Hummingbird Cake

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This Hummingbird Cake is made up of three layers of tender, moist cake loaded with banana, pineapple, pecans, and warm spices. The layers are stacked, filled, and frosted with a smooth, rich cream cheese frosting. A delicious and classic recipe!

Easy Hummingbird Cake Recipe

This hummingbird cake is one of my favorite cakes. The combination of the rich, sweet flavor of over-ripe banana, the tropical essence of pineapple, and the nutty crunch of toasted pecans are wonderful. It’s also super moist but not too dense, making it a dream to bite into. I’m not a big fan of banana-flavored cakes that are as dense as banana bread and this one definitely isn’t. Tie it all together with a thick coat of velvety cream cheese frosting and you’ve got yourself the perfect dessert.

I had such fun adapting my carrot cake recipe into this classic Southern-style dessert. You’re going to love it just as much as we do. This is definitely a recipe you’ll come back to over and over.

Closeup of hummingbird cake on a cake stand.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

This hummingbird cake is truly one of a kind. Here are some of the reasons I think it’s so special.

  • Moist. The use of oil in addition to the butter in this recipe makes the cake delightfully moist while still maintaining the richness that butter brings to the table.
  • Flavor. I absolutely love anything with banana, so the banana flavored cake is a perfect. With the addition of toasted pecans, the sweetness of the pineapple and just the right spices, it’s a dream.
  • Texture. This cake strikes the perfect balance between light and dense. The nuts, pineapple, and banana give a lovely weight to this otherwise fluffy dessert making it a real treat to sink your teeth into.
  • The frosting. I literally can’t get enough of it. This hummingbird cake stars my favorite cream cheese frosting. It’s rich, smooth, and just the right amount of sweet.

What Is a Hummingbird Cake?

Hummingbird cake lands somewhere between banana bread and carrot cake (without the carrots). This classic cake originated in Jamaica. It’s a sweet cake loaded with flavors and textures from the addition of pineapple, toasted nuts, and banana. Eventually, Hummingbird cake migrated to the US and became quite popular in the South, where the addition of cream cheese frosting took this tropical dessert over the top.

Recipe Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy hummingbird cake. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card below for precise measurements.

Ingredients for hummingbird cake separated into bowls.

For the hummingbird cake

  • All-purpose flour – Be sure to measure with either a food scale or using the scoop and measure method to be sure not to over or under measure your flour. Otherwise, you can end up with a dense or dry cake.
  • Leavening – This cake uses both baking soda and baking powder for the ideal rise and texture.
  • Spices – Nutmeg and cinnamon are used in this cake for great flavor.
  • Unsalted butter – Be sure that the butter is at room-temperature otherwise it will not cream properly with the oil, sugars, and vanilla.
  • Vegetable oil – The oil brings wonderful moisture to this cake.
  • Sugar – This cake uses both brown sugar and granulated sugar. They sweeten the cake and add moisture. The brown sugar also adds additional flavor.
  • Eggs – This cake uses whole eggs, as well as an additional egg white for some added structure.
  • Mashed overripe bananas – Look for well-speckled bananas; somewhere between yellow and black. Yellow bananas won’t be sweet enough but overly ripe/rotten bananas will lend an unpleasant flavor and will be too mushy to hold up well in the cake.
  • Canned crushed pineapple – I used canned crushed pineapple, but you could crush fresh pineapple as well. Either way, be sure to drain any excess liquid from the pineapple before adding it to the cake batter.
  • Pecans – They are best toasted. Toast them yourself (just bake them in the oven at 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes) or buy a toasted product.

For the cream cheese frosting

  • Cream cheese – The cream cheese should be at room temperature. Otherwise, you will find yourself with a lumpy frosting.
  • Butter – Be sure that the butter is at room temperature. If it is too cold, it won’t incorporate smoothly with the cream cheese and you’ll find yourself with a lumpy frosting.
  • Powdered sugar – This adds sweetness, volume and structure to the frosting. You could reduce it, but keep in mind that your frosting will be reduced in amount and will end up softer and possibly less pipe-able.

How to Make a Hummingbird Cake

Ready to dive into this dreamy hummingbird cake recipe? Here’s a quick overview of how to make it. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card below for more thorough instructions.

