Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting – The BEST banana cake recipe because it’s soft, tender, moist, and bursting with banana flavor thanks to the 4 bananas used! Tangy-yet-sweet cream cheese frosting takes this cake over the top and makes it a guaranteed family FAVORITE! Fast and easy to make!
Best Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
I am no stranger to banana recipes. If there is one thing I’ve been making consistently since 2009 when I started my blog, it’s banana breads, banana bars, banana cakes, banana smoothies, and so much more!
However, it’s been a while since I posted a new banana recipe.
Rather than making another version of banana bread — since I have over 30 different banana bread recipes! — I thought banana cake.
And this isn’t just any banana cake. It’s the best and easiest banana cake!
Soft, tender, moist, with texture that is just dense enough but not heavy, and filled with robust banana flavor thanks to the four bananas used in the cake!
This easy banana cake is made in a 9×13-inch pan to keep things much easier than making and frosting a layer cake.
The tangy cream cheese frosting is the true icing on the cake. Of course, you don’t have to frost the cake, or you can use another type of frosting such as buttercream or chocolate frosting. But cream cheese + banana pairs so well and was the natural frosting choice for me.
Ingredients in Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
To make the best banana cake, you’ll need the following easy-to-find fridge and pantry ingredients including:
- Milk + lemon juice OR buttermilk
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Ground cinnamon
- Unsalted butter
- Granulated sugar
- Light brown sugar
- Large eggs
- Greek yogurt or sour cream
- Vanilla extract
- Ripe bananas
For the cream cheese frosting, you’ll want to have on hand the following ingredients:
- Cream cheese
- Unsalted butter
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Vanilla extract
Note: All ingredients amounts are listed in the recipe card section when you keep scrolling down.
How to Make a 9×13-inch Banana Cake
Making this banana cake is a cinch! Follow my straightforward directions for the best banana cake:
- Combine milk with lemon juice or just set your buttermilk aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, with a whisk and set the dry ingredients aside.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until it’s smooth before adding the sugars and beating to combine.
- Add the eggs, Greek yogurt, vanilla, and beat to incorporate.
- Add the bananas and beat them in.
- Alternate between adding in the milk and dry ingredients mixture in three rounds.
- Turn the batter out and bake for about 45 minutes.
How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting
In my opinion cream cheese frosting is always a good idea, especially to make your banana cake the best banana cake it can be!
- Simply beat together the cream cheese and butter, before adding confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt.
- Frost your cake after it’s cooled completely and serve up your masterpiece!
- Garnish with bananas on top and a sprinkle of cinnamon if you’d like.
Can I Use Store-Bought Frosting?
Here’s one of my favorite kitchen shortcuts. Shhh, don’t tell the baking purists.
And that’s store-bought cream cheese frosting in a shelf stable little tub.
When I just can’t be bothered, Duncan Hines Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting is my go-to trick to frost a cake. Scratch is always better, but this is a really close second.
There are so many different kinds of frosting from whipped and easy-to-spread to homestyle creamy. Honestly, I’m not quite sure of how they all differ exactly.
Easy-to-spread is great so you don’t “rip” your banana cake as you’re spreading the frosting.
Approximately 14 ounces of frosting in a tub covers a 9×13-inch cake in my experience.
Can I Make a Banana Layer Cake or Bundt Cake Instead?
If you want to make a layer cake, I suggest making three 8-inch round cakes OR two 9-inch round cakes.
For those wanting to make a Bundt, use a big 12-cup Bundt pan.
Note: I have only made the cake as written as a 9×13 so make sure if you alter the recipe that you don’t fill either round cake pans for a layer cake nor a Bundt cake pan more than 2/3-full. You potentially may need to discard some batter based on your exact variables.
Is Buttermilk Necessary for a Banana Cake?
Yes, buttermilk is necessary for this 9×13-inch easy banana cake recipe.
- You cannot simply use regular milk! You need the acidity of either the lemon juice or buttermilk for this cake to turn out properly. I’ve never tried to make this cake with nondairy milk that I sour with lemon juice so can’t speak to making it dairy-free.
- If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, that’s fine. You’ll want to sour regular milk by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 1 cup of 2% or whole milk, let it stand 5 minutes, stir with a small spoon, and use that in the recipe.
- You can also use powdered buttermilk and mix it as directed on the packaging to create 1 cup of buttermilk.
