Hummingbird Cake

Exceptionally moist and flavorful hummingbird cake with 3 delicious layers and silky cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I faced a major pickle yesterday.

I was working on the edits of Cookie Addiction’s manuscript, taking breaks here and there to edit photos from 2 recent recipe photoshoots. I peeked at my editorial calendar to get started on writing today’s recipe and realized I had both recipes written down in today’s slot. Where’s my brain right now? It must be hiding in the 181 pages of my manuscript.

Regardless, I turned to Instagram and asked you which recipe you’d like to see first. Layer cake or sprinkle-loaded cupcakes? It was a close tie, but the majority voted for cake. We’ll have to wait until Friday to experience those cupcakes!

Exceptionally moist and flavorful hummingbird cake with 3 delicious layers and silky cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

So first, let’s talk cake. A maaaaajor major delicious cake flavor that I’ve never really paid attention to until recently. You see, my dear friend had her bridal shower earlier this month. She’s from Savannah, GA and she chose hummingbird cake as their wedding cake flavor. Sure I’ve tasted it a few times in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever had traditional, stick-to-your-fork-moist hummingbird cake before. It’s her favorite and her sister even made it for the bridal shower that afternoon. I sliced off a sliver (literally the smallest sliver… what was I thinking?) and sat down to mingle with other guests as I ate my dessert.

I needed a moment of silence. In fact, I think someone asked me a question during those first few hummingbird cake moments and I blatantly ignored them. Excuse me, I’m with my cake here. Obviously 1 sliver turned into 1 sliver + 1 giant piece + weird moments of silence sitting with cake + zero guilt.

For years, I thought carrot cake was my favorite cake. Sadly, I’ve been mistaken. Tastebuds, you’re wrong. MOVE OVER CARROTS. Make room for banana + pineapple + deliciously spiced hummingbird cake. Of course we’re using cream cheese frosting and there’s toasted pecans too. Is there a better cake than hummingbird? Nope. The answer is a big fat straight-up no.

Exceptionally moist and flavorful hummingbird cake with 3 delicious layers and silky cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

We’re working with 2 main flavors today: banana and pineapple. Well, we also have lots of cinnamon and a dash of allspice to round things out, but the main event is all about those fruits. There’s no butter; just oil. We want a delectably moist cake– and we don’t want butter to overpower the banana and pineapple. And since we’re relying on 2 fruits for flavor, we have to make sure we’re using the correct forms of both.

  1. BANANAS – brown and spotty. The uglier your bananas, the better the flavor. Odd, but true.
  2. PINEAPPLE – crushed and canned. You may want to use fresh pineapple that you crush yourself and yes, that’s absolutely fine! But 1 8 ounce can of crushed pineapple in *most* of its juices is what I reached for in my testing. Convenient and oh my goodness… the flavor!!

I based this recipe off of Southern Living, the recipe that the bride’s sister made for the shower. (Yes, I asked her. Have I mentioned how weird I acted at that shower?) I baked the original cake first, but found there were a few things I wanted to change. First, I reduced the oil and added an extra banana in its place. I reduced the sugar because of the added banana sweetness and used brown sugar in addition to white. Left out the nutmeg and used allspice (and more of it) instead. Allspice’s flavor tastes like a mix of nutmeg + cinnamon + cloves, with a VERY slight peppery note. It’s phenomenal in hummingbird cake. I also increased the toasted pecans and used my own cream cheese frosting recipe.

Hummingbird cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Hummingbird cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Two bowls. 1 medium, 1 large.

Wet ingredients in medium. Dry ingredients in large. ↑

Mix together.

Hummingbird cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Up close and personal with those toasted pecans. ↓

Don’t skip the toasting part. You will *NEVER* regret toasting nuts for this cake.

Toasted pecans on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Creamy and smooth cream cheese frosting recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Frosting: cream cheese. A classic made for cakes like this. I increased my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe to ensure I had enough for the 3 layer cake. And by “enough” I mean thick layers. YES to thick cream cheese frosting layers!

The cake is even better after a few hours because the flavors have had a chance to settle, mingle, and marry. For that reason, it’s a wonderful cake to make ahead of time– even the day before. Honestly, I enjoyed the cold leftover slices more than anything.

