Perfect Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is moist, soft, sweet, and downright delicious. Made with simple ingredients and easy to follow directions, you’re gonna want to save this one.
I love sharing cakes that look fancy but couldn’t be easier to make! This Simple Banana Cake is made with pantry ingredients, baked in layers and frosted with a cream cheese frosting. Top with nuts and fresh fruit and you’ve got a showstopper of a dessert.
Banana Cake Ingredients
This banana cake recipe uses everyday ingredients that you probably already have on hand! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Bananas – very ripe bananas! You can freeze brown bananas so you can make this recipe anytime!
- Butter and Granulated Sugar – these are creamed together to help whip the softened butter and to distribute the sweet flavor evenly.
- Eggs – eggs are used for structure!
- All-Purpose Flour – this fills out the rest of the banana cake.
- Vanilla Extract – used for flavor. I always recommend using real vanilla.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda – these are both used for leavening. The baking soda and vinegar in the soured milk mixture combine to help give the cake a little extra lift.
- Salt – used to balance out the sweetness.
- Milk and White Vinegar – these two make soured milk which provided moisture and some lift (as stated above) to the cake.
There are many banana cake variations out there, but I am going to highlight two that are the most common and that sound the most scrumptious. Directions to alter this banana cake recipe are included!
The first variation is Banana Nut Cake. It is super easy to convert the recipe I post today to include nuts! Simply mix cake batter as normal and then gently fold in chopped nuts. Some great options are walnuts, pecans, almonds, or even peanuts! Ever heard of a peanut butter banana sandwich?
The second is Banana Chocolate Chip Cake. Yup, that’s right, chocolate chips. This reminds me of banana chocolate chip bread or banana bars with chocolate chips dispersed throughout. YUM! Once again, make the cake batter as normal and then gently fold in mini chocolate chips. Using mini chocolate chips helps with distribution and so that they have a harder time sinking.
Tips and Tricks
Here are three important things to consider before making this banana cake recipe. They very well could determine if you are successful in your cake making pursuits.
- Parchment Paper. I highly recommend using parchment paper AND nonstick cooking spray when baking cakes. This ensures that the cakes don’t get stuck in their pans.
- Use Ripe Bananas. The secret to a flavorful banana cake is to use super ripe bananas. Like the skin is almost all brown. It is my personal belief that no banana should ever be wasted because you can freeze ripe bananas until you are ready to use them (for pancakes, cakes, bread, etc).
- Light Cake Pans. Some people have issues with cakes browning too much but still being gooey in the middle. A darker cake pan usually results in darker edges. If this is happening, try tenting tin foil on top of the cake to try and prevent browning. Also, try reducing the heat and increasing baking time. If you do this check your cake often with a toothpick until it comes out clean. Or to make life easier just use light cake pans.
How to Make Banana Cake
Banana Cake is just like any other cake recipe, make the batter, bake, cool and frost! This really is an easy banana cake recipe that is hard to mess up. For the full recipe details check out the recipe card below.
- Preheat oven. Prepare cake pans with parchment paper and cooking spray, set aside.
- Peel and mash bananas, set aside. In a separate bowl, combine milk and white vinegar, set aside.
- In a stand mixer, mix softened butter and sugar together. Add in eggs and vanilla, mix then add in mashed bananas, mix again. Then add in the leavenings, salt, and half of the flour, stir. Next mix in half of the soured milk mixture. Finally, stir in the rest of the flour and soured milk mixture. Scape the sides of the bowl and mix again briefly to ensure a smooth batter. (This is the point where you can gently fold in chopped nuts or mini chocolate chips).
- Evenly divide the batter between cake pans and bake until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Remove cakes from oven and cool in pans until warm. Then invert cakes onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
- As cakes are cooking make the cream cheese frosting by combining softened cream cheese, softened butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla.
- Once cakes are cool, stack and frost them. Decorate with sprinkles, chopped nuts, or chocolate chips.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Let’s talk about this delicious cream cheese frosting that pairs so darn well with banana cake! I adapted it to be perfect for this cake from my original cream cheese frosting post. Everything is the same except the amount of cream cheese and vanilla. I slightly increased these two to create an extra tangy-sweet flavor with a tad bit more vanilla essence. Combined with the sweetness from the banana cake it is the perfect adaption. Not too sweet and not overwhelming at all so you can still get all the banana flavor you love!
But hold the phone, there’s a way to make this frosting even better. Ever heard of browning your butter? It’s the process of cooking butter until golden brown and it adds a toasty nutty taste to any dish you add it to! Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting takes a little more time to make but is SO worth it friends. Here’s how to do it:
- Before you start making the cake batter, brown the same amount of butter needed for cream cheese frosting.
- Cool and refrigerate until solid.
- Cream browned butter then add softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Use as desired!
Make and Store Everything Separately
Bake then cool the cake layers completely. Wrap each cake layer in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Along with the cake, make the frosting ahead of time and store in the fridge (covered). When ready to assemble, allow the frosting come to room temperature then give it a quick mix to loosen it up.
Make, Assemble, and Store
This option is pretty straight forward! Make the cake, assemble and frost it then store in the fridge for up to a week! Be sure to store it covered by tenting plastic wrap over it or storing on a cake stand with a cover.
Freeze (frosted or unfrosted)
If you really wanted to make this banana cake recipe in advance consider freezing it frosted or unfrosted! Wrap each unfrosted cake layer in plastic wrap then freeze for up to three months. Alternatively, when freezing the frosted cake, freeze unwrapped for a couple of hours, then wrap and freeze for up to three months.
When ready to serve, transfer the cake to the fridge to thaw overnight (unwrap and transfer to a covered container with more room if thawing a frosted cake). Then allow the cakes to come to room temperature on the counter before decorating or serving.
Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 1/4 cups very ripe banana mashed (about 3)
- 1/2 cup butter softened
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
for the cream cheese frosting:
- 10 oz cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup butter softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 lb powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 8-inch cake pans (or a 9×13 glass dish) with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Peel and mash very ripe bananas. If you are using frozen ripe bananas, allow to thaw first then mash. Set aside.
- In a separate container mix milk and white vinegar. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer, combine softened butter and sugar. Add in eggs and vanilla, then mix again until fluffy and light. Stir in mashed bananas. Next stir in baking soda, baking powder, salt, and half of the flour until just combined. Then stir in half of the soured milk. Finally, stir in the rest of the flour and soured milk. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again to ensure a smooth batter. (At this point you can gently fold in nuts or chocolate chips).
- Divide batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove cakes from the oven and cool 15 minutes in the pans. Flip over cake pans onto a cooling rack, allow cakes to completely cool.
- For the cream cheese frosting, mix softened cream cheese, softened butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until light and smooth. (Scape bowl and mix again to ensure no lumps remain).
- Place one cake onto a serving platter and evenly frost the top. Stack with other cake and frost the top and sides. Decorate with sprinkles, nuts, fresh fruit or chocolate chips.