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 frosting, this easy recipe makes an irresistible dessert!
Along with Hot Milk Cake and Lemon Bread, this recipe for Banana Cake is a family favorite from my Great Grandma's collection of recipes. While a bold statement, I don't hesitate for a moment to state that this is the absolute best recipe for Banana Cake.
Reasons this is the Best Banana Cake
- Amazing Flavor. This cake is rich, buttery, perfectly sweet, and finished with the most irresistible thick and creamy cream cheese frosting.
- The Perfect Crumb. Thanks in part to the addition of sour cream, this banana cake is light and fluffy and nearly melts in your mouth. It is EVERYTHING a good cake should be and more.
- Super Easy Recipe. As far as cake recipes go, Banana Cake is one of the easiest options. You don't even need a stand mixer to make this one-layer cake!
- Crowd-Pleasing Dessert Recipe. Everyone I have served this to RAVES over it! 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.
- Butter: Use softened unsalted butter in the cake batter and cream cheese frosting. Using butter in the cake batter rather than oil produces bakery-like results.
- Bananas: For the best flavor in this banana cake, select bananas that are beginning to turn brown and soft to the touch. This recipe uses 1 cup of mashed banana which translates to about 3 small bananas.
- Flour: No need to use cake flour for this banana cake, all-purpose flour works perfectly.
- Cream Cheese Frosting: The frosting is a classic recipe made with just cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and milk.
- Cream Cheese: Use full-fat or reduced-fat, not fat-free cream cheese for best results.
- Milk: Any variety of milk or cream works to thin the frosting to a spreadable consistency.
- Add Chocolate Chips: Add up to 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to the flour mixture before combining with the dry ingredients.
- Add Walnuts: 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.
How to Make Banana Cake
The following tips are provided to help you achieve perfect results. You will find the detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step One: Prepare the Sour Cream Banana Cake
The cake batter comes together with a similar process and consistency to Banana Bread. Combining the wet and dry ingredients separately and then folding them together until the flour is fully moistened, will help to ensure this cake is not overworked and stays light and airy.
Step Two: Prepare the Cream Cheese Frosting
The sweet, yet tangy cream cheese frosting is the perfect finishing touch to this banana cake, as it compliments the sour cream in the cake batter. It is as easy to prepare as mixing the butter and cream cheese until fluffy and smooth, adding in powdered sugar, and thinning with milk until the desired consistency is reached. You want a frosting that is thick and spreadable, not a thin glaze like you would use for Homemade Cinnamon Rolls.
∗ Tips for Perfect Banana Cake ∗
- Be sure your butter and eggs are room temperature so that they beat up light and fluffy. This will 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 it 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.
- Refrigerate before serving. While you can absolutely dig into this cake immediately after icing, I have found the flavors get better after the cake has been chilled for at least 2 hours.
- Storage: Banana Cake is VERY moist and should be refrigerated once cooled, even if uniced. Iced or uniced store the cake, covered with a lid or plastic wrap, for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
- Freeze: Banana cake also freezes beautifully, even when frosted with 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.
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.
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 for 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 as well.
More Favorite Banana Recipes
- Banana Baked Oatmeal
- Banana Oat Pancakes
- Peanut Butter Banana Bars
- From-Scratch EASY Banana Pudding
- Pumpkin Banana Muffins
- The Best Healthy Banana Bread
I hope your family and friends enjoy this banana cake as much as my family does. And I would love for you to leave a comment and review below if you gave this cake recipe a try.
Sour Cream Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the Cake
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- 1-½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup full-fat sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup mashed bananas ~2-3 large overripe bananas
Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- 8 ounces full-fat cream cheese softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2½ - 3 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 1-2 tablespoons milk or cream
- 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 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 the middle of the cake comes out dry. The top of the cake 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 the desired consistency. You are looking for a thick frosting that is easily spreadable.
- Spread the cream cheese frosting over the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving for best results.