Hummingbird Cake

The cream cheese frosting recipe can be cut in half if you prefer less frosting. If so, apply sparingly so there is enough to cover the entire cake.

Feel free to use any favorite liquor, such as Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, Cognac, Armagnac, Brandy or even Bourbon. Or, simply omit the liquor and use 2 tsp vanilla extract.


  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 12 to 16


For the cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (make sure your baking powder is still fresh!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, with juice
  • 2 cups mashed bananas (from 3 to 5 bananas)
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 pounds (32-ounces) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau or other liquor (see Recipe Note)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans, for topping (optional, toasted)
  • Edible flowers for garnish (optional)

Special equipment:


1 Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.

2 Whisk together dry ingredients: In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg (optional).

whisking dry ingredients for hummingbird cake

3 Whisk together oil, sugar, eggs, then stir in pineapple, bananas, vanilla, 1 cup of pecans: In a separate bowl, whisk the canola oil, sugar, and eggs together until combined. Stir the pineapple, bananas, vanilla and one cup of the chopped pecans into the egg mixture and mix (do not beat).

whisking wet ingredients for hummingbird cake combining wet and dry ingredients for hummingbird cake

4 Fold wet ingredients into dry: Using a wooden spoon or spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined (do not over-mix).

5 Pour into cake pans and bake: Pour the batter into the three prepared cake pans, taking care to divide evenly. Bake at 350°F on center racks of oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

how to make hummingbird cake - pour batter into baking pans

6 Cool: Allow the cakes to cool in the pan on wire racks for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, run a knife around the edges and remove the cakes from the pans.  Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Cooling hummingbird cake after baking

7 Make the frosting: Beat the softened butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar in small amounts until all is incorporated, then add the Cointreau and vanilla and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Note: Do not add the powdered sugar while the mixer is set on a high speed, or you will create a snowy mess of sugar all over your kitchen. (Please do not ask me how I know this.)

8 Frost the cake: Place one layer, top down, on a large plate or cake stand (this creates a smooth surface on the top and results in a more level cake). Spread frosting evenly over the first layer, then repeat with the second and third layers, then frost the sides.

How to make hummingbird cake and frost with cream cheese frosting

3 Sprinkle with chopped pecans: Sprinkle the top completely with the remaining cup of chopped pecans (toasted or un-toasted). Alternatively, press the chopped pecans onto the sides of the cake and leave the top simply frosted.

This cake is best served the day it's made and can be kept, assembled and frosted, for a few hours before servings. If you need to serve it the next day or if you have leftovers, cover the cake as well as possible and refrigerate it. Remove it from the fridge and let it come up to room temperature for an hour or two before serving.

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  • Millicent

    Was looking for an uncommon kind of cake to present at a summer BBQ this past Saturday and this was a hit! Didn’t have any pineapple, unfortunately, so I had to ad lib and use 8 oz of mandarin oranges in light syrup instead. Turned out surprisingly great!

    The nutmeg and cinnamon make this cake reminiscent of carrot cake despite no carrots. Super moist, tender and easily stackable. Recommend refrigerating cakes before icing and chill again post-icing. Cream Cheese Frosting was a tad sweet, but can’t complain. No leftovers! Photo of the cake on IG account @sillymissmilliee … Try the recipe. You won’t be sorry. :)


  • Jody

    I was so excited to make this for Mother’s Day but It was so bland, will never make it again.


  • Kimmy Coo

    I made this cake and it turned out beautifully. Could use a little more moisture, but I’m in high altitude so go figure. I will get it perfect next time by adjusting a few ingredients. Cheers!


  • Terri

    Absolutely fabulous!!


  • Martin

    I made this cake and WOW! Excellent instructions and an obvious fool-proof cake came out perfectly. I had a lot of icing left over. This cake a real crowd-pleaser. Tremendous flavors. Can freeze extra icing if desired for use later with cup cakes. Thank you so very much for this receipe!!!


  • Debbi May

    Would like to have seen what inside of the cake looks like!

    • Carrie Havranek

      Hi Debbi May. If you look at the method step that shows the assembly, you can get a little sense of how the layers will look. Thanks for your comment.

