The Best Banana Cake with Banana Frosting

Best Banana CakeI have always loved grocery shopping.

Mostly because our local supermarket gave kids free cookies in the bakery if you asked politely. They were sprinkle sugar cookies, and they were amazing because they were free, smothered in sprinkles, and because you didn’t need your parents permission to eat a giant sugar cookie before dinner.

(However, in later years I would try this as a teenager and unfortunately, they had an age limit. I suppose teenagers aren’t as cute begging for cookies as toothless, innocent children are).

I loved grocery shopping because my parents were so hell-bent against cooking dinner that we’d head to the store practically five times a week and pick out dinner there. It was usually something like frozen pizza or Lean Cuisines or fried chicken from the deli, but it was awesome since we could each pick what we want. And if you’ve ever grocery shopped when you’re hungry, whatever you get instantly looks like the most amazing food ever. Frozen meatloaf? OMG, gourmet! Deli-fried chicken that’s been under heat lamps since 2pm? COME TO MAMA. Pre-made deli sandwiches that are usually ham and American cheese with those mayo packets? Delish with a capital-D, yo.

Or maybe that’s just because I never really had a decent home-cooked meal. Whatevz.

When my mom and I would shop at Smart & Final, they had this Sara Lee Banana Cake in the fridge section that was to-die for. Anytime we’d shop there, I’d beg her to pleeeeaaasseee buy one for us to have after dinner, and without fail, she always said yes. It became our family’s favorite store-bought cake for its moist banana cake layer and the sweet banana frosting on top. It was positively perfect!

DSC_0335AYeeeears had passed since I’d had a slice of the beloved cake. And when I went to remedy this recently at Smart & Final, I was so saddened to see they’d done away with it. It was basically a blasphemous slap in my banana cake lovin’ face if you ask me. But it also motivated me to make this magical cake at home – and folks, I have officially succeeded.

DSC_0337AThis cake is SO impossibly moist and light, with sweet banana flavor swirled in every bite. The frosting is thick and rich and made with actual mashed banana, lending an authentic and world-class flavor to this phenomenal cake. If you’re a banana fan, you’ll love this cake! We like it as is since it’s identical to our beloved Sara Lee version, but if you’d like, feel free to jazz it up with chocolate chips, Nutella drizzle, or walnuts or pecans.

Now let us have cake!

DSC_0331A*cake adapted from Cake Mix Doctor

5.0 from 4 reviews
The Best Banana Cake with Banana Frosting
Recipe type: Cakes/Cupcakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
Rich and sweet, this banana sheet cake is one of the best and my family's favorite cake! Flavored with banana in the cake and frosting, it's a perfectly sweet cake for any banana lover.
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 2-3 medium-sized bananas, the blacker the better)
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp banana extract (you could also use banana liqueur if desired)
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup ripe banana, peeled and mashed (about 1 medium banana)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp banana extract (more if you prefer a stronger banana flavor)
  • 1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • About 3.5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease a 13x9" baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the cake mix, brown sugar, mashed banana, cinnamon, water, oil, eggs and banana extract with a handheld electric mixer for about 2 minutes or until blended.
  2. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for approx. 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Cool the cake completely.
  3. Once the cake has cooled, prepare your frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, mashed banana, vanilla, banana extract and lemon juice with the paddle attachment until creamy. Add in the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, until the frosting is light and fluffy but still kind of soft. You don't want it as stiff as you normally would for say, frosting cupcakes, but it should hold its shape relatively well.
  4. Spread the frosting on top of the cake in an even layer. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before cutting into squares and serving. Store leftovers airtight in the fridge for up to 4 days.

DSC_0344AYou guys. Scouts honor, but this is seriously one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. I’ve made it about four times since I originally whipped it up and my family and I have gobbled it up every single time. It’s so moist, rich, and jam-packed with banana flavor, which we cannot get enough of! As I mentioned before, try adding chocolate or peanut butter chips to the batter for a different flavor twist, or top with chopped nuts if you’d like!

