Hummingbird Cake

04.13.2019

The best Hummingbird Cake! It’s a tender, flavorful cake brimming with fresh pineapple, bananas, pecans, and spices and finished with luscious cream cheese frosting and coconut! The perfect cake for Easter or any other special occasion.

Single slice of homemade hummingbird cake on a white dessert plate.

Homemade Hummingbird Cake

I think of this cake as banana cake meets the tropics, in that it is loaded with bananas, laced with fresh pineapple and covered in sweet, toasted coconut.

It will remind you a lot of banana bread, but with a bonus of decadent cream cheese frosting of course. There are so many delicious flavors and perfect textures in this cake.

The cake has a nice tender thanks to the sugar and bananas and it has a nice moist crumb thanks to the vegetable oil, it’s dotted with juicy bits of pineapple and crunchy toasted pecans, and it’s finished with a creamy, lightly tangy frosting and finished with crisp bits of toasted coconut (or chewy coconut if you like it un-toasted).

It’s an old fashioned style cake that will likely remind you of home. Made from scratch and sure to please!

Photography credit: Jenn Davis from Two Cups Flour.

Hummingbird cake shown with a quarter of the cake removed, cake is sitting on a wooden platter. Slices of cake are shown of the the right side.

What Ingredients go into Hummingbird Cake?

  • Fresh pineapple – I love this cake with fresh Dole pineapple (and you can just eat the leftover) but canned, drained pineapple will work too if you don’t have access to good fresh.
  • Overripe bananas – don’t use yellow peel bananas but don’t use black rotten bananas either, generously speckled bananas will taste best.
  • All-purpose flour – I use the scoop and level method when measuring out the flour, for most consistent results use a kitchen scale to measure ingredients like flour.
  • Baking soda – added so the cake will rise
  • Eggs – these binds the ingredients in the cake and helps the cake rise.
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg – these spices make this cake sing!
  • Salt – don’t forget the salt! Have you ever accidentally left this out? The cake will taste flat.
  • Granulated sugar, brown sugar and powdered sugar – that’s a lot of sugars, but we’re making cake!
  • Vegetable oil – canola oil will work just the same. Oil offers a moister cake than butter would.
  • Vanilla extract – added to both the cake and frosting for that irresistible background flavor.
  • Butter – use unsalted so the frosting isn’t overly salty.
  • Pecans – these are toasted to add even more flavor. Walnuts would work great too.
  • Cream cheese – stick with Philadelphia brand for consistent results.
  • Shredded coconut – use medium (standard) shredded coconut. Sweetened or unsweetened will work.

Showing how to mix cake batter ingredients in a ceramic mixing bowl using a wooden spoon to fold in pecans.

How to Make Hummingbird Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350, grease and line and flour cake pans.
  • Whisk together pineapple with 1/4 cup flour.
  • Whisk remaining flour, baking soda, spices and salt.
  • Whip white and brown sugar with eggs until pale and fluffy, mix in oil and vanilla.
  • Fold in half of the flour mixture, then mashed banana, then remaining flour mixture. Finish by folding in pineapple and pecans.
  • Pour into cake pans, bake until set, about 35 minutes.
  • Let cool in pans about 10 minutes, then invert and cool on wire rack.
  • Prepare frosting and spread over cooled cake. Spread coconut along outside of cake, decorate top with pecans.

Showing how to make hummingbird cake. Batter poured into two cake pans.

Tips for Hummingbird Cake

  • Use fresh pineapple for best flavor. It has a lot more flavor than the canned.
  • Use a scale if possible to measure ingredients for consistent results.
  • Line the cake pans. I don’t recommend just spraying, we’ve all had at least one experience with a cake or dessert sticking but parchment paper helps prevent that.
  • Don’t over-mix the batter. This is a somewhat dense cake with all the fruits, so if you were to over-fold the batter it may end up too heavy. Just mix until the streaks are gone.
  • Careful not to over-bake. If you bake longer than needed the cake will start to get dry. Bake just until set in the center. The toothpick test works great.

