Mix up a simple batter bursting with banana, whole grains, and flavor for a healthy Banana Cake to celebrate a kids birthday or special event. Bonus: The simple whipped cream cheese frosting seals the deal and the whole thing can be made ahead!

healthy banana cake on white plate with kids hands

Healthy Banana Cake

It’s always fun to make a cake to celebrate and share with the littles and this cake is one of our favorites for toddler birthdays! It’s easy to make, includes nutritious ingredients, is super moist, and is just sweet enough. And grownups will enjoy it too!

This easy banana cake comes together in a food processor, so it’s super easy to make—even if you have the kids around while you are making it.

You can also make it ahead of time if that’s easier on your schedule.

Ingredients You Need

To make this cake for a kids birthday or any dessert you’ll need the following ingredients:

ingredients in banana cake
  • Ripe bananas: Very ripe bananas are key for the flavor in this recipe, so be sure that yours have lots of brown spots.
  • Rolled oats: We use these in place of flour for extra nutrition and because they are super tender in the final recipe.
  • Eggs: These help bind the ingredients together.
  • Unsalted butter: I prefer to use unsalted butter so I can control the salt in the cake.
  • Baking powder and baking soda: These help ensure that the cake rises and bakes through evenly.
  • Cinnamon: This adds that classic banana cake flavor.
  • Maple syrup: We use this as the sweetener in this recipe. You can also use honey for kids over age 1.

TIP: For the Cream Cheese Frosting, you simply need cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and maple syrup or honey. So mostly pantry staples and too-ripe bananas!

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at the easy process involved in making this healthy banana cake. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the full recipe.

how to make banana cake step by step prcess
  1. Preheat the oven and gather your ingredients.
  2. Grind the dry ingredients into a coarse flour in a food processor or blender.
  3. Add the bananas and the remaining ingredients. Process into a uniform batter.
  4. Divide into the prepared baking pans and bake.

TIP: To make this cake without a food processor, mash the bananas very smooth with a potato masher or fork and use purchased oat flour.

slice of banana cake on green plate

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this gluten-free?

To make this cake without gluten, simply opt for certified gluten-free rolled oats when buying them at the store.

Does this work without dairy?

To make this cake dairy-free, use melted coconut oil instead of the butter in the cake. And nondairy Greek yogurt instead of the cream cheese in the frosting.

Can I make this cake ahead of time?

Sure! You can either bake just the cakes a day ahead or you can bake the whole thing and frost it ahead. I find it easier to store it if I just do the cakes ahead of time, so see the Notes section at the bottom of the recipe for details.

layered banana cake with cream cheese frosting

Healthy 1st Birthday Cake

This cake is perfect for a first birthday since the sweetness comes mostly from fruit and it’s super moist and easy for little ones to eat. You could even decorate it with fresh fruit or sprinkles if you want to!

How to Store

You can bake the cakes up to a day ahead and after they’re cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving to allow the cakes to soften a bit.

Store any leftovers in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in the fridge for up to 5 days. We prefer this cake served cold.

Best Tips for Success

  • Use very ripe banana with black spots for the best natural sweetness and flavor.
  • Gluten-Free: Use certified gluten-free rolled oats.
  • Dairy-free: Use melted coconut oil instead of butter and nondairy Greek style yogurt or nondairy cream cheese alternative in the frosting.

Related Recipes


I’d love to hear your feedback if you try this recipe, so please comment below to share!

healthy-banana-cake-on-white-platter

Healthy Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This lightly sweetened cake is perfect for a first or second birthday—or just any day where you’re craving some cake to share!
4.94 from 30 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Cuisine Birthday Cake
Course Dessert
Calories 396kcal
Servings 8

Ingredients

Banana Cake

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (from about 3 medium)
  • 3 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (melted and slightly cooled; or coconut oil)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (softened at room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans with nonstick spray and line with rounds of parchment paper. Grease again with nonstick spray.
  • Place the oats, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor. Grind about 30 seconds, or until the oats resemble a coarse flour.
  • Add the bananas, eggs, vanilla, butter, and maple syrup. Process for an additional 30 seconds or until the batter is smooth.
  • Divide the batter between the pans. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out cleanly.
  • Place pans onto a wire rack and let cakes cool completely in the pan.
  • Make the frosting: Use an electric hand-held mixer to beat together the cream cheese, butter, honey (or maple syrup), and vanilla extract. Beat until very smooth.
  • To frost, place one cake onto a plate, top with 1/4-⅓ cup of frosting. Place the second cake on top and spread the remaining frosting over top.
  • Slice to serve.

Video

Notes

  • Dairy-free: Use melted coconut oil instead of the butter and nondairy Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese in the frosting.
  • Gluten-free: Use certified gluten-free rolled oats.
  • Let cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack to ensure that they stay together well.
  • Discard parchment paper before frosting the cakes.
  • To make ahead, you can bake the cakes up to a day ahead. Let cool, cover completely, and store in the fridge. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before frosting.
  • Store any leftovers covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 396kcal, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 18g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 115mg, Sodium: 209mg, Potassium: 343mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 18g, Vitamin A: 762IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 93mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This post was first published August 2018.

