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hummingbird cake slice on a white plate with a fork

Hummingbird Cake Recipe

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This Hummingbird Cake Recipe is a Southern delicacy with a banana cake batter, pecans, pineapple, cinnamon and in my version, coconut! With the addition of cream cheese frosting make this banana cake practically irresistible.

Hummingbird Cake with Coconut slice on a white dessert plate with the whole cake in the background

Hummingbird Cake Recipe

The ol’ ball and chain has a huge list of dislikes. Banana bread? No way. All quick bread and muffins are out. So a banana cake is out. Nuts, coconut, pineapple? All three rank high on his fake “I’m deathly allergic” list. So I’ve been saving this hummingbird cake recipe for my book club gathering, where I could share with my more tolerant girlfriends. As you might guess, they all raved about this amped up banana cake recipe!

Classic Hummingbird Cake with Coconut on a white serving plate

What Is Hummingbird Cake?

This coconut hummingbird cake worked its way up to the deep south via Jamaica. First, you must know that Jamaica’s national bird is the hummingbird, which is also known as the doctor bird. A Jamaican newspaper published a cake recipe made with bananas called a Doctor Bird Cake. Whether this cake had the traditional nuts, spices and cream cheese frosting, as today’s version does, no one seems to know.

But I can tell you about this banana cake. The base is rich and dense, made with oil instead of butter. But it’s all the extras that make this delectable dessert a standout. The Southern Living Hummingbird Cake was first published in 1978 and became their most requested recipe ever! It’s just that delicious. Of note, though the naming of this cake is still considered a mystery, it also is known as the “Nothing Left Cake,” referring to the empty plates after it’s served.

What Does this Dessert Taste Like?

It’s obviously a banana cake, as there is lots of banana flavor, but much more than that. It’s almost a cross between banana bread and my classic carrot cake. My favorite carrot cake recipe also has a cream cheese frosting, plus crushed pineapple, coconut, and pecans. And just like carrot cake, this banana cake recipe is dense, moist and irresistible!

Hummingbird Banana Cake with a slice removed

How to Make This Cake 

Like my favorite carrot cake, I also prefer my hummingbird cake loaded. And though coconut is not traditional, it works beautifully! Katie and I both enjoyed every morsel of the leftovers, though, like her dad, she picked out all the nuts. Sigh. Time for a batch of chocolate chip cookies. The family never complains about those! 

Is there an ingredient you do not want in your cake?? Bill still brings up the time we dined at the now-defunct Lumiere in Vancouver. I told him he wouldn’t even notice the beets that were in their chocolate cake. Apparently, I was horribly mistaken! I’ll never live that one down. So feel free to leave out the nuts or coconut as those ommissions won’t interfere with the cake’s baking chemistry.

Tips for Mixing a Banana Cake

  • You’ll need 3 9-inch baking pans. I like lining them with parchment rounds. Make sure all are well greased.
  • Whisk together all the dry ingredients first. This helps distribute the baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  • Next mix in the wet ingredients in two batches. First the eggs, oil, and vanilla. Next, add the bananas, pineapple, coconut, and pecans.
  • Make sure you drain your pineapple well. This recipe does not count on any extra liquid from the juices.
  • Your bananas should have some brown spots on their skins. They should be slightly overripe, but not so ripe they’re fermenting!

Tips for Baking with Bananas

  • PRO-Tip: If you need to ripen a few of your bananas quickly, I’ve often roasted them in the oven to make both this cake and banana bread. Preheat your oven to 300º and roast for 15-20 minutes until the peels are very dark. I found this technique on the Southern Living website
  • I like to stock my freezer with bananas that are too ripe for my taste buds, but perfect for banana bread and cake. Peel, place in a freezer-safe zip-top bag, remove any excess air and freeze. Date the bag in case it gets lost in the back of your freezer.
  • PRO-Tip: It takes about 3 medium bananas to make one cup of mashed bananas.

A Couple More Pointers

  • Make sure your cream cheese and butter for the frosting are at room temperature. It will be much easier to mix. Also, sift your powdered sugar. It’s a pain, but your frosting will be much smoother if you take the time with this extra step.
  • PRO-Tip: Take the time to toast your pecans to release the natural oils and improve their flavor. Toast in a single layer on a sheet pan at 350º for about 5 minutes.  Shake the pan at the halfway mark, and watch carefully so the nuts do not burn.
Hummingbird Cake Recipe with coconute on a serving platter


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This Hummingbird Cake recipe was first shared in August 2017. Photos and text were updated in 2020.


