Recipe: One-Bowl Banana Upside-Down Cake

updated May 1, 2019
One-Bowl Vanilla Cake: Upside-Down Banana Cake
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(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Banana bread is a great use of overripe bananas, but what if you want to turn bananas into an Instagram-worthy dessert or an everyday treat instead of breakfast fare? This brown sugar-glazed, cinnamon-scented banana upside-down cake is the most delicious way to bring bananas to brunch or an after-dinner dessert. Using our one-bowl vanilla cake recipe, we can turn everyday bananas into a sumptuous treat.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

An Everyday Snack Cake

One of the joys of banana bread is its ease and simplicity, and this cake is no different. Slice a few bananas and drown them with a sauce of butter and brown sugar and top them with the batter from our one-bowl vanilla cake. You won’t dirty any more dishes than you would making banana bread, and you’ll have a stunning cake perfect for afternoon teas or after-school snacking. For dessert, serve this cake warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

The Magic of a One-Bowl Vanilla Cake

We’re big proponents of learning a few recipes by heart. The list is pretty short because the criteria is tough: The recipe has to be adaptable, have a short list of ingredients, and include an uncomplicated method. Our one-bowl vanilla cake fits the bill nicely. In this series we’re showing you 10 ways to use it. From treats made from its batter — funfetti cupcakes, anyone? — to a pretty ice cream cake made with a baked cake round, this recipe is the poster child for a recipe you should know by heart.

One-Bowl Vanilla Cake: Upside-Down Banana Cake

Serves 16

Nutritional Info


  • Cooking spray

  • 3 to 4

    ripe bananas, peeled and halved lengthwise

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 3 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 3/4 cups

    granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon


  • 4

    large eggs

  • 3/4 cup

    canola oil or unsalted butter, melted and cooled

  • 1 cup

    whole milk or alternative milk

  • 1 tablespoon

    vanilla extract


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Generously coat a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Lay the banana halves cut-side down in the dish in a single layer; set aside.

  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and bring to a simmer, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Pour over the bananas in an even layer; set aside while you prepare the cake batter.

  3. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the eggs, oil or butter, milk, and vanilla and mix with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour the batter evenly over the bananas.

  4. Bake until the cake is lightly browned and springs back when tapped gingerly, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be covered in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.