Exceptionally moist and flavorful hummingbird cake with 3 delicious layers and silky cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Exceptionally moist and flavorful hummingbird cake with 3 delicious layers and silky cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

You’ll need a moment of silence too.

PS: wondering why it’s called hummingbird cake? I found this article discussing some theories. Anyone know the real answer?!

Print

Hummingbird Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 28 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 12-14
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Homemade hummingbird cake is exceptionally moist and flavorful with 3 delicious layers and silky cream cheese frosting!


Ingredients

  • 2 cups (250g) chopped pecans*
  • 3 cups (370g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups mashed banana (4 ripe bananas)
  • one 8 ounce can crushed pineapple*
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) vegetable or canola oil (or melted coconut oil)
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • two 8 ounce (450g) block cream cheeses, softened room temperature (16 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup (175g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 5 cups (600g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F (149°C). Spread pecans onto a lined baking pan. Toast for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven. Turn oven up to 350°F (177°C), then grease and lightly flour three 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk the rest of the cake ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until completely combined. Fold in 1 and 1/2 cups toasted pecans. (Save the rest for garnish.)
  4. Spread batter evenly between the 3 prepared cake pans. Bake for 26-29 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Rotate pans halfway through baking.
  5. Remove cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. Once completely cooled, remove cakes from pan and level the tops off so they are flat. I simply use a serrated knife. Discard the tops or eat. YUM!
  6. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, milk, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Taste. Add more salt if needed.
  7. Assemble and frost: Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and evenly cover the top with frosting. Finish with the third cake layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Garnish with leftover toasted pecans. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before slicing or else the cake may gently fall apart as you cut.
  8. Leftover cake is delicious covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Prepare cakes and frosting 1 day in advance. Keep cakes at room temperature, covered tightly. Refrigerate prepared frosting in an airtight container, then bring to room temperature when ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cakes may be frozen up to 2 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, if desired, before serving.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand MixerGlass Mixing Bowls | Rainbow Whisk | 9-inch Cake PanIcing Spatula | Eat Dessert First Fork
  3. Pecans: I’ve gotten several questions about leaving out the pecans due to allergy. You can leave them out without replacing with anything. Stirring in 1 cup of sweetened shredded coconut would be wonderful though!
  4. Pineapple: Slightly drain the crushed pineapple. You want a little juice, but not all of it!
  5. Cupcakes: This recipe will make at least 32-35 cupcakes. Fill liners 2/3 full and bake 20-22 minutes or until cooked through. You can halve the recipe for less cupcakes, but things get tricky with the eggs. I recommend using 1 egg plus this: crack a 2nd egg in a separate bowl, whisk it, and use about half.
  6. Non-Layer Cake: This recipe also fits into a bundt pan, though the bake time will be long– 55-65 minutes. Use a toothpick to test for doneness. Too much batter for a 9×13 pan, but a 12×17 sheet pan would be perfect. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, keep a close eye to not overbake.
  7. Adapted from Southern Living.
The BEST hummingbird cake I've ever had! Exceptionally moist and flavorful with silky cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

310 Comments

  1. Have you tried using Unsweetened coconut flakes in this recipe?
    I love it in Carrot cake.
    I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. I will add coconut. I’m sure it will be great!

  2. The cake came out perfectly! And I am so not a baker. This was an easy recipe and I would def make it again 🙂

  3. I have never tasted Hummingbird cake, but loved the outcome of this recipe.. I used fresh pineapple and the cake tasted great.. 🙂

  4. Im thinking the origin of the name is from the room full of people tasting is saying “mmmmm” and thereby sounding like a room full of buzzing hummingbirds. Anyone who has had one of those beauties fly by will know what I’m talking about. Any way you call it… its delicious!

      1. My Mother did this with walnuts. You can do it, but it really isn’t nearly as good (and I love all nuts). I just think the pecans taste so much better in this particular cake.

  5. love love love this recipe!
    so moist and delicious..
    I used this recipe as part of a 3 tiered engagement cake over the weekend and everyone loved it!
    thanks again for sharing such delicious and easy to use recipes.