To make the cake 

  • Prep. Preheat the oven to 350°F, line the bottom of three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper, and grease the sides.
  • Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  • Cream. Beat the butter, oil, sugars, and vanilla extract together until light in color and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs. Add the eggs and the egg whites, one at a time, mixing after each addition.
  • Put it all together. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter. Mix until well combined. Add the bananas. Mix to combine. Add the remaining dry ingredients. Mix to combine. Fold in the pineapple and pecans. Do not over mix.
  • Bake. Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake for 27-30 minutes.
  • Cool. Allow the cakes to cool for a couple of minutes in their pans before transferring to cooling racks.

Frosting and assembly

  • Make the frosting. Beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in half of the powdered sugar followed by the vanilla. Mix in the remaining powdered sugar.
  • Flatten the cakes. Remove the domes from the cake layers with a large serrated knife.
  • Layer. Place a cake layer on a serving plate and spread 1 cup of frosting over the top before stacking the next cake layer on top and frosting. Repeat with the third cake layer and frost the outside of the cake.
  • Decorate. Make a spiral pattern on top and sides of the cake (see the recipe card for more detailed instructions). Pipe the remaining frosting in shells around the outer edge of the cake. Garnish with chopped pecans if desired.
  • Chill. Pop the cake in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Tips for Success

Here come a few simple tips and tricks that will help you achieve truly phenomenal results. Pay close attention!

  • Room temperature ingredients. The butter in the cake batter, as well as the butter and cream cheese in the frosting, must be at room temperature. If the butter is too cold or too warm, it will not cream properly with the oil and sugars in the batter, giving you an overly dense cake. When it comes to the frosting, if the butter and cream cheese are too cold, they won’t incorporate well and will likely give you a lumpy frosting.
  • Don’t skimp on cream time. When creaming together the butter, oil, sugars, and vanilla, do so for several minutes. The mixture should become fluffy and significantly lighter in color. This process adds a lot of volume to the cake. Skimping on this process, or overdoing it, will give you an overly dense cake.
  • Don’t over-mix. When combining the wet and dry ingredients, be sure not to over-mix. This can cause the glutens in the flour to overdevelop, giving you a tough, dense finished product.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl. As you add ingredients to the batter and mix them in, scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently to ensure that all of the ingredients make it into the batter. Do this with the cream cheese frosting as well.
  • Cool completely. Allow the cakes to cool completely before attempting to fill, stack, and frost it. If the cakes are warm, the frosting will slide right off.
  • Toast the pecans. Toasting the nuts brings out their flavor and makes them 10 times better. Don’t skip that step.
  • Drain the pineapple. Whether you are using fresh or canned pineapple, it is crucial to drain the fruit. If you don’t, the excess moisture added to the batter will throw off your baking time and the texture of the cake.
Hummingbird cake with a slice taken out of it.

Common Questions

Here come some of the more frequently asked questions I get when the subject of hummingbird cake comes up. More questions? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.

Why is it called a hummingbird cake?

The jury is still out but some theories suggest that the cake’s name comes from its sweet and fruity flavors. Sweet like the nectar that hummingbirds flock to.

What does a hummingbird cake taste like?

Like the perfect mix between carrot cake and banana bread with a hint of the tropics. Nutty undertones from the pecans and a touch of warm spices make it simply irresistible.

How do you decorate a hummingbird cake?

Hummingbird cake is most commonly decorated with cream cheese frosting and toasted nuts (I used pecans). Shredded coconut and/or fresh fruit (usually pineapple and/or banana) are often added as well.

Hummingbird cake on a cake stand.

How to Store Leftovers

  • Refrigerator. Store the cake in an airtight container or wrap it in a double layer of plastic wrap. I like to use toothpicks to prop the plastic away from any decorations. You could also slice the cake and arrange the slices in a single layer in an airtight container. Store the cake in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer. Pop the cake in the freezer for a couple of hours to firm up before wrapping it in a double layer of plastic wrap. Alternatively, slice the cake and arrange the slices in a single layer in an airtight container. You can store the cake in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To serve. This cake is best enjoyed at room temperature, so let it sit at room temperature for a bit before serving. If frozen, thaw in the fridge and then set it out on the counter for a couple of hours before serving.

More Layer Cake Recipes

Looking for more cake inspiration? Here are a few of my other favorite layer cake recipes.

