Banana Split Cake

Sweet and creamy with fresh fruit flavors in between rich whipped cream and a crunchy vanilla wafer crust this Banana Split Cake recipe is wonderful!

Cherries on top of an easy banana split cake with rich cream cheese filling to give the vanilla ice cream flavor, then bananas and whipped cream with nuts on top

The layered cake is so easy to make! Start with vanilla wafers, then a sweet cream cheese mixture, fruity banana and crushed pineapple layer and top it off with whipped cream, maraschino cherries and nuts.

Banana Split Cake Recipe

Light and refreshing this Banana Split Cake is delicious in the summer, but makes a fun treat any day of the year! This old-fashioned recipe makes an impressive presentation with very little effort!

Since it is chilled before serving this fruity and creamy dessert is also known as Banana Split Icebox Cake. The term Icebox cake originated in the south to easily describe cakes that are stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

This dessert recipe is such a fun twist on a traditional banana split!  Using heavy whipping cream to make your own whipped cream simulates a vanilla ice cream layer.

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The vanilla wafers add a surprise crunch in the crust that is delicious. The fresh bananas and crushed pineapple give this dish a nice, sweet flavor.  The cream cheese and whipped cream complement the fruit and nuts to make a great banana split treat! 

Fork full of layers of whipped cream, bananas, cream cheese filling and vanilla wafer base laying side ways on a white plate next to a piece of cake

Our Strawberry Banana Split Cake is over the top with a few extra layers and a thicker cake.

Ingredients Needed

  • Vanilla Wafers – make a sweet and unique crust. Graham crackers make a popular substitute.
  • Butter – helps hold the cookie crumbs together and adds a rich and silky flavor
  • Cream Cheese – mixed with sugar creates a fun version of “vanilla ice cream” inspiration for the banana split dessert
  • Sugar – sweetens the cream cheese and whipped cream
  • Heavy Whipping Cream – also adds a richness and higher quality than Cool Whip if you have the time to whip it up. Cool Whip can work fine too if necessary.
  • Banana – the main flavor and namesake of the cake
  • Crushed Pineapple – compliments and deepens the fruity citrus flavors, the juices also help preserve the bananas a little longer
  • Pecans – add eye appeal
  • Maraschino Cherries – with a stem looks so pretty and adds a pop of color
Ingredients to make a banana split into a cake on a wooden countertop are vanilla wafers, sugar, maraschino cherries, crushed pineapple, cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, butter, pecan pieces and bananas

The Vanilla Wafer Crust Makes A Difference

While a graham cracker crust is more common we love the unique flavor from using vanilla wafers in the crust.

This is the first dessert I’ve made with vanilla wafers as the main ingredient in the crust.  The crust is super easy to make and we love the way it tastes! 

Sometimes we’ll make a recipe like this in stages.  Like make the crust, head to church, run errands or do some farm work while it cools. 

Come back home and set the cream cheese out to soften while doing something else.  The rest of the dessert comes together so quickly and easily which means it was ready in 15 minutes or less!

Close up view of layers of vanilla wafer crust, cream cheese filling, banana slices, crushed pineapple, whipping cream, nuts and cherries in a banana split cake

We love sharing fun desserts with friends or at potlucks.  Maraschino cherries and chopped nuts are so pretty on top of the cool whip that this icebox dessert will definitely catch your eye!

Another one of our favorite recipes with cookies is our Vanilla Wafer Cake.

Tips for Making Banana Split Cake

  • Plan ahead to have whipped topping made in a chilled bowl and cream cheese softened.
  • We prefer heavy whipping cream turned into homemade whipped cream over Cool Whip as it tastes more like vanilla ice cream in a banana split.
  • Crush vanilla wafers by putting 5-10 cookies in a gallon-sized bag and crush with a rolling pin.  Repeat until you have 2 1/2 cups.
  • Make the dish in stages if necessary.  The crust can be made and covered until the other layers are ready.
  • Use fresh, ripe bananas and avoid bananas that have already started browning.
  • I slice the bananas right onto the cream cheese layer to save time and it works well for me, but my mom prefers to dip the slices in pineapple juice to extend the freshness a bit longer.
  • Since bananas are highly perishable plan to eat or share this dish within a day or two.
  • We prefer using pineapple in natural juice over the pineapple in heavy syrup.
  • Drain cherries well and place on top just before serving to prevent turning the whipped cream red.
Slice of creamy and fruity old fashioned banana split cake with pieces of pecan and a cherry on top on a small white plate with a fork next to the cake

How to Make Banana Split Cake

  1. To make the crust crush vanilla wafers and mix with one stick of melted butter.
  2. Spread in bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan and bake at 400 degrees F for 5 minutes.  Let cool.
  3. To make the filling mix cream cheese and sugar and spread on top of crust.
  4. Add one layer of bananas and another layer of pineapple.
  5. Add another layer of bananas and another layer of pineapple.
  6. To make the topping spread whipped cream and sprinkle pecans and maraschino cherries on top.
Over head view of a 9x13 white dish of chilled banana split icebox cake with pecan pieces and maraschino cherries on top

Step By Step Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°F and butter a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Crush wafer cookies and stir together with a stick of melted butter.