    1. Hola Sally!
      I want to make this recipe, looks so good! but does it taste like pineapple? or do you use it for moisture?
      Thanks!

      1. You can barely taste the pineapple….its a cross between banana bread and a carrot cake…its SO GOOD!!!

  6. Hi! Can’t wait to make this!!
    If i’m trying to make a frosting for this without cream cheese, is there any other you think could work? Vanilla frosting maybe?
    Or else I could try using a dairy free cream cheese

      1. Thank you so much, Sally! Just wanted to let you know I did it with the Vanilla Buttercream and was a HUGE success! Thank you!!

  7. This looks so so good and all of your alterations to the recipe are very much in line with my own preferences. I LOVE allspice- I’m putting it in everything lately. I was looking for a hummingbird recipe to make for my birthday celebration and naturally I came to your site to see if you have a recipe because yours are so so good and reliable. I will probably try to find a bit lighter of a cream cheese frosting, but that’s just a personal preference- oooh I can’t wait.

  8. Hi Sally,

    A customer has requested a Tropicana cake for a wedding, said it’s pineapple nuts coconut with cream cheese frosting. I can’t find a recipe anywhere so I was wondering if I could use this hummingbird as a base and omit the bananas. What do you think? Should I add extra pineapple?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Hailey! Banana is the main flavor, so I don’t suggest it. How about my coconut cake? You can replace the sour cream with crushed pineapple or replace some of the coconut milk with crushed pineapple. You can also fold in 1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts to the batter.

    1. Hi Anita, without the pineapple you are left with a banana cake. If that is what you are looking for I suggest you follow my recipe for my Banana Cake and you can add in the toasted pecans if you wish.

    2. You can use 1 cup of apple sauce or crushed peaches. It changes up the flavor some But still tastes great. I got halfway into making a hummingbird cake a few years ago and realized I had no pineapple so used crushed canned peaches with some of the juice.

  9. I bake pretty often and I have always loved hummingbird cake. But this may have been the best recipe EVER!! This cake was moist without being overly oily, well balanced, not too sweet, had great structure and tasted AHHHHMAZING!! Don’t skip the allspice. It made a world of difference.

  10. I’ve been making this cake since 1992 when the recipe appeared in the March 5 edition by Pat Daily who includes the history of the cake and it’s delicious . I know it as Chop Suey Cake, also known as Hummingbird cake among other variations. A friend’s boyfriend told her he’d never leave her as long as she made the cake once a week! It’s wonderful and fool proof! My recipe calls for coconut. I don’t use the oil but coconut that is canned or now is packaged and is grated like we used to grate coconut for my Mami when she made candy. In a hurry one day I used the pineapple juice and a larger can than a called for and the cake came out just as rich and delicious as before. You can’t ruin it! You can substitute some things but the banana is the main flavor and never should be substituted. This version of the cake is probably lower in calories but, no less delicious! Thank you

  11. I forgot to rate the recipe. I also omitted the name of the publication: Chicago Tribune.

  12. This cake is to die for!!!! My kids that don’t like pineapple loved it. I made a banana cake from another website and it is nothing compared to this cake. I would give it a million if I could. Incredibly moist and the tang of the icing pairs perfectly. I made 2 (6 in) cakes, 1 (4 in) cake and 12 cupcakes from the recipe. I only had 1 cup of nuts and can’t wait to make it with 2 cups.

  13. I have made this cake for years. I use the recipe from the Blue Ribbon winner in the KY State Fair. Possibly 1978 (hence the years). I also chose it for my 70th birthday cake in February of this year. I think there was a small amount left to have a piece for breakfast!

  14. So looking forward to try this recipe. I have come across this cake only on all the million baking shows i watch. Its high time i bake one. Question- i saw no baking powder? Only baking soda? Some other recipes Use baking powder too. I would love to know the chemistry of why you chose no baking powder

    1. Hi Shweta! No need for it in this recipe. The baking soda (a base) does the trick since there are so many acidic ingredients. No need for extra leavening support from baking powder unless you wanted a fluffier result. (Which could end up tasting bitter with too much leavener.)

