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Hummingbird Cake

by on May 24, 2008 · 25 comments

Today I decided that the second super special cake would be Hummingbird Cake — a real crowd pleaser. In fact, it’s the most requested recipe in the history of Southern Living Magazine, which helped make it famous. It was submitted to SL in 1978 by Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensborough North Carolina, but it had been around before then and had appeared under other names such as Grannie’s Cake and Nothing Left Cake. Nobody really knows where the name Hummingbird Cake came from. But there’s speculation.

— Some say the cake is so good it makes people hum. (Creepy!)

— Hummingbirds drink sweet nectar and this cake is packed with sweet fruit.

— Hummingbirds eat fast and when people eat this cake, they eat it quickly – hummingbird style

— Someone was making it and saw a hummingbird out her window (Yawn)

— And my theory. People were eating it and got attacked by hummingbirds

Here’s the recipe.

hummingbird cake

Hummingbird Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Hummingbird Cake is a three layer cake made with bananas, pineapple, and nuts.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups chopped bananas
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 8 tablespoons butter (unsalted, softened)
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch or two of salt – omit if using regular salted butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 3 9-inch round cake pans with flour-added cooking spray or rub with shortening and dust with flour.
  2. Stir flour, soda, salt, sugar and cinnamon together in a large mixing bowl; add eggs, oil and vanilla, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Stir in pineapple, pecans, and bananas.
  3. Pour batter into cake pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
  4. Prepare cream cheese frosting. Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until light and fluffy - taste after adding 2 cups. Add more sugar if you prefer it to be sweeter. Beat in vanilla. Add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter.
  5. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped pecans on top. Store in refrigerator.
  6. servings


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Published on May 24, 2008

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

VeggieGirl May 24, 2008 at 11:54 am

Ahh, good luck at that party!! The Hummingbird cake is an EXCELLENT dessert to serve – yum!

Jan Harris May 24, 2008 at 2:05 pm


Jan Harris May 24, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Meant to say, I love your theory Anna!

giz May 24, 2008 at 6:48 pm

70 people at a party – you better get busy – sounds like you’ll need more than 2 cakes unless 10 other people are baking.

Hummingbird Cake sounds wonderful – love the ingredients – love the idea of bringing some southern baking to the great white north so I’m going to give it a try. Thanx for the recipe.

I have this vision of people lined up with this cake humming – you’re right – kinda creepy – almost cult like :)

Heidi May 24, 2008 at 8:15 pm

I’ve seen both Martha and Paula Deen make a hummingbird cake – then Paula ON Martha making it! (cupcakes in Martha’s case) I had never even heard of it prior to that.

Anna May 24, 2008 at 9:29 pm

Veggiegirl, I’ll bet there are some good vegan hummingbird cakes.

Jan, I like my theory the best too.

Giz, people are bringing things so it’s not going to be out of control.

Heidi, I saw Martha’s version on her website. She added coconut to hers. She also sifted the dry ingredients.

Ghislaine May 24, 2008 at 10:05 pm

Heidi and Anna, did you see the version Martha decorated with paper-thin slices of pineapple that she had oven-dried? Beautiful!

KAnn May 25, 2008 at 1:32 am

This looks good, Anna….I have seen so many recipes for Hummingbird Cake. I was just re-reading one of James Villas books (the “My Mother’s Southern” series and I know he loves them! I did make the strawberry cake from AllRecipes this morning and I think it was quite good, btw. I did a cream cheese icing and I think I would defintely make it again.

Noble Pig May 25, 2008 at 7:31 am

Gosh that cake sounds scary! LOL

Chris C-L May 25, 2008 at 12:39 pm

A friend of mine makes Hummingbird Cake and starts with a lemon cake mix. It’s pretty tasty. If anyone wants me to post the recipe, let me know.

Warm Fuzzies May 25, 2008 at 3:04 pm

This is one of my all-time favourite cakes, to make and to eat. The only problem is I never see the cream cheese frosting as needed – the cake is so sweet on its own, frosting would be over the top!

