Layers of moist banana cake dotted with chocolate chips and frosted with the creamiest chocolate buttercream – this banana chocolate chip cake is pure heaven. It’s incredibly flavorful thanks to the bananas, but not overly sweet either. This recipe can also be adapted and made in a 9×13 inch pan if you prefer.
This banana chocolate chip cake will remind you of a slice of warm chocolate chip banana bread that’s fit for a celebration. The banana cake itself is incredibly moist and tender with a delicious, mellow banana bread flavor. There are hints of brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon to complement the banana perfectly. Then it’s filled with mini chocolate chips and topped with the creamiest chocolate frosting. This cake isn’t the sweetest layer cake – and that’s definitely one of the things I love about it.
Baking Tips, Tricks and Things to Note
- This recipe uses both butter and oil. The butter adds so much flavor, whereas using a little oil keeps the cake moist for longer. Make sure the butter is softened to room temperature before getting started.
- The eggs and buttermilk should be at room temperature before getting started. This ensures that everything can mix together evenly without overmixing.
- This recipe uses 1 ¼ cup of mashed bananas. You’ll need about 3 brown bananas, depending on their size. Measure the bananas after mashing. Do not just go by the number of bananas to use – go by 1 ¼ cups of mashed bananas.
- Make sure the bananas are brown and spotty. Yellow or green bananas don’t have enough moisture for baking or the sweet, mellow flavor that we want.
- Be very careful not to overmix the batter. Overmixing will lead to a tough cake, instead of tender. There will be some lumps in the batter due to the banana – that’s ok and expected.
- I highly recommend using mini chocolate chips. Regular chocolate chips can sink to the bottom of the cake because they’re too heavy for how thick the batter are. They can also make the cake harder to slice nicely.
- It can be tempting to add in extra chocolate chips. I do not recommend this as too many chocolate chips can impact the integrity of the cake and therefore make it fall apart as you slice.
Assembling the Cake
Whenever making a layer cake, make sure that the layers are 100% cooled before assembly. Pro Tip: I typically make the layers the night before I plan to serve. Let them cool fully, then wrap tightly and store at room temperature overnight. Then I’ll make the frosting and assemble the cake the day I plan to serve it.
If the tops of your cakes are slightly domed, gently saw off the rounded top using a cake leveler or serrated knife. This ensures that the cake layers sit evenly on top of each other.
- Place one cake layer top side down (the side you sawed off) on the plate you plan to serve it on. Frost the top with about ¼ to ⅓ of the frosting.
- Place the second layer top side down on top of the first.
- Frost the sides with a thin layer of frosting to seal in the crumbs. This is called the crumb coat. You can think of it like the primer when painting a wall. It isn’t always necessary, but if you notice that the crumbs of the cake are getting into the frosting and making it look dirty, then I definitely recommend it.
- Let the crumb coat harden slightly – about 20 minutes in the fridge.
- Then frost the sides and top with swirls of creamy frosting.
This recipe has a lot of batter. It can either be made in:
- two 9-inch round cake pans – baked for about 35-40 minutes at 350F (180C or 170C fan forced)
- three 8-inch round sandwich tins – baked for about 25-30 minutes at 350F (180C or 170C fan forced)
- one 9×13 inch (23×33 cm) rectangular pan – baked for about 50-55 minutes at 350F (180C or 170C fan forced).
A note about frosting: The frosting recipe is enough for a double layer cake or triple layer cake with slightly thinner smears of frosting. If making a double layer cake, you may have a little extra frosting that can be used for piping rosettes or decorating. If making the recipe in a 9×13 inch pan, divide the frosting recipe in half.
For more banana & chocolate recipes, be sure to try:
- Banana Brownies – these are super moist
- Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
- Chocolate Banana Muffins
Banana Chocolate Chip Cake
- 2 9-inch cake pans see recipe notes for alternatives
Banana Chocolate Chip Cake
- 2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- ¼ cup vegetable oil canola oil works too
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar packed, light or dark works
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1 ¼ cup mashed bananas about 3-4 brown bananas, measure after mashing
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk see notes for a substitution
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1 ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3-4 tablespooons whipping cream or milk
Banana Chocolate Chip Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C or 170C fan forced).
- Line the bottom of two 9-inch cake pans (see recipe notes for pan alternatives) with rounds of parchment paper. Lightly grease the sides of the pans.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- In a very large bowl, beat together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until there are no lumps of brown sugar or butter (about 1 minute). Then beat in the oil.
- Add in the vanilla extract and beat in the eggs 1 at a time, turning off the mixer and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as you go.
- Turn off the mixer and whisk in the mashed bananas.
- With the mixer on a low speed, beat in about ⅓ of the dry ingredients.
- Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Then beat in about ½ of the milk.
- Turn off the mixer. Whisk in about ⅓ more of the dry ingredients followed by the rest of the milk.
- Then whisk in the rest of the dry ingredients. You will see some lumps in the batter from the banana - that is expected and OK.
- Gently fold in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.
- Bake both on the same rack of the oven in the middle for about 35-40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. I typically don't say clean with this recipe, as sometimes the toothpick can come out clean but the middle of the cake is still gummy.
- Cool the cake layers in the pans for about 20 minutes, then carefully invert and continue cooling on a wire rack.
- If the cocoa and powdered sugar are lumpy, sift them first before getting started.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth.
- Add in 2 cups powdered sugar and beat into the butter starting with the mixer on a low speed.
- Add in the cocoa, vanilla and salt. Beat into the mixture, again starting with the mixer on a low speed.
- Beat in the rest of the powdered sugar about ½ cup at a time, alternating with 1 tablespoon of milk/cream until the desired sweetness and thickness is reached.
Assembling & Frosting the Cake
- Ensure that the cake layers are 100% cooled first.
- Use a cake leveler or serrated knife to gently saw off the rounded top of each cake layer.
- Place 1 cake layer on the plate you plan to serve it, top side down. Frost the top with about ¼ to ⅓ of the frosting
- Place the second cake layer on top, top side down.
- Frost the sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting. This is the crumb coat to seal in the crumbs. Place the cake in the fridge for about 20 minutes for the coat to seal. If you don't notice many crumbs in the frosting, you could skip this step.
- Frost the sides and top of the cake with swirls of frosting.
- Pan Sizes:
- two 9-inch round cake pans bake for 35-40 minutes
- three 8-inch round cake pans bake for 25-30 minutes
- one 9x13 inch (23x33 cm) pan bakes for 50-55 minutes, divide the frosting recipe in half
- ½ plus 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa
- 1 ½ - 2 cups powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1-2 tablespoons cream
- Bananas: Ensure the bananas are brown and spotty.
- Buttermilk: If you don't have buttermilk, add 1 ½ tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice to a large liquid measuring cup. Fill to the 1 ½ cup line with 1% or 2% milk.
- Make Ahead Tips: Cake layers can be made the day before. Cool fully then wrap tightly and store at room temperature overnight. Make the frosting and assemble the cake the next day. Cooled cake layers can be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap, then wrapped in aluminum foil or placed in a freezer bag and frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
- Storage: Store cake covered or in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Nutrition: Details provided are an estimate only and based on 1 slice, assuming the cake is sliced into 12 equal pieces and all the frosting is used. You may be able to get up to 14 slices.