Hummingbird Cake: A classic southern recipe made with pineapple, banana, cinnamon, and nuts, all topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting!

A slice of hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting and a dried pineapple flower on a white plate.

Original publish date: 4/18/2019.

Let me start by reassuring you: no hummingbirds were harmed in the making of this hummingbird cake.


It’s 100% hummingbird-free, but it does have plenty of tropical fruit, warm spice, and tangy cream cheese frosting.

This hummingbird cake recipe is a true southern classic.

I love how delicate, moist, and buttery it bakes up. The flavors are truly off the hook! Banana, pineapple, cinnamon… how could that not be amazing?

This easy recipe will knock your socks off, and you’ll only have one bowl to wash by the time you’re done. This is because it utilizes the reverse creaming method, which practically guarantees perfect results.

I love this method and I love a butter-based cake recipe. You just can’t beat them for taste! My vanilla cake, chocolate cake, and pumpkin cake recipes are all made this way too.

Classic hummingbird cake on a marble cake pedestal, decorated with pineapple flowers.

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What is hummingbird cake?

Hummingbird cake is a southern tradition. Like so many other delicious baked goods (think biscuits, peach cobbler, corn bread, pecan pie…) this recipe got its start down south.

It’s a simple layer cake, flavored with banana, pineapple, and cinnamon, filled and frosted with a tangy cream cheese icing, and garnished with pecans.

Overhead image of ingredients for making hummingbird cake.

The cake is ridiculously moist and tropical-tasting, and the combination of flavors is just out of this world. My whole house smelled incredible while this cake was baking! You’ve gotta give it a try!

Why this is the best hummingbird cake recipe

  1. Tastes amazing: The flavors here are so on point. Sweet banana is at the forefront, then you get the warm cinnamon and the pineapple. With tangy cream cheese frosting and crunchy pecans, it’s just a total home run.
  2. Tropical fruit: When seasonal fruit isn’t really making much of an appearance yet, tropical fruit is a great way to go! You can always get bananas and pineapple, even in the depths of winter!
  3. Easy to make: This recipe is easy to make, even for a novice.
  4. One bowl: It all happens in just one bowl. Hooray for easy cleanup!
  5. Beautiful: It looks so pretty! Aren’t those dried pineapple flowers gorgeous?

What does hummingbird cake taste like?

When you first take a bite, you’ll immediately pick up on the banana taste.

Cinnamon gives added interest, and sweet pineapple adds even more tropical flavor.

The tangy cream cheese frosting balances everything in the most gorgeous way, and toasty pecans add a tender crunch.


Flour: Cake flour gives this cake a fine crumb and delicate, tender texture. Learn more about it here: What is Cake Flour?

Sugar: Sugar adds sweetness (obvs!) but it also aids in browning and keeps things moist, since it’s hydrophilic (this means it loves water, in other words, it draws moisture in). Regular white sugar is fine, or sub for another type of sweetener if you like. As long as it swaps 1:1 for granulated sugar it should work.

Leavening: A combination of baking powder and baking soda ensure that this cake will rise beautifully.

Cinnamon: Gives a lovely warm flavor that complements the fruit in the most gorgeous way.

Salt: Salt carries the flavors and intensifies them. The end result won’t taste salty, but it will make everything so much more flavorful! I like kosher salt best because it doesn’t have any bitter tasting additives like iodine, and it’s cheap and easy to find at the regular grocery store.

Butter: I like to use unsalted butter because it lets me control the amount of salt in the dish. Different brands of butter can contain different amounts of salt, so this way you get a more consistent result. For a vegan or dairy-free hummingbird cake recipe, use a plant-based butter that can substitute for dairy butter 1:1. This recipe works best if you allow the butter to come to room temperature first. You can set it out on the counter a few hours ahead of making your recipe, or you can microwave it for 10 seconds, turn it over, and microwave it again for another 8 seconds.

Bananas: Ripe bananas add an unmistakable sweet flavor to this cake.

Pineapple: One can of crushed pineapple in its own juice, drained.

Sour cream: Keeps the cake moist and adds a rich flavor, as well as a little acid to activate the baking soda.

Eggs: Large chicken eggs to build the cake’s structure. It’s best if they’re at room temperature, but I don’t find this to be critical. You could also use a plant-based product that subs 1:1.

Vanilla: Flavors the cake with its sweet perfume.

Cream cheese frosting: My easy method for cream cheese frosting whips up stiff enough to pipe!

Nuts: Pecans are traditional. They’re so southern! Chop them finely and encrust the base of the cake with them while the frosting is still tacky.

Special equipment

How to make hummingbird cake

Just like with so many of my cakes, this recipe uses the reverse creaming method.

Step 1: Combine the dry ingredients

Start by combining all the dry ingredients in a big bowl. Flour, sugar, leavening, cinnamon, and salt just get stirred together.

Dry ingredients and butter for hummingbird cake.

Step 2: Add butter and eggs

Work in the soft butter until the mixture resembles damp sand.

Then, mix in the eggs. It’s important that the eggs go in one at a time, to avoid a lumpy batter. Allow the first one to become completely incorporated before adding in the next.

Step 3: Liquid ingredients

Now it’s time to add the liquid ingredients.

Fresh bananas in a mini chopper.

Puree the bananas until they’re really smooth. I like to use my mini chopper for this.

Pureed Bananas in a mini chopper.

