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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Pineapple Layer Cake
- Banana Cream Layer Cake
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Layer Cake
- Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake
- Raspberry Chocolate Layer Cake
- Loaded Peanut Butter Layer Cake
- Browned Butter Pecan Layer Cake
Watch How To Make ItPrint
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!
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 (4–5 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
To make the cake
- Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until well combined.
- Add the mashed bananas and mix until well combined.
- Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Do not over mix the batter.
- Fold in the pineapple and pecans. Do not over mix.
- Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 27-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- 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
- Add the cream cheese and butter to a large mixer bowl and beat until well combined and smooth.
- Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
- Add the vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
- 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
- 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.
- Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round.
- Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake.
- Add the second layer of cake and another cup of frosting.
- 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.
- 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.
- Use the remaining frosting to pipe shells around the outer edge of the cake. I used Ateco tip 847.
- Finish off the cake with some additional chopped pecans, if desired.
- 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.
- 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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