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

283 Comments

  1. So… I have never had hummingbird cake. But your moments of silence for this cake has totally convinced me I need to try it. Plus, toasted nuts, cream cheese frosting can’t be passed up at all. Now, I just need to find time to make this!

  2. Hi Sally!
    This looks like the perfect Mother’s Day cake! Now if I can only wait until Friday for your sprinkle loaded cupcakes lol!

    1. Haha, I agree. I was on the sprinkled cupcakes side too. Oh well. You win some, you loose some and there’s always Friday to look forward too! 

      Love this cake too and the name. Hummingbird birds in real life are such darlings 🙂 Always trying to attract them to my yard and garden!!!!

  3. My oh my. Seeing this recipe right before going to bed was a big mistake. Now I want it to be tomorrow morning so that I can bake it right away!! I bet it tastes as delicious as it looks!! 

  4. Love this cake…and so easy. Thanks for the extra tips. Would like to say the Southern living recipe I saw made a brown butter frosting. It’s plentiful and worth the extra time.. try it….

  5. Dear Sally, if we do not have 3 cake tins/ oven not big enough, is it okay to bake the cake one at a time? Will the batter be affected if it is not baked immediately (while waiting for its turn to be popped into the oven)?
    Thank you!

    1. That’s what I wanted to ask, thanks, Siew! I guess it will be a problem to keep the batter waiting because of the baking soda.
      Alternatively: would it be possible to bake it as one cake and cut into layers after cooling?? Baking time in that case would be longer of course.

    2. I suggest picking up 2 more– it’s truly the easiest. your best bet otherwise would be to bake 1 and a time, keeping the remaining batter covered at room temperature.

  6. Yay yay yay! I just made a Hummingbird Cake for Easter (Southern Girl here!) and I used the Southern Living recipe. I kept thinking I can’t believe Sally doesn’t have a recipe for a Hummingbird Cake. I will definitely be using yours next time because…duh…you have the best recipes in the world!!

  7. One thing I wanted to do this new year was start baking more cakes, and sadly so far I’ve baked zero, lol.  I have never had hummingbird cake but it sounds perfect for Spring/Summer!

  8. I’m doing a Cake of The Month series on my blog for 2017, and you beat me to the hummingbird punch! I’ve never actually tried one, but I wanted to take a stab at it! You may have inspired me to bump it up on MY editorial calendar!! 

  9. I’ve never had or even heard of hummingbird cake before, but when I first saw a glimpse of this photo of the cake I just set there in reverent silence. Seems that this cake totalle warrants awe and amazement! 😉

  10. Whenever I make my carrot cake (already loaded with coconut, pineapple, and walnuts) I sub out some oil/sugar for mashed banana. It’s a magical and delicious way to make it just a *tad* healthier! I’m excited to try a puritan version of a hummingbird cake, though!

  11. I knew that was Hummingbird Cake when I saw your story on Insta! I looovvee Hummingbird Cake…even more so straight out of the refrigerator on the 2nd day!

  12. Yay! Love hummingbird cake! Thanks for posting this – I had a recipe but it was made in an oddly sized pan, soI had a hard time converting the proportions to a round or square pan.

  13. Looks amazing! Any substitutions for the pecans? Or can they be left out entirely? All the other flavors are right up my alley but I have a nut allergy.

    1. My husband is allergic to the “brain nuts” (pecans, walnuts, etc.) so I often struggle to find appropriate substitutes. Although they are not a match in flavor, I’m thinking pistachios would be delicious in this cake!

      Sally – this looks AMAZING. Somehow I’ve never boarded the hummingbird-train, even though I am born and bred in GA. Making these as cupcakes ASAP!

  14. Better than carrot cake, Sally? I don’t know about that, sounds like blasphemy 😉 I looove carrot cake and I looove banana cake, and while I’m not the biggest fan of pineapple, I love the uniqueness it adds to Hummingbird cake. Such a Spring flavoured cake! Can’t wait until its warm enough around here all the desserts I make match the weather!

  15. Hi Sally- I really really really do not like cream cheese frosting- do you think buttercream would work or be to sweet?

    1. Your favorite buttercream would be wonderful! Or a whipped cream frosting would be equally delicious.
      If you’re looking for a vanilla buttercream to use, I’d go with this one to fit this size cake: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2015/05/27/funfetti-layer-cake/

  16. Good morning, Sally. I was wondering if you can leave out the nuts as my niece is allergic to nuts and would like to make it for dessert for Sunday dinner. If I leave out the nuts do you have to replace or add something else than nuts. Looks delicious and heard of Hummingbird cake but never tried it because of the nuts. Thank you and have a great day.

  17. Hummingbird cake is one of my favorites — right up there with carrot cake — and of course the obligatory cream cheese frosting. I seriously could eat that all day!

  18. I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS CAKE!!! Now to pick up bananas and stare at them until I infuse them with yummy brown spots! 

    Is Italian Cream cake next??

  19. Sounds incredible! But I am allergic to bananas Can you think of an alternative that wouldn’t affect the texture? I’m thinking applesauce might be too liquidy? 

  20. I used to make the Southern Living Hummingbird Cake for my precious daddy. He loved it! Sadly, he passed away a few years ago and I haven’t made it since. But, his birthday is coming up and I think I will try your version in his honor. Thank you for sharing what looks like a wonderfully updated recipe.

  21. Hey sally, I absolutely love your blog and your cookbooks and I’m always trying new stuff from them, but lately I’ve noticed that everything that I make is verry overpowered with butter flavor (it tastes like butter and nothing else) I use the exact amount of butter you use but I use pure butter I dont even buy it packaged it’s really pure soo I wonder if you have a solution …thankyou

  22. I would absolutely love to make this, but I am allergic to cinnamon. (bummer, love the stuff). Do you think it would still taste okay without it?

  23. I am so happy to see this recipe on your site! It is a definite favourite in our house and I have no doubt it will be in many more now that you have shared it. Thanks!!!

  24. I’ve never made (or had) hummingbird cake but have sure admired it from a far. I know I won’t go wrong if I use your recipe. I’m drooling!!

  25. Yesss, to banana and pineapple! It’s a long lost flavour combination that doesn’t get nearly enough credit! We make a version of hummingbird cupcakes at my house, but we leave out the pecans and frosting and call them muffins 🙂

  26. This cake sounds and looks delicious! I have a tree nut allergy, so I’m wondering if I can just leave out the pecans? Or is a substitute necessary? 

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