This is the best easy, moist banana cake recipe, and it’s made completely from scratch! My recipe is perfectly balanced with extra bananas and complementary spices and it’s crowned with a silky smooth cream cheese frosting. This is the snack cake of your dreams!
An Easy, MOIST Banana Cake Recipe
This banana cake recipe is a result of many, many emails and comments from so many of you writing to tell me how much you enjoyed my banana muffins (see, I didn’t call them the “best” for nothing).
A few of you wrote to ask me if it would be possible to bake the muffin recipe into a banana cake, but I had a few reservations. I was worried that the original recipe wouldn’t make the best banana cake, and so I started recipe testing to develop the perfect moist cake.
I went through a lot of overripe bananas (and some not-so-ripe ones, in moments of desperation), and finally ended up modifying my pumpkin cake (of all things) to land on this winning banana cake recipe. It’s incredibly soft, fluffy yet moist, and topped with a smooth and creamy version of my popular cream cheese frosting (though to make things extra decadent try it with my brown butter frosting!).
Let’s get started:
🧂 Ingredient Overview
My banana cake recipe was carefully and intentionally designed to be sweet, simple, super flavorful, and moist. There are a few key players that help make this happen. For those of you interested in the thought behind the ingredients, let’s discuss:
- Bananas. For the best flavor & moistest cake, you should use ripe, spotty, brown bananas. Have some that are looking a little overripe on your counter and starting to attract fruit flies? Grab those. Ideally I prefer mine to be browner than the too-yellow ones shown in the photo above (but my recipe is versatile, so use what you have on hand!). King Arthur has a great guide on choosing the best bananas to use.
- Butter AND oil. Those of you who have made my vanilla cake or marble cake recipe know that a blend of the two yields a better cake than simply using all butter or all oil. All-butter cakes are more dense and dry than all-oil ones, but using all oil mean you lose that precious buttery flavor. For my banana cake recipe I sought balance, and a blend of the two yielded a perfect moist cake. For the oil, any neutral cooking oil (canola or vegetable are most common) will work.
- Sugar. Another best-of-both-worlds scenario. Granulated sugar adds sweetness without weighing the cake down too much, while brown sugar adds depth of flavor. Light or dark brown sugar will work, but dark brown sugar makes the cake a bit richer and sweeter.
- Leavening Agents. Baking powder and baking soda are welcome additions here, they add a bit of lift to the cake to make it perfectly fluffy. Without the two of them we’d have a dense, gummy cake. .
- Buttermilk. While this plays a role in helping the banana cake to rise a bit when combined with the baking soda, more importantly it adds moisture and a very subtle tangy flavor. You may use my buttermilk substitute if you can’t find buttermilk in stores (or just don’t have any), but the “real” stuff is best here.
This is just an overview of a few of the main ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make the Cake Layer
- Use a potato masher or fork (or even a mixer) to mash the bananas, eliminating as many lumps as you can (you won’t get all of them, that’s OK!).
- Beat together the sugars and butter until light, creamy and well-combined. Then, stir in your oil until it’s incorporated.
- Add the bananas to the butter/sugar mixture and stir well to combine.
- Add the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract and stir well. The batter most likely won’t be smooth since your mashed bananas are bound to be a bit lumpy, but everything should be thoroughly mixed.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture gradually. You want the ingredients to be thoroughly combined, but as with my banana bread, over-mixing can result in dense, dry results. One of the things that helps keep this banana cake recipe so moist and perfectly textured is being sure to not overdo it when combining the wet and dry ingredients. Either fold them together by hand using a spatula, or use an electric mixer on low-speed and stir until just-combined.
- Spread the batter evenly into a greased 9×13″ baking pan. I use a metal pan, if you use a glass one note that your cake will take longer to bake than indicated.
- Check the doneness of the cake by inserting a toothpick into the center. The toothpick should come out mostly clean, or, preferably, with some moist crumbs (but no raw batter!).
How to Make Banana Cake Frosting
The other day someone commented to me that they’d eat shoe leather if it had cream cheese frosting on it. That resonated with me 😂. Cream cheese frosting complements everything, and it was a no-brainer that this was the perfect choice for when developing the BEST banana cake recipe. Fortunately, it’s also very easy to make:
- Combine (softened, full-fat) cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, and salt and beat until smooth and creamy. There should be no lumps remaining (if it’s lumpy, your cream cheese may have been too cold).
- With mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar in small increments until it is all mixed in.
