This Gluten Free Banana Cake is luscious and rich, with a moist, tender crumb that makes your mouth water and your smile do a happy dance. Topped with a dairy-free vanilla frosting that adds the perfect amount of sweet, this gluten-free cake will quickly become an all-around favorite recipe.
Cake is definitely classified as a dessert, so keeping parallel with traditional cake recipes, this gluten-free cake is sweeter and richer than banana bread. Banana bread *normally* has a hint of sweet and focuses more on a grain-taste, since it’s a bread.
Gluten-Free Banana Cake
Recipe Ingredient Tips & Substitutions
Mashed Bananas- You can’t make the best gluten-free banana cake unless you have perfectly ripened bananas! Look for bananas that are turning brown, that is when they are at the height of their sweetness, and are super soft, so mashing them is easy peasy.
Dairy-Free “Buttermilk”- Like my gluten-free cornbread recipe, that also uses dairy-free “buttermilk”, the dairy-free buttermilk in this gluten-free cake recipe adds a velvety richness that elevates the taste and texture. Coconut milk is high in fat; which produces a moist, fluffy, and tender crumb.
To make dairy-free “buttermilk” I combine full fat coconut milk with apple cider vinegar (though you can sub distilled white vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice if needed). The apple cider vinegar works with the baking powder and baking soda to produce a perfectly leavened cake.
Vegan Butter or Palm Shortening- Vegan butter and palm shortening are interchangeable in this recipe (both in the cake, and in the frosting), so feel free to use whichever works best for your dietary needs. I find in frosting, that I prefer a combination of the two.
Gluten-Free Flours & Starches- This recipe has only been tested using the flours and starches listed. If you swap them out for a gluten-free all purpose blend (which I don’t recommend), I cannot guarantee your results.
Eggs- This cake recipe may do okay with an egg substitute of some kind, but I haven’t tested it egg-free. If I were to attempt it, I think I might substitute an extra banana, so I’d use 4 bananas total instead of 3. Again, I haven’t tested this – I’m just sharing my thoughts here on what I might try if I were to test it. If you do attempt to make this cake egg-free, please come back and leave a comment with your results!
Recipe Add-Ins and Variations
Nuts- While this gluten-free cake recipe doesn’t call for nuts, you absolutely can add some raw chopped pecans, walnuts, or peanuts to the cake batter.
Chocolate Chips- Who doesn’t love a little chocolate with their banana, right?! Though if you add chocolate chips or mini chocolate chips to this gluten-free cake batter, I would err on the conservative side and use less vs. more. Remember, this cake is already sweet, so adding chocolate chips to the batter will heighten that sweetness.
Dairy-Free Chocolate Frosting- While the dairy-free vanilla frosting listed below in the recipe card is super delish (and everyone loves it on this cake), you certainly can’t go wrong with swapping out the vanilla frosting for a vegan chocolate frosting. The following is our favorite chocolate frosting recipe. This makes more than you’ll need for a 9×13″ cake, but just the right amount for a layer cake:
1 lbs. organic powdered sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup palm shortening
¼ cup vegan butter (or more palm shortening)
4-6 tablespoons water (you might need more depending on the brand of powdered sugar you use)
- Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and use an electric mixer to beat until light and fluffy.
If peanut butter and bananas are your thing, you might try this peanut butter frosting from A Dash of Megnut.
Gluten-Free Baking Tips:
- Gently spoon the gluten-free flours/starches into the measuring cup and then level it off using the back of a butter knife.
- Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. I let my cold ingredients sit out on the counter for 20-30 minutes before I start baking.
- Don’t overmix your batter! When you combine the wet and dry ingredients, you want to stir until just blended. A few small lumps are okay.
- Metal baking pans vs. glass/ceramic ones will probably speed up your baking times, since metal retains heat differently than the glass/ceramic. So if you’re baking with a metal pan, just keep a closer eye on your cake, and check it a few minutes early for doneness.
I hope you enjoy this gf banana cake as much as we do!
Gluten-Free Banana Cake Recipe:
For the Cake:
- 1 ½ cups canned coconut milk (full fat)
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup tapioca starch
- 1 cup sorghum flour
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¾ cup vegan butter or palm shortening
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- ½ cup organic brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 1 ½ cups mashed)
For the Vanilla Frosting:
- ¼ cup vegan butter or palm shortening
- 2 ½ cups organic powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3-4 tablespoons canned coconut milk (full fat)
To Make the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F) and grease a 9x13” pan (or see recipe notes for other baking pan options).
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the canned coconut milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside to sit for at least 10 minutes (this creates a dairy-free “buttermilk”).
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the tapioca starch, sorghum flour, brown rice flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and sea salt. Set aside.
- Using a handheld mixer, or a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the vegan butter or palm shortening with the organic cane sugar and organic brown sugar for 2-3 minutes, or until creamed together. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.
- Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until well incorporated, and then stir in the mashed banana.
- With the mixer at low speed, alternate in three additions between mixing in the dry ingredients and the dairy-free “buttermilk.” Mix until just blended – do not overmix! A few small lumps are okay.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the middle of the cake springs back when you touch it, or when a toothpick, when poked into the center of the cake, comes out mostly clean (a few crumbs are okay).
- Cool completely before frosting.
To Make the Vanilla Frosting
- Using an electric mixer, combine the vegan butter or palm shortening, organic powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and 3 tablespoons of canned coconut milk. Mix on low for 30-60 seconds.
- If the frosting is too thick, add more coconut milk, teaspoon by teaspoon, until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Mix for 3-5 minutes, on medium-high, until the frosting is smooth, light, and fluffy.
For layer cakes:
Line the bottom of two 8 or 9" cake pans with parchment paper and generously grease. Evenly divide the cake batter between the 2 pans, and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick, when inserted into the center of the cake, comes out mostly clean (a few loose crumbs are okay).
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Wholesome Organic Cane Sugar
Bob's Red Mill Brown Rice Flour
Bob's Red Mill Sorghum Flour
Anthony's Organic Tapioca Flour Starch
Pure Vanilla Extract, Certified Organic
KitchenAid KSM155GBSR 5-Qt. Artisan Design Series with Glass Bowl - Sugar Pearl Silver
Wholesome Sweeteners, Inc., Organic Powdered Confectioners Sugar, 16 oz (454 g) - 2pcs
Don’t forget to snap a pic and tag me on Instagram @allergyfreeak and #allergyfreealaska with your gluten-free dairy-free cake pics!