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If you’re looking for a cake with major wow factor, this is the one. This hummingbird cake recipe makes an ultra-moist cake packed with tropical flavors and topped with an addictive cream cheese frosting and pecans. The presentation is beautiful but the taste keeps everyone coming back for more!

a hummingbird cake covered in cream cheese frosting and topped with chopped pecans on a white cake stand surrounded by white and yellow flowers, a yellow cloth and a bowl of pecans in the background
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What is Hummingbird Cake?

A classic hummingbird cake consists of three layers of cake made with mashed bananas, crushed pineapple, chopped pecans, and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. The cake is often frosted with cream cheese icing, which complements the sweetness of the cake layers.

Hummingbird Cake gained popularity in the southern United States when Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina submitted the recipe to Southern Living Magazine in 1978. It is known for its rich and tropical flavors, and it’s often served for special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and holidays. 

a slice of hummingbird cake on a white plate on top of a wooden circle, with one bite missing from the cake, chopped pecans sprinkled around, some white flowers in the corner and another plate with a slice of cake and a dish of pecans in the background

Why is it called Hummingbird Cake?

The origins of the name “hummingbird cake” are unclear, but it’s said to have originated in Jamaica. It’s sometimes referred to as “Doctor Bird Cake,” which is the nickname for the Red-billed Streamertail, a species of hummingbird found in Jamaica.

Why you’ll love this Recipe for Hummingbird Cake

Besides the pineapple flavor and luscious cream cheese frosting, there are so many reasons to love this version of a popular cake recipe, including:

  • Just 15 minutes of active prep time
  • Easy-to-follow steps
  • A simple 2-layer cake, perfect for experienced or new bakers
  • The BEST flavor!
  • Perfect texture balance between the moist cake and crunchy pecans

Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake Recipe Ingredients

This recipe uses basic ingredients and is a great way to use up overripe bananas. Make this for your next family reunion, only if you want to be the most popular family member! Get the full recipe with measurements and ingredients in the recipe card below. Here’s what you’ll need:

Cake

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Ground cinnamon 
  • Allspice
  • Unsalted butter: room temperature
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs
  • Buttermilk
  • Pureed or very smoothly mashed ripe bananas
  • Crushed pineapple: drained
  • Vanilla extract
  • Chopped pecans

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream cheese: softened
  • Unsalted butter: softened
  • Vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar 
  • Salt
  • Milk or heavy cream
a slice of hummingbird cake being placed on a white plate with a spatula, showing the side of the two layers of cake with cream cheese frosting in the middle, with white and yellow flowers on the left

How to Make this Hummingbird Cake Recipe

When you follow my foolproof steps below, you can make a stunning two-layer cake, perfect for any special occasion. Keep reading for more tips and get the full recipe in the recipe card below.

Cake

  1. Prep oven and cake pans. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease two or three 8-inch springform pans with butter (butter the sides and bottom) and line each pan with a parchment paper circle for easy cake removal. Set aside.
  2. Prep and measure bananas. Puree or very smoothly mash 3-4 large ripe bananas. Be sure to measure the bananas after, you need 1 ½ cups. I recommend pureeing the mashed bananas for a smoother, less chunky texture. Set aside. 
crushed pineapple in a fine mesh strainer being pressed with a spoon
  1. Prep pineapple. Drain the crushed pineapple. Set aside. 
  2. Mix dry ingredients. In a small mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. Cream butter and sugar. In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar, beat using an electric mixer, 1-2 minutes until fluffy.
  4. Mix wet ingredients. Add in the eggs, buttermilk, pureed banana, and vanilla extract. Beat with the electric mixer.
  5. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Gradually add the flour mixture and pecans to the wet ingredients, mixing just until the flour is incorporated.
  1. Add cake batter to pans. Evenly divide the batter among the pans. If using 2 pans, that’s 3 cups of batter per pan, if using 3 pans, that’s 2 cups of batter per pan. If you have bake even cake strips, secure them around the outside of the pans.
  2. Bake. Bake 2 pans for 40-50 minutes or 3 pans for 32-37 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. You can also bake all of the batter in a 9×13 inch pan for about 45-55 minutes. 
  3. Cool. Allow the cake to cool before adding the cream cheese frosting.  

