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Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake is a dense and moist southern cake flavored with bananas, pineapple, and cinnamon and covered in a rich cream cheese frosting topped with toasted pecans.

Hummingbird Cake slice on a plate.

What Is Hummingbird Cake?

The first Hummingbird Cake recipe was published in Southern Living magazine in 1978 after being submitted by a reader from Greensboro, North Carolina. It became the most requested recipe in the magazine’s history. It’s a classic southern cake that’s perfect for a special occasion like Easter, Mother’s Day, a Graduation or Thanksgiving.

Hummingbird Cake

Typically dense and moist and very rich and sweet, this cake is a great dessert for parties and get togethers. It will fill you up in a hurry and should be cut in small slices. It is known to induce tummy aches if eaten in too large a quantity.

What Flavor Does It Have?

Hummingbird Cake almost tastes like banana bread and carrot cake had a baby together. The banana flavor overshadows the pineapple, but the pineapple no doubt helps create a moist cake and the little pieces of pineapple help give Hummingbird Cake its unique texture.

Does Hummingbird Cake Have Coconut?

Occasionally, Hummingbird Cakes will have coconut in them, probably because coconut is such a natural fit with banana and pineapple. The mashed banana, crushed pineapple, and Vegetable oil keep the cake very moist and the pecans provide some crunch and texture contrast.

Cream Cheese Frosting

The technique for making the cream cheese frosting is from America’s Test Kitchen and I love it. Instead of starting the frosting by beating together softened butter and softened cream cheese, you beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together and then add 1-ounce pieces of CHILLED cream cheese. The end result is a thicker, firmer cream cheese frosting that holds its form better when you spread it between the cake layers, making the cake much easier to frost.

Plus it just seems to taste better right from the get go because the cold cream cheese chills the frosting some. I’ve never found room temperature cream cheese frosting to taste very good.

You would think that the cream cheese would have trouble blending in evenly with the rest of the ingredients, but it magically and instantly gets completely absorbed into the frosting. You will have a hard time not sticking your finger in for a taste or two.

Hummingbird Layer Cake on a cake stand.

Recipe Tips

  • Use a very ripe banana. A very ripe one will add more flavor and moisture to the cake.
  • You can use walnuts instead of pecans or leave the nuts out altogether.

How Long Does This Cake Last?

Since there is cream cheese in the frosting, it should be stored in the refrigerator. You can let it sit at room temperature for an hour or two before serving. It will keep in the refrigerator for 5 or 6 days. Be sure to wrap it weel in plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out. It also freezes really well.

Recommended Equipment

  • Electric Stand Mixer– I like to use a stand mixer for mixing together cake batters.
  • 3 9-inch cake pans– I really love these Wilton cake pans.
Hummingbird Cake

Next special occasion, bake up a Hummingbird Cake. Each bite will surely make you and your guests hum with delight 🙂

More Southern Cakes

More Hummingbird Recipes

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Hummingbird Cake slice on a plate.

Watch the short video below to see how to make Hummingbird Cake.

Hummingbird Cake

A classic southern cake filled with banana, pineapple, and pecans, and topped with a thick cream cheese icing.
PREP: 20 minutes
COOK: 25 minutes
TOTAL: 45 minutes


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups very ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 cups toasted chopped pecans, divided
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, cut into 1-ounce pieces and chilled


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 9-inch cake pans.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, 2 cups sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and allspice.
  • Add vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and eggs and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  • Stir in banana, 1 cup pecans, and pineapple just until evenly mixed.
  • Divide batter evenly between the 3 cake pans. Place in oven and bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
  • To make frosting, use and electric mixer to beat together butter and powdered sugar, adding powdered sugar gradually. Add vanilla extract and salt and mix until smooth.
  • With mixer on medium, add 1 piece of cream cheese at a time. Turn mixer off once all cream cheese has been incorporated.
  • Spread frosting between layers of cake and cover top and sides. Sprinkle remaining chopped pecans on top.


Store cake in refrigerator for 5 to 6 days. Let sit at room temperature for an hour or two before serving.


Calories: 667kcal
Author: Christin Mahrlig
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: banana, layer cake

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Originally published April 5, 2014.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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183 thoughts on “Hummingbird Cake”

  1. This cake was Perfect and exactly what I seeking! The frosting was creamy and the cake wasn’t too moist. Highly recommend!

    Questions: Has anyone tried adding coconut?

  2. Hi There,
    Can I use Avocado oil in place of Canola or Vegetable oil. This id for the Hummingbird cake.

  3. Has anyone made these into cupcakes? I was wanting to do that, so I could give to more than one person.

  4. Have made this multiple times and my niece asked for it as her birthday cake every year it really is amazing

  5. I made this yesterday and, oh my goodness, is it good! And it’s huge! I didn’t realize it was a three layer cake until I was getting ready to make it and saw I needed to grease 3 pans. I forged ahead not sure what I’d do with so much cake. My husband loved it so much I think it will all get eaten eventually. Toasting the pecans was definitely plus in flavor! Also, having cream cheese icing, it needs to be refrigerated and all that cake won’t fit in mine, so I froze half of it (with fingers crossed) that it’ll still taste amazing after defrosting. Great recipe!

  6. I found this cake by chance and gave it a try. I absolutely loved it; it’s moist, it’s rich and full of flavors (I added shredded coconut). I did use a much lower amount of sugar, and also I used fresh pineapple as it’s very easily available around here. I also reduced the butter and sugar in the frosting, but even the cake on its own is delicious.

  7. I made this as a gift for someone who said it was delicious. I think baking closer tob25 minutes is better. I over baked mine a bit but it still was delicious.

  8. I halved the recipe & put in a little extra bananas and pineapple then baked in a 9”. It was really good.

  9. Elisabeth Ostrowski

    I make this cake every year for a party I throw at my store and it’s a huge favorite with all my customers, this year I’m going to try it as a cupcake!

    1. Could you do this cake in two layers?
      Just cook a little longer?
      Does this cake freeze well before it’s

  10. Just made this recipe for Easter and loved it! I put in a bit more cinnamon and allspice than the recipe called for and it was perfect. I did 2/3 of the recipe and baked it in a 9×13. Thank you! I will definitely make it again.

  11. Another fun thing to do in this recipe is add a bit of the left over pineapple to the frosting!

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