Hummingbird Cake is a classic, Southern cake recipe. Made with bananas, pineapple, and pecans and topped with a cream cheese frosting! 

Hummingbird Cake Recipe | ©addapinch.com

Hummingbird Cake is definitely a favorite cake recipe of my family. My grandmother would make it for special occasions, especially around Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day or spring birthdays. It was always front and center at any family gatherings or church socials. Full of delicious banana, pineapple, and roasted pecans, Hummingbird Cake is one of those cake recipes that is just a Southern classic.

As with so many Southern recipes, I’m not certain where the name of this cake originated. Although it is certainly filled with such sweetness that you can only enjoy just a little bit of it at a time, which again makes it perfect for serving at large gatherings like church socials and potluck dinners. Thankfully though, no birds are harmed in its making or consuming.

Although, I do remember my sister-in-law, Karen, making a hummingbird cake a few years ago for my mother-in-law’s birthday. Even though my my youngest nephew, who I believe was about four at the time, helped her make the cake he stood close by to my mother-in-law as she blew out her birthday candles. Then, he ever so gingerly leaned over and advised her to be careful of the birds. I always think of him when I make this cake now and I can’t help but smile.

Hummingbird Cake Recipe | ©addapinch.com

As far as the original maker of hummingbird cake, it was submitted to Southern Living magazine for the February 1978 issue by Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina. Even though she provided her lovely recipe, she did not include the story behind it or its name. Some would say that is a loss, but I think Mrs. Wiggins did us all a great favor by allowing our imaginations to conjure up all sorts of stories as sweet as her delicious cake.

Hummingbird Cake Recipe | ©addapinch.com

Be sure to add this cake recipe to your must-make list for your next get together. It is sure to delight as well as quickly disappear. Remember to cut the slices thinly as it is rich and as sweet as southern sweet tea.

Hummingbird Cake Recipe | ©addapinch.com

Here’s the Hummingbird Cake recipe my family has used for years. It’s a bit different from Mrs. Wiggins original, but I sure love the changes.

Hummingbird Cake Recipe | ©addapinch.com

Hummingbird Cake Recipe

Hummingbird Cake is a classic, Southern cake recipe. Made with bananas, pineapple, and pecans and topped with a cream cheese frosting!
4.87 from 23 votes

Review Recipe

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Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Servings: 24
Author: Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup roasted pecans finely chopped
  • Cream Cheese Frosting

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare three 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
  • Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • Cream together the eggs, oil, vanilla extract, pineapple, mashed bananas, and finely chopped pecans in another large bowl. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Evenly divide the batter between the three prepared pans and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Turn cakes onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting with cream cheese frosting.
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Enjoy!
Robyn xo

Hummingbird Cake Recipe - Hummingbird Cake is a classic, Southern cake recipe perfect for serving at so many special occasions or when entertaining. Get this heirloom Hummingbird Cake recipe for your next event. // addapinch.com

From the Add a Pinch recipe archives. Originally published in 2011.

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Robyn Stone

..where I share sweet, savory and southern recipes, as well as home and garden tips and tidbits of travel.

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98 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Would it be possible to bake the cake in a 9×13 cake pan? The idea of making a tiered cake scares me. I realize we would miss out on the frosting in between the layers.
    Thanks,
    Jeanne

    1. You know, it’s really not that hard to make a tiered cake. If you can put icing on top of a cake, you can put icing in between them. I get nervous when I bake too but I’ve never had a disaster with a layer cake before.The only reason not to try a layer cake is because you don’t have enough cake pans–and even then you could just make the cake in batches. But her layer cakes are usually pretty good, and it would be a shame just to let that turn you off.

    2. Layer cakes are the best kind of cake because they LOOK really pretty and hard to make but actually aren’t, so the people impressed : effort made ratio is usually pretty good. I find things like scones and pastries much harder to make.

  2. I made this for the Super Bowl, and it was fantastic! This has taken the place of my favorite Southern Living recipe that I’ve made for years. Thanks for the great recipe!

  3. My 9 yr old daughter whom I homeschool has been doing a State Bird project for Science each week since the beginning of school back in October and sadly, the Hummingbird isn’t a state bird. So I think to reward her for her efforts, I will make this cake when she finishes all of the state birds in her Science book!

