Plush, tender, and speckled with the sweet, fruity taste of ripe bananas, this easy Banana Cake recipe boasts old-fashioned flavor, slathered in a dream of cream cheese frosting.
While I’m all for a scrumptious loaf of Healthy Banana Bread, it’s not the kind of thing you can put candles on with the same festive air as you can a mega-moist, frosting-slathered cake.
When the occasion calls for dessert—be it a birthday, a dinner invitation to a friend’s, or a potluck when you want to bring everyone’s favorite dish—this easy moist banana cake delights.
It’s homey and familiar—the kind of dessert your grandmother would make—but also a little unexpected. The perfect treat to share.
5 Star Review
“Made this banana cake with my nieces and it is off the charts good! The combination of banana and toasted coconut is to die for!”— Lisa —
While I am the #1 fan of this layer cake’s pillowy texture and how sweetly the banana shines, let’s be honest here.
It’s just as much (more?) about that cream cheese frosting.
If you’re wondering what frosting for banana cake is best, it is a rich and creamy cream cheese icing.
The tang is delightful with banana (just ask this Cream Cheese Banana Bread).
Simple cream cheese icing might just be the secret to happiness, the fountain of youth, and/or the road to El Dorado.
Before you realize what’s happened, you’ll be licking the leftovers right out of the bowl.
Maybe you’ll use a spoon. Maybe not. Whatever your method, I support you.
How to Make the Best Banana Cake
Banana cake with cream cheese frosting is one of the richest, most moist cakes I have ever baked (this Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting is a close second).
And it is EASY.
Made in a single bowl with healthy swaps, such as whole-wheat pastry flour and light cream cheese in the frosting, this is one banana cake you’ll want to snag a second slice of before it’s gone.
- Banana. The mashed bananas give a wonderful sweetness, true fruit flavor, and tenderness to the cake. (If you love banana treats, try these Banana Bread Brownies next).
- Flour. To add some extra fiber, iron, and whole grain goodness to this cake, I’ve swapped half the all purpose flour for whole wheat pastry flour (just like in this Healthy Carrot Cake). It’s lighter than regular whole wheat flour so it doesn’t make the cake overly dense or stodgy.
- Sugar. A combination of granulated white sugar and brown sugar sweeten the cake, add extra moisture, and make it tender.
- Eggs. Soften the cake and help it rise.
- Oil. While I love a nice cake made with butter (hello, Lemon Poppy Seed Cake), I opted to make this banana cake with oil to give it as much moisture as possible and let that banana flavor shine.
- Buttermilk. Gives this cake a lovely subtle tang (like in this Buttermilk Cake).
- Baking Soda + Baking Powder. Our leaveners that give this cake its lovely high rise and contribute to its light and fluffy texture.
- Sweetened Coconut. A sprinkle of toasted coconut on top of the cream cheese frosting adds a touch of crunch and nod to the tropics. Could top with chopped walnuts as well.
- Cream Cheese Frosting. Made with light cream cheese to make this cake a little less indulgent and mixed with butter, powdered sugar, and a few drops each of vanilla and almond extract, this skinny cream cheese frosting is proof of pure goodness in the world.
- Preheat your oven and grease and line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
- Mash the bananas and whisk in the wet ingredients, except for the buttermilk.
- In a separate small bowl, mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then gradually fold them into the banana mixture with the buttermilk.
To keep this banana cake light and fluffy, take care to not overmix the batter. A few lumps and bumps are totally fine.
- Divide batter evenly between the two prepared pans.
- Bake until the tops spring back lightly when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool.
- Toast the coconut.
The total time it takes to toast the coconut will vary depending upon the sugar content of the coconut. Watch the pan carefully to prevent burning.
- Beat together the cream cheese frosting ingredients until smooth.
- Assemble the cake by frosting the layers with the cream cheese frosting. Top generously with toasted coconut. Slice and ENJOY!
- To Store. Cover the cake and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Freeze. Wrap the cake tightly, and place it in an airtight container that is freezer-safe in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving. If you plan to freeze the cake, wait to frost it until after you’ve thawed it.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Mixing Bowls. I love the varying sizes of this nested set of glass mixing bowls. They’re my favorite for everyday baking.
- 9-Inch Round Cake Pan. This trusty pan has never failed me. From Strawberry Cake to Mocha Cake, they can do it all.
- Wooden Spoons. No need for a stand mixer with this easy banana cake recipe. This is one cake I like to mix the old-fashioned way by hand.
Your ripe bananas are awaiting their true calling: to be baked into easy moist banana cake!
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! To bake this recipe as a banana sheet cake, spread the batter into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. You may need to extend the bake time by a few minutes, so keep an eye on it.
I have never made this banana cake gluten free before, however, several readers have reported success doing so by swapping the flour for their favorite 1-to-1 gluten free baking mix.
While I have not tried making this banana cake with cake flour before, I suspect it could be done. It will have a less sturdy texture, since there is less protein in cake flour than all-purpose flour.
For the Banana Cake:
- 1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 3)
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk*
For the Toasted Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/4 cups flaked sweetened coconut
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Whisk in the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, combine the whole-wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and fold in by hand, just until combined. Gently stir in buttermilk. Fold in remaining dry ingredients, just until blended, being careful not to over mix.
- Divide batter evenly between the two prepared pans.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until the top of the cakes spring back lightly when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Carefully peel off the parchment paper and let cool completely.
- While the cakes cool, toast the coconut. Heat a wide skillet over medium-low. Once the pan is heated, add the coconut in an even layer. Continually stir and fold over the coconut in the pan, so that it cooks evenly until the coconut is a light, toasty brown and your kitchen smells amazing; about 3-5 minutes. Remove coconut immediately to a plate once ready. Let cool. Note the total time to toast the coconut will vary depending upon the sugar content of the coconut. Watch the pan carefully to prevent burning.
- To prepare the frosting, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and then reduce the speed to low. Gradually add the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating just until combined.
- Once layers have cooled completely, assemble and frost layers with the cream cheese frosting. Top cake generously with toasted coconut. Slice and enjoy.
- TO STORE: Cover the cake and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- TO FREEZE: Wrap the cake tightly, and place it in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving. If you plan to freeze the cake, wait to frost it until after you’ve thawed it.
- *INGREDIENT NOTE: If you do not have (or do not want to purchase buttermilk), you can make your own instead. To make homemade buttermilk, mix 1/2 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice with 1/2 cup of 2% or whole milk. Let sit for 5 minutes, then use as directed in the recipe.
- 6-INCH CAKE: The above recipe yields two 9-inch rounds. To make a smaller batch, you may halve the recipe, then baked in two 6-inch baking pans instead. Reduce the baking time to 18 minutes.
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