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Mix butter and cream cheese. Place the room-temperature cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on medium and beat together for 1-2 minutes, until whipped and fluffy.
  2. Mix in remaining ingredients. Add in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar (and optional salt), and beat again on low for 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until everything is incorporated.
  3. Adjust as needed. If the frosting is too thick, add a splash of milk or heavy cream, and beat until creamy.

Assemble the Cake

  1. Level cakes. If needed, level the cooled cakes using a cake leveler or serrated knife.
  2. Frost and top cake layers. Spread a small amount of frosting on the bottom of your cake plate / stand, this acts as “glue” to prevent the cake from moving. Place one cake layer over the frosting. Measure 3/4 to 1 cup of frosting and evenly spread that on top of the first layer. Top with the second cake layer and spread another ¾ to 1 cup of frosting on top of that layer. Use the remaining frosting around the sides and top of the cake. Top the cake with chopped pecans if desired. 
a hummingbird cake on a white cake stand with a piece of the cake being lifted away with a spatula, beneath it white and yellow flowers, a yellow cloth and a white dish of pecans

The Best Hummingbird Cake Recipe Tips

This classic Southern cake never disappoints. For best results, follow these tips:

  • Choose the right cream cheese: Get the block of cream cheese, not the spreadable kind from a tub. If you get the spreadable kind it may result in a runny cream cheese frosting.
  • Don’t be afraid of lumpy batter: Your cake batter will be lumpy and that’s okay. This is because of the ingredients like mashed banana and crushed pineapple. Be careful not to over-mix and only mix until there are no dry spots.
  • Cool completely before frosting: If you try to frost the cake before it is completely cooled, your frosting might melt and run right off.
  • Use over-ripe bananas: If you have brown, spotty bananas, those are perfect! Bananas sweeten as they get ripe, making super-ripe or over-ripe bananas perfect for this recipe.
  • Stick to crushed canned pineapple: You can choose to use fresh pineapple, but you’ll have to crush it yourself. I say stick to the crushed and canned type, it never fails!
a slice of two-layer hummingbird cake on a white plate with a fork laying beside it, on top of a yellow cloth, with yellow and white flowers and another slice on a plate and a dish of pecans in the background

How to Decorate Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese

You can get creative when it comes to decorating this cake or keep it simple. One of the great things about this cake is that it can be elegantly simple or as dressed up as you want!

To frost the cake, follow the directions above about assembling the cake. Then, choose whatever toppings you like and get creative! Here are some topping ideas:

  • Pecans (chopped or crushed and sprinkled all over, in a ring or pretty pattern)
  • Fresh fruit
  • Edible flowers
  • Whipped cream
  • Chocolate shavings
  • Coconut shavings
close up of the side view of a hummingbird cake on a white cake stand with one slice missing, exposing the inside of the two layers of cake with cream cheese frosting in between the layers

How to Store this Super Moist Hummingbird Cake Recipe

Leftover cake can be stored in an airtight container or covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

How to Freeze this Recipe for Hummingbird Cake

To freeze a decorated cake, flash freeze it for 30 to 60 minutes to set the frosting. Once the frosting is set, tightly wrap the cake with plastic wrap a few times. Add an extra layer of protection by wrapping it in aluminum foil if storing for over a week. Label the wrapped cake with its type and freezing date. Place in the freezer. 

The night before serving, transfer the cake from the freezer to the refrigerator. Keep the plastic wrap on during thawing to prevent condensation. Avoid thawing the cake at room temperature to prevent water droplets on the decorations. On the day you plan to serve the cake, remove the cake from the fridge, and remove the plastic wrap. Place the cake on a cake plate to come to room temperature before serving. 

a slice of hummingbird cake on a small white plate on top of a round wood piece beside a dish of pecans and a vase of flowers

Super Moist Hummingbird Cake Recipe FAQs

Why is my hummingbird cake dense?

If your hummingbird cake turns out a bit dense, it could be because of a few things: mixing too much, not measuring accurately, using old leavening agents, not creaming the butter and sugar right, having the oven at the wrong temperature, or leaving it in too long. Mixing too much can make the cake too chewy, and inaccurate measurements might throw off the balance of ingredients. If your baking powder or soda is old, it might not help the cake rise properly. Also, if the oven is too hot or you leave the cake in too long, it might dry out and end up dense.