Watch How To Make It

Read Transcript

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A slice of hummingbird cake on a plate with a fork.
Recipe

Hummingbird Cake

  • Author: Lindsay Conchar
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 slices
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Hummingbird Cake is tender, moist and delicious! It’s full of banana, pineapple, pecans and spices! An easy cake covered in cream cheese frosting that you’ll just fall in love with!


Ingredients

For the hummingbird cake

  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour (measured properly)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (112g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (225g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (104g) granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 3/4 cups mashed overripe banana (45 bananas)
  • 1 cup drained, crushed pineapple (two 8 oz cans that have been drained well)
  • 1 cup (107g) chopped pecans, toasted

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 16 oz (452g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (172g) butter, room temperature
  • 10 cups (1150g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

To make the cake 

  1. Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the butter, oil, sugars and vanilla extract to and large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time, but do not over mix either.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until combined after each, then add the egg white. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until well combined.
  6. Add the mashed bananas and mix until well combined.
  7. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Do not over mix the batter.
  8. Fold in the pineapple and pecans. Do not over mix.
  9. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 27-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting

  1. Add the cream cheese and butter to a large mixer bowl and beat until well combined and smooth.
  2. Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
  4. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth. Add more or less powdered sugar, as desired for consistency purposes.

Assemble the cake

  1. To put the cake together, use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes so that they’re flat, if needed. These cakes don’t have a large dome, but I like to make sure they’re completely flat.
  2. Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round.
  3. Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake.
  4. Add the second layer of cake and another cup of frosting.
  5. Top the cake with the remaining layer and frost the outside of the cake. Refer to my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake, if needed.
  6. Use a 9 inch offset spatula to create the spiral pattern on top of the cake. Place the tip of spatula in the center of the cake and slowly turn the cake in circles, dragging the spatula through the frosting and moving outwards with each completed turn until you reach the outer edge of the cake. Use the same spatula to cream the pattern in the sides of the cake.
  7. Use the remaining frosting to pipe shells around the outer edge of the cake. I used Ateco tip 847.
  8. Finish off the cake with some additional chopped pecans, if desired.
  9. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve. Set cake out for about 2 hours before serving. Store cake in an air tight container. Cake is best if eaten within 3-4 days.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 932
  • Sugar: 111.2 g
  • Sodium: 260 mg
  • Fat: 42.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 135.5 g
  • Protein: 7.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 129.4 mg

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92 Comments
  1. Glenda

    Great recipe that turned out moist but still light and full of flavor!! Thank you. It’s going to be perfect for easter with a chocolate nest on top. NOTE: I like to bake my layers in a water bath so they’re even. IF you do this, bake the called for 25 min, remove from water bath and bake for an additional 10 – 12 min.

  2. Jackie Warren

    I am trying this recipe for my MIL’s 80th Birthday this weekend. I will be using 2 10-inch round cake pans. How much do I need to increase the recipe?






    1. Lindsay

      It depends on how tall you want it. If you’d like it as tall as mine, you’d probably want to double it.

    1. Lindsay

      I imagine you can make it in either size, I just have not done it to be able to say for sure if it changes anything. For a 9 x 13 cake, I often reduce the oven temperature to 325.

    1. Lindsay

      Gosh, that’s tough. I’m not sure of a substitute for egg yolks that would work as well. You could certainly try that substitution, I’m just not sure the texture of the cake will be the same. Applesauce is often used in place of eggs. You could try using a little bit of applesauce. You could even try adding a touch more of the mashed bananas.

  3. Nicky

    I have made many many of your recipes and all turn out great every time. but this Hummingbird cake is my top favorite. Made in 2 x 10″ silicone pans and turned out perfect. Loved the addition of spices, will next time maybe double spices.






    1. Lindsay

      I think it depends on what look you are going for. If you aren’t going to adjust the recipe, I would probably do just 2 layers. For a full 9 inch cake with 3 layers, I’d do 1 1/2 recipes worth.

  4. Allison Mitchell

    Lindsay, can this recipe be cut in half to make a smaller 6″ two layer cake, or maybe a single layer 9″ square cake?

