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Southern Hummingbird Cake from Scratch

Here in the south we love our sweets and we’re particularly fond of this traditional fruity cake. It you love a rich, full cake loaded with nuts and fruit, this is the recipe for you!

History of Southern Hummingbird Cake

Southern Hummingbird Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

I’ve lived in the south all of my life and until a few years back I had never once tasted southern Hummingbird Cake. I don’t know how this delicious spice cake managed to elude me for so many years. After all, it has so many of my favorites–bananas, pecans, and pineapple.

In many ways, a Hummingbird Cake is much like a banana bread, but with the addition of crushed pineapple, which gives it more of a tropical twist.

A Southern Classic

And “tropical” is fitting, since this particular cake originated in Jamaica. It was initially called Doctor Bird Cake because it was nectar-like in its sweetness. (Yum, right?)

If the image of Hummingbirds dipping their slender beaks into sweet nectar, then you get the idea! This is one cake so sweet (and, frankly, so high in calories) that it’s almost irresistible. And here in the south we like anything that we can’t say no to.

Cream Cheese Frosting? Yes, Please!

Southern Hummingbird Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Speaking of which, let’s talk about that luscious cream cheese frosting. Like an Italian Cream Cake or Carrot cake, (both southern favorites), this Hummingbird cake wouldn’t be complete without the tart sweetness of a lush cream cheese frosting.

A little butter, a lot of cream cheese, and confectioners sugar? Yes, please! Toss in a little leftover pineapple juice and you’re suddenly attracting more than Hummingbirds. Everyone will want a slice of this classic southern dessert.

Enough with the teasing and tempting! It’s time to talk about the ingredients for this delicious cake. If you prefer to use a boxed cake mix (something I love to do when I’m in a hurry) simply substitute the flour, sugar, and baking soda with two box mixes and double the eggs.

Hummingbird Cake Ingredients

You’ll find a full printable recipe card at the bottom of this post but here’s a quick peek at what you’ll need. These are all simple ingredients you probably have on hand.

For the Cake:

  • all purpose flour
  • sugar
  • eggs
  • over-ripe bananas
  • baking soda
  • pecans
  • crushed pineapple (in its juice)
  • ground cinnamon

For the frosting:

  • room temperature cream cheese
  • salted butter
  • powdered sugar
  • pineapple juice

To decorate:

  • pecan halves

How to Make Traditional Hummingbird Cake

This cake came together so easily I didn’t even need to pull out my stand mixer or my hand mixer! I merged everything together in a large mixing bowl and whipped it up with a whisk and then a silicone spatula.

Here’s how I did it:

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Toast the pecans. You can do this on a cookie sheet in the oven (just a few minutes at 350 degrees) or on the stovetop in a saucepan. (That’s my preferred method.) Just remember to stir them frequently so they don’t burn.

Southern Hummingbird Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Mash bananas and set aside.

Make Your Cake

Prepare three 8″ round cake pans. I sprayed mine with Baker’s Joy but you can use butter and flour or shortening and flour (just a light dusting of flour is all you’ll need).

In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, and cinnamon.

Southern Hummingbird Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Add wet ingredients (oil, eggs, extract, and pineapple with juice) to the dry ingredients. Stir well until fully incorporated.

Southern Hummingbird Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Add mashed bananas and mix well.

Fold in the (cooled) toasted pecans.

Southern Hummingbird Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Pour cake batter into the three prepared 8″ pans and place in preheated oven.

Note: I used 9-inch cake pans but ended up with thinner layers.

Southern Hummingbird Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake springs back to the touch and starts to pull away from the edges of the pan.

Remove pans from oven and place on wire racks to cool.

After ten minutes turn the cakes out onto racks.

Make Your Cream Cheese Frosting

While the cake is cooling you can make your cream cheese frosting.

Start by creaming the room temperature cream cheese and butter at medium speed with electric mixer. Add extract. Stir in half of the powdered sugar, creaming until smooth. Now add a couple tablespoons of pineapple juice. Finish off by adding the rest of the powdered sugar.

Southern Hummingbird Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

You want your frosting to be gloopy. That’s the only word I can think of to describe the texture. It’s not a stiff frosting like my Dreamy Buttercream. Neither is it soupy. It’s somewhere in-between.

Let’s Build This Cake!

You can start building the cake as soon as the layers have fully cooled.

Place one cake on cake board and frost the top with the cream cheese frosting. If you like you can add a few chopped pecans.

Add the second cake and frost. (Add more pecans if you like.)