  • Patricia

    I have a nut- allergy child. Ugh. Can toasted coconut be used instead of pecans?

  • Jessy

    I’d never heard of this before! :o but sounds and looks AMAZING

    xoxo <3

  • Dynah Gomez

    I’m sorry I’ve tried looking through comments for cupcake variation and baking time but haven’t found it. Anyone that can help me?

    • Steve-Anna Stephens

      Hi, Dynah. The same recipe works for cupcakes as it does for the cake, however you’ll want to cut the icing recipe in half (and you still might have some leftover). The baking time will depend on the size of cupcake tin you use. If you use normal sized cupcake tins, the bake time should be roughly the same as the cake (25-30 minutes) – just keep an eye on them and check with a toothpick to see if they are done. The toothpick when inserted will come out clean when they’re done. Enjoy!

      • Dynah

        Thank you so much. I have made the cake before and it came out great. Was loved by everyone. Wanted to try cupcakes today. Such a great recipe

  • Shirley

    Would like to know if this can be baked bundt cake style and if so…please relate. I’d love to fix this for Thanksgiving. Would love a reply ASAP…this cake looks so delicious…SG

    • Steve-Anna Stephens

      Shirley, I honestly don’t know as I’ve not tried baking this recipe in a bundt cake pan. The cake recipe converts very easily from sheet cake to cupcakes, so I would guess it would work. If you try it, then you’ll want to cut the icing recipe in half since it’s intended for multiple layers of cake. You’ll also want to pay close attention to the baking time and check to see that the cake is cooked all the way through since a bundt pan is deeper than cupcakes or sheet cake pans. Please let us know how it works out!

  • Rumi

    I would like to make this a two layer cake and wonder how much the batter would rise? I was thinking of filling two 9″ pans to 2/3 full and increase the baking time. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

  • Daynnell

    I made this cake when my inlaws came and it was such a hit, I decided to make it again for our county fair last week. I took first place in my class. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!

  • Ron

    I’m a 66 year old man who has just now learned to cook. My Sainted Mother is 90, and can no longer cook for herself. Although I am new at this, I found a recipe for this Hummingbird Cake on the Internet. It sounded good since I even put pineapple in my cole slaw. Well, I’ll have to say, without a doubt, this is the best cake that has ever crossed my lips. And I made it! Simply wonderful.

    • Steve-Anna Stephens

      Hi, Ron, I’m so glad you attempted the cake and that you liked it! How wonderful to take up cooking at this stage of your life. I hope you shared some of the cake with your mom, too :-)

  • anna

    Can I make this 2 or 3 days before serving it by keeping it in the fridge? Will the banana turn dark, or the cake get soggy (or dry?)

    • Steve-Anna Stephens

      Hi, Anna. I haven’t tried making it that far ahead of time before serving. A day ahead is certainly fine, so two days might be. One thing to considert is that the cake will absorb any odors from your fridge if the seal around the cake isn’t really good. If you try making it that far ahead of time, please let us know how it works out!

  • Vicki

    Easter Sunday is my husband’s 60th birthday and he loves carrot cake. But then I came across this recipe and want to try this instead. I’d read a comment somewhere about someone adding grated carrots and coconut to it and reducing the amount of banana…have you heard this…any thoughts…proportions? Can’t wait to make this!

  • Mary Ellen

    Can this cake be made without nuts (due to allergy to nuts?)

    • Steve-Anna Stephens

      I’m guessing that yes, it would be just fine without nuts, although lacking the texture. You might consider adding some dried fruit instead. If you try it, please let us know how it works out!

    • Kristy Douglas

      I used unsweetened coconut shreds and it turned out beautiful. (Just make sure they are not manufactured on equipment possibly used for nuts. It will say in engredients list) My daughters best friend has a tree nut allergy, so we have to be extra careful.

    • Doris

      Yes. i made the cake and forgot to add the nuts to the batter. It was great and everyone loved it.

  • Patti

    Made this cake for my son’s birthday. He’s not a fan of cream cheese, so I substituted my favorite vanilla icing for the layers, and my favorite dark chocolate icing for the outside.

