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Banana Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon Buttercream

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Banana Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon Buttercream ~ snack time just got a whole lot more interesting with this unique combination of bananas, poppy seeds, and lemon ~ you can whip up this easy one bowl cake in no time.

Banana Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon Buttercream, sliced on parchment paper

Bake up this banana poppy seed cake when a good friend’s coming over for coffee, or there’s a last minute potluck at the office, or maybe you’ve been so good about eating super healthy for a couple of weeks now that you could use a treat.  Whatever the excuse, I think you’ll be glad you gave it a shot.  If you’re going to share it, be sure to have copies of the recipe ready to go, you’re gonna get asked.

A piece of Banana Poppy Seed Cake with fork on a wooden table

This is a classic dense and moist banana cake with the footprint of a blondie ~ kicked up a notch or two with lots of crunchy poppy seeds and a tangy lemon frosting.  Why should lemon and almond get all the fun when it comes to poppy seeds?

I don’t know why I haven’t thought to combine all these elements together before, they make for a cake that’s unusual but familiar at the same time.

Banana Poppy Seed Cake with lemon buttercream frosting

I’m generous with this particular frosting, which has a similar tangy quality to a cream cheese frosting, but it’s even easier to whip up.  You might know it from my Blueberry Zucchini Cake with Lemon Buttercream.  It’s butter-heavy, and because of that I think it tastes best chilled, so I keep my cake in the refrigerator until I’m ready to eat.

Banana Poppy Seed Cake batter

No need to haul out the heavy equipment for this banana snack cake ~ just a whisk and a bowl will do fine.

Banana Poppy Seed Cake with poppy seeds

It’s no secret that I love poppy seeds ~ I use them all the time, in everything from Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes to Chicken Salad with Poppy Seed Mayonnaise.  They just add that special touch to so many foods.  I buy them in bulk, which means I always have some on hand to add to my recipes.

Ingredient spotlight: BULK POPPY SEEDS


If your local store doesn’t carry them, you can find poppy seeds in bulk, online, HERE. To store extra poppy seeds, put them in an airtight container in the refrigerator (6 mos) or freeze them, (1 year).

Banana Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon Buttercream on a wooden table

Reader Rave ~

“Absolutely amazing. I now have to gift the rest of it so I won’t eat anymore. I did use zest in the frosting. It was perfect.”  ~ Leia

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3.67 from 57 votes

Banana Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon Buttercream

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Yield 9 -12 servings


  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 2-3 ripe bananas mashed (to make about 3/4 cup mashed)
  • 1/3 cup poppy seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

lemon buttercream

  • 8 Tbsp 1 stick, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon about 2 Tbsp
  • the tiniest drop of yellow food coloring optional


  • Set oven to 350F Lightly spray a 9x9 square baking pan. I like to line it with parchment paper so I can lift the cake out after baking for easy frosting and cutting.
  • Cream the butter, sugar, and sour cream together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, mashed banana, poppy seeds, and vanilla.
  • Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together and add to the wet ingredients. Mix until just blended.
  • Turn the batter out into the pan and smooth out evenly. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the top is just turning golden and the middle is set. A toothpick inserted in the center should be free of wet batter.
  • Let cool on a rack completely before frosting.
  • Make the frosting by beating the butter and sugar together with the lemon juice and food coloring, if using. Add a touch more juice if the frosting is too thick, or a little more sugar if too thin.
  • I like to store the cake in the refrigerator, and it will keep for up to a week.

Make it your own ~

  • Add the zest of the lemon to the frosting if you like.
  • Substitute chopped walnuts for the poppy seeds.
  • Substitute cream cheese for the butter in the frosting.


Don’t forget to pin this Banana Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon Buttercream

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    Leave a Reply

  • Reply
    May 11, 2020 at 12:33 pm

    5 stars
    Really yummy and didn’t even get it iced:)

    • Reply
      May 11, 2020 at 1:12 pm

      The icing is my favorite part!

  • Reply
    May 6, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    4 stars
    I used Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour, and it was tasty but probably a little denser and darker colored than yours looked in the pictures. I always have extra bananas and usually have poppy seeds as well, so I think I will try it again but with a different gluten free flour blend. One never knows. It just looked so divine that I had to try it.