Place the top cake upside-down so that the flat bottom is now the top of the cake. Frost the cake with the rest of the frosting. Don’t worry about getting the sides of the cake perfect. With a loose frosting like this you will see through to the cake.

Put a ring of chopped pecans or pecan halves around the outer edge of the top of the cake. You can also add a few pecans around the bottom if you like. This is your cake! Make it whatever you like.

Chill for at least an hour or two before slicing and serving. Check out those cake layers!

Southern Hummingbird Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

This is one cake you’ll want to store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It’s only going to stay good for 3-4 days so eat up! I don’t recommend freezing this one but if you do, make sure it’s completely sealed so that no air can get to it.

What to Expect from this Pineapple Banana Cake

If you’re a lover of banana bread, then you’re going to adore this luscious layer cake! It’s packed full of flavors–tropical, sweet, and dense with flavor. And talk about a moist cake!

I love the golden color and the crisp edges but I’m particularly fond of the addition of the tangy cream cheese frosting. It’s absolutely luscious!

I was tempted to toss in a cup of coconut. I did this once before and loved it. But I happened to be taking this one to a family member who recently received my Traditional Coconut Cake and didn’t want her to think this one was the same. (It’s definitely nothing like that one!)

It’s easy to see why this cake is a southern favorite. We love our cakes rich and chunky and this one is all of the above! It’s perfect for a special occasion or any day of the week!

This is an absolutely delicious hummingbird cake!

Variations on this Traditional Hummingbird Cake

Southern Hummingbird Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Because this cake already has a strong fruit base it’s easy to imagine adding more to it. Here are some of my favorite ideas:

Maraschino Cherries: The next time I make this cake I’m adding a full jar of (drained/chopped) maraschino cherries. I think they would be delicious in this recipe!

Coconut: As I mentioned above, this tropical cake lends itself to the addition of toasted coconut. (Yum!)

Walnuts: If you’re not a pecan fan, you can always add walnuts or even macadamia nuts. (Oooh! Macadamia nuts with those tropical Hawaiian flavors? Luscious!)

Spice Cake: The addition of cinnamon to the batter of this cake makes it a spice cake but you can always add more! Just reach for the pumpkin pie spice mix and toss in a teaspoon. If you don’t have that spice on hand just add a but if ginger, clove, and nutmeg along with the cinnamon. You might also add a pinch of allspice. It’s up to you!

Cranberries: I’ve already added a doctored cake mix recipe for a Cranberry Hummingbird Cake. The flavors and textures are a bit different from this one, for sure. It’s perfect for Christmas!

Fresh pineapple: You can use fresh pineapple but be sure to chop finely or process in a food processor.

Bundt Pan: Bake this yummy cake as a bundt cake. You can use a piping bag to add the frosting afterwards.

Brown Sugar: You can substitute some of the white sugar with brown for more depth of flavor.

Other Southern Cakes from Out of the Box Baking

If you love this cake you’re going to appreciate several other southern favorites, as well!

Traditional Coconut Cake: I plan to make this one for Thanksgiving and fill it with lemon curd between the layers! It’s already rich with toasted coconut, coconut milk, and cream of coconut. Best of all, it starts with a boxed cake mix so it’s easy to make.

Butter Pecan Bundt Cake with Praline Topping: We love our pralines down here in the south! This rich butter pecan is loaded with luscious praline topping, heavy on the pecans and caramel.

Easy Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake: This is a personal favorite. It’s the ideal coffee cake, loaded with delicious streusel. Grab a cup of coffee and eat a big slice!

Coconut Pecan Cake (Italian Cream Cake): This is my Mama’s recipe and it’s my personal favorite. Southerners are going to love this one!

Easy Pineapple Coconut Cake with Lime: Pina Colada, anyone? You’ll definitely feel that Gulf Coast tropical vibe when you cut a slice of this rich cake.

The Perfect Texas Sheet Cake: If you’re looking for a classic sheet cake with rich chocolate cake and luscious chocolate-pecan frosting, you’ve come to the right place. This will be a big hit at your next gathering, and you don’t have to live in Texas to enjoy it!

Old-Fashioned Pound Cake with Whipping Cream: If you’re looking for a classic pound cake to serve at your next get-together, you can stop looking! I’ve got a luscious butter pound cake recipe for you that’s going to thrill and delight your guests and make you proud to serve it!

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake: Truly, a go-to cake for those of us in the south!