    The cake got rave reviews from everyone who tried it. It’s a keeper.

  • lynn

    Could I make this in a 9×13 pan??

    • Elise Bauer

      I’m guessing that yes, you could make this in a 9×13 pan. You may need to increase the cooking time by a few minutes. How much longer, your guess is as good as mine. If you make it in a 9×13 pan, please let us know what you did and how it worked out for you!

    • Steve-Anna Stephens

      Hi Lynn, I haven’t tried making this cake in a 9X13″ pan. If you do, you might want to make two layers instead of three and increase the cook time, as Elise suggested. Please do let us know how it works out!

  • Sarah

    This cake looks amazing! Cannot wait to try it!

    So far this summer I’ve baked Suzanne’s Chocolate Cake and made the Orange Curd Cake twice and so far all of my cakes tend to lean like the tower of Piza- but amazing and delicious non-the-less . Any tips on how to keep the layers plumb? I followed the layering noted in the Orange Curd recipe with each cake but they still look a bit wonky.

  • John Fleshman

    this recipe was easy and is one if not my favorite.I am turning 55yrs old and my 4yr old grandaughter help my measure and mix and then frost it and we had a blast. I would say to you all (make it) and enjoy. John Fleshman. Phx AZ.

  • Chetna

    This is such a FANTASTIC recipe!!!! I’ve made it 3 times and have gotten rave results and had the cake completely finished…crumbs and all!!! The only edible flowers I could find were marigolds, but I added a special touch by stenciling a hummingbird silhouette with colored sugar on top. I’ve done this as a sheet cake with extra frosting on the side for people to add another dollop of sweetness. Also…I added a bit of banana INTO the frosting. Awesome, awesome, awesome recipe!!!!!

    • jen

      can anyone recommend a pineapple substitution (need one due to allergy)? is so, is this a sub you’ve tried? thanks!

    • Jan

      Chetna, just curious as to the size sheet cake pan this 3 layer makes. I have never tried a 3 layer cake, don’t even have 3 round pans, haha. Would love to try this cake this week Thank you!.

  • Julie

    Steve-Anna, again thank you for the cupcake version of this delicious cake. I used the cream cheese frosting recipe for the cake but the cupcakes are yummy all by themselves. They are going to be a big hit for my friend’s graduation and birthday celebrations. The cupcake recipe yields 36 regular size cupcakes.

    • Steve-Anna Stephens

      Julie, thank you so much for letting us know how the cupcakes worked out. Enjoy your upcoming celebrations!

  • Julie

    I was wondering if you could halve the cake recipe and bake as cupcakes? Any alterations for changing recipe from cake to cupcakes, ie: baking time?

    • Julie

      Thank you so much for the link and quick reply. I’ll be baking them this week and will let you know.


      I have made humming bird cake mixture into cupcakes works out great. I add 1 cup of blended cherries for little more color, it adds a great taste also. I volunteer in Nursing Homes .(which I may say I love being a part in their beautiful lives.) so many are diabetic.If I use splendor sugar, do I use the same amount as sugar? Hope some one will let me know thanks Joyce Collins of Corsicana , Tex.

  • Clare

    Looking forward to making/baking this for my Mother’s birthday celebration, tomorrow. I am going to decorate the top of the cake, with multi-coloured macaroons, peacans cost a bomb over here in the UK!

  • Ruth

    This cake looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it! Could you tell me at what ripeness the bananas should be? Thanks!

    • Steve-Anna Stephens

      Hi, Ruth~ For this cake it’s best to use bananas that are on the ripe side. That way they are easier to mash, and on the sweeter side in terms of taste.

  • Yelena

    Elise, the cake looks scrumptious. How can you bake cakes and stay so gorgeous and slim?
    It was a pleasure meeting you in Florida. I wish you the best in everything!


    • Elise Bauer

      Hello Yelena, great to meet you too! Regarding the cakes, I don’t bake them that often, and in the case of this hummingbird cake, my friend Steve-Anna made it. My suggestion with baked goods is to make sure you have a bunch of people to share them with! (Especially if the baked good is really good.)

