Soft, light, and full of banana flavor, this Sour Cream Banana Cake is the BEST banana cake ever! Finished with a thick layer of cream cheese icing, this easy recipe makes an irresistible dessert!
The Best Banana Cake Recipe
It is a bold statement to claim something is the best. But I don't hesitate for a moment when stating that this is the absolute best recipe for Banana Cake. PERIOD.
This recipe is another family favorite from my Great Grandma. It is sweet. It is full of banana flavor. It is light. It is fluffy. It is EVERYTHING a good cake should be and more.
Everyone I have served this to RAVES over it! In fact, my husband asks me to make this Banana Cake at least once a week and it is easy enough to whip together I wouldn't mind making it weekly--not that I do 😉
Notes on Key Ingredients
- Sour Cream: Be sure to use full-fat sour cream for the best results. Low-fat and reduced-fat sour cream have added stabilizers and extra water content that won't create the same texture or taste.
- Bananas: For the best flavor in this banana cake, select bananas that are be beginning to turn brown and soft to the touch. This recipe uses 1 cup of mashed banana which translates to about 3 small bananas.
- Cream Cheese Frosting: The frosting is a classic recipe made with just cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and a bit of milk to thin.
How to Make Banana Cake
Directions for the Cake
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light in color and fluffy, this can take up to 5 minutes with a handheld mixer.
- Add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla to the creamed butter and mix together until combined and creamy.
- Use 2 forks or a potato masher to mash the bananas until broken down and then stir into the butter mixture.
- Over another mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. You can simply whisk the dry ingredients together, but sifting helps to break up the baking soda and helps to creates a fluffier cake.
- Gently fold the flour mixture into the butter and sugar mixture until no dry pockets of flour remain. Be careful to not overmix, as overmixing will result in a tough cake. Keep in mind the batter for banana cake is thicker than your standard cake mix batter.
- Evenly spread out the batter into a lightly greased 9x13 pan.
- Bake the cake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until a toothpick inserted in middle does not come out with wet batter. The top will be light brown--much like the color of banana bread.
- Place the cake on a cooling rack and cool completely before icing. This will take about 30 minutes.
Directions for the Cream Cheese Icing
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy and smooth.
- Add in vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon milk and quickly beat again.
- Add 2 ½ cups of powdered sugar and beat until smooth. If needed, add up to 1 tablespoon of additional milk and ½ cup of powdered sugar, a little at a time until you reach desired consistency. You are looking for a thick frosting that is easily spreadable.
- Spread the icing on the cooled cake.
Banana Cake is VERY moist and should be refrigerated, even if uniced once cooled. Iced or uniced store the cake, covered with a lid or plastic wrap, for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
Banana cake also freezes beautifully--even if iced with the cream cheese frosting. To freeze this cake, I suggest baking in a disposable or freezer-safe cake pan. Cool fully and then ice as directed. Cover the cake pan tightly with 2 layers of plastic wrap and then 2 layers of heavy-duty foil. The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months but tastes best if enjoyed within 6 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before enjoying.
Pro-Tips for Perfect Banana Cake
- Be sure your butter and eggs are room temperature so that they beat up light and fluffy. This will really keep your cake light and tender.
- Use full-fat sour cream. Sour cream is the secret to making this the very best banana cake recipe ever. It adds moisture to the cake and the acidity from the sour cream activates the baking soda, which in turn causes the cake to rise and be light and fluffy.
- Use overripe bananas. If your bananas don't have brown spots on them, they are not ready to be used for this banana cake. Brown or yellow bananas with brown speckles will yield more sweetness and a more intense flavor.
- Don't overbake or underbake. Every oven is different, hence the variance in bake time. For best results, position a rack in the middle of the oven and fully preheat before baking the cake. Check the cake at 25 minutes. If the cake jiggles, set the timer for an additional 5 minutes. If the cake looks set, test with a toothpick. If the toothpick is dry remove the cake, if it is wet bake for an additional 2 minutes and recheck until fully set.
It is CRUCIAL to use ripe bananas for the best flavor. However, if your bananas are not ripe you can roast them to bring out their sweetness and soften them quickly. Place unpeeled bananas on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, or until the skins on the banana are fully browned. Allow to cool, peel and use in the banana cake recipe as directed.
Not at all. This cake is delicious without the cream cheese icing, but the tanginess of the cream cheese is the perfect contrast to the sweet banana cake.
Feel free to add up to 1 cup of chopped walnuts to the flour mixture before combining the wet and dry ingredients. Coating the nuts in flour will help prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
My kids will tell you they love this banana cake with the addition of chocolate chips. Add 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to the flour mixture before combining with the dry ingredients.
Yes! If you want to make a 2 layer cake, divide the batter between 2 greased 9-inch cake pans, and bake at 350 degrees F 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes for 10 minutes and then remove the layers and allow to cool fully before icing. You will want to double the frosting to fully ice the cake.
More Favorite Banana Recipes
- Banana Baked Oatmeal: Oatmeal and banana bread collide in this easy, healthy baked oatmeal recipe.
- Banana Oat Pancakes: These gluten-free pancakes are made in the blender and are tender and perfectly sweet.
- Banana Bars with Chocolate Chips: A healthier spin on this banana cake, these bars are filled with flavor and chocolate.
- Homemade Banana Pudding: A classic recipe for from-scratch banana pudding that everyone loves.
I hope your family and friends enjoy this banana cake as much as my family does. I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
For the Cake
- ½ cup butter softened
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2-3 overripe bananas to yield 1 cup mashed banana
Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup butter softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ - 3 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
- Position an oven rack to the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, this can take 3-5 minutes. Once fluffy, add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla and mix together until combined.
- In a small bowl, mash the banana until completely broken down with a fork or potato masher. Measure out 1 cup of mashed banana and then add to the wet ingredients. Stir to combine.
- Over a large mixing bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and salt together. Whisk together to distribute the ingredients evenly.
- Add flour mixture to the wet batter and stir with a spatula just until mixed and no flour pockets remain. Be careful to not overmix or your cake will be tough.
- Pour the batter into the baking dish and spread out evenly.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle does not come out with wet batter. The top will be golden brown.
- Let the cake cool completely at room temperature before frosting.
To Make the Frosting
- In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese together until creamy and smooth. Add in vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon milk and quickly beat again.
- Add 2 ½ cups of powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
- If needed, add up to 1 tablespoon of additional milk and ½ cup of powdered sugar, a little at a time until you reach desired consistency. You are looking for a thick frosting that is easily spreadable.
- Spread over cooled cake.