This soft and fluffy brown butter banana coffee cake is one of my favorites for brunch or a snack. It has brown butter, sour cream banana cake, a swirl of cinnamon sugar, and a buttery cinnamon streusel top. This cake is decadent, not-too-sweet, and the absolute best with a cup of coffee!

Brown butter banana coffee cake on a wood board next to forks, a beige linen, coffee cups, and a Chemex with a white background.

I have some personal news. In my mission to brown butter just about everything, I have now moved on to phase ‘banana’. That means banana muffins, breads, and pancakes have all been turned into caramel-y, toasty goodness. It’s been the best.

And so, of course, it only made sense that in the midst of January, I would turn cake into breakfast and add a good dose of brown butter, bananas, and cinnamon. Because we all need something to snack on while it’s blizzard-ing outside, yeah? And this is the cake. It’s best eaten with your fingers, enjoying tiny bite by tiny bite while sipping a cup of hot coffee, chatting with friends, and wearing cozy pajamas. You need this scenario in your life, ok? Let’s do it!

Why this banana coffee cake is so amazing

This is the sort of cake I like having on hand when I have family in town or friends over for brunch. It’s a good snacking cake for when you’re sitting around sipping coffee and playing cards, throwing a brunch party, or need a little rainy day project. It’s also my go-to contribution to a bachelorette party (honestly, great drunk food), holiday breakfasts, and baby showers. Everyone loves this cake, promise. Here’s why!

  • It’s a bit dense, but still perfectly moist and fluffy.
  • There’s a crumbly, buttery streusel topping.
  • The filling has cinnamon roll vibes.
  • The recipe is simple and straightforward.
White and grey bowls of baking ingredients on a white counter next to bananas and butter.

The ingredients

  • Brown sugar – this will add a deep toffee flavor to the cake and streusel. I use dark brown but light brown is good too.
  • Cinnamon – and lots of it! It’s a staple in all coffee cake recipes and tastes so good with the buttery streusel and banana cake.
  • Bananas choose bananas that are over-ripe with brown and black streaks. This will add moisture and lots of banana flavor.
  • Unsalted butter – you’ll need some for the streusel, which we’ll melt, and some for the cake, which we’ll brown.
  • All-purpose flour – we’re making homemade cake flour (more on this later) to make this cake nice and fluffy! You can also just use cake flour if you have it on hand.
  • Cornstarch – this is what we’ll use to make homemade cake flour.
  • Vanilla extract – to add extra flavor and compliment the cinnamon and bananas.
  • Sour cream – for a little tang. A classic coffee cake ingredient!
  • Whole milk – it must be whole or it’ll affect the texture of the cake.
  • Baking basics – Kosher salt, baking powder, white sugar, and eggs.

How to make this recipe | video

We’ll make this recipe in three parts. The swirl, the streusel, and the cake. But all of the steps are super easy and make for the best banana coffee cake. Let’s talk about it!

Cinnamon swirl

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon until it’s smooth and clump-free.

Cinnamon streusel

  1. Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt in a bowl.
  2. Next, add the melted butter to the brown sugar-flour mixture.
  3. Using a fork, mix everything together until you have a crumble.

Banana cake

  1. To make the cake, start by whisking together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Then, mash the bananas until they’re very smooth. Set aside.
  2. Next, brown the butter over medium heat until it’s toasty. Add it to a mixing bowl to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Then, mix in the brown and white sugars. The mixture will be a bit sandy. Stir in the vanilla extract and eggs until the mixture is light and thick.
  4. Next, add the sour cream and mashed bananas until smooth. Then, mix in the flour mixture and milk in 2 batches.
  5. Spread half of the batter in a prepared 8×8” pan (this pan is my favorite). Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top and then spread the remaining batter over the top. Use a skewer to lightly swirl the batter and cinnamon-sugar.
  6. Finish by crumbling the streusel over the top of the cake. Bake at 350°F for about 1 hour, just until it’s cooked through. Then, cool for 20-30 minutes, slice, and enjoy!

Serving ideas

You can eat this cake for breakfast, brunch, or just a little snack! Here are a few serving ideas, although to be honest, you can just enjoy it as-is too. But, here are some of my favorite dishes to make this brown butter banana coffee cake a meal:

To make muffins

I haven’t tried this recipe in muffin-form but I’m sure it would work great! I would divide half the batter between muffin liners, sprinkle with some cinnamon-sugar, add the rest of the batter, lightly swirl, and finish with a bit of streusel. Bake at 350°F, checking for doneness at 16 minutes.

A slice of banana coffee cake with a bite taken out of it on a wood board next to more coffee cake, sugar, a cup of coffee, and forks on a white counter.

Storing, freezing, & make-ahead

To store leftover coffee cake, place the slices in an airtight container and keep at room temperature for 2-3 days. You can also leave it in the pan and just cover it with plastic wrap or tin foil.

To freeze the coffee cake, wrap individual slices in parchment and place in an airtight container or freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost, unwrap the slices and let them come to room temperature for at least an hour.

For a make-ahead situation, I would just bake the cake the night before. It will still be moist the next day and the flavors will have time to develop!