That’s it for this post, friends. I hope you enjoy this old fashioned hummingbird cake recipe. It’s truly as sweet as nectar!

See this recipe at

Full Plate Thursday 

Weekend Potluck

Busy Monday


About the Author

Janice Thompson is an author, baker, and all-around mischief maker! She has overcome a host of baking catastrophes, including a toppled wedding cake, to learn more about the baking process. Janice has published over 150 books for the Christian market but particularly enjoys writing recipes and baking devotions. To learn more about Janice or to drop her a note, visit her About the Author page.

Southern Hummingbird Cake from Scratch

Southern Hummingbird Cake from Scratch

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • Classic hummingbird cake
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 cups chopped pecans (toasted)
  • 4 mashed overripe bananas
  • 3 large room temperature eggs
  • 1.25 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 8 oz crushed pineapple with juice
  • CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
  • 1 block room temperature cream cheese
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 - 5 cups powdered sugar
  • splash pineapple juice (as desired)

Instructions

    How to Make Traditional Hummingbird Cake

    Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
    Toast the pecans. You can do this on a cookie sheet in the oven (just a few minutes at 350 degrees) or on the stovetop in a saucepan. (That's my preferred method.) Just remember to stir them frequently so they don't burn.
    Mash bananas and set aside.

    Make Your Cake
    Prepare three 8" round cake pans. I sprayed mine with Baker's Joy but you can use butter and flour or shortening and flour (just a light dusting of flour is all you'll need).
    In a large mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, and cinnamon.
    Add oil, eggs, extract, and pineapple (with juice) to the dry ingredients. Stir well until fully incorporated.
    Add mashed bananas and mix well.
    Fold in the (cooled) toasted pecans.
    Pour batter into the three prepared 8" pans and place in preheated oven. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until cake springs back to the touch and starts to pull away from the edges of the pan.
    Remove pans from oven and place on wire cooling racks to cool.
    After ten minutes turn the cakes out onto racks.

    Make Your Cream Cheese Frosting
    While the cake is cooling you can make your cream cheese frosting.
    Start by creaming the room temperature cream cheese and butter together. Add extract. Stir in half of the powdered sugar, creaming until smooth. Now add a couple tablespoons of pineapple juice. Finish off by adding the rest of the powdered sugar.
    You want your frosting to be gloopy. That's the only word I can think of to describe the texture. It's not a stiff frosting like my Dreamy Buttercream. Neither is it soupy. It's somewhere in-between.

    Let's Build This Cake!
    You can start building the cake as soon as the layers have fully cooled.
    Place one cake on cake board and frost the top with the cream cheese frosting. If you like you can add a few chopped pecans.
    Add the second cake and frost. (Add more pecans if you like.)
    Place the top cake upside-down so that the flat bottom is now the top of the cake. Frost the cake with the rest of the frosting.
    Put a ring of pecan halves around the outer edge of the top of the cake. You can also add a few pecans around the bottom if you like. This is your cake! Make it whatever you like.
    This is one cake you'll want to store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It's only going to stay good for 3-4 days so eat up! I don't recommend freezing this one but if you do, make sure it's completely sealed so that no air can get to it.

Best Italian Cream Cake (doctored cake mix) - Out of the Box Baking

Tuesday 3rd of January 2023

[…] the good stuff—like pecans, coconut, and pudding. Don’t believe it? Check out my Southern Hummingbird Cake recipe for […]

Lorraine B

Tuesday 29th of November 2022

Sounds delicious! I don't know if it's just me but were is the measurements for the cream cheese frosting?

booksbyjanice

Thursday 1st of December 2022

Here you go, Lorraine! CREAM CHEESE FROSTING: 1 block room temperature cream cheese 1 cup butter 4 - 5 cups powdered sugar splash pineapple juice (as desired)

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[…] Hummingbird Cake – Serve this hummingbird cake from Out of the box baking, and watch the smiles spread across everyone’s face. You’re in for a real treat with this southern dessert! […]

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Tuesday 8th of November 2022

[…] Cake (which starts with a box of white cake mix), Classic Banana Bread with Walnuts, and even my Southern Hummingbird Cake, which is loaded with bananas and other tropical […]

Janetta

Monday 31st of October 2022

This Hummingbird Cake is going to be made in a short order. WOW!!! Sounds delicious. Always thought my favorite was carrot cake, but not after tasting hummingbird cake. Thank you for sharing.

booksbyjanice

Tuesday 1st of November 2022

Let me know your thoughts!

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