  5. Marie

    Lyndsay, hello! I want to make this hummingbird cake for my daughters birthday, because of time, can I bake layers, cool, wrap, refrigerate, then frost couple days later? Thank you

  6. Vanessa Hamilton

    This cake was absolute perfection in every way. The balance of all the flavors was fantastic & is now my father in laws favorite! Unbelievably crumbly moist delicate delicious cake with tons of flavor. Easy full proof instructions as well!






  7. Raye

    I never heard of this cake until I was in the hospital. After eating a slice, I ordered it everyday I was there. I’ve tried a couple of other recipes and your recipe is the BEST .. Thank you for sharing…






  8. Colleen

    A few years ago my daughter requested Hummingbird cake for her birthday. I had never heard of it. Your recipes have always been amazing so I made yours and it is incredible. Everyone loves it and now it’s one of my top requests. Thank you!






  9. Melinda

    Hi!
    The recipe looks so delicious I will definitely try this!
    I wonder if can I use other nuts instead of pecans?

  10. Karen G.

    Love this recipe. Have tried it multiple times, but I’m wondering if anyone has tried this using gluten free flour (1:1) and sub the sugar for maple syrup? Trying to make a cake for someone on a special diet.






    1. Lindsay

      So glad you enjoyed the cake! I’m not certain about the gluten-free flour, but I think it would be fine. I’m not so sure about the maple syrup though.

  11. Jeannine

    It turned out amazing! I took a couple extra steps and used homemade rum-extract simple syrup on each cake layer, and ordered some pineapple filling off Amazon (Henry’s) and WOW. I’ve had hummingbird cake from when I worked at publix and this was simply BETTER. Note that the first round was stodgy and didn’t rise properly. Let this be a lesson to others to have your pans *READY* and get this into the oven asap; there’s more than one reason almost every step says do not overmix!!! 😅 Just don’t do it lol






  12. Kit

    I baked the cake today, though i reduced the sugar by 70pct, its a bit too sweet… the cake is moist n good. I will reduce sugar for my next bake






  13. Sue

    I’ve made other hummingbird cakes and have to say that this is the best one so far! I think the combos of white and brown sugar and vegetable oil and butter really made the cake taste delish – dense but moist and sweet but balanced. Only change I made was I baked in two 9″ pans (I didn’t have three 8″) so mine was a double decker instead of a triple but it was beautiful and a fantastic addition to Easter Brunch 2021!






  14. conny

    i made this one year ago, during the beginnings of the pandemic, and YUMMMMMMM, shared with co-workers (i’m a nurse) and household family, and everyone LOVED it

  15. Karen G

    I’ve tried this several times and it’s a favorite. I’m very curious to find out if the number of sugar for the frostings is a typo and it’s supposed to be only 1 instead of 10? I’ve done the frosting with 1 1/2 -2 cups of sugar? And I guess it can be based on preference but 10 cups just seems a whole lot. 

    1. Lindsay

      So glad you enjoyed it! As for the frosting, it’s not a typo. Cream cheese frosting can be very thin without enough powdered sugar. I’d be surprised if that small amount worked well, but if you were happy with it, then that’s great!

  16. Tara T

    We love this cake so much. For my daughters birthday she asked if I’d make it but as cupcakes. Can you recommend how you would adjust oven temp and cook time?

  17. Brenda Milcetic

    Hi Lindsay,
    Am wanting to make this awesome looking cake. What size of bananas do you recommend, small, medium or large?
    Thank you,
    Brenda

  18. ati

    hi, i’ve made some of your recipes and they’ve been delicious 👌thanks for your great recipes.
    for this cake, can i use frozen banana?

    1. Carys Haf

      Hi Lindsay,
      Is 1 portion honestly 900 calories? That seems like a lot..?
      But I will likely justify it to try it if those really are right 🙂

      1. Melissa @ Life, Love and Sugar

        Most of those calories are probably from the powdered sugar in the frosting. Feel free to reduce the amount of powdered sugar if you would like.

  19. Gloria

    Hi Lindsay, 

    What would the suggested weight per banana be? We have a variety of banana sizes in my country, I’m worried that if I use the larger ones, the cake may turn out too moist. 

    Thanks! 

    1. Lindsay

      Are you able to measure 1 3/4 cups of mashed banana? That’s going to be most accurate than me guessing the weight. I’m not sure what the weight is.

  20. Shelby

    Love this! Made it several times now & everyone raves about it!
    Have you tried making this as cupcakes? We are going to a cookout and I wanted some thing that was scrumptious but also something you can grab and go?






