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The BEST Banana Cake Recipe

8 Reviews

The Best Banana Cake Recipe with cream cheese frosting involves the freezer and you won’t believe how moist it turns out every single time!

a slice of moist banana cake with cream cheese frosting and a bit taken out of it all

The BEST Banana Cake Recipe

We actually already have a Perfect Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe on the blog, so it was a huge debate whether we should even add this moist banana cake recipe to the blog. But in the end, we have to share when we discover something good. This particular banana cake recipe is unique, so you may be surprised in just how it all goes down.

For the 4th of July this year, we had a bundle of bananas that were in desperate need to be used. I hate seeing anything go to waste but felt like it wasn’t really time for The Best Banana Bread, but a tall, beautiful cake is always a hit at a party.

Because we had a lot of overripe bananas, a fail on my part to get them chopped up and frozen for our freezer prep (remember our post on how to freeze fruit to make better smoothies?), we were able to test this easy banana cake recipe out a bunch and only serve up the winner. It was a big hit, but my brother-in-law did request a chocolate chip version, so while we do have that Chocolate Chip Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting I’ll have to get going on another version for him.

In fact, we have a killer chocolate banana cake as well, so we are thinking of doing a classic chocolate chip banana cake, a peanut butter banana cake, and finally a zucchini banana cake.

Thoughts?

a slice of moist banana cake with cream cheese frosting

4 Things That Make Banana Cake Moist

Everyone wonders the exact same thing about banana cake — how to make banana cake moist! It’s a lot harder than you may think. Just because there’s mashed banana in something doesn’t mean it’s going to turn out moist and perfect.

We’ve discovered four things that are a must for moist banana cake:

  1. Buttermilk
  2. Sour Cream
  3. The Freezer
  4. Oil

Let’s chat about each one.

Why Use Buttermilk in Cake

A slightly acidic batter helps to keep baked goods moist and tender by breaking down the long, tougher strands of gluten. Think about how awesome buttermilk pancakes versus a regular pancake, totally true, right!

Why Use Sour Cream in Baked Goods

Sour cream is much like the buttermilk in that it will add an acidity that brings about a nice, light tang and great moisture to the baked goods. Sour cream adds a layer of fat which will also plump up the moisture and density of the cake.

Why Place the Banana Cake in the Freezer

This recipe is unique in that you put the banana cake into the freezer immediately after baking. This causes the cake to cool quickly and condense down a little, trapping the moisture inside of the cake. You don’t want your cake to fall due to the rapid temperature change so it’s essential that you check your cake and make sure that it is completely baked before removing it from the oven.

Why Use Both Oil and Butter

The more we tested our Banana Bread recipes the more we started to clue in on what really makes a good cake, or quick bread. Butter is expected to always be the winner — who doesn’t love a buttery flavor? — however, the butter flavor isn’t really that noticeable.

What was noticeable was the crumb. Cake made with butter has a finer crumb than a cake make with anything else. That being said, why do people use oil in cake? We love to use oil in cakes and quick breads as it gives more height, moisture and the flavor isn’t changed at all. Now, it does have a bigger crumb, but it’s really not a big deal.

Alright, so oil vs butter in cake, which is better, crumb or moisture? We say both, which is why this moist banana cake recipe uses butter for a better texture and oil to retain the moisture.

a slice of moist banana cake with cream cheese frosting

Moist Banana Cake Ingredients 

Now that you have an overview of what makes this banana cake recipe from scratch so unique in addition to what makes it so moist, let’s dive into the ingredients list. Here’s what we used in this easy banana cake: 

  • Mashed bananas 
  • Buttermilk
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sour cream
  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cream cheese
  • Powdered sugar

Can You Use Frozen Bananas in Banana Cake? 

No, you can NOT use frozen bananas to make this banana cake recipe. 

How to Make Banana Cake From Scratch

This banana cake recipe couldn’t be simpler to make. Here are the basic steps to making this easy cake recipe: 

  1. Beat the butter and sugars on high speed until fluffy. 
  2. Mix in the remaining wet ingredients. 
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, along with the mashed bananas.
  5. Pour everything into a greased and floured pan and bake until set.
  6. Once baked, place the banana cake into the freezer to cool. 
  7. Meanwhile, make the homemade cream cheese frosting. Spread onto banana cake once it’s cool. 