  • Hannah

    Birthday today, and I wanted to make something different, so made this. Went down a treat everyone loved it, my auntie even took some with her to bring home to the rest of my family.
    Thank you so much :)

  • Cathy

    Elise, Thank you for posting this recipe. This cake was a big hit at our house! My husband was a little skeptical when he heard it had bananas and pineapple in it, but was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. I had glazed pecans in the cupboard which I coarsely chopped for the top of the cake. They were a little sweet, but still worked great.


  • Julia

    I made this cake for the first time on Mother’s Day and it turned out wonderful. Unfortunately I didn’t have any pecans so I left out nuts altogether. When I made my frosting I slowly added the powder sugar until I thought it was sweet enough since I don’t like my frosting too sweet. Great great recipe, a new Mother’s Day tradition in our house. Thanks for posting! :)

  • Janet

    When you say edible flowers what do you mean? I have seen some in the baking section of the grocery store that are all sugar. Or do you mean natural flowers like you would find in a garden that hapen to be edible. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe violets are edible. What would be some other examples? Eiher way I must try this recipe.

    • Steve-Anna Stephens

      Hi Janet, I meant edible real flowers but sugar flowers are fine, too – just something to garnish the cake. Be careful with choosing real flowers – you want to be sure they are really edible and haven’t been exposed to pesticides or chemicals (don’t pick them from public parks or beside the road). Remove the pistils and stamens and only eat the petals. You can easily skip the flowers altogether, too.

  • tsarinanikol

    I make zucchini breads on a regular basis, which have a banana bread-like texture and make use of the same spices, producing a similar flavor profile.

    You might try tweaking a zucchini cake recipe, such as this one. It has a lot in common with hummingbird cake! Bananas are often used as egg substitutes – not only do they add sugar, moisture and volume to baked items, they’re an excellent binder. Even pureed zucchini will lack this property, so I suggest experimenting as moisture and binding substances will likely require adjustment. You could probably take the recipe above, sub part of the oil for crushed pineapple, put on the icing in the hummingbird cake recipe, and voila! But then, I like mushing recipes together and “Frankenbaking.”

  • Emily

    I made this cake for Mother’s Day, my mother-in-law – a former West Virginian, said it looked and tasted like the real (Hatfield and) McCoy. Very easy to make, baked up perfect with the baking soda and powder. I only had two bananas, so I added a little extra crushed pineapple – it was superb! This recipe is a keeper I will make it again!
    PS I added the Cointreau – but I really couldn’t taste it

  • george

    I made the cake although I also made some mistakes .First I used normal canned pineapples not the crushed they were about 600gr with the juice ,second I had only one pan so I baked the cake in it and third I made a TERRIBLE mess with my homemade cream cheese frosting it became too wet because I didn’t add the enough amount of powdered sugar then I just added some flour to it but it was too late anit was too sweet seriously it was the most sweetest cake ever I don’t think that I will be making it again.George

    • george

      Oh and I also made the cake with walnuts not pecans I didn’t have trouble with them

  • foodincmt

    This must be a classic cake ? The cake in this photos looks very tempting. Is it too sweet as a taste? thanks

  • Alison

    Yes, I’ve made Hummingbird cake (without the layers), and vote it one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted!

    • Joyce Rock

      I make my hummingbird cake in a large biscuit pan, and when it cools I cut it in half. Icing both layers and put on top of each other makes a square 2 layer cake. Which I sort of turn around and leave in pan, much easier to handle and refrigerate and a lot easier to frost. It doesn’t matter if you get frosting on the bottom of the cake, yummy. Very good.

  • Michele

    There’s no reason it should be a problem to replace pecans with hazelnuts, is there? I love pecans, but a close friend is deathly (actually-for-true) allergic to them; hazelnuts aren’t a problem, and they shouldn’t have different temperature requirements, should they?

    • Steve-Anna Stephens

      Michele, using hazelnuts sounds lovely! You might want to consider toasting them first. Either way, it sounds like it will elevate the flavor in a new way. I think you’re on to something! And no, the temperature shouldn’t need to change.