  • Reply
    Penny O’Brien
    February 22, 2020 at 11:38 am

    This cake is sooooo delicious! Will now be one of my special desserts for lunch/dinner guests. I don’t like a lot of icing so I halved the icing amount, and it was just fine. And I did use a lemon for the juice, not from a bottle. Thank you so much.

  • Reply
    Mark Abel
    August 12, 2019 at 11:24 am

    I made this yesterday, it’s very good. The lemon frosting goes wonderful with it. Great for using those old bananas. Cake part seemed really heavy, but we both loved it.

    • Reply
      August 12, 2019 at 11:43 am

      Thanks Mark 🙂

  • Reply
    June 14, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Hello! I am planning on making this for father’s day, and I was wondering if you could include a metric version of the ingredients? Also, how important is the sour cream? I don’t have any in the house, so I would be grateful for any other substitutions.

    • Reply
      January 10, 2020 at 8:14 pm

      Typically I will substitute buttermilk, half and half, or even yogurt for sour cream if necessary.

  • Reply
    August 27, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    Hi Sue,
    Do you think this recipe would work in muffin form instead of a cake?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Reply
      August 27, 2018 at 6:06 pm

      I’m sure you could bake it that way Cecily, just be aware that it would be a dense type of muffin, not fluffy. The cake is sort of blondie-like in texture.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2018 at 5:25 am

    Hi, just wondering what kind of flour should be used for this; plain or self-raising flour?

    • Reply
      June 5, 2018 at 6:55 am

      I use plain all purpose flour, Verity.

  • Reply
    May 10, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    Lovely recipe thank you . I used ground almonds instead of flour and it was very moist and light.

    • Reply
      May 10, 2018 at 2:38 pm

      Thanks Eugene, that’s great to know about the gf option!

  • Reply
    April 1, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    I made this to have for Easter morning breakfast since I wanted something special but we didn’t have much time before rushing off to church. I knew the frosting and bananas would add sweetness, so I halved the sugar. I don’t typically buy sour cream, but always have whole milk yogurt on hand, so that’s what I subbed. Poppy seeds, 1/4c. I replied to someone else that, yes, using gluten-free flour works nicely. The only other change was to use some of the frosting the I already made for a carrot cake, which was a maple cream cheese frosting. We all loved it! Such a nice variation of a banana bread. Adding this to my favorites!

    • Reply
      April 2, 2018 at 7:03 am

      Thanks for the feedback, Karla, and I’m glad to know that the yogurt worked well. I LOVE the sound of that maple cream cheese frosting, I’m definitely going to steal that idea from you 😉

  • Reply
    March 15, 2018 at 4:03 am

    Absolutely amazing. I now have to gift the rest of it so I won’t eat anymore. I did use zest in the frosting. It was perfect.

  • Reply
    March 10, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    Can I use prepared poppy seeds in a tin or do you use dry ?
    Looks so good

    • Reply
      March 10, 2018 at 7:17 pm

      I used dry, Lou, but I wonder if you might be able to use the prepared seeds in place of the dry mixed with the cream. I don’t imagine it would taste quite as good, because the canned stuff has mostly added sugar.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    Do you know how to change the recipe to be gluten free? Sounds wonderful, but I don’t eat regular flour. Would love to make this for a family get together.

    • Reply
      March 5, 2018 at 5:21 pm

      I’m not an expert on gluten free baking Marianne, but I do know that a good gf baking mix like Bob’s Red Mill’s can often be substituted for the flour, on a one to one basis, in lots of recipes so that’s worth a try. I don’t think the texture of this dense cake would suffer too much without the gluten. And I always go for the easiest solution before I get too complicated with substitutions.

    • Reply
      April 1, 2018 at 5:54 pm

      I used my own gluten-free flour blend and it was great.

      • Reply
        December 22, 2019 at 7:32 pm

        would you mind sharing your blend? Thanks Krissy

  • Reply
    Lori Weisberg
    March 3, 2018 at 10:06 am

    Hi Sue, You had me at poppyseed and lemon! So I made this yesterday, very good, thanks for the great recipe! Enjoying a piece right now!!