How to Tell When Banana Cake is Done

The best rule of thumb with this banana cake with sour cream is to bake it for 55 minutes, gently open the oven door so that the cool air doesn’t kill the cake and poke the very center with a toothpick. When it comes out clean, you’re all ready.

Leave the door wide open for another minute and turn the oven off (this helps the cake not be shocked). Immediately place the cake flat in a freezer to cool.

a slice of moist banana cake with cream cheese frosting

Why Did My Banana Cake Sink?

There are a few reasons banana cakes sink or droop in the middle. Did you use too small of a pan? Did you add in too much baking soda, making it rise and then not be able to hold itself up? Did you remove it from the oven too quickly or drop it on the counter without being gentle? Was the cake underdone?

Most often it’s the last thing if you followed the recipe to a T. Removing the cake before it was springy to the touch and a toothpick came out clean will leave you with a saggy middle cake.

Is There a Buttermilk Substitute I Can Use?

Don’t have buttermilk? I know, neither do we most of the time. However, it’s not just the tanginess of the buttermilk that’s important for this moist banana cake recipe from scratch, but also the texture and fat, so we prefer to run to the store to buy buttermilk versus finding a substitute.

However, just like you we’ve been in a pinch and needed to use a substitute so we’ve tested this banana cake recipe with the substitute just to be sure you could do it.

A substitute for buttermilk in cake is 1 cup of higher fat milk with 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice. Let this mixture sit for a few minutes before using. Yes, we’ve tried it with skim milk, a combination of skim milk and heavy cream or half and half and all worked fine, just not straight half and half or heavy cream.

Is There a Sour Cream Substitute I Can Use?

If you are short on the sour cream you don’t need to find a substitute as it is such a small amount in this recipe. Just go ahead and skip it. The buttermilk and oil will help a lot in making a moist cake and the freezer will take it the extra mile.

You’re welcome for saving you a trip to the store or a combination of ingredients!

How to Store Banana Cake

Banana cake can be stored in its pan with a lid on it on the counter.

Oh, but can banana cake be refrigerated? Sure! In fact, I kind of like to store it like that to help keep it longer and more moist, just be sure to let it sit out for a few minutes before serving so it’s not freezing cold.

Can Banana Cake be Frozen?

Banana cake is not only easy to freeze, but is better if you freeze it as it will be moister later. Freeze it to cool it, and then remove before it is totally frozen and wrap in plastic wrap, then foil and place flat in the freezer for up to 3 months. I love when you can prep something ahead of time.

Please note that it’s never a good idea to freeze banana cake with cream cheese frosting. Instead, freeze the cake alone and then defrost until almost room temperature, and then frost the cake with cream cheese frosting.

a slice of moist banana cake with cream cheese frosting

Tips for Making the Best Banana Cake

When making the best banana cake recipe you’re going to want to start out with perfectly ripe, never over ripe bananas. It’s the same for banana bread, so head over to our post on the very best banana bread and read about the bananas as well as see a picture of exactly what you should be looking for.

You also want to be careful not to overmix the cake batter once you’ve added the dry ingredients to the wet. Just fold the mixture a few times to incorporate everything, and then turn the batter into the prepared baking dish. 

Lastly, you can make this easy banana cake recipe into cupcakes, if desired. To do so, fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake at 350ºF for 18-20 minutes. This recipe should make around 2 dozen banana cupcakes. 

More CAKE RECIPES You Have to Try:

a slice of moist banana cake with cream cheese frosting and a bit taken out of it all

The Best Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

3 from 8 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings: 12 -16 pieces
The Best Banana Cake Recipe with cream cheese frosting involves the freezer and you won't believe how moist it turns out every single time!