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Comments

  1. I have bananas but they are not overly ripe. Do you think it wouldn’t be sweet enough? I’m not well versed enough in baking to know what else too add or if it would be fine?

    1. It tastes best with ripe bananas. If they aren’t super ripe, I might add 1/4 cup granulated sugar to ensure it tastes good.

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Amy,
    I baked this cake for my 2y/o birthday last month and it was absolutely delicious! Thank you! I would like to make it this time as muffins, so we don’t feel obliged to finish it off quickly 😝. Would it work? Also, for the frosting, is there a unsalted cream cheese or similar that can be used? I added the maple syrup but could still feel the saltiness of the traditional cream cheese..
    Thanks again 🌷

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Amy,
    I baked this cake for my 2y/o birthday last month and it was absolutely delicious! Thank you! I would like to make it this time as muffins, so we don’t feel obliged to finish it off quickly 😝. Would it work? Also, for the frosting, is there a unsalted cream cheese or similar that can be used? I added the maple syrup but could still feel the saltiness of the traditional cream cheese..
    Thanks again 🌷

    1. Hi- I’m so glad to hear this. And yes, you can do it as muffins. For standard size ones, I think the baking time will be about 24 minutes or so. I am not sure that I’ve seen an unsalted cream cheese, but you could use a very thick Greek yogurt instead like the kind from Siggis (or maybe try a different brand of cream cheese?). Enjoy!

  4. If I have two 9-inch square baking pans, could I still make the measurements in this recipe work? What would I change?

    1. I think it would work similarly, though I haven’t tested it so I can’t say for sure.

  5. 5 stars
    This was so yum for my baby’s first smash cake! Once we cut off the piece he ate all the adults and kids enjoyed the rest. Definitely make again!

  6. Hi there! I plan on making this for my son for his first birthday… i want to use 4 inch pans – would i halve the recipe? and baking time? Thanks so much 🙂

    1. Hi- yes, I think I would divide it in half. I would guess the baking time to be in the 12-16 minute range, so keep an eye on the center of the cake as that will be the past part to set. You could peek at it starting at 10 minutes. Let me know how it goes!

  7. 5 stars
    H! Just made this cake for my sons 18 month birthday (yes I celebrated his 1.5 years haha) and it was a huge hit! wanted to know if there’s an alternative to using eggs. My nephew is allergic and I want to make him one too but he can’t have eggs. Thanks in advance!

    1. I think the best option for this since it’s made with oats is probably a store bought egg replacer like the one from Bob’s Red Mill. Happy year and a half to your kiddo!

  8. 5 stars
    I made these for my son’s 2nd birthday party they were a hit with the kids and adults. He was happy for the treat and I was happy that they weren’t that unhealthy. Thanks!!

  9. Hi! Would I be able to freeze this cake? My sons birthday isn’t for 2 weeks but I’m trying to make as many things as possible before hand.

    1. Yes, I think that should work fine. I’d let it cool completely, then place each on a paper plate, wrap in plastic and store in a freezer bag with as much air removed as possible. Happy almost birthday!

  10. Can the cream cheese frosting be made the day before and then frost the cake the day of? I’d like to make as much the day before. Thanks!

    1. Yes, I would make it and put it into a plastic ziptop storage bag and remove as much air as possible before storing in the fridge. Then let it sit at room temp for 30-60 minutes before frosting so it softesns.

  11. 5 stars
    Tried this recipe for my child’s first cake. Turned out perfectly and my 1 year old easily ate it with his hands. Enjoyable for health-conscious adults as well.

  12. Hi I’m wanting to make this as a vegan cake, if I’m using flaxseed “eggs” would I need to make any adjustments to keep the cake moist do you think?

    1. I haven’t tested it that way so I can’t say for sure, but if you use flax eggs, I think you’d want to make sure it’s not too moist. I think I would increase the baking soda to 1/2 teaspoon to help the overall texture. Let me know if you try it!

      1. 5 stars
        Thanks Amy, the cakes turned out really well using the flax eggs and the extra baking soda. Parents and toddlers loved them

  13. This looks delicious, really want to make it for my son’s first birthday next week but I’ve ordered 3 4inch pans. Has anyone tried that as wanted to know about quantities used? Thanks

    1. I haven’t tested it in those pans, but you’ll have batter left over if you make the full recipe I expect. I think your baking time might be in the 14-18 minute range (that’s my best guess—you should be able to tell by looking at the edges of the cake for light golden brown and that the center is set). Happy almost birthday to your boy!

      1. I made this today and it was absolutely delicious, my little one couldn’t get enough of it. I managed to get 4 4inch cakes that were quite tall, so made two cakes with two layers each which worked perfectly well for us. Cooking time was about 17-18 mins in my oven. Thank you for the amazing recipe!

  14. I just used 1 cup of oats and omitted the coconut because i didn’t have any. Would that be okay? So far it looks okay, but maybe it’s a little too thin? What do you think?

    1. If you want to omit the coconut, you’d need to add oats in their place to make up the volume. I hope things turned out okay!

