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

394 Comments

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  1. This cake was amazing but someone tell me how it’s possible to use all the icing! I iced the whole cake and had about half the icing left still! I guess I’ll make another cake to use it up!

  2. I have never left comments, but….Loved this cake! Made it just as written and turned out wonderful! Gave a slice to my mother in law for mother’s day, it was a huge hit. Will make again soon. You always have great recipes, thank you!

  3. This recipes was absolutely delicious! My 10 year old daughter baked it with me standing by. I love that there were plenty of leftovers for the whole family to enjoy the next day.

  4. This cake is AHHHH-MAZING!! It’s super moist and the cream cheese frosting compliments this cake beautifully! I made it exactly as printed, and it was a BIG hit at my office potluck! Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. i’m sorry if this has already been asked, but i left the icing to get a bit stiffer in the fridge for a couple of hours but it’s still a little soft for piping (i have something special in mind) should I leave out the milk?

    thank you

    1. Hi Jp, Cream cheese frosting is going to be softer than a traditional buttercream. You can leave out the milk and/or add more powdered sugar and pipe simple designs, but for more intricate piping I recommend using Vanilla Buttercream or a Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

  6. Hi Sally! I’m planning to bake this cake for my husband’s birthday. Was wondering if I could divide the ingredients by 2/3 and just make two layers instead of 3 (only got 2 cake tins) Will that work?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Himaya, I recommend baking the cake with 3 layers as instructed- simply leave the batter for the 3rd layer at room temperature while the first 2 layers bake. You could also make cupcakes with the batter you’d use for the 3rd layer (instead of the 3rd layer). Hope this helps!

  7. This looks decadent. Would 1 cup of pecans and 1 cup of coconut work (vs. 2 cups of pecans)? Would you recommend toasting the coconut and pecans as a ‘topping’ on the icing?

    1. Also, could I add a bit of pineapple juice to the icing to amp up the flavor?

    2. Hi Jessica, you can use 1 cup of chopped pecans and 1 cup of sweetened or unsweetened shredded coconut. I wouldn’t toast the coconut then use it in the cake batter, but you can toast it and use it as a topping.

  8. This looks great! Can it be made in a sheet pan instead? Not sure how long to bake it for in that case though

    1. Thanks Jenna! See my recipe note for details about different size cake pans.

  9. I’ve made this before and LOVED it! My only thought is that I wish I tasted a bit more of the pineapple. Is it possible to add more pineapple? If so, should I leave out one of the bananas?

    1. Absolutely! You can replace some of the mashed banana with more crushed pineapple.

  10. Keryn Venter says:

    This was a total success. Looked great and tasted amazing. I did use my own frosting though so it wouldn’t be too sweet. I also did 2 layers as my pans are very big. Cooking time was the same.

  11. I made this cake for my brother’s birthday last weekend and it was a huge hit, everyone love it! We have a dinner party on this weekend and I will be making this cake again. Thank you for a great recipe!

  12. Am I reading this wrong, or is there no baking powder in this recipe? Or self raising flour? My cake came out really dense using just baking soda as in the recipe, moist but dense!

  13. Sammy Chowdhury says:

    I have made this recipe for my husband’s birthday two years in a row and it’s his absolute favorite. Everyone should have this cake before they die.

  14. Definitely an amazing cake! I have celiac, so I use gluten-free flour (walmart/great value) without any other modifications, and it is so delicious! My family NEVER tosses the brown bananas. Definitely do the three cake layers, as the frosting to cake ratios are perfect. I frost it, and keep in the fridge overnight to let everything set up, and it tastes even better the second day. My kids love eating this for breakfast, too!

  15. Great recipe, thanks!

    I made the recipe recently as written except three things,
    a – didn’t read the part about keeping some of the pineapple juice, so just drained it all before including it as chunks.
    b- reduced the granulated sugar by 1/2 cup, and didn’t miss it at all. Was plenty sweet
    c – made it in a 9×13 inch and somehow it fit completely.

    All in all lovely recipe, though I might try it again following the directions for pineapple, because mine tasted just mostly like banana cake. Delicious though, thanks!

    1. I made this recipe for my dad on Father’s Day. Hummingbird cake is his favorite, and he loved this one! Thank you!

  16. I recently made this cake for father’s day, and it was a big hit! My family said it was the best cake I’ve made! Five stars, all the way! Most delicious hummingbird cake I’ve had. 🙂

  17. This turned out so good!

  18. Could you make this cake with just the banana? My son isn’t a big fan of pineapple.

    1. Hi Tiffany, I recommend just making a Banana Cake! 🙂

  19. I’m planning on making this this weekend, but one of the people we’re hosting is allergic to nuts, if I leave them out will it mess with the texture? Should I replace them with something?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Sam, You can skip the nuts. No need to replace with anything.

  20. I made a 3 layered 6 inch cake and it turned out great! If I want to make cupcakes with the leftover batter in 2 days. Do I bake the cupcakes and refrigerate it or can I refrigerate the raw cake batter until I’m ready?
    Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Christina, It’s best to bake the batter right away. Once the batter is mixed the leaveners are activated and should be baked as soon as possible for the cake/cupcakes to rise.

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