Hummingbird Cake

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

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

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

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

Hummingbird cake on

Two bowls. 1 medium, 1 large.

Wet ingredients in medium. Dry ingredients in large. ↑

Mix together.

Hummingbird cake on

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

Creamy and smooth cream cheese frosting recipe on

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

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

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?!

clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon print print icon squares squares icon

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


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


  • 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


  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.


  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


Comments are closed.

  1. The recipe looks wonderful! Can’t wait to make it, but first: is the pineapple packed in juice or syrup?

    1. Packed in juice. Let me know if you try this cake!

  2. I made this and followed to the letter. It was a huge freaking success! Sally, you’re a genius! Everyone in my office couldn’t stop raving about them. I made medium-sized cupcakes out of the batter and it rendered 17. My only niggle is my frosting came up a bit on the liquidy side. How do I “firm” it up?

    1. I’m so glad the cake was a success! For the frosting make sure your butter and cream cheese are at room temperature but not too warm and if it’s still to thin you can add more powdered sugar.

  3. Amanda Adams says:

    i add mandarin oranges, dates, and coconut to my hummingbird cake. i also use condensed chai tea in my cream cheese frosting rather than milk. everyone LOVES this cake so much.

  4. I give this 5 stars! I made this for Memorial Day BBQ. It was BIG hit. I love allspice so it was a give in to try this recipe. One couple who never eat dessert asked to take home 2 slices for their morning coffee! I only used 1 cup of pecans in the cake, but I did toast them, and sprinkled extra on the top. Don’t skip toasting them! OMG so good. I used dark brown sugar because it’s my favorite but cut back to 3/8 cup granulated sugar. Also used melted coconut oil because everything I bake turns out so tender. My frosting was a bit soft so didn’t piping didn’t hold very well. Stored in frig so not a problem but next time I will omit milk until I know the consistancy. After making countless cream cheese frostings I should have known better:( Don’t skimp on the cream cheese for wonderful flavor. The frosting makes very generous amount so I was generous between the layers. Love hummingbirds, love this cake! Will definitely make this cake again. Yummy!

  5. I am wondering if you could substitute rum for the pineapple juice…??? I am baking this cake for a gentleman that loves his rum and would love for it to have a hint of that flavor… your thoughts are anxiously anticipated, thank you!!! 🙂

    1. Hi Rhonda! You could use half crushed pineapple and half rum.

  6. Is the 2/3 cup canola oil correct?

  7. I am gluten free. Have you had any success with gluten free flours instead of wheat flour? I usually use “Cup-for cup” whch is usually a great substitute for wheat flours.

    1. Hi Kelly! I don’t have any experience baking with gluten free flour but other readers have reported back that they use it successfully in my recipes. Let me know if you try it!

  8. I would love to bake this cake but am allergic to all nuts! Could I leave them out?

    1. Definitely!

  9. catherine s. / Florida says:

    I made this cake for my birthday and put bourbon in the batter, I think it intensified the flavor and will definitely do this again. The cream cheese frosting is amazing! I put some pineapple in the frosting, which was great. Very rich, dense cake with the oil and lots of flavor. I did not have allspice, but very pleased with this cake, thanks for sharing!

    1. YUM! That sounds amazing, Catherine! Hope you had a great birthday 🙂

  10. I made this today and it was amazing. I did use apple sauce instead of oil. I will definitely make this again. When I look up a dessert recipe, you are my go to!

  11. Can you make this cake in two 8 inch pans instead of three 6 inch pans?

    1. Hi Samantha! Use 3 9-inch cake pans. There is simply too much batter for 2 8-inch pans, unless you use any extra for a few cupcakes on the side!

  12. Sheri Jackson says:

    Bah! I used baking powder instead of baking soda! That’s why my cake was the texture of fruit cake! Rookie mistake!

    1. ugh.. my cake wont come out dry. I just realized after reading Sheri’s response that I added baking powder too 🙁

  13. Leonie Powrie says:

    Thanks again, Sally! This is my first hummingbird cake.. fingers crossed 🙂

  14. Can I use cake flour?

    1. I recommend all-purpose for this cake!

  15. Wonderful recipe. I am not familiar with hummingbird cake but, everyone loved the cupcakes. Many said It wasn’t over spiced (like many they have had before). The cake and a nice texture and the toasted nuts really added to the depth of the flavor. I think that some toasted coconut would have been a good addition. Maybe next time.
    The tips were very useful and the instructions for cupcakes were very accurate. The recipe made 32 cupcakes. I baked them for 20 mins (10 mins/rotate/10 mins) worked wonders with the poke test.