What Kind of Bananas Are Best for Baking?
My bananas were at the point of ripeness where the top stem part was detaching from the peeling when I picked up the bunch, implying they were very ripe.
I suggest using very ripe bananas for a couple reasons:
- They’re naturally sweeter and this isn’t an overly sweet cake so starting with nice and ripe bananas will give you the best tasting cake.
- Rather than spending time mashing bananas before even beginning the recipe, or running them through your mixer to mash them and then scooping them out and setting them aside, if they’re ripe enough you can simply add them whole straight into your mixer bowl when the time comes for them in the recipe and your mixer will make quick work of mashing them for you.
Your bananas don’t have to be black as night but make sure they’re very spotty.
How Many Bananas For the Best Banana Cake?
I used 4 medium-large bananas. If your bananas are very large, you may only need 3 in this recipe. Aim for between 1 3/4 to 2 cups mashed banana.
How to Ripen Bananas for Baking
To ripen bananas in a hurry, place them in a brown paper bag, seal it, and place them in the warmest spot in your kitchen.
To slow down banana ripening a bit, place them in the fridge for a few days.
If you find yourself with ripe bananas and no time to bake, peel them, and freeze them in chunks for up to 3 months. They’re great for smoothies this way, too!
How to Store Frosted Banana Cake
As soon as your banana cake has cooled sufficiently to frost it, feel free to smear that frosting on and serve the cake!
I like to add banana slices on top and sometimes sprinkle a little bit of ground cinnamon.
I am comfortable with storing frosted baked goods at room temperature for a day or so.
If you’re not, then store your cake covered and airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. However, it’s worth nothing that cakes always dry out a bit in the fridge as time passes.
I have never frozen this cake but banana bread freezes well so I presume the unfrosted cake will, too.
Tips for Making Banana Cake Recipe with Cream Cheese Frosting
This banana cake really is so easy to make! However, here are a few extra tips and tricks to make sure your cake really turns out to be the best banana cake.
Always start with room temperature ingredients: Make sure that butter for the cake, and later on the cream cheese and butter for the frosting, are soft and at room temp.
Set everything out 30 to 60 minutes before you plan to use them depending on how warm your kitchen is.
Microwaving: In a pinch, you can nuke the butter and cream cheese (unwrapped and not in foil) for about 5 to 10 seconds to just take the cold edge off and soften them. This can take a little bit of practice and trial-and-error depending on your microwave’s strength and power. Err on the side of less time than more so you don’t accidentally over-soften (melt) them.
Not Too Sweet: This banana cake isn’t overly sweet. Despite having 1 1/2 cups sugar total combined between the white and brown, it’s still not an overly sweet cake.
In my opinion, that’s why frosting the cake really takes it to the next level because it boosts the sweetness to just the right amount. If you’re looking for a more markedly sweet cake, feel free to add another 1/3 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar past the 1 cup that I call for.
Ripe Bananas: Read the section above again why using ripe bananas is important for both sweetness and easy all-at-once style of mashing.
Deep Enough Pan: I find that 9×13-inch baking pans with square corners hold a bit more batter than those with rounded corners.
They tend to be fractionally taller on the sides, too, which is great for this banana cake because there is a lot of batter.
If you think you’ve got slightly too much batter for your particular 9×13-inch pan, I would discard a tiny bit of it rather than overflowing your pan but it’s a judgment call and ultimately your call.
Baking time: Pay close attention to how your banana cake is looking as the baking time is nearing a close.
You don’t want to overbake because your cake will be drier.
But you don’t want to underbake because your cake will fall upon cooling and be gooey and raw in the center even though you “thought it was done”. Banana bread, banana cakes, and many baked banana recipes have this reputation unfortunately.
You cannot then just put it back in the oven. Baking doesn’t work like that. The interior temperature will never get hot enough to fully cook through and set the cake after you’ve taken it out, it’s cooled a bit, and only then you realized your error.
Rely upon a nicely golden slightly domed top, making sure it’s set and springy to the touch. And do the clean toothpick test for the cake interior.
45 to 50 minutes is a good estimate for baking time but it depends on your climate, oven, exact ingredients used, and so forth. Go by when your toothpick comes out clean, regardless what the clock says!