Recipe additions

To keep this recipe from being too-sweet, I chose not to add icing, but I still think it would be delicious! Here’s a few ways you can elevate this brown butter banana coffee cake even more:

  • Dust some powdered sugar over the top of the cake.
  • Drizzle some brown butter icing over the top.
  • Add toasted, chopped pecans or walnuts to the streusel.
  • Replace the cinnamon with a bit of cardamom, nutmeg, or other warm spices.

Recipe tips & tricks

  • This cake is developed for high altitude (4,500 feet). If you live at sea-level, try 2 teaspoons of baking powder. I have not yet tested this recipe at sea-level but will update the recipe once I do.
  • Measure the flour properly to keep the cake from being dry. I fluff the flour with a whisk or fork, spoon it into the measuring cup, and level it off without packing the flour in.
  • Use room temperature ingredients (like eggs, sour cream, and milk) so the batter mixes evenly. 10-15 minutes on the counter will do it.
  • Use ripe bananas with brown and black streaks for moisture and flavor. This is the perfect recipe for using up over-ripe bananas.
  • Carefully spread the second layer of batter over the cinnamon-sugar. It doesn’t have to be perfect but you also don’t want it to all mix together!
  • Don’t over-bake the cake or it will get dry. The cake is done when it no longer jiggles in the center and an inserted toothpick has just a few moist crumbs.
A white plate with a slice of brown butter banana coffee cake on a white counter with coffee, more cake, and a Chemex in the background.

More snack-y cakes & breads

Ricotta Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Cinnamon Swirl Bread with Streusel
Cookie Butter Banana Bread
Sweet Poppy Bread

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Brown Butter Banana Coffee Cake

Yield: 9 slices
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 1 hr 30 mins
This brown butter banana coffee cake is the absolute best! With sour cream banana cake, a swirl of cinnamon-sugar, and buttery cinnamon streusel, it's great for breakfast, brunch, or a little snack. It's one of my favorite recipes to make for bachelorette breakfasts, brunch parties, or the holidays!
Please note, this recipe was developed for high-altitude. Please see the notes for sea-level details.

Ingredients

Cinnamon-Sugar Swirl

  • 1/2 c brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Cinnamon Streusel

  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, melted

Brown Butter Banana Cake

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder*
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 large bananas, very ripe
  • 10 tbs unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 c brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 c sour cream
  • 2/3 c whole milk

Equipment

  • 8×8'' metal baking pan

Instructions 

Cinnamon-Sugar Swirl

  • Add the brown sugar and cinnamon to a small bowl. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and clump-free. Set aside.

Cinnamon Streusel

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, and a pinch of Kosher salt.
  • Drizzle the melted butter over the flour-sugar mixture. Using the tines of a fork, stir everything together until you have a thick crumble. Set aside.

Brown Butter Banana Cake

  • Line an 8×8'' metal baking pan with parchment paper. Then, grease with neutral oil or baking spray. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Add the all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and Kosher salt to a small bowl. Whisk until smooth. Then, place the bananas on plate or in a shallow bowl. Use the tines of a fork to mash the bananas until they're very smooth. Set aside.
  • To make the brown butter, melt the butter in a light-colored pan over medium heat. After a few minutes, it will start to simmer and foam up. Stir constantly until the butter smells toasty and there are brown bits on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the butter into a large heat-proof mixing bowl. You should have a 1/2 cup of brown butter. Let it cool for about 5 minutes. (Watch how to brown butter here).
  • Pour the sugar and brown sugar into the brown butter. Whisk together until you have a sandy mixture. Then, add the vanilla extract and eggs, whisking rapidly until the mixture is pale and thick, about 2-3 minutes. Next, stir in the sour cream and mashed bananas until it's thoroughly mixed.
  • Whisk half of the flour mixture into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by half of the milk. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, stirring just until the batter is combined. Don't over-whisk or the cake will be dense!
  • Carefully spread about half of the batter in bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the batter. Then, carefully spread the remaining batter over the cinnamon-sugar. (This can get a little messy, but do your best! It doesn't have to be perfect). Use a skewer to gently swirl the batter and cinnamon-sugar (don't over-swirl). Crumble the streusel evenly over the top of the cake.
  • Bake the banana coffee cake, checking for doneness at 1 hour and up to 1 hour and 10 minutes. The cake is finished when it no longer jiggles and an inserted toothpick has just a few moist crumbs on it. Let the cake cool for 20-30 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Notes

*Please keep in mind, this cake is developed for high altitude. If you live at sea-level, try 2 teaspoons of baking powder. I have not tested this recipe at sea-level but will update the recipe once I do.
If you have cake flour, you can replace the all-purpose flour + cornstarch with 2 1/4 cups of cake flour.
Choose bananas that are very ripe and have brown and black streaks.
Measure the flour properly to prevent a dry cake! Fluff the flour with a whisk or fork, spoon the fluffed flour into a measuring cup, and level it off without packing the flour in.
Don’t over-bake the cake or it will be dense and dry.
Cuisine: American
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Snacks
Serving: 1slice, Calories: 527kcal, Carbohydrates: 78.6g, Protein: 6.4g, Fat: 21.8g, Saturated Fat: 13.2g, Cholesterol: 94mg, Sodium: 291mg, Potassium: 311mg, Fiber: 2.1g, Sugar: 44.6g, Calcium: 113mg, Iron: 2mg
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xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: River by Leon Bridges