  15. Delicious! However, it just tastes like a banana cake to me. I subbed 1 cup walnuts and added 1 cup unsweetened coconut. I was anticipating a stronger pineapple flavor and hoped that with the addition of coconut it would be reminiscent of a piña colada. I’d like to try it again and change the ratio of banana to pineapple. The coconut does add some chewy texture and slight flavor too.

  16. This looks so good but too big for my small family. Do you think I could halve it and make it in an
    8 X 8 inch pan with icing on top? Thank you!

  17. I’ve been meaning to bake a Hummingbird cake in forever, plus I had a new bundt tin I wanted to use. Was feeling lazy about doing layers. So I decided this was the cake for me. Unfortunately the time specified in the notes for baking in a bundt tin is WAY too long… at least in my oven. Sadly, at 40 mins the cake was burnt. I did peek through the window at 30 mins but foolishly didn’t open the door to check closer. I’m always a bit paranoid about opening the door too early. I decided to give it another 10 mins. Given the 55 min cook time listed for a bundt tin, I thought I would be fine with that time frame. But now I’m really kicking myself for not taking it out at the 30 min mark!
    Such an expensive waste (both time and cost, cost of nuts alone is outrageous!), and I don’t have more ingredients to make again. Maybe I can cut the burnt bits off, cut it up, turn it into slice pieces. I don’t know… I am an experienced baker, bake at least twice a week, all sorts of cakes. My oven is totally fine (at least it was yesterday!). It’s rare that I have a baking disaster, (usually only when I’m experimenting with a recipe), so I’m just not used to dealing with this, lol! Anyway, I’m just putting this out there so that anyone using a bundt in should really be super super cautious about the baking time, and really do check it by 30 minutes. Really just super disappointed, could already taste it 🙁

    1. Sorry it’s taken a while to give you the follow up to this. After about 5 mins of it coming out of the oven, to stop it cooking further I took it out of the tin and put it on a board in the fridge. When it was cool I trimmed off the entire burnt crust (it was pretty black in places). Then iced it as normal. I tasted a piece before taking it to work, and it was totally fine! I think because I had removed it from the oven as soon as I smelt it was burning it didn’t have time to “smoke” itself and ruin the flavour. It seemed to be a little undercooked in places inside, but that didn’t matter. Such a relief that I didn’t have to chuck the whole thing out (my chooks did love the burnt crusty bits, lol!) My oven is totally fine, have baked mulitple times with no problems since, so I know that wasn’t the issue. The tin is dark metal, so that may have contributed? If I use that tin again, I will definitely check every cake way earlier than a recipe specifies. This story turned out well in the end. In fact someone at work said that it was the best hummingbird cake they’d ever had! I will make it again, except I think I will not be lazy next time and just make it as a layer cake, avoid the bundt tin option, lol!

  18. This is delicious! I made it as a sheet cake and accidentally set the oven to 300. I raised it to 350 and kept adding time until the center was set. I was so nervous it wouldn’t turn out edible but my entire family and I still loved it! I’ll definitely be making this again.

  19. I’ve been looking for a good hummingbird recipe, and this looks like it: thank you!
    Do you have an idea how many cupcakes this recipe would make?
    Also…if I add shredded coconut, should I make sure the coconut’s not sweetened and that I add extra liquid?

    1. Hi Laine, This cake should yield about 3 dozen cupcakes. You can add sweetened coconut flakes – simply substitute for some of the pecans. Enjoy!

  20. I tried this recipe and the cake did not rise. Followed it to the T. Baking soda was in, and eggs. I was pretty let down. All that effort for nothing. Not sure what the problem was.

  21. Hi Sally, is this a recipe that could be halved? Was hoping to make it for Easter but with the current situation of the world, I’m wanting to make one a little smaller 🙂

    1. Hi Grace! You can definitely halve this recipe. Unsure of the best baking pan size to use. For the 3 eggs halved, use 1 full egg then crack a 2nd egg, whisk it, and use half of that mixture (which should be about 1.5-2 Tablespoons of beaten egg). That gives you 1.5 eggs total.

1 4 5 6

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Recipes You’ll Love

Archives

Categories

Sally's Baking Challenge

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe.

View More

Sally's Cookie Palooza

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

Sally's Pie Week

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally

×