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- 1 cup 2% or whole milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice OR 1 cup buttermilk, at room temp
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temp
- 1 cup granulated sugar (or 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups for a sweeter cake)
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 5 ounces Greek yogurt or sour cream (about 1/2 heaping cups)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 medium very ripe bananas (about 1 3/4 to 2 cups total mashed banana)
Cream Cheese Frosting* (See Notes)
- 8 ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temp (do not use anything labeled lite, fat free, or whipped)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temp
- 3 to 3 1/2 cups confectioners's sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil if desired for easier cleanup although it's optional and spray well with cooking spray. Tip - I like to use a square cornered 9x13-inch pan because they're a bit deeper but use what you have; set aside.
- To a glass measuring cup, add the lemon juice, top with the milk, and allow to set while you prep the cake batter. If using buttermilk, no need to also use lemon juice; simply set it out and have it at room temp and ready.
- To a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and whisk to combine; set aside.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and handheld electric mixer), add the butter and beat on high speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the sugars and beat to incorporate and until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the eggs, Greek yogurt (one small 5 ounce container of Chobani is what I used) or sour cream, vanilla, and beat to incorporate, about 1 minute. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the bananas and beat to incorporate. Tip - If your bananas are sufficiently ripe, you can simply add them whole and your mixer will mash them in seconds. However, if they're not very ripe and are at all on the hard side, I suggest mashing them ahead of time and adding them now, already mashed.
- Add half the dry ingredients mixture and half the milk or buttermilk and beat lightly to incorporate.
- Repeat by adding the other half of the dry ingredients, the remainder of the milk, and beat lightly to incorporate. Do not overmix. Batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy from the bananas; this is normal and don't try to smooth it out.
- Turn the batter out into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until cake is set on top, lightly golden browned and springy to the touch, and a toothpick test in the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
- Allow cake to rest in the pan as it cools. It's normal for the cake to fall a bit as it cools. While the cake cools, make the frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and handheld electric mixer), add the cream cheese, butter, and beat together for 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add 3 cups confectioners' sugar, vanilla, salt, and beat on low speed initially to incorporate the sugar, then increasing to high speed, and beat for about 2 minutes.
- If desired, based on the consistency of the frosting, you may wish to add up to an additional 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar if you want a slightly thicker frosting.
- Turn the frosting out over the cake and lightly spread it to evenly frost the cake.
- Serve immediately or when desired.
*For those not wanting to make their own frosting, Duncan Hines Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting is a great substitute.
Storage: I am comfortable with storing frosted baked goods at room temperature for a day or so. If you're not, then store your cake covered and airtight in the fridge for up to 1 week. However, it's worth nothing that cakes always dry out a bit in the fridge as time passes.
Nutrition stats are provided as a courtesy only and are automatically generated. However, they seem high to me. Feel free to calculate by hand if this is important to you.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 872Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 278mgCarbohydrates: 157gFiber: 1gSugar: 138gProtein: 6g
More Desserts Using Lots of Bananas:
Six-Banana Banana Chocolate Chip Cake — Yes, 6 bananas in 1 cake means it’s super SOFT, moist, and has robust banana flavor with chocolate chips in EVERY bite!! EASY and one bowl! Now you know what to do with all your ripe bananas!!
Upside-Down Banana Bread Cake — Don’t settle for making another loaf of plain banana bread when you can have caramelized banana slices on top of soft banana cake! A decadent spin on banana bread!
Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Cake — Have ripe bananas? This cake has their name all over it! Dripping with rich, buttery, caramel sauce!
Cream Cheese-Filled Banana Bread — Banana bread that’s like having cheesecake baked in! Soft, fluffy, easy and tastes ahhhh-mazing!
Six-Banana Banana Bread — Yes, 6 bananas in 1 loaf means it’s super soft, moist & robust banana flavor! Now you know what to do with all your ripe bananas!
The Best Strawberry Banana Bread — Baking with bananas and strawberries adds so much moisture that it’s impossible to have a dry loaf!
Zucchini Banana Bread — This zucchini banana bread is so soft, tender, uber-moist, dense enough to be satisfying, but still light! It’s just sweet enough to taste like a dessert and not like you’re eating vegetables. It really is the BEST zucchini bread recipe!!
Carrot Banana Bread — This super moist, springy, tender carrot banana bread is bread that reminds me of cake and I’m not complaining.
Banana Bread Bars with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze — Banana bread in bar form with a glaze that soaks in and is just so.darn.good!