You are also going to want to drain your pineapple really well! It’s best to put in in a strainer and really squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can.

Wire mesh strainer with crushed pineapple in it.

Add the pureed banana and drained, crushed pineapple to the cake batter, along with a little sour cream and a splash of vanilla extract.

Mixing bowl with hummingbird cake batter, bananas, pineapple, and sour cream.

Mix this batter for about a minute, to aerate it and strengthen the cake’s structure.

Step 4: Bake

Transfer the batter to greased, parchment-lined cake pans and bake!

Three cake pans with hummingbird cake batter.

You’ll know your layers are done baking when they are set around the edges and springy in the center, and a toothpick or bamboo skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

How to serve

Traditionally, hummingbird cake is made with cream cheese frosting. It’s so good! It compliments the fruit and spices in such a perfect way.

Try this recipe for no-fail, fluffy as can be cream cheese frosting that’s stiff enough to pipe: Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s what I used in the pictures you see here!

Or if you are anti-cream cheese, you could also try my favorite, Swiss meringue buttercream, or this easy American-style buttercream.

Whatever you do, just make sure the cake is completely cool before frosting. I recommend cooling the layers in their pans for at least 2 hours, or your frosting could melt.

Close-up of southern hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting, pecans, and pineapple flowers.

Expert tips

Squeeze the pineapple: To get as much moisture out as possible. If the crushed pineapple is overly wet, your cake could come out gummy.

Don’t overmix: The batter only needs about a minute of stirring. If you overmix it, it could activate the natural glutens in the flour and your cake could end up tough.

Check frequently: The bake times listed are only a rough guideline. Every oven is different. Flip on the oven light and check on your cake as it bakes. When the center no longer looks wet, crack the door and give a feel. If it’s springy, check it with a toothpick for doneness.

Don’t overbake: This cake should bake up very moist from all the fruit. But if it spends too much time in the oven, it could dry out.

Decorate: To make dried pineapple flowers, peel a fresh pineapple, and cut it crosswise into very thin rounds (the thinner the better!). Place them on a wire rack, and dry them in the oven. (At 170 degrees F, this will probably take around 3 to 4 hours.) Once they are dry but still warm, they should be pliable enough to shape. Press them gently into a small cup to form the blossom shape, and allow to cool completely.


Can this recipe be made in a different-sized pan?

To me, a tall, triple-layer cake is just such a statement, so I baked this cake in 3 6-inch round pans.

But it could also be made in 2 8- or 9-inch diameter pans, in a rectangular 9×13-inch pan, as 24 cupcakes, or doubled, in a 12-cup bundt.

Just keep an eye on the bake times. Larger, thinner cakes could need more or less time in the oven, depending.

You’ll know your cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the thickest part comes out clean.

Can you make it ahead?

You can definitely make this dessert ahead- in fact I would recommend it!

The layers can be baked the day before you plan to assemble the cake. Allow them to cool to room temperature, then wrap them tightly in plastic and refrigerate them overnight.

I also like to fill and frost the cake ahead, and give it some time in the fridge to chill before slicing in. In my experience, the results are always so much better when you allow layer cakes to chill for a while before serving. They’re easier to frost, and they slice so much more cleanly this way.

How to store

This cake will keep at room temperature for at least a day or two.

In the fridge, it will stay good for a week to 10 days. Just press a piece of plastic wrap into the cut side of the cake, so it doesn’t dry out.

The unfrosted cake layers can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen. They’ll last in the freezer for a couple of months.

What is the serving size?

If you cut this cake into 10 equal slices, each slice would be 1 serving.

The nutritional info in the recipe card below is for 1/10th of the whole cake. It includes the frosting.

A vertical slice of hummingbird cake, with another slice in the background that is laid on its side.

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A slice of hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting and a dried pineapple flower on a white plate.
4.80 stars (5 ratings)

Hummingbird Cake

Servings: 10
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Hummingbird Cake: A classic southern recipe made with pineapple, banana, cinnamon, and nuts, all topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting!


For the hummingbird cake layers:

For the decoration:


To make the hummingbird cake layers:

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, mist 3 6-inch diameter cake pans with non-stick spray, and line with circles cut from parchment.  
  • Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. 
  • Add the softened butter, and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles damp sand (about 1 minute). 
  • Mix in the eggs, one at a time, scraping bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.  (Allow each egg to fully incorporate before adding the next one.)
  • Puree the banana, and add to the bowl, along with the pineapple, sour cream, and vanilla. 
  • Mix on medium speed for about 1 minute, to aerate the batter and build the cake’s structure.
  • Divide the batter equally between the 3 prepared pans, and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean. 
  • Cool completely, fill & frost with cream cheese frosting, and garnish with chopped pecans and pineapple flowers.*


*To make pineapple flowers, peel and thinly slice rounds of fresh pineapple and place them on a wire cooling rack. Dry in a 170 degrees F oven for 3 to 4 hours, then place in a small cup to shape.
A few more great layer cake recipes:
Serving: 0.1whole cake, Calories: 291kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0.4g, Cholesterol: 58mg, Sodium: 214mg, Potassium: 178mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 20g, Vitamin A: 371IU, Vitamin C: 12mg, Calcium: 35mg, Iron: 1mg
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert, Snack
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  • Allie

    Allie is the creator and owner of Baking a Moment. She has been developing, photographing, videographing, and writing and sharing recipes here since 2012.