Hummingbird Cake

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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?!

Hummingbird Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (250g) Diamond of California chopped pecans1
  • 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 pineapple2
  • 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

Directions:

  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.

Make ahead tip: 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.

Recipe Notes:

  1. 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!
  2. Slightly drain the crushed pineapple. You want a little juice, but not all of it!

Want to make cupcakes or another size cake? 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. 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 9x13 pan, but a 12x17 sheet pan would be perfect. About 20-25 minutes, keep a close eye to not overbake.

Adapted from Southern Living

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Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Stand MixerGlass Mixing Bowls | Rainbow Whisk | 9-inch Cake PanIcing Spatula | Eat Dessert First Fork

In partnership with Diamond of California. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pays me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

The BEST hummingbird cake I've ever had! Exceptionally moist and flavorful with silky cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

195 Comments

All Comments

  1. Is it ok to use 3 bananas heat ahead of time in the oven. I only have 3 bananas as my hubby ate one. I should have hid them. I need to make the cake this morning and they are just ripe. 

  2. I made this for a Church coffee hour. It was my first attempt at a layer cake, so hooray for the delicious frosting to hold it all together!

    People went CRAZY for it, it was a huge hit! I got a few comments like, “Better than carrot cake!” and even “Better than my Grandmas!” which, no matter what kind of cook Grandma was, is a huge compliment!

    I love your recipes, thank you so much!

  3. I followed your advice and kept the same amount in two 7.5 inch pans and it turned out delicious. My family loved it and I decorated it with pecans and dried pineapple flowers.

  4. I don’t know what I did wrong but the middle of my cake did not cook. I left it in for 31 minutes. Off to the store to get more ingredients to try again :(.

  5. The flavour of the cake was lovely, but for some reason I had some trouble with the frosting (though I tripple-checked ingredient amounts, so I don’t think it was that). Tor some reason my frosting was super runny? And there’s too much? I’m trying to figure out what went wrong. it’s ok, just not perfect. It MIGHT be that UK cream cheese is softer than US, and so doesn’t make as thick a frosting? Just fyi, if you’re making the cake (also I don’t know how to fix this batch x_x).

  6. hi Sally!
    Just wondering, I did this cake, it was awesome!!
    Super moist!
    However I couldn’t taste any pineapple at all.
    It was just like eating a very moist banana cake.
    Any idea why? Or isit suppose to be like this?

      1. Hi! I’m from Singapore, so we have this canned pineapple which has has syrup and the pineapple inside. I used that! Am I suppose to use fresh pineapple for a stronger taste? Or should I reduce the banana and increase the pineapple?

  7. I accidentally used two stick of butter in the frosting instead of 3/4 cup and the frosting still came out fluffy and tasted great. Now I’m afraid to try it with the right amount of butter because my family said that was the best cream cheese frosting I’ve ever made.

    1. Hi Tin! You certainly could, but I’m unsure of the ratio and measurement of ingredients. I recommend making the batter as is and using any extra batter for a few cupcakes on the side. You can freeze them.

  8. Thank you Sally.

    You sent me the link for this recipe to “half it” for a mini six inch version.

    There’s something about a three layer cake that seems more festive, plus allows for more frosting.

    THANK YOU again!

1 2 3 4

Reviews

  1. This cake is delicious! It is very moist and was a huge hit with my family — many people said it reminded them of carrot cake. I needed to use 6 medium bananas to get 2 cups of mashed bananas. The frosting seemed a bit thin to me and I was worried it would slide down the sides, but it held up wonderfully in the fridge. I highly recommend trying this cake if you or your family likes carrot cake!

  2. I made this tonight for my husband’s birthday. It turned out great! Each layer was fluffy and moist, the frosting complements the cake so well. Also the added crunch from the pecans is a wonderful bonus. Thank you for a great recipe!

Questions

  1. This recipe call for 3, 9 inch pans, do you think that I could use a heart shaped pan and use all of the batter in it and then use a layer cutter to make the layers? and maybe just bake it longer?
    Any advice would be great, and if you think following the 3 pan rule will be the best for this texture that would be good to know as well.

    1. Hi Brit! Without testing it myself, I can’t say for sure how your heart shaped pan would work out. I recommend following the recipe using 3 9-inch pans.

  2. first, let me just say how amazing your recipes are! You are my go to for baking anything. Your frosting recipes are perfect! I get lots of compliments on both!

    Question,
    I wanna bake a small cake using two 8inch round pans… is there any way to adjust the recipe to make just the one cake?

    1. Hi Sasha! To guarantee best results, I suggest making the cake batter as written and using any extra to bake cupcakes. You can always freeze the cupcakes.

  3. Hi Sally!! Just found your site and enjoying your recipes. I made the pistachio cake (minus the icing) and simply love it. I at le an entire cake by myself……sadly in under 24 hours . However I’m now wanting to make your hummingbird cake for a potluck this but want to know if I can use pastry flour in place of all purpose flour.
    Thanks you!!

  4. I tried this for tne first time (used coconut oil) and while the taste is nice the cake turned out pretty dense. I hand mixed the ingredients…would using a hand mixer help maybe? It was moist and flavorsome just too heavy.

    Any ideas/suggestions?

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