  • avis

    The instruction to put the dry mix in a large bowl is very important. This makes a huge amount of batter and a regular bowl is going to make stirring a nightmare.

    Two cups of sugar for the cake does not make it overly sweet. This is a true 3 layer cake and the ingredients are upped for that. Most of the sweet tast of the cake is the fruit.

  • Linda

    A friend recently made this cake for my birthday. Not only was it incredible to look at, it tasted fabulous. I could have eaten a bowl of that icing by itself. The recipe looks like a lot of work to me but, oh my, does it taste good.

  • Jayne

    I have in fact tried this in a small bakery recently. I was more intrigued by the name than the cake itself initially but after the 1st bite, I think I fell in love all over again. So much going on in there with the spices, banana and pineapple. Hope to make this one day! It goes so well with a nice mug of espresso.

  • Hazel

    Is it possible to make the 3 cakes and the frosting the day before and put it all together the next day? Will the frosting keep in the fridge?

    • Steve-Anna Stephens

      Hazel, it would be much better to assemble the entire cake the day before and refrigerate it (covered). If you try making the cakes and frosting the day before you want to put it together, the frosting needs to come to room temp before assembling. Also take care, the cakes will be sticky.

      • Hazel

        Thanks! I have another weird question – how tall, roughly, is the finished cake? I’m just afraid of whether or not it will fit in my small fridge. :)

        • Steve-Anna Stephens

          Great question! It depends on whether you use 8″ or 9″ pans (8″ pans will yield slightly taller cakes), and how tall your cake stand/plate is. The cake you see in the photo was made in 9″ pans, and was about 6.5″ tall. Hope that helps!

  • a

    2 cups sugar for cake, 2 lbs confectioner’s sugar for icing
    ♠ Is that an Error?!

  • Judith

    Re: subbing for bananas. You may be able to substitute pureed prunes or apricots for the bananas. You might want to experiment with a banana bread recipe before you try it with the cake. That would give you some idea about the moisture balance. I think apricots would bring a nice tartness and flavor to the cake. I think I’m going to try this myself because I’m not nuts about bananas.

  • George

    Well yes it sure looks great.Can I use walnuts or other nuts except pecans because I CAN’T find them here?

    • Steve-Anna Stephens

      I think walnuts would work just fine. I make banana bread with walnuts, not pecans, so why not? Please let us know how it turns out!

  • Vera

    It reminds me of Italian Creme Cake

  • Naomi

    Very simple and very yummy!…thanks a perfect one for mothers day….

  • Marcia

    I love hummingbird cake! It is one of my all-time favorites. I can’t wait to try your version.

  • darlene

    oooppsss … sorry … i addressed my comments and question to elsie and now i realize this recipe is not hers, but yours, Steve-Anna Stephens … forgive me …. darlene

    • Steve-Anna Stephens

      Hi Darlene, I’ve never tried it with whipped cream. If you try it, please let us know how it works out!

      • Susan

        I use the “sturdy whipped cream” for any cake that usually calls for cream cheese frosting and it is perfect! I add more cream cheese or less whipping cream when I want it cream-cheesier and substitute vanilla extract or liquor for the almond extract when that seems like a better choice.

        Trying it with this delicious looking cake for Easter this weekend!

  • darlene

    i have a habit of *tinkering* with recipes (certainly NOT your chile verde!!!) and i’m thinking of whipped cream rather than the cream cheese for frosting …. whatcha think? will it work on the cake without it becoming tooo soggy?

    love your recipes, besides chile verde (which my grandchildren BEG for and they are particularly picky eaters) … darlene

  • Becki's Whole Life

    One of my favorite cakes, right up there with a good carrot cake. I didn’t realize this was a Southern Living recipe originally. Yours looks beautiful and classic!

  • Cheryl Clair

    I’ve made the humingbird cake and it is always a hit. I’m diabetic so I can’t have much of it, but oh, it is sooo good.

    • Brenda Mulligan

      I’m diabetic too so I make all my deserts with Splenda,even my best cheesecake