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 1/3  cups mashed bananas (about 2 large or 3 small bananas)
  • 1 1/2  cups  buttermilk
  • cups  all-purporse flour , sifted
  • 1/2  tablespoon  baking soda
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/3  cup  unsalted butter , softened
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/2  cup  brown sugar
  • large eggs
  • teaspoons  vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • oz  cream cheese
  • 1/3  cup  unsalted butter  , softened
  • 3-3 1/2  cups  powdered sugar
  • 1 dash vanilla extract

Instructions

To make the banana cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch cake pan. *see notes for tips
  • Beat together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until combined.
  • Add the oil and sour cream and mix again.
  • Add in eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Mix on high until light and fluffy and smooth.
  • Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl, sifting everything together.
  • Add the flour mixture and milk to the egg mixture, stirring just until combined. (Do not over-mix!!).
  • Fold in bananas gently with a rubber spatula.
  • Pour into prepared pan.
  • Put into the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 300ºF. Bake 60 – 70 minutes (see notes below), or just until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Open the oven slowly and gently so as to not shake the cake.
  • Remove from oven and place flat in the freezer for 45 minutes to make the cake extra moist.
  • Remove from the freezer into the fridge and once cool completely, frost.

To make the frosting:

  • Cream together butter and cream cheese until fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed.
  • Add vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
  • Gently frost the cake and store in the fridge or with a lid on the counter until ready to eat.

Notes

  • To grease and flour a pan: Spray with nonstick spray, then dump in about 1/4 cup of flour. Tilt the pan one direction, tapping the sides as you do it, then turn and repeat until the entire bottom and sides are coated. Turn the pan upside down and tap gently on the bottom to remove excess flour. 
  • This cake is extremely sensitive to ovens so make sure you're baking it through all the way before removing it from the oven. It should be springy to the touch and the toothpick should come out clean. Our cake usually take 54-55 minutes, but occasionally we have a batch that takes longer. Try to resist opening the oven door as much as possible.
Nutrition Facts
The Best Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Amount Per Serving (1 slice)
Calories 854 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Fat 25g38%
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 12g
Cholesterol 96mg32%
Sodium 423mg18%
Carbohydrates 153g51%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 124g138%
Protein 7g14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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a slice of moist banana cake with cream cheese frosting and a bit taken out of it all

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About the authors

Cheney Family

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

Leave a comment

15 comments

  • Way too many grams of sugar…. 124g in one slice!!

    • Reply
    • I don’t think it’s fair to rate this recipe 1 star solely based on the amount of sugar it has in it. They didn’t call it “healthy”, “low sugar” or “sugar-free”. It’s a recipe for CAKE for goodness sake. With that said, this looks very good and I’m looking forward to making it. I won’t rate it until I’ve actually tried it.

      • Reply
      • Thanks for the support Vanessa and the back up!

  • Probably a silly question: self rising flour or regular flour?

    • Reply
    • Just regular all purpose flour works just fine! Enjoy!

      • Reply
  • What size cake pan is this recipe for? Can I do it as a layer cake?

    • Reply
    • This is for a 9×13 in cake pan. You could do two 8″ rounds if you want a layer cake.

      • Reply
  • I’m trying this recipe for the first time & I chose it because I love making banana nut bread but a few of my friends have an allergy to nuts. The recipe calls for the sugar, butter, and eggs to be mixed on high until light & fluffy but my batter never did fluff. What did I do wrong?
    Also for the measurement of powder sugar; is it 3 & 1/2 cups or 3×3 1/2??? 

    • Reply
    • Hi Candice! Just beat the sugar and butter together until it is well mixed and light and fluffy, then you add the oil and sour cream and then the eggs. When you add the dry ingredients to these wet ingredients, be sure to not over mix them. For the powdered sugar, it is 3 to 3 1/2 cups, so somewhere between 3 and 3.5 cups. Hope this helps!

      • Reply
  • Can you make cupcakes out if this recipe? Hiw long to bake? Will my cupcakes sink because of small size?

    • Reply
    • Yes, absolutely! Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake at the same temperature for 18-20 minutes. They should turn out just great! And it will make around 2 dozen. Enjoy!

      • Reply
  • It says a cake may sag if too much baking powder is used, however, the recipe doesn’t lust ANY baking powder but baking SODA. What’s up?

    • Reply
    • Thank you Liz! Just a typo! Baking soda it is! The post text has been updated.

      • Reply
  • Dear CARRIAN CHENEY this is a awesome banana cake recipe by you. My wife tried it & it came out well. I have shared it with many of my friends. Thanks for sharing such amazing stuff with us.

    • Reply
    • Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

      • Reply

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