BANANACAKEHave a fabulous day!

xo, Hayley

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  1. omg SO glad you were able to recreate that cake! so banana-y!! yum yum yum

  2. Snow and ice storm headed our way tomorrow. Great day for baking. I know this one will be a hit at our house. Thank you.

    • thedomesticrebel says:

      Mary Lynn, you’re so welcome! This cake is so satisfying 🙂 Enjoy!

      • The cake was delicious. I did have a problem with the frosting. Before I added the powdered sugar the mixture would not mix together. The softened butter would not mix with the mashed banana. It looked like it was curdled. So, I started again. This time I combined the butter and the mashed banana, didn’t add the flavorings and it still wouldn’t mix together. What did I do wrong? Your thoughts….

        • thedomesticrebel says:

          Mary Lynn, that’s peculiar. The mixture does typically come together some, but not like a normal buttercream will. The mashed banana does tend to make the butter/banana mixture look a little curdled and this is normal. I would continue to add the powdered sugar, as it will help bind the other ingredients into a smooth frosting for the cake – promise! Sorry you had some issues, and I will definitely update the instructions. Thanks Mary-Lynn, and enjoy the cake!

  3. Okay, true story, when I was 17 I worked at a Little Caesar’s Pizza joint in a strip mall with a Sara Lee outlet. My manager was ADDICTED to those little banana cakes and would buy them in bulk and keep them in our walk in freezer at work. Periodically through the night, she would pick some of us to go enjoy a cake….I was instantly hooked, and to this day love banana cake frozen. MMMMMM. LOVE this recipe 🙂

    • thedomesticrebel says:

      Having it frozen sounds so yummy! Those cakes are seriously my favorite! The ones we got at Smart & Final were a sheet-cake, so the whole family could share 🙂 I have a feeling the individual cakes would be even MORE dangerous. And I totally didn’t know you worked at a little pizza joint – how fun! I would have loved to work at one save for the pizza-smelling clothes, ha!

  4. Does the frosting stay a nice color? Just wondering since it has mashed banana in it that it would turn brown.

    • thedomesticrebel says:

      Hi Nikki! Yes! Since mashed banana is still a paler yellow color, it doesn’t turn it any funky brownish tint. And because there’s lemon juice, it helps prevent the banana from further oxidation which causes the brownness to show up. You’ll love this cake, trust me!

  5. This looks amazing! Total breakfast cake if you ask me. I’m always looking for a reason to eat dessert for breakfast 😉 my grocery store gives away cookies to kids…I always ask for an extra in case my kid drops hers. Mwuahahaha. That was my sinister laugh. 😉

    • thedomesticrebel says:

      Haha – the extra is a brilliant plan, Kathleen 🙂 I would totally do that for my “kids”, mwuhahaha.

  6. This looks too good to be true. And so easy to whip up. LOVE!!

  7. Guurrll. This is just what I want right now! De-Frickin-Licious!

  8. Maria Torres says:

    Can I use this recipe to make a a three tier two layer cake for a baby shower?

    • thedomesticrebel says:

      Sure! Just divide the batter evenly among three baking pans. The layers may be smaller since you’re dividing it among three instead of two pans. And you may want to double (or even triple, if you like lots of frosting) the frosting recipe!

  9. Pam Parent says:

    Looks delish, how about adding Cinnamon Chips?

  10. can I use butter milk instead of water?

  11. omg…I FINALLY found a banana buttercream recipe! I loved those Sara Lee cakes too! Thanks for posting.

  12. Kimberly says:

    OMG! I love anything banana! I SOOOO miss that Banana Layer Cake with Banana Frosting that Pepperidge Farm used to make waaaaay back when. It was in the freezer section. Sometimes we would take it home and not even wait for it to thaw. lol It was that good and banana-y! I hope this one tastes like the PF one as I’ve been missing it for a very, very long time.

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