    1. You probably already made this, but in case any one else is wondering- I just halved the recipe to make a dozen large cupcakes. Fill 3/4 of the way. I also made a stabilized pineapple whipped cream frosting (drain crushed pineapples really well) and sprinkled toasted coconut flakes on it, and garnished with a wedge of pineapple. I thought it turned out excellent, and my family enjoyed them.

  4. I’m too busy to make a cake from scratch. Can I just use a box cake and add the pineapple, banana and nuts?

  5. I made your delicious cake, but I have made it lower in sugar. I only put 1/2 cup of sugar, instead of 2 cups. Instead of 1 cup vegetable oil, I used 1/2 cup of coconut oil. Instead of an 8oz can of pineapples, I used fresh pineapple, I magic bulleted 1/2 a pineapple (about 2 cups as liquid) and chopped 1/3 cup of pineapple for texture. As for my roasted pecans, I put about 1tsp cinnamon and 1tbs maple syrup on them prior to roasting them. Finally, I added 1/4cup flax seed to my flour mixture. Ummmm delicious and a little healthier:) thank you and I hope you’ll like my less traditional version:)

  6. Have been baking this cake in a tube pan (350/60-70min) since around 1964 while I lived in Philadelphia. We serve it without frosting. Batter is mixed by hand, making a well in the center of sifted dry ingredients and adding whole eggs, oil, pineapple and sliced ripe bananas and vanilla and stirring with a wooden spoon until dry ingredients are moistened. Easiest cake recipe that I bake eliminating the need of an electric mixer as well as mashing the bananas! Perhaps cream cheese frosting differentiates the Northern v. Southern take on this cake that is moist and delicious with or without frosting.

  7. Love the Hummingbird Cake. It is one of my absolute favourites. As to it’s recipe origins, I am afraid Mrs Wiggins of North Carolina is a bit cheeky in claiming to be the creator of the recipe. The cake was first known to have come from Jamaica. The recipe was sent out across America in a promotional kit for Jamaica.

    Below is an exert of on reference about the cake’s history, and link to the blog on Jamie Oliver’s web page. By the way, your recipe and cake look more appealing than Mr Oliver’s version. Personally, i am grateful to Mrs Wiggins and Americans for sharing this delicious recipe, as it made its way to Australia and in to my heart.

    “Despite its cryptic name, the Hummingbird cake’s origins are clearer than most. Usually the origins of foods are shrouded in the mists of time, handed down from generation to generation before popping up somewhere completely different.
    The giveaway to the Hummingbird cake’s birthplace, however, is in the key ingredients – bananas and pineapple. Hopefully you’re already thinking of the Caribbean, and it’s thought to have been invented in Jamaica, probably in the late ‘60s.
    Originally, it was called the “Doctor bird cake”, a nickname for a Jamaican variety of hummingbird called the Red-billed Streamertail. The name came from the way the bird’s long beak probes flowers, like a doctor inspecting a patient. So what does that have to do with a pineapple and banana cake? Some say the cake was named after the bird because it was sweet enough to attract hummingbirds (who eat only nectar), while others say the yellow streaks of banana was reminiscent of the bird’s plumage. Either way, the Doctor bird was about to take flight.
    In 1968, the Jamaican tourist board decided to try attracting tourists by sending out press kits to the US. In the packs were a few recipes from the island, including one for the Doctor bird cake. Over the next few years, similar recipes started to crop up in local papers and community cookbooks across the South under various different names, including the prophetic “Cake that doesn’t last”.
    Most food historians agree the first printed recipe for Hummingbird cake was by one Mrs L H Wiggin. She supplied the recipe to Southern Living magazine in February 1978, but even before then there are countless references to the cake in county fair reports and baking competitions across southern America.”

    Read more at http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/history-hummingbird-cake/#YFtZorheIdG2z8B3.99

  8. I don’t have a bundt pan. Can I make this cake in a 9×13 glass dish? If so would I need to change any part of the recipe or would I need to bake it differently? Thanks

  9. I just made this cake for Easter dessert. I used like a 9 x 13 rectangle glass pan. I didn’t have 3 round ones. Had to bake a bit longer, but, it came out great. It was a hit with my family and friends. I will make it again. Thanks.