    • Reply
      March 3, 2018 at 10:24 am

      Thanks so much for the quick feedback Lori 🙂

  • Reply
    Vicki Bensinger
    March 3, 2018 at 4:29 am

    Such a beautiful cake and definitely tempting for breakfast. I mean it does have bananas in it! Love the icing too.!

  • Reply
    March 3, 2018 at 3:01 am

    This might be the most perfect flavor combination I have ever seen. I’m in love!

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    March 1, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    This is such a dreamy snack cake and I *love* the buttercream!

  • Reply
    March 1, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    This flavor combination is seriously inspired!

  • Reply
    Pamela Ferrante
    March 1, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Does the dry ingredients need sifted? This cake looks so good I am dying for a piece. I am going to make this over the weekend. I can’t use the poppy seeds, because my husband does not like them. I will make one with the seeds for my mom & me she loves them. Thanks for listening. Hope you and your family have a wonderful weekend.

    • Reply
      March 1, 2018 at 9:58 am

      No Pam, you don’t need to sift them, but I do whisk them together to blend them.

  • Reply
    Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
    March 1, 2018 at 7:24 am

    Snack time definitely got more interesting Sue! I love the combo of flavors here! On my baking list!

  • Reply
    Melissa Griffiths
    February 28, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    Oooh I love poppyseed cake! The banana lemon combo sounds interesting!

  • Reply
    [email protected] is How I Cook
    February 28, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Sue this really is a perfect cake. I also love poppy seeds and bananas. Lemon I’m still working on! But for something out of the ordinary…well you’ve created it right here!

  • Reply
    February 28, 2018 at 8:34 am

    What a great combination of flavours! And I love that crunch you get from poppy seeds! Looks delicious, and that frosting on top- just heavenly!

  • Reply
    John / Kitchen Riffs
    February 28, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Poppy seeds and lemon? Say no more — love those two flavors together. The bananas are a bonus. 🙂

  • Reply
    February 28, 2018 at 8:02 am

    Wishing I had a piece of this cake right now with my coffee. YUM!

    • Reply
      February 28, 2018 at 8:12 am

      You caught me, I’ve got a cold slice straight from the fridge sitting next to my coffee cup!

  • Reply
    Lisa | Garlic + Zest
    February 28, 2018 at 8:00 am

    This cake looks so moist and rich I want to shove a (LARGE) piece into my mouth. And that frosting looks so creamy and luscious. I’m making this one, Sue.

  • Reply
    Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche
    February 28, 2018 at 7:45 am

    Omg that frosting looks so luscious! I love how thick you’ve spread it ;D

    • Reply
      February 28, 2018 at 7:54 am

      It’s all about the frosting to cake ratio 😉

  • Reply
    Claire | Sprinkles and Sprouts
    February 28, 2018 at 7:23 am

    Oh this looks so moist and delish!!! Especially that icing. I want to take bite!!!
    I also love the suggestion for swapping the poppy seeds for walnuts!! I think that would go down so well with my kids for afternoon tea!

    • Reply
      February 28, 2018 at 7:29 am

      This is a perfect tea cake, thanks Claire.

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    February 28, 2018 at 4:53 am

    Loving the lemon buttercream here! And the banana cake looks perfect. Craving 🙂

    • Reply
      February 28, 2018 at 6:59 am

      A little lemon buttercream never hurts 😉

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving Room for Dessert
    February 28, 2018 at 4:50 am

    This lovely cake sure would be good with my coffee this morning! What a terrific flavor combination and that buttercream looks dreamy! Sharing and pinning 🙂

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    February 28, 2018 at 3:57 am

    Hmmm, would it be legal to have this for breakfast? It looks so good I want it now! And certainly easy enough to make before anyone else is awake! Pinning and sharing!

    • Reply
      February 28, 2018 at 6:51 am

      Of course I was going to mention that I’ve already had it for breakfast…twice. But I thought that might be inappropriate 😉

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    February 28, 2018 at 3:26 am

    I do love adding poppy into the banana cake batter. Your version with lemon buttercream looks fabulous, Sue.