Hummingbird Cake features 3 layers of sweet, moist cake topped with a luscious caramel-cream cheese frosting. The classic cake is made with crushed pineapple, bananas, and coconut for a light, tropical flavor. It’s the perfect cake for spring, summer, Easter, or any celebration!
The Best Hummingbird Cake Recipe
If you’re looking for a cake that’s perfect for spring and summer, this Hummingbird Cake is it! The dense, moist cake has a tropical flavor thanks to the mashed bananas, crushed pineapple, and coconut flakes. The caramel-cream cheese frosting brings it all together. It’s gorgeous to look at and even more wonderful to eat!
What Is Hummingbird Cake?
Hummingbird Cake is a Southern favorite made with mashed bananas, pineapple, coconut, and chopped pecans. It’s a dense, moist layer cake topped with a to-die-for caramel cream cheese frosting and it is actually Southern Living’s most requested cake recipe. Whoa.
Why is it called hummingbird cake? Well, because it’s so sweet that it attracts the hummingbirds!
The cake originated in Jamaica, where it was known as “doctor bird cake”. “Doctor bird” was the nickname for the red-billed streamertail, a type of hummingbird and Jamaica’s national bird.
It’s said that the cake came to the United States when Air Jamaica began flying in 1968 and the Jamaica tourism board included a recipe for local food in a promotional kit – including, of course, the original doctor bird cake.
Hummingbird cake quickly gained popularity in the South, finding its sway into baking competitions in the 1970s and then officially printed for the first time in the February 1978 Southern Living magazine.
Hummingbird Cake Ingredients
This layer cake recipe is made with very ripe mashed bananas, crushed pineapple, coconut flakes, pecans, and a handful of pantry essentials. Then coated with an amazing caramel-cream cheese frosting, using our homemade caramel sauce. Finally, we toast coconut and pecans for a beautiful garnish on top. It’s not only delicious, but so lovely to look at at!
How to Make Hummingbird Cake (3 Layer Cake)
Hummingbird cake may be one of the easiest layer cakes to ever make. The batter comes together in minutes and the frosting is also super quick and easy to make. Here’s a summary:
(To make this hummingbird cake recipe, scroll down to our printable recipe with the complete directions, and don’t miss the video right below.)
- Prepare the cake batter. Whisk together the dry ingredients, then combine with the wet. Divide evenly among the 3 cake pans.
- Bake and cool. Bake in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes then remove from the pans to cool completely.
- Make the frosting. Beat together the frosting ingredients until light and fluffy, starting with only a portion of the powdered sugar, adding more as needed to get the desired consistency. The frosting should be stiff but spreadable.
- Make the topping. Combine the toasted coconut flakes and pecans.
- Assemble the cakes. Place the first cake on a serving platter then top with a layer of frosting. Add the second cake layer and more frosting. Top with the third cake and spread the remaining frosting over the top and the sides. Decorate with a ring of coconut-pecan around the edge of the top.
- Make Hummingbird Cupcakes instead. You can easily turn this layer cake recipe into cupcakes. Just divide the batter among paper-lined muffin cups, filling each one 3/4 full. Bake at 350F for 18 to 22 minutes. Allow to cool completely and top with the frosting and coconut mixture.
- Convert to a Hummingbird Sheet Cake. You can also make a hummingbird sheet cake. You’ll just need to adjust the amount of frosting made and adjust the bake time. See below instructions in the “Notes” section of the recipe card.
Tips for Success
If this is your first time making this hummingbird cake with coconut, keep the following things in mind.
- Do not over-mix the batter. Mix the batter just until all the ingredients are combined. Otherwise, it can end up a bit denser than desired.
- How to easily remove the cakes from the pan. Run a dull knife around the edges to loosen the cake, then invert onto a wire rack. Remember to peel off the paper!
- Be sure the cakes are completely cooked. The cake layers must be cooled completely before assembling the cake. Otherwise, the frosting will soften and the layers may slide.
- Level the cakes. For the prettiest presentation, level the baked cakes before layering. Use a sharp knife to slice any domes off the top of the cake.
- Omit the pecans if needed. If anyone in your family has a nut allergy, feel free to omit the pecans completely from the recipe.
- Serve at room temperature. Enjoy your hummingbird cake at room temperature.
How to Store Leftovers
- Storing leftovers. Hummingbird cake is best stored in the fridge. Technically, if you live somewhere cool you can leave it on the counter for up to 2 days, but I recommend storing it in the fridge. It will last for up to a week, just be sure to keep it well covered so it doesn’t dry out. I like to allow it to sit on the counter for a bit to come to room temperature before enjoying leftovers.
- Can I freeze Hummingbird Cake? You can freeze the unfrosted cake layers for up to 2 months. Wrap tightly in foil and store in an airtight container. Thaw on the counter. Since the frosting is cream cheese-based, it won’t freeze well. You’ll want to prepare and add that after the cake layers have thawed to room temperature.
Video: How to Make Hummingbird Cake
More Cake Recipes:
- Kentucky Butter Cake
- Easy Apple Cake
- Pistachio Cake
- Caramel Apple Cake
- Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
- Creamy Coconut Cake
For The Cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour , spooned and leveled
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs , lightly beaten
- 2 cups mashed ripe bananas
- 8 ounce can crushed pineapple in juice , undrained
- 1/2 cup coconut flakes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
For the Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 ounces cream cheese , softened to room temperature
- 1 cup unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup caramel sauce
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (or up to 4 cups, as needed)
- 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes
- 1/4 cup toasted pecans finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 3, 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pans and paper, discarding any excess. Set aside.
- In an extra-large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the oil, eggs, mashed bananas, crushed pineapple, coconut flakes, and vanilla until just combined.
- Divide batter evenly among the 3 prepared pans.
- Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick tester inserted near centers comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Run a dull knife around edge to loosen and invert onto wire racks, cool completely and peel off paper.
- Make the frosting: In a large bowl with an electric mixer, blend together the cream cheese, butter, caramel sauce, vanilla, and salt until combined and fluffy. Gradually beat in 3 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar, adding more if necessary to reach a stiffer, but spreadable consistency.
- Make the topping: In a small bowl, combine the toasted coconut and chopped pecans.
- Assemble Cake: Make sure the cakes are completely cooled before assembly. Level the cakes, if desired, by slicing a very thin piece off the top. Place first cake layer on a serving platter; using an offset spatula, spread top with 1 cup of the frosting. Top with second layer, and spread with 1 cup frosting. Top with third layer, and spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake, making it as smooth as possible. Decorate top with a ring of the coconut-pecan mixture near outside edge.
- Slice and serve at room temperature. And enjoy!
amounts) 4 ounces softened cream cheese, 1/4 cup softened butter, 1/4 cup caramel sauce, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, 2 & 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar FOR TOPPING – Same as 3 layer Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13×9 nonstick baking pan, making sure to get up the sides and in the corners, discarding any excess flour. Batter is prepared the same as the 3 layer cake, except you’ll spread it evenly into the 13×9 baking pan. Bake 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick tester in the center comes out.