  16. Hi, Sally
    If you’re using fresh pineapple, how many ounces of pineapple and juice should you use?

    1. Hi Helena, I would keep it the same 8 oz. Enjoy!

  17. Hi Sally! Is it possible to halve this recipe? I made it for a work party last year and it was a huge hit – my boyfriend requested it for his birthday, but I was hoping to scale it down because it’ll be too much for us 🙂 thanks so much!

    1. Yes, cutting it in half should be fine!

  18. can you omit the pineapple? Or will it affect the cake?

    1. The pineapple adds a lot of moisture and flavor to this cake! If you are looking for just a banana cake I recommend using this recipe:

    2. Hi Sally ,

      Can I omit the pecans ? You mentioned about adding coconut . Here in the UK you don’t get sweetened shredded coconut . Can I use dessicated coconut instead ?

      Many thanks .


      1. Hi Nadia, You can leave out the pecans if you wish. And desiccated coconut should be fine. Enjoy!

  19. Florence Taylor says:

    Hi,, I made this cake ,but only got 2.. it didn’t rise that much. Is there supposed to be Baking powder instead of baking soda.
    What did I do wrong!

    1. Hi Florence, If measured correctly this is enough batter for three 9-inch cake pans. If you used the same amount of batter in only two pans it’s possible that they were overfilled and thus too heavy to rise properly.

  20. Is the 12×17 pan recommendation for dividing and making a layer cake or as one large sheet cake?
    Not much of a baker, but I can follow a recipe. : )

    1. Hi Larry, a 12×17 pan would be for a one layer sheet cake. Enjoy!

  21. Do you have any suggestions for reducing the sugar in this recipe?

  22. I made this by request for a work event and it got rave reviews. Usually there’s a piece or two left over. But not this time. A very competitive person was not happy that it was said to be better than hers. I’d never made it before and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Ended up printing off this recipe for several people. ( Yay Sally! )
    Made exactly as per recipe except for walnuts instead of pecans because it’s what was on hand.
    I liked it a lot, sort of like an excellent cake version of banana bread.
    Having said that, it’ll never replace carrot cake as my go to autumn cake. The recipe was great, obviously, but Hummingbird Cake was just a bit of an anticlimax for me after all the buildup.
    I’d happily make it again if it was requested, though.

  23. What do you oil the cake pans with? I have canola oil, extra virgin olive oil it coconut oil?

    1. Hi Sherry, I use and prefer nonstick baking spray.

  24. Ohhh this cake! I followed the recipe, only I used less toasted pecans than specified because I don’t love nuts in cake. I believe that was mistake, because I loved them in this cake! Excellent recipe! I believe Hummingbird cake originated from the island of Jamaica and was tweeked in the south. Which makes me love the cake even more; I’m Jamaican. 😉

  25. Can I skip the bananas or substitute for something else?

    1. Hi Ligia! It’s the main flavor, so I don’t suggest it. How about a carrot cake or spice cake instead?

  26. I have three large bananas that will mash up to about a cup and a half but definitely won’t make it all the way to two cups. Can I get away with it on this recipe?

    1. Hi Shannon! That will be plenty, yes, but you can try supplementing with unsweetened applesauce.

  27. Hi Sally
    I am out of butter for the frosting. Can i substitute margarine instead?

    1. Hi Laura, you can try it, but butter is best for this frosting.

  28. I got three layers from this recipe, but they are so thin. Did I need to put baking powder in with all purpose flour? My layers were only about 3/4 inch each. I used 9 inch pans.

    1. Hi Shellie! These are thinner cake layers due to all the wet/moistening/heavy ingredients, but the cakes should still rise quite a bit. Make sure you’re following the recipe closely and that your baking soda is fresh.

  29. I made this cake exactly as suggested opting for the coconut oil. It is the most amazing cake I’ve ever had, hands down!! This cake is super moist and will awaken your taste buds!! Thank you for sharing. It’s also a beautiful cake.

  30. Question my daughter was making this and asked where does she add the brown sugar and white sugar ? It says to specifically to mix certain ingredients ( dry) and then to mix remaining ingredients ( wet) – so not sure where to add sugars . Still in process of making it . Thank you

    1. Step 3 on instructions clearly states : Whisk the REST of the ingredients… This inculdes the sugars. The resulting mixture = the “wet ingredients”.

      1. Thank you

1 3 4 5 6 7 9

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

Sally's signature

Recipes You’ll Love



Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe. Review Sally's Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions.

View More

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

View More

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

View More

My Cookbooks

Sally's 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