Heidi May 25, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Ghislaine-I did see that. Oh, if only I had the time to dry paper thin pieces of pineapple.. ;)

Patricia Scarpin May 26, 2008 at 12:03 pm

I have been meaning to make a hummingbird cake ever since I saw the one Oprah’s ex chef makes. :)

kimberleyblue May 27, 2008 at 9:19 am

Yum! Sounds like the banana version of a carrot cake. And no cake can ever go wrong when it has cream cheese frosting!

T. Martin May 27, 2008 at 9:13 pm

Chris C-L,

I would really like to see that version that starts with the lemon cake mix.


Leigh Ann June 4, 2008 at 9:24 am

Looks like you only used 2 pans – am I right? I assume it didn’t overflow?
Planning to make this tonight for a friend’s birthday :)

Anna June 4, 2008 at 10:59 am

Yup! Two pans. I think there was a better ratio of cake to frosting so the cake wasn’t overly sweet. It didn’t even come close to overflowing.

Bianca August 22, 2008 at 11:19 am

Hi Anna! I’m SO excited to try this cake out! What are your thoughts on me halving the recipe and trying it out as cupcakes?

Heather - Ghost Baker April 16, 2009 at 8:48 am

Thanks again for listing this, Anna. It worked out really well for me! I changed the frosting to a Cool Whip based one instead of cream cheese which I think just kept things a little lighter and didn’t overwhelm the cake. Sadly my brother took all the leftovers back with him to his house! :-P

Olga July 21, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Hi.. i just got trapped here in your blog. .im loooving it it could be my favourite so far… I love it the way you have many recipes of the same cake for instance. .. i also do the same .. when i like a cake i can spend hours literally..trying to find many recipes and decide for the best..i loved it how i found several for the coconut cake for instance..Congratulations.

I have found my favourite recipe for this cake to be the one at the Joy of Baking web site. Have you tried it?..I bet you know the site it is very good. ..

Congratulations again and have a great day. :)

Anna July 21, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Hi Olga,

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you stay “trapped”. Also, thanks for appreciating my habit of doing the same stuff over and over but in different ways. I like to compare…..;).

BTW, I love Joy of Baking.

Jen May 29, 2011 at 5:21 am

I just made this cake for my husband’s birthday. I was a little disappointed. – it just tasted like a banana bread/cake to me. Don’t get me wrong – it was good, but I was expecting something a little different. I did not get any pineapple flavor. Maybe I will try Martha’s recipe that uses coconut for something different.

Shannon March 19, 2012 at 10:09 am

I’ve had this recipe saved for a looong time and finally got around to making it for my sister’s birthday. It was a big hit! Very sweet, but I kept my cream cheese frosting a little tangy so as not to overpower the cake. I agree with you on the 2 vs 3 layers – I think 2 layers does this cake well. I used 2 8-inch rounds and made a few cupcakes with the extra batter. I love the banana flavor, but I wonder if doubling the pineapple and reducing the banana would let the pineapple flavor come through more…. maybe next time. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Buddy H March 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I was looking for a special cake for my mothers birthday. I had forgot to give an order at local bakery so i thought why not go to walmart they usually have good cakes but to my disappointment there only had two options that day, chocolate and Humming Bird Cake by Paula Deen. I thought since my mother doesn’t like chocolate the latter should be more than enough. It said on the cake it has nice “moist spices with banana, pineapples, and pecans with creme-cheese topping. Thinking it should be nice, moist, subtle not to sweet, or heavy on icing but to my dismay, it was the most HORRIBLE cake I had ever consumed and ruined a good occasion. The Creme cheese icing makes up 60% of the cake, only 40% made up of the moist cake part that was tasted like a MINI crunch donut (no taste of pineapple nor bananas but there was some spice); the pecans were on the side but they were little stale (that didnt matter as I picked them off). But wow, really if this what I should expect from Paul Deen foods than I m no longer a fan. I m gald I forgot to call my baker or else I would still been a fan of lardy disappointing food.

gloria February 26, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Made this the other day. Didn’t make too many changes other than adding carrots and using salted butter in the frosting. Love it! It stays good a long time in the refrigerator too! My husband is on a diet.

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