  21. Ally

    My husband asked for a hummingbird cake for his birthday, and I was excited to see that you posted a recipe for one. Needless to say, this cake was a home run in my house. It disappeared in 3 days! I love coming to your site for your recipes, they are truly the best! Thanks Lindsay!






  22. Brenda Milcetic

    Hi Lindsay, your cake sounds wonderful. Can I bake this in 2, 9″ rounds and then torte them?
    Also, can I use cake and pastry flour or should I stick with the all-purpose flour in this cake?

    Thank you and God bless,
    Brenda

    1. Lindsay

      Two 9 inch pans should be fine. Torting them is fine, it just might be a little tough to get a clean cut with the mix-ins in there.

      As for the cake flour, typically I say it’s fine because it’ll bake fine. I’m just not sure with this cake if it’ll hold up as well. Again, because of all the mix-ins. I’m just not sure.

  23. Conny

    This cake is scrumptious, was super fun to make, and is absolutely a new favorite. So so grateful for the recipe and the tips (like roasting the nuts), this will definitely be requested again and again. Thank you 💖






  24. Dawn

    Lindsay, I wanted to share with you that my whole family absolutely loved this cake, sadly it has disappeared.  I will definitely be making this cake again and again and I just wanted to thank you for sharing your recipe.  Yum!






  25. Dawn

    I’ve been wanting to make a hummingbird cake for awhile now.  Missing this cake from my favorite bakery in Chicago.  Your recipe popped up in my email recently & my anniversary is today, so this is the perfect occasion.  We are so looking forward to eating it tonight.  Although my cake isn’t as beautiful as your’s, I’m pleased with the complete look.  Now we must wait………ps, the aroma from these cakes out of the oven, best ever!

  26. Erin

    I have only had hummingbird cake once before, with raspberry jam spread between the layers. It was quite tasty, so maybe I should make this myself! I was wondering if you would consider creating a cookie dough inspired cake? Perhaps with an edible cookie dough between layers or something like that…

    1. Lindsay

      I hope you try it!

      And yes, I’ve definitely considered a cookie dough cake and just haven’t gotten around to it! I’ll definitely get on it! Thanks Erin!

  27. Mahboobeh

    Hi and thank you for sharing
    can i reduce total sugar to 1 cup? my parents can’t eat very sweet cakes because of diabetes and i think with bananas and pineapples it would be too sweet for them
    and second question: can i substitute brown sugar for white?

    1. Lindsay

      I haven’t tried it with less sugar, so it’s hard to say. Reducing the sugar also reduces the moisture and can affect the texture of the cake. But if you’re going to try it, you could just use the 1 cup of brown sugar.

  28. Debbie

    I forgot to ask you in the recipe you say 2 16oz. cans of crushed pineapple but in the description you said it took 2 8oz cans to make a cup. Can you tell me which one makes a cup? Thank you

    1. Lindsay

      I’ll look back at it to see if I need to make it more clear, but two 8 oz cans is 16 oz. Just make sure to drain it fully. If you leave in the juices, it’ll measure out to be more pineapple, but it’s really just the juice. I hope that helps!

  29. Debbie

    This cake looks and sounds delicious. I knew I loved your recipes and the way you always answered all my questions even when you were on maternity leave. We have something in common I was born and live in North Carolina now. I can’t wait to try this recipe I have heard of it but, never made it or tasted it yet. Thank you for all the great recipes.

      1. Sunitha

        Hi,
        Wonderful recipe…just a doubt… if using fresh pineapple should it be chopped finely or crushed ?…can u pls explain the method of using fresh pineapple in this recipe…!

  30. Ann Adam

    Lindsay, is there a way of making this without the bananas? My daughter and I do not care for the flavor of bananas.
    Ann

    1. Lindsay

      You’d need to replace it with something else. Probably milk. I just haven’t tested it to know if the cake will turn out well that way. Honestly, that kind of ends up being a spice cake with pineapple and pecans in it. You could try making my spice cake and add those things in.

    1. Lindsay

      There seems to be a few different stories about where it originated, so I’m not completely sure. I read in one place that it first showed up as a submission by someone in Greensboro, NC to a news paper. I’ve already read that it has Jamaican origins.

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29