Crushed up vanilla wafers in a white mixing bowl with a white silicone spatula stirring melted butter into the wafers

Spread in the bottom of the baking dish and bake for 5 minutes. Let the crust cool completely before adding cool layers.

Using an electric mixer beat softened cream cheese until smooth. Add in sugar and beat until mixed well.

Spread cream cheese layer over vanilla wafer crust.

Sweet cream cheese mixture poured down the middle of a vanilla wafer crust ready to be spread out

Then drain crushed pineapple.

Slice bananas and dip them in pineapple juice to preserve a bit longer or just add half of the slices in a layer on the cake.

Thin slices of banana arranged evenly over a cream cheese layer to make a banana split cake recipe

Then add half of the drained pineapple on the bananas.

Layer remaining bananas and pineapple.

Layers of crushed pineapple and slices of bananas in the middle of a white dish to make a banana split cake

Make homemade whipped cream from heavy cream using a chilled bowl and beater.

Spread whipped cream over top of the fruit.

Whipped cream layer on top of banana slices and pineapple fruit layer in a banana split inspired cake

Then top with nuts and cherries to suit your tastes and looks.

Over head view of freshly whipped cream and chopped nuts sprinkled on a banana split icebox cake

Ensure the cherries are drained well as the juices will run and color the cream red.

Chill before serving and store covered in the refrigerator.

Tips For Making Ahead

Bake crust and spread cream cheese layer. Whip cream and store in the refrigerator.

Wait to add fruit and final layers until a couple hours before serving for best results.

If making a day ahead is the only choice, slice bananas thicker. Save the pineapple juice while draining and dip the banana in the juice or let them soak for a few minutes to potentially prevent or slow down the browning process.

Other Easy Cake Recipes

Printable Banana Split Cake Recipe

Thick layer of whipped cream on bananas and cream cheese filling sandwiches between a vanilla wafer crust and chopped nuts and cherries on top

Banana Split Cake

Servings 16 pieces
Jennifer @ Plowing Through Life
Sweet and creamy with fresh fruit flavors in between rich whipped cream and a crunchy vanilla wafer crust this Banana Split Cake recipe is wonderful!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients
  

Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups vanilla wafers
  • 1 stick butter

Filling

  • 16 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 bananas sliced
  • 20 ounce can crushed pineapple drained

Topping

  • 12 ounces whipped cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans optional
  • 4 ounces maraschino cherries optional

Instructions
 

Crust

  • Crush vanilla wafers and mix with one stick of melted butter.  Spread in bottom of a 9 x 13 pan and bake at 400°F for 5 minutes.  Let cool.

Filling

  • Mix cream cheese and sugar and spread on top of crust.  
  • Add one layer of bananas and another layer of pineapple then add another layer of bananas and another layer of pineapple.

Topping

  • Beat whipping cream and sugar in a chilled metal mixing bowl until a stiff peak forms.
  • Top cake with whipped cream, pecan pieces and maraschino cherries.

Notes

  • We prefer heavy whipping cream turned into homemade whipped cream over Cool Whip as it tastes more like vanilla ice cream in a banana split.
  • Crush vanilla wafers by putting 5-10 cookies in a gallon-sized bag and crush with a rolling pin.  Repeat until you have 2 1/2 cups.
  • Make the dish in stages if necessary.  The crust can be made and covered until the other layers are ready.
  • Use fresh, ripe bananas and avoid bananas that have already started browning.

Nutrition

Calories: 433kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 4gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 13gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 206mgPotassium: 223mgFiber: 2gSugar: 38gVitamin A: 740IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 64mgIron: 0.3mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Plowing Through Life” is not a dietitian or nutrition professional. Any nutritional information shared is an estimate and can vary greatly depending on specific products are used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator of your choice.

Tried this recipe?Mention @PlowingThroughLife or tag #PlowingThroughLife!

Originally shared on October 1, 2018 with pictures updated on February 20, 2023.

One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    This is a great treat! My whole family loves this cake.

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