weekend. It was a big success and I recieved many compliments (on the frosting too, but especially the cake). I used 9×13 pans to make prep and serving easier. Baking time was closer to 60-70 min in my oven. I skipped the freezer step, but these cakes were still SUPER moist. This cake is a keeper, and I will definitely make it again. I will probably reduce the sugar in the future. With the banana and the frosting, it doesn’t need to be as sweet. Thanks for sharing!

  30. so do u flip the cake pans out onto the cookie sheet and stick em in the freezer or take em out of the cake pans when you remove em from the freezer, huh?

    1. Hi there! You should place the cakes (still in the pans) onto a baking sheet then put the baking sheet in the freezer.

  31. I just made this bananna cake and it smells wonderful and was easy to make. It’s sitting now. Once I make the icing and serve it will let you know. Baked exactly as mentioned, it was easy to make.

    1. Hi Katalina! I’ve never made this recipe with that substitution before so I can’t say with certainty if it’d work. Let me know if you give it a shot!

    1. Hi Susan – The pan should be a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan, rather than a shallow/standard 13×9-inch baking pan.

  32. This certainly looks like the best, but for scientific purposes, I better do a taste test of this fabulous looking cake :)

  33. I have a favorite banana cake recipe that I have used for years. I never found one that topped it. Now, that I see yours, I think I must try it. It does look like the best banana cake recipe ever.

  34. Gorgeous cake! I made a cake similar to this, but with a chocolate cream cheese frosting. So heavenly! I’d love to try your recipe, looks great. Pinned!

  35. I know it sounds sacrilegious, but any recommendations for flour substitution, like whole wheat, etc…?

    1. Hi Eleanor! I’ve never tried making this recipe with any substitutions for the all-purpose flour, so unfortunately I can’t guide you on proportions. Let me know if you give it a try!

    1. Hi there! This should work great as a cupcake recipe, but you’ll just have to adjust the baking time. Enjoy!

  36. Beautiful and tasty looking banana cake! That cream cheese frosting looks so decadent slathered on top!

  37. Oh my word Kelly! Need to have this now! LOVE Hummingbird cake so I’m sure I will love this Banana Cake as well and pretty sure everything is better with a cream cheese frosting. Pinned.

  38. I love the secret trick! I have never done that before and I can’t wait to try this recipe next time!