Pineapple and banana bring a burst of fruity flavor to this sweet Hummingbird Cake frosted with cream cheese icing. The light, crispy crunch of pecans puts it over the edge!
Easy Homemade Hummingbird Cake
Pineapple, banana, and pecans, oh my! 😍 Hummingbird Cake has it all, including a moist, tender crumb frosted with a delicious topping of homemade cream cheese icing. It’s a showstopper dessert and crowd-pleaser that goes perfectly with a hot cup of coffee or tea. Many people like to make it for Mother’s Day, including this mommy right here!
And, guess what? Even though it’s a fancy dessert, it’s honestly very easy to make! That’s right, this decadent cake comes together in one mixing bowl and bakes up in no time. From there, all you have to do is cool and frost it. Let’s get to it!
What is Hummingbird Cake?
It’s not exactly clear when the first Hummingbird Cake was created, or by whom! But, the recipe as we know it dates back to 1978. A reader and home cook contributed her recipe for Hummingbird Cake to Southern Living magazine, and the rest is history!
Ever since, this has been considered a Southern classic and a perfect choice for springtime, showing up on Easter tables and at Mother’s Day brunches.
The actual flavor of Hummingbird Cake is unusual, but it’s perfectly scrumptious. Somewhat like a carrot cake, it’s lightly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. And, like banana bread, it’s moist and flavorful because of the bright, creamy, fruity flavor of fresh mashed bananas.
Finally, notes of vanilla and pineapple bring a sort of pineapple-upside-down-cake feel to the completed dessert. Top the whole thing with cream cheese frosting and crushed pecans, and you’ve got one insanely terrific treat! 🍰
Each of these ingredients brings a special nuance to this delicious cake! It’s a classic recipe full of richness and bright flavor.
For the Cake
- Flour: You’ll need 3 cups of all-purpose flour to make this cake.
- Sugar: To sweeten the cake, I use 1 ¾ cups of white sugar. You can substitute raw sugar or your favorite organic cane sugar, if desired.
- Salt: You’ll need a teaspoon of sea salt (or your preferred salt).
- Cinnamon & Nutmeg: Hummingbird cake gets its distinctive hint of spice from a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg.
- Baking Soda: Make sure to use baking soda, and not baking powder!
- Eggs: You’ll need three whole eggs, lightly beaten, to add flavor, texture and height to the batter.
- Oil: If you want to make this cake extra decadent, replace some of the oil with melted butter! You can also use coconut oil; the light coconut taste goes well with pineapple and banana.
- Pecans: Have ready 2 ½ cups of chopped pecans, divided.
- Banana: Mash up about three medium bananas (enough to make one cup).
- Pineapple: You’ll need an 8-ounce can of crushed pineapple, undrained.
- Vanilla: For the best flavor, I recommend using pure vanilla extract.
For the Icing
- Butter: Allow one stick (half a cup) of butter to come to room temperature.
- Cream Cheese: You’ll need six ounces of cream cheese, also at room temperature.
- Vanilla: Flavor your cream cheese frosting with two teaspoons of pure vanilla.
- Powdered Sugar: This frosting recipe uses two cups of powdered sugar.
How to Make Hummingbird Cake
It’s helpful to have all of your ingredients measured and set out before you start baking, if possible. That way, you don’t have to stop in the middle of creating the batter to mash up some bananas or find the cinnamon!
- Prep Oven & Pans: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour three round, 9-inch cake pans. Trace and cut a circular piece of parchment baking paper to place in the bottom of each pan (this will help your cake remove nicely after baking).
- Combine Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking soda. Mix until combined.
- Add Wet Ingredients & Pecans: Next, add the eggs, oil, banana, pineapple and vanilla. Stir until all ingredients are combined and batter is moistened. Add 1 ½ cups of the pecans and gently fold until combined.
Bake: Gently pour the batter evenly into the three prepared baking pans. Place in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the edges are browned. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool Cake Layers: Remove the pans from the oven and let them rest for 8 minutes before removing the cake from the pans. Make sure to cool the cake completely before assembling.
- Make Frosting: Beat the butter, cream cheese and vanilla in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating well until the frosting is thoroughly combined. Refrigerate in an airtight container until the cake is ready to frost.
- Stack it Up: Place a small dollop of frosting on a cake stand or round cake plate. This will help your cake stay in one spot while frosting it. Place one layer of cake directly on top of the frosting. Place roughly 3/4 cup of frosting on top of the cake layer and evenly spread along the top. Repeat until you have three layers of cake and two layers of frosting.
- Finish Frosting & Garnish: Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting, smoothing with a cake spatula or butter knife. You can also use the back of a spoon to create a ripply texture. Garnish with the remaining chopped pecans. Enjoy!
Tips for Success
To make this cake a super success, keep on reading! I’ve collected a few helpful tips for the best hummingbird cake ever!
- Oil for Lightness: While you can definitely use butter in the cake, and it will add tons of flavor, keep in mind that the texture will become heavier, somewhat like a dense banana bread. To get a lighter, cakey texture, use oil.
- Really Ripe Bananas: You can use whatever you have on hand, of course, but I recommend buying the bananas for the cake a few days in advance so they have time to ripen. Bananas freckled generously with brown spots will make the most flavorful cake.
- Freeze to Frost: To make frosting your cake really easy, cool your cake layers completely, and then wrap and freeze them! Frozen cake layers frost beautifully.
How to Store this Cake
- Hummingbird Cake should be refrigerated if the outdoor temperatures are above 70 degrees or so.
- Cover it tightly to prevent it from drying out. If your home is below 70 degrees, you can store the cake covered, at room temperature.
- Enjoy it within 2 to 3 days. Refrigerate for longer.
For the Cake
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 ⅓ cups light cooking oil
- 2 ½ cups chopped pecans, divided
- 1 cup mashed banana, (roughly 3 medium bananas)
- 8 ounces (1 can) crushed pineapple
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Icing
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Lightly grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
- Trace and cut a circular piece of parchment baking paper to place in the bottom of each pan. This will make your cake remove nicely after baking.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda. Whisk until combined.
- Next, add the eggs, oil, banana, pineapple and vanilla. Stir until all ingredients are combined and batter is moistened. Add 1 ½ cups of the pecans and gently fold until combined.
- Pour the batter evenly into the three prepared baking pans.
- Place in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the edges are browned and when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before removing the cake from the pans. Make sure to cool the cakes completely before assembling.
- In a separate mixing bowl, make the frosting by beating the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until smooth. Refrigerate in an airtight container until the cake is ready to frost.
- To assemble: On a cake stand or round cake plate, place a small dollop of frosting in the center; this will help make your cake stay in one spot while frosting it. Place one layer of cake directly on top of the frosting. Place roughly ¾-cup of frosting on top of the cake layer and evenly spread along the top.
- Place another layer of cake on top and repeat until you have three layers of cake and two layers of frosting. Frost the top and sides of the cake with remaining frosting, smoothing with a cake spatula or knife.
- Garnish with the remaining chopped pecans.
- Cut and enjoy!
More Dessert Ideas to Try
Looking for another decadent homemade dessert? These simple recipes are all amazing options!