      1. 5 stars
        Second time making this cake, tried spreading across two cake tins but was too thin for my liking so moved it all into 1 @30mins. Make some adjustments: 6 bananas, added 1/4 more coconut and omitted the maple syrup (completely forgot, didn’t do it on purpose) and added choc chips. Was worried it wouldn’t be sweet enough but the bananas made it plenty sweet.
        Big fan of this cake, you better believe it’ll be made again soon!!

  15. 5 stars
    Amy, the cake was a success!! Cannot thank you enough! Not sure how to share a photo but just wanted to say that everyone enjoyed it and the diggers managed to stay nice and snug in the frosting! X

    1. Yay! I’m so happy to hear that! I would love to see a photo if you have time to email whenever yummytoddlerfood @ gmail.com. I hope it was a very happy day!

  16. Hi Amy, thanks for sharing! I will be making this tomorrow for my son’s 2nd birthday on Wednesday but wondered about the texture of the icing (as I normally skip all that and keep baked treats plain). Will it hold and keep shape at room temp or outdoors? I wanted to use small diggers to place on top so wondered if that would hold. Thanks and looking forward to trying this! X

    1. It’s fairly firm (like cream cheese) but I wouldn’t recommend that it sit outside in the heat for very long (it will be fine, but will get soft and I just don’t want it to get too warm). If it’s briefly outside or at room temperature, little diggers should be fine in the frosting. So fun! Happy bday to your boy!

      1. Hey, I also didn’t find the pan size in the recipe. Could you please share?
        I’m excited to start making this cake ?

  17. 5 stars
    Hi, Amy. I tried to bake this cake with 3 x 5″ pan. The cakes were too thin and it built up to be a mini cake. Can I double up the recipe so that it can be higher? Or do you have any recommendations? I bought the 5″ pan to make your oat vanilla cake. It was so delicious. So thought of using it to bake this cake as well.

    1. Hi! I would guess that 1.5 the recipe would be enough for three little pans, but if that math is too hard (it’s not my strong suit!), you could double it but still only fill the pans halfway. You might have a little batter leftover. Let me know how it goes!

  18. 5 stars
    This cake was ultra delish and a HUGE hit!! I made one layer cause i dont have 2 cake tins of the same size and baked at 30ish mins and it was super moist. Also didn’t bother icing cause it was made as a snack rather than an occasion.

    Keen to let some bananas to over ripen so i can make it and devour it again *drooool*

  19. I’ve only got baking powder not soda – how can i make this work? And only have one 9″tin, so will have to bake one after the other, but i just split the ingredients – or is it per layer? Sorry, bit of a newbie to baking! Thanks

    1. I’d do 2 tsp baking powder and yes, divide the batter in half and bake them one at a time. Let the pan cool a little between the layers so the second one doesn’t over bake. Let me know if you have any other questions!

    1. I am guessing the baking time would be in the 14-18 minute range. The edges should be lightly brown and a cake tester inserted into the center should come out cleanly. Let me know if you try it!

  20. 5 stars
    Great job! If I could give this cake more than 5 stars I would! I like that it’s super duper easy and includes nutritious ingredients. I’m definitely saving this for later.
    Many thanks for the utterly fab recipes! The info you share in this blog is remarkable. I’ll be coming around often. Keep up the good work!

  21. Thank you for sharing this recipe, sounds lovely. I’m inking of making a single layer of it to send into my daughter’s creche to make it easier for cutting and to get more smaller slices for the kids and make it easier for small hands to eat. What size tin would you recommend for this?

  22. Hello I’m so sorry I have 3 questions because I hardly bake! Firstly is it possible to omit the shredded coconut in the cake recipe ? Would it affect the taste or texture? Would you also have the measurements in metric like
    grams rather than cups? Lastly is it possible to cover the cake with fondant if I have iced the exterior of the cake with the cheese frosting?Many thanks in advance!!

    1. Hi! You can use additional rolled oats instead of the coconut and have similar results. I don’t have metric measurements readily available but you could try using an online converter. And while I haven’t added fondant. I think it would work if you refrigerated the frosted cake for a bit first to make sure it was all firm when you pressed the fondant over top. Good luck!

      1. W Griffiths made the cake and it was absolutely deeeeelicious. The fondant worked well as well. Took the cake home and it was even tastier the very next day!!!

  23. 5 stars
    I made this recipe for my son’s first birthday and he (and I) loved it! It was easy to make and tasted delicious! It looked lovely too.

  24. Do you think I could make this recipe plus 50% to make 3 tier cake? Wanting something a little taller for my sons first birthday cake

      1. At what temperature and for how long would I bake for a 4” 7” 9” tiered cake? And would 1.5x the recipe suffice? Thanks!

      2. If filling each pan about half full, 7″ is likely 2-4 minutes more than the recipe, 9″ is likely 2-4 minutes less the recipe, and I would guess the 4 inch is maybe closer to 18-20? I would set the timer for that little one at 16 minutes and check the middle for doneness with a cake tester and visually it should look cooked. And yes, I think 1.5 times the recipe would be plenty. Let me know how it goes!