Tips for Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting can be trick but here are the things I’ve found that help:

  • Start with ingredients that are nearly room temperature. I’ll often even cheat and use the microwave but the point is that the butter should still be cool and especially the cream cheese.
  • Chill the frosting. Once the cream cheese frosting is all mixed together pop the mixing bowl in the freezer for a 3 – 5 minutes, return to stand and mix again. Repeat a few times as needed until you’ve reached the consistency you want it.

Close up image of whole hummingbird cake showing cream cheese frosting, coconut decorated edges and a ring of pecans on top.

Can I Bake it in a Bundt Pan?

Yes. It will probably take about 60 – 65 minutes at 350 for a Hummingbird bundt cake. Then you’ll only need about 2/3 the amount of frosting.

Can I Make the batter into Cupcakes?

Yes. Divide batter among paper lined muffin cups filling each 3/4 full, bake at 350 about 18 – 22 minutes.

How Should I Store Hummingbird Cake?

After you’ve frosted the layers keep store the cake in the fridge so the frosting won’t melt away. Let rest at room temperature about 30 minutes before serving.

Can I Freeze Hummingbird Cake?

  • The unfrosted cake layers should freeze well for up to 2 months, wrap in foil and store in an airtight container.
  • The cream cheese based frosting won’t freeze well so just add frosting after thawing at room temperature.

Slice of Hummingbird Cake on a white dessert plate with a fork. Next to they plate there is a dark grey napkin and glass of milk in the background.

Can I Substitute Applesauce for Oil?

I haven’t tested in this recipe but in most baking recipes I’m able to get away with substitute half of the oil with unsweetened applesauce successfully.

How Can I Ripen Bananas Faster for Hummingbird Cake?

To ripen bananas faster store them in a paper bag in a warm place. Some say adding an apple to the bag will speed the process along even faster. I don’t recommend baking the unripe bananas to speed ripening as some suggest.

More Cake Recipes You’ll Love:

Recipe originally shared April 2014, photos have been updated.

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Hummingbird Cake

5 from 2 votes

The best hummingbird cake! It's a deliciously tender and moist cake filled with pineapple, bananas, pecans and spices and it's finished with a rich cream cheese frosting and plenty of coconut.

Servings: 16
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (198g) finely chopped fresh pineapple*
  • 2 1/2 cups (354g) all-purpose flour, divided (scoop and level to measure)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light-brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (235ml) vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (366g) mashed overripe bananas
  • 1 cup (100g) pecans, toasted and finely chopped, plus more whole or chopped pecans for decorating if desired

Frosting and topping

  • 12 oz. cream cheese, nearly at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, nearly at room temperature
  • 4 cups (480g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups (95g) sweetened shredded coconut, toasted or untoasted

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans (at least 2-inch tall) and line bottoms with a round of parchment paper. Butter parchment paper and lightly dust pans with flour, shake out excess.

  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together finely chopped pineapple with 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, set aside. 

  3. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together remaining 2 1/4 cups flour, the baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

  4. In a separate large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer set on medium-high speed, whip together granulated sugar, brown sugar and eggs until pale and fluffy, about 3 - 4 minutes. 
  5. Slowly blend in vegetable oil, then mix in vanilla extract. Add half of the flour mixture and using a rubber spatula, fold just until combined. Add mashed bananas and fold to combine, then add remaining flour mixture and fold until combined. Fold in pineapple mixture and chopped pecans.

  6. Divide batter evenly among prepared cake pans. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 34 - 40 minutes. 

  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool in cake pans 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge to loosen and invert onto wire racks to cool completely. 
  8. Frost with cream cheese frosting and gently press coconut onto sides. If desired decorate top with a ring of whole or chopped pecans near outside edge.

  9. For the cream cheese frosting: In the mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. 

  10. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and blend again until shade becomes whiter and frosting is fluffy. To firm up the frosting a bit freeze in 3 minute increments mixing between increments until it's reached a slightly stiffer consistency. 

Recipe Notes

*Pineapple should be chopped into tiny bits about 1/6-inch.