- Add the cream gradually while increasing the speed of your mixer from low to high. Beat on high-speed for 30 seconds (this helps whip some air into the frosting, making it smooth but also stable) and you’re finished!
- Spread the frosting over the (cooled) cake. Top with regular or toasted pecans or walnuts (or a drizzle of caramel sauce or dulce de leche 🤤) for a finishing touch!
Frequently Asked Questions
This banana cake recipe should yield results that are perfectly moist, but certainly not oily. If yours seems more of the latter than the former, consider these possible issues.
1) Using too much banana can make the cake too wet and make it seem oily. While just grabbing 4 ripe bananas might work out just fine for you, if they’re larger than you realize it could cause a wet cake, and for this reason I recommend you mash and then measure your bananas.
2) Not thoroughly combining the wet ingredients, or not thoroughly combining the wet and dry ingredients together. Make sure you stir very well when mixing the butter/bananas etc., then when you combine the wet and dry ingredients do so carefully but thoroughly (remember that over-mixing at this step can yield dense, dry results).
3) Under-baking. Examine your toothpick carefully when testing. With such a moist cake, sometimes the toothpick may appear clean when there’s actually a thin, nearly translucent layer of banana cake batter on it. The toothpick should be dry or (preferably) have moist, discernible crumbs.
Either over or under-mixing can result in a cake that sinks as it cools. If the banana cake is not baked thoroughly, this can also cause it to sink after baking. Finally, if your baking powder or baking soda are expired and/or not properly stored, this may cause the cake to not rise properly. Store these in a cool dry place and make sure they are not expired before you use them.
This cake is very carefully and specifically designed to be moist, so it’s unlikely you’ll run into this issue (I’m not sure anyone has so far!) BUT, if you do it’s likely because:
1) The flour was accidentally over-measured. I recommend that you use a kitchen scale or stir your flour, spoon it into a measuring cup, and then level it off (see my post on how to measure flour).
2) It was baked too long or your oven is running too hot. Unfortunately many ovens do not run true to temperature, and for this reason I recommend keeping an oven thermometer in yours.
It took quite a bit of tweaking and testing but I’m very proud to finally be sharing my favorite banana cake recipe with you. If you try it, please leave me a comment letting me know how you liked it!
Let’s bake together! Make sure to check out the how-to VIDEO in the recipe card!
The Best Banana Cake Recipe
- ¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- ¾ cup (175 ml) canola or vegetable oil
- 1 cup (200 g) light or dark brown sugar
- ½ cup (100 g) sugar
- 2 cups (470 g) well-mashed ripe bananas (this is typically 4 bananas for me)
- 2 large eggs room temperature preferred
- ¼ cup (60 ml) buttermilk
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups (312 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and spray a 9×13" (approximately 23x33cm) pan with baking spray or lightly grease and flour. Set aside.
- Combine butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl and use an electric mixer). Beat until well-combined and light and fluffy.¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter, 1 cup (200 g) light or dark brown sugar, ½ cup (100 g) sugar
- Add oil and beat to combine.¾ cup (175 ml) canola or vegetable oil
- Stir in mashed bananas.2 cups (470 g) well-mashed ripe bananas
- Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract and stir until well-combined.2 large eggs, ¼ cup (60 ml) buttermilk, 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.2 ½ cups (312 g) all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt
- Gradually add to wet ingredients until completely combined.
- Spread batter into prepared pan and bake on 350F (175C) for 45-55 minutes (see note 1) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean with few moist crumbs. Allow to cool completely before covering with frosting.
Silky Cream Cheese Frosting
- Combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, and salt in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy.8 oz (225 g) cream cheese, ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon salt
- With mixer on low-speed, gradually add powdered sugar until completely combined.2 ½ cups (315 g) powdered sugar
- Add heavy cream and gradually increase speed to high. Beat on high for 30 seconds.1 Tablespoon heavy cream
- Spread over completely cooled banana cake. Top with chopped walnuts (if using). Slice and serve!½ cup chopped walnuts
¹Baking note:Keep an eye on your banana cake as it bakes. 30 minutes in, check your cake to see if it’s becoming too brown on top (pay attention to the edges, if they’re getting darker in color and pulling away from the edges), if so you may lightly tent with foil before baking the remaining 15 minutes. I had this issue when baking in a glass dish but not in a metal one (which was the opposite of what I expected).
StoringI store my cake in the pan that I baked it in, covered. It will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
More Banana Recipes to Try!
This banana cake recipe was first published March 2018. The recipe remains unchanged, but the content of the post has been updated to include more helpful information as well as a how-to video tutorial.