    1. I had three round pans. Two of them cooked in the time allotted but one took a bit longer. Just keep an eye on it/them and use your judgement.

  10. This cake was absolutely amazing! So glad I tried it- as a New Yorker, I had no idea what a Hummingbird cake was but it was a total hit… and if you’re trying to impress people this one really does the job 🙂 Only thing I’d disagree with is if you’re not a regular baker, this took me wayyyyy longer than the estimated time (I actually don’t want to admit how long). Regardless, it was totally worth it. Will absolutely make again!

  11. Robyn, I am making this cake for my mother-in-law for her birthday. She loves any cake with pineapple & coconut. I immediately thought of this cake recipe because I made it for Easter and got rave reviews but there isn’t any coconut. I was wondering if I could also add coconut flakes to this recipe? Any advice?

    Thanks,
    Katrina

  12. For my first hummingbird cake, I made this recently, exactly as directed, and it was perfect. I bought a third pan to make it happen. I also made roasted pecans per your recipe: so many firsts. This cake is not only delicious, but beautiful—a statement cake! I iced it with your cream cheese frosting. There might have been some leftover frosting that I stored in the fridge and ate with a spoon a few days later.

    1. Hi Karen! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! You are so right, the presentation is just as amazing as the flavor, isn’t it? It is one of my favorites for that very reason!

  13. Hi Robyn, I’m Rachel from Malaysia. Thanks for the wonderful recipe! Can I please clarify, undrained pineapple means I must use all the syrup in the can?

    Thanks a lot!

  14. I have a similar recipe it’s called banana passion cake by Anne Bell, I will be making your recipe as it looks delicious, I love making cakes so any excuse to make an excellent cake is welcome.

  15. Yes nice recipe I bakes cakes an pies and all ways thinking of more tasty recipes and. I liked the cakes that I see here because that’s from the old school made freshly from scratcn no box cake mix the real ingredients made homemade baking please keep up the good work making baking a showing delicious cakes an please email me some recipes my name is man God’s man thinks peace out bless ya

  16. Im not much on cream cheese frosting. Is there another one you would recommend. This sounds so good and would love to try it.

  17. As a biologist, I can guess why is called Hummingbird Cake. In zoos or aviaries, plates of bananas, pineapples, and orange slices are set out especially for the hummingbirds. They love it!

  18. My mother made a cake called Dr. Bird Cake over 60 yrs ago. It was just. About the same. Delicious. My kids woul have her bake Dr. Bird as there birthday cake. We loved it.

  19. Do you know if I can make this cake with gluten free flour? I am a celiac so I have no choice in it. I would love to make this cake. It looks yummy. I am going to go for it and will post my results after Thanksgiving.

    1. Hi Jill,
      Are you able to use a gluten-free flour such as Cup 4 Cup or something similar? If so, you would use equal amounts of it in place of the all-purpose flour.

  20. I made this cake for my husband’s office and they loved it. It was very easy to make and tasted delicious. They all raved about it!

  21. I only used two bananas and mine came out with that flavor dominating and overpowering the pineapple. It’s good, but too much like a banana bread than cake. Not sure where I went wrong, a few tweaks I think for next time. Frosting is AMAZING though, will definitely use for other cakes.

    1. Hi Darlene,
      I am sorry it had too much of a banana flavor – I’ve not had that happen in my experience making the cake, so not sure what could have happened. I’m glad you like the frosting! Thanks so much!

  22. Cooked this cake, husband loved it. Easy to make, used Italian meringue frosting, will try your cream cheese frosting next time. Thank you for sharing…now I am sharing.

  23. I found this recipe years ago. It’s a favorite of mine. I make it in a 9 x 13 pan most of the time to share at work. Sometimes I just dust it with powdered sugar. It’s so moist & delicious.

  24. I have already made this cake so many times and it always comes out perfect!
    Super moist and delicious you can’t go wrong with this cake. It is my most requested cake. My aunt was famous for this cake but unfortunately passed away before I got the recipe. Robin I’m so glad I found your recipe. I will be making it for my nieces bridal shower, by her request. I know everyone will love it, and I will be making cupcakes for the guests to take home as one of the gifts.

    1. Malinda,
      I love to hear when other families like these recipes as much as my family does. I wish your niece all the best in her new marriage. xo

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