More Layer Cake Recipes

a piece of two-layer hummingbird cake being placed on a white plate with a spatula
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Super Moist Hummingbird Cake Recipe

By: Beth
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 16 slices
If you're looking for a cake with major wow factor, this is the one. This hummingbird cake recipe makes an ultra-moist cake packed with tropical flavors and topped with an addictive cream cheese frosting and pecans. The presentation is beautiful but the taste keeps everyone coming back for more!

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, 300 grams
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, 170 grams
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, 297 grams
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk, 118 ml
  • 1 ½ cups pureed or very smoothly mashed ripe bananas, 340 grams
  • 8 oz crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, 114 grams

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened, 57 grams
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, 340 grams
  • tsp salt
  • dash of milk or heavy cream

Instructions 

Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease two or three 8 inch springform pans with butter (butter the sides and bottom) and line each pan with a parchment paper circle for easy cake removal. Set aside.
  • Puree or very smoothly mash 3-4 large ripe bananas. Be sure to measure the bananas after, you need 1 ½ cups. I recommend pureeing the mashed bananas for a smoother, less chucky texture. Set aside.
  • Drain the crushed pineapple. Set aside.
  • In a small mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the butter and sugar, beat using an electric mixer, 1-2 minutes until fluffy.
  • Add in the eggs, buttermilk, pureed banana, drained crushed pineapple and vanilla extract. Beat with the electric mixer.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture and pecans to the wet ingredients, mixing just until the flour is incorporated.
  • Evenly divide the batter among the pans. If using 2 pans, that’s 3 cups of batter per pan, if using 3 pans, that’s 2 cups of batter per pan. If you have bake even cake strips, secure them around the outside of the pans.
  • Bake 2 pans for 40-50 minutes or 3 pans for 32-37 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. You can also bake all of the batter in a 9×13 inch pan for about 45-55 minutes.
  • Allow the cake to cool before adding the cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Place the room temperature cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on medium and beat together for 1-2 minutes, until whipped and fluffy.
  • Add in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar (and optional salt), beat again on low for 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until everything is incorporated.
  • If the frosting is too thick, add a splash of milk or heavy cream, beat until creamy.
  • Assemble the Cake
  • If needed, level the cooled cakes using a cake leveler or serrated knife.
  • Spread a small amount of frosting on the bottom of your cake plate / stand, this acts as “glue” to prevent the cake from moving. Place one cake layer over the frosting. Measure 3/4 to 1 cup of frosting and evenly spread that on top of the first layer. Top with the second cake layer and spread another ¾ to 1 cup of frosting on top of that layer. Use the remaining frosting around the sides and top of the cake. Top the cake with chopped pecans if desired.

Notes

I’ve also made this recipe with gluten free flour with awesome results! I recommend King Arthur’s Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour. Use it as a one for one substitute for regular all-purpose flour.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 484kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 318mg | Potassium: 115mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 44g | Vitamin A: 702IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 1mg
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About Beth

I believe that everyone should have a go-to dessert to bring to parties! With hundreds of recipes, I'll help you find yours!

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6 Comments

    1. Yes, you can! I just prefer the ease of springform pans when it comes to removing the cake!

    1. The recipe as written will probably make too much batter for a 9×13, but you can bake extra batter in a cupcake pan!

  1. I made various of your cupcake recipes and your red velvet cake which were totally awesome! Delicious and easy to follow. However, this recipe caused some confusion. The allspice and the crushed pineapple that were mentioned in the ingredients did not come back in the instructions so I had to guess when and how to add them. The weight of the crushed pineapple wasn’t really clear to me is that before or after draining? We do not have cans of crushed pineapple in the Netherlands, so trying to make this by hand with fresh pineapple was quite difficult as I didn’t really know what to work towards. I really tried to not over mix and mix just until the dry ingredients were incorporated. However, this was quite the challenge as I now had one layer which I left lumpy but still had dry flour in the baked cake encouraging me to continue to mix for the next layer of the cake. Unfortunately, both layers of the cake turned out dens and rubbery. I really hope that you could give some extra information on the recipe and maybe an instruction video to see how the different stages of the recipe should look. Maybe then next time the recipe will be a success like the rest of your recipes!

    1. I am so sorry! You were correct, I forget to add in when to add the crushed pineapple and allspice – I have updated the recipe! I am guessing the fresh pineapple didn’t add enough moisture to the cake.