This Classic Hummingbird Cake is filled with bananas, pineapple, and chopped pecans. Super moist and topped with a homemade cream cheese frosting!
I originally planned to post a regular banana cake recipe, but lately, I’ve been getting a lot of requests for a homemade hummingbird cake. So, I decided to switch gears and work on a recipe for this classic cake. Because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a banana cake that’s amplified with even MORE flavor!
If you’ve never heard of a hummingbird cake, it’s essentially a spiced banana cake filled with chopped nuts and crushed pineapple. It’s also topped off with cream cheese frosting, which really takes it to the next level.
And yes, it’s every bit as delicious as it sounds! I’ve also included some process photos to guide you along the way and links to some of my favorite products for frosting cakes.
How To Make This Cake
To make this hummingbird cake, you’ll start by toasting some nuts. I prefer to do this step first, so while the nuts are cooling I can prep the cake batter. You can skip this step if you want, but toasting the nuts really helps to bring out their flavor.
How do you toast pecans or walnuts?
Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C). Spread the pecans or walnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once the oven is preheated, place the baking sheet with the nuts in the oven and bake them for about 8-10 minutes stirring once or twice as they’re baking.
Next, you’ll whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, spices, and some salt.
- Flour: As always, make sure you spoon and level your flour. Since this cake is made with bananas, it has a denser texture and you don’t want too much flour in the batter otherwise it can weigh it down.
- Baking Soda: There’s one teaspoon of baking soda in this cake and it provides the perfect rise!
- Spices & Salt: This cake is spiced with some ground cinnamon and nutmeg, which both compliment the banana flavor perfectly.
Then, you’ll whisk together the wet ingredients: oil, mashed bananas, brown sugar, granulated sugar, crushed pineapple, eggs, and pure vanilla extract.
- Oil: You can use either canola, vegetable, or even melted coconut oil.
- Mashed Banana: There are two cups of mashed banana providing tons of banana flavor! The bananas along with the oil help to keep this cake incredibly moist.
- Sugar: I use a mix of brown sugar and granulated sugar, the brown sugar provides more flavor and moisture.
- Crushed Pineapple: This is a staple in hummingbird cake and it provides a lovely tropical flavor. Just make sure to drain the can of crushed pineapple before whisking it into the wet ingredients.
- Eggs & Vanilla Extract: There are three large eggs, which add structure. Plus some pure vanilla extract for more flavor.
Once you’ve mixed up the wet and dry ingredients, you’ll mix the two together until just combined. This recipe makes quite a bit of cake batter so I suggest using the largest bowl that you have to mix everything together.
The final step for the cake batter is to stir in the toasted nuts that you made earlier. I use one cup of chopped pecans in this cake, but I toast one and a half cups so I have some extra to decorate the cake with too.
Then, just pour the cake batter evenly between two 9-inch cake pans and bake them for about 35 minutes. If you want to make it easier to get the cakes out of your cake pans, I highly recommend lining the pans with some parchment paper. I use pre-cut round parchment sheets and they work perfectly!
Once the cake layers are cooled, level them, and assemble the cake. Hummingbird cakes are traditionally topped with cream cheese frosting, so I used my homemade recipe here. If you want a light layer of frosting, you can use the original recipe as is. I wanted a thicker layer so I increased the recipe by one and a half.
Do you have to refrigerate this cake?
Yes, since this cake is topped with cream cheese frosting it is best to refrigerate it. You can store the cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This cake will also freeze well for up to 3 months, just thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
What are the best tools for frosting a layered cake?
For frosting cakes, here are the tools that I use:
- Cake Turntable – This makes it much easier to turn the cake as you’re frosting it.
- Cake Scraper – To get a smoother cake, this works wonders and it’s inexpensive too!
- Cake Leveler – You can use a knife to level the tops of the cakes, but I find a cake leveler works best.
- Angeled Spatulas – I use a large spatula to spread the frosting around and a smaller one to fill in any small spots that need more frosting.
I have some step pictures in my chocolate cake recipe too that show how I frost a smooth cake.
Baking Tips For Hummingbird Cake
- I prefer to toast the pecans to bring out their flavor, but you can skip this step. If you do toast the pecans, I suggest doing this step first and letting them cool as you make the batter.
- When measuring your flour, make sure to stir the flour around in the container, spoon it into your measuring cup, and level it off with the back of a knife.
- You’ll need 2 cups of mashed bananas, which is equal to 4 large bananas or 5-6 medium bananas. The riper the bananas, the better!
- Make sure to drain the crushed pineapple before adding it to the wet ingredients.
- Be sure to use blocks/bricks of cream cheese for the frosting and not cream cheese spread in a tub.
For the hummingbird cake:
- 1 and 1/2 cups chopped pecans divided
- 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour spooned & leveled
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (240ml) canola or vegetable oil
- 2 cups (470 grams) mashed banana about 4-5 large bananas
- 1 cup (200 grams) light or dark brown sugar lightly packed
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple drained
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 12 ounces brick-style cream cheese softened
- 3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter softened
- 3 cups (360 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
To make the hummingbird cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spread the pecans on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 8-10 minutes, stirring a couple of times as they're baking. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Keep oven temperature at 350°F.
- Spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, mashed banana, brown sugar, granulated sugar, crushed pineapple, eggs, and vanilla extract until fully combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Then, fold in 1 cup of the chopped pecans.
- Evenly distribute the batter between both cake pans and spread it around into one even layer. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 33-38 minutes or until the tops of the cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes, then carefully remove the cakes from the pan, and transfer back to the wire rack to cool completely.
To make the cream cheese frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter for about 1 minute or until well combined.
- Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue mixing until fully combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
To assemble the cake:
- Once the cake layers have cooled, level the tops of each cake. Place one cake layer on top of a cake stand (or large plate) and top with about 1 cup of frosting. Spread the frosting around into one even layer and then top with the remaining cake layer. Use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.
- Use the remaining 1/2 cup of chopped pecans to decorate the cake. Slice into pieces and serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.