Recipe inspired by Food Network

Nutrition Facts
Hummingbird Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 658 Calories from Fat 342
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 38g 58%
Saturated Fat 24g 120%
Cholesterol 76mg 25%
Sodium 252mg 11%
Potassium 220mg 6%
Total Carbohydrates 77g 26%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 55g
Protein 5g 10%
Vitamin A 12.4%
Vitamin C 9.7%
Calcium 4.9%
Iron 9.5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Hummingbird Cake
Calories: 658 kcal
Author: Jaclyn

42 comments

  • Belinda: Just made this for Easter it tastes great April 19, 2019 at 4:32pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you like this cake Belinda! Happy Easter! April 19, 2019 at 5:54pm Reply

  • Elissa: My mom has made a version of Hummingbird Cake for Christmas (in lieu of Fruit Cake) for as long as I can remember. She adds raisins and sometimes swaps the pecans with walnuts and bakes them in foil loaf pans for family members. I have never had this cake with the frosting on it so I’m going to have to make this one. We always just slice it up and put a little butter on it like you would Banana Bread. June 27, 2017 at 9:06am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I hope you love it Elissa! June 27, 2017 at 12:37pm Reply

  • Laurie: I have never had hummingbird cake before, and I have been wanting to try it, so I made it this weekend for my Dad’s 65th birthday and my family loved it! Thanks for the great recipe. I featured it on my blog today: http://www.love-laurie.com/2015/11/hummingbird-cake.html November 10, 2015 at 8:32am Reply

  • Hala: Hello. Just tried this cake yesterday and it was awesome.. I have never tried any hummigbird cakes before so truly I didn’t know what to expect.. looking at the amount of flour I knew it would be a bit dense.. and it was.
    Now, looking at the comments I knew it should be that way :) everybody loved it at the gathering yesterday.
    Thank you for such a wonderful recipe.. I need to try your Creme brulée cupcakes.. m dreaming of them. March 21, 2015 at 10:57pm Reply

  • Razan: Hi Jaclyn,
    I’m so glad I found your blog. You are such an inspiration to me.
    I made this cake today and it tasted so good, but the cake itself cracked at the top after I put the frosting. Also, my presentation of the cake wasn’t quiet fancy as yours.

    Thank you for sharing. December 9, 2014 at 7:58am Reply

  • Francesca: Hi there, I made this cake today – very yummy! But my icing never turns as pale as yours. Any tips for a whiter icing? October 11, 2014 at 10:10pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Keep whipping it. For me it seems the longer I whip the lighter it gets. I’m so glad you liked the cake! October 11, 2014 at 10:38pm Reply

  • Erika: Hey Jaclyn! I just made this cake about a week ago and boy was it good the cake itself was amazing so flavorful loved the nuts and pineapple to it. The frosting wasn’t what I was expecting though. On its own it tasted very cheesy and buttery maybe because it didn’t call for much sugar. Now I didn’t use Philadelphia brand cream cheese, I used another name brand one but I don’t know maybe I over whipped it but something was off. Maybe it was because I didn’t add the sweetened coconut flakes and that was supposed to add some sweetness to the frostings. However with the cake it tasted really good so I’m guessing you made it that way because the cake itself was very sweet. So if I make this recipe again I think I might try a tangier frosting that doesn’t taste too cheesy like mine did. Anyways everyone who I served it to loved it and so did I. Thanks again and if you might be able to offer some enlightenment on what went wrong then I would greatly appreciate it! August 15, 2014 at 3:35pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I do recommend Philadelphia but that’s probably not why it tasted to cheesy to you. For your personal taste you may just need to add more powdered sugar, but yes like you said the coconut does offer more sweetness to it too. August 28, 2014 at 8:45pm Reply

  • Bita: This cake looks lovely! Silly question, but how do I make the cream cheese frosting? I see the ingredients, but no directions on how to mix it all together :) July 18, 2014 at 10:51am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Not a silly question at all! Thanks for pointing that out, I’m not sure how it got cut off? I just re-added it above though. Thanks again I hope you love the cake! July 18, 2014 at 11:24pm Reply

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