The BEST Hummingbird Cake
This delicious Hummingbird cake is a super moist cake filled with bananas, pineapple, pecans, and a sprinkle of cinnamon frosted in a homemade cream cheese frosting.
We describe hummingbird cake as a tropical carrot cake. No carrots are involved but it has the super moist texture and a rich flavor from the combination of cinnamon, pineapple, banana, and vanilla and a delicious cream cheese frosting that brings it all together.
It’s also similar to banana bread, only even more moist thanks to the pineapples.
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Ingredients You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need for the cake:
- All-purpose flour – You could try this with a gluten-free blend, but we have not tested it.
- Sugar – Regular granulated sugar is all you need.
- Salt – We used iodized table salt for this recipe.
- Baking Soda – No great substitute for this.
- Ground cinnamon – You could grind your own stick or use previously ground cinnamon.
- Eggs – Beat them together before using them.
- Vegetable Oil – You can use any light tasting oil.
- Vanilla extract – We prefer to use real vanilla extract.
- Crushed pineapple – Don’t drain the pineapple! That’s right we’re pouring the whole can into the batter. In a pinch, you could pulse chunked pineapple through a blender.
- Pecans – You can skip if you are allergic to nuts. You can also substitute with walnuts.
- Banana – Use a nice ripe banana so you get lots of extra flavor. This also helps make the cake a bit more moist.
For the cream cheese frosting, you’ll need:
- Cream cheese – This forms the base of the frosting.
- Butter – You can use either salted or unsalted.
- Powdered sugar – Don’t use granulated, it will create a gritty texture.
- Vanilla extract – Again, we prefer pure vanilla extra.
Step 1 – Prepare oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Step 3 – Make the batter. Combine dry ingredients in the large bowl of a mixer.
Next, add in the eggs and vegetable oil mixing on medium speed until moistened.
Once moistened, add the vanilla extract, crushed pineapple, 1 cup of chopped pecans, and mashed bananas and continue to mix until the batter fully comes together.
Note: This make a very wet batter. Don’t worry! It cooks up into a perfectly moist cake 🙂 .
Step 4 – Bake the cake. Spoon the batter into each cake pan. The batter should fill the pan approximately 1/2 way.
Place the cake pans in the oven and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
Cool the cakes for 10 minutes and then remove from the pans and place on a wire rack to let them cool to room temperature.
Step 5 – Frost. Place one layer of cake on your cake plate and frost the top. Place the next layer of cake on that and add another layer of frosting. Place the last layer of cake on top of that and use the remaining frosting to cover the entire cake.
Take the remaining pecans and press them into the sides of your cake, or on top of your cake. You can chop the pecans or use pecan halves. It’s all up to you!
Cream Cheese Frosting
When it has finished baking let it cool completely while you make the cream cheese frosting.
Cream cheese frosting is probably our favorite frosting! It has that little bit of tang in it from the cream cheese and it goes so well with the sweet pineapple and banana flavor of the cake.
Step 1 – Whip the cream cheese. Place Cream Cheese and butter in the bowl of a mixer and whip together until smooth.
Step 2 – Add sugar and vanilla. Add powdered sugar and whip until fully incorporated. Add vanilla extract and continue to whip until fully mixed in.
Tips for the Best Results
- Use ripe or slightly overripe bananas for the cake batter. This will give the cake a stronger banana flavor and add moisture.
- Pecans are a Southern nut so it is the classic choice for this cake BUT if you don’t like pecans you can substitute walnuts.
- Use the whisk attachment when making the cream cheese frosting. This whips the frosting and makes it a little lighter and creamier.
- Have fun with the outside of your cake. You can use pecan halves or chop the pecans whatever you like best!
Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina submitted the recipe to Southern Living in 1978. This recipe for Hummingbird Cake remains their most popular southern cake recipe today!
It is a super moist cake that stands out for using oil instead of butter, as well as a can of crushed pineapples (juice included!) and chopped bananas. It makes a very wet batter. But it bakes into a delicious, moist cake.
The pecans add texture to batter and provide garnish on the outside too.
The name is a mystery, but my grandma always told me that it is called Hummingbird Cake because hummingbirds eat sweet nectar. And this cake certainly is sweet enough to attract hummingbirds!
Hummingbird Cake bakes at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
How to Make Cupcakes or a Bundt Cake Version
Here are two easy variations of this recipe:
Hummingbird Cupcakes – All you need to do is place cupcake liners in muffin tin and then fill each liner ¾ of the way full. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. This recipe makes approximately 30 cupcakes.
Hummingbird Bundt Cake – First, grease the bundt pan with butter and then lightly flour it. Next, fill the bundt pan with batter no more than ¾ of the way full. Because this recipe is for a 3 layer cake, you will have extra batter. You can make cupcakes with the excess following the instructions above if you like. Bake the bundt pan for 55 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
What Does it Taste Like?
The pineapples and bananas used in the Hummingbird Cake give it a very strong flavor that can’t be missed. The cake smells amazing as it bakes in the oven and has a taste similar to banana bread but with the texture of a cake once it has baked.
How to Make it Ahead of Time
You can make this cake up to 1 month ahead of time and store in the freezer, but we recommend assembling and frosting it no more than 2 days before you’re going to serve it.
To store, bake layers and let cool completely. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap and then wrap tightly in a layer of aluminum foil. You don’t want any air getting to your cake while it’s in the freezer. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month.
When ready to use, make the frosting and then assemble the cake using the frozen layers. Finish frosting the cake and then store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before serving.
Looking for More Cake Recipes?
- Easy Chocolate Fudge Cake
- Sock It to Me Cake
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- Tres Leche Cake
- Coconut Sheet Cake
- Pistachio Cake
- Pumpkin Bundt Cake
- Yellow Butter Cake Recipe
- More Cake Recipes…
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 8 ounces Cream cheese
- 1 cup Butter
- 16 ounces Powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine dry ingredients in the bowl of your mixer.
- Add eggs and vegetable oil mixing on medium speed until moistened.
- Add vanilla extract, crushed pineapple, 1 cup of chopped pecans, and mashed bananas and continue to mix until the batter fully comes together.
- Spoon batter into 3 well greased and floured 9 inch cake pans. Dividing it evenly between the pans.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
- Cool cakes for 10 minutes then remove from the pans.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Place Cream Cheese and butter in the bowl of a mixer and whip together until smooth.
- Add powdered sugar and whip until fully incorporated.
- Add vanilla extract and continue to whip until fully mixed in.
- Place one layer of cake on your cake plate and frost the top. Place the next layer of cake on that and add another layer of frosting. Place the last layer of cake on top of that and use the remaining frosting to cover the entire cake.
- Take the remaining pecans and press them into the sides of your cake, or on top of your cake. You can chop the pecans or use pecan halves. It’s all up to you!