Slice of Banana Cake on a white plate

Classic Hummingbird Cake with Coconut

A classic Southern dessert with bananas, pecans, and pineapple. I added coconut just because! Adapted from Southern Living.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Yield 16 servings


For cake:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups mashed bananas (use ripe bananas)
  • 1 (8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 3/4 cup coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees

For Frosting::

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Pecans, coconut, to garnish, if desired.


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray three 9-inch cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Line bottom of each pan with parchment paper and spray parchment with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs, oil, and vanilla, and stir until combined. Fold in bananas, pineapple, coconut, and pecans. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes. Place pans on cooling racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans to cooling racks, and cool completely. Remove parchment paper.
  4. While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting. In a large bowl beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar, mixing until it's all incorporated. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. Place one layer on a serving plate. Top with one-fourth of frosting. Repeat procedure once. Top with the remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of the cake. Garnish with pecans or coconut, if desired.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 807Total Fat: 48gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 29gCholesterol: 86mgSodium: 410mgCarbohydrates: 92gFiber: 3gSugar: 68gProtein: 7g


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57 comments on “Hummingbird Cake Recipe”

  1. Mmm, how delicious! We all love coconut in our home!

  2. Coconut is definitely a favourite. This is a very beautiful layered cake, Liz.

  3. I have to admit I’ve never tried a hummingbird cake!! I love coconut though and this sounds so good.

  4. Beautiful!! I would be afraid to have it around if there wasn’t a crowd to serve. I wouldn’t trust myself as it looks incredibly delicious (and like it came from a fine bakery)!

  5. just because it has coconut in it I want some!

  6. A sensational cake!

  7. Wow! Such a palatable cake recipe! Can’t wait to give it a try, Liz! Do the bananas need to be ripe?

  8. Wow, this cake would qualify as a master piece for any celebration. You are a great baker.

  9. Don’t worry–you can send all your quick breads and muffins and nutty cakes down to me! In case your book club friends develop allergies too :). This cake sounds absolutely divine!

  10. I’ve always wanted to try this cake and yours is so pretty! Love the history too 🙂 Pinning! It looks fantastic.

  11. I love this cake Lizzy, never I made I have to try your recipe some day, look delicious!!

  12. Dear Lizzy, I only learned of a Hummingbird cake a few years ago and was drawn to the recipe by the name. It is a wonderful cake and I am sure all in your book club loved it! It looks delish. xoox Catherine

  13. What a beautiful cake! I’m in lust! I’m like you, give me the works! 😀 Can’t wait to try this Liz!

  14. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a hummingbird cake! Love the coconut in yours. Yum!!

  15. I’d hummmmmm all up in this bird’s cakey business, that’s for dang sure!

  16. This cake looks super moist. I can’t think of anything that I would not like in a cake. Love the nuts, pineapple, coconut… yum!

  17. The cake looks irresistible!!!!

  18. What a gorgeous cake, we would totally love this recipe. I laughed out loud when I read “the ol’ ball and chain”!!!! We had my best friend and husband over for dinner snd I served a banana cream pie, entirely forgetting that he “doesn’t eat nuts”, it had some ground pecans in the crust. That guy cleaned off the crust and left it for dead on his plate! I should be grateful that he didn’t just push it away after one bite, it’s happened before!

  19. Love coconut! After lemon, it might be my favorite flavor in desserts. And with a slice of this in front of me? Well, it’d definitely be the flavor of the day! This looks wonderful — thanks.

  20. Your cakes are baked goods are always so stunning and delicious, and this hummingbird cake is no exception. I love all the ingredients you have used here. Wonderful share.

  21. I love hummingbird cake and yours looks divine!! Yay for coconut! I cracked up at the fake “I’m deathly allergic” list 🙂

  22. What? No quick breads? And no muffins? How is marriage feasible under those conditions? What if you frost the muffin and call it a cupcake? Anyway, I’ve ever had hummingbird cake, and am so glad to find out that it’s not made of roasted hummingbird. Even having never had it, though, I can tell that coconut flat-out belongs in there! I’m eager to try it!

  23. My ball and chain will not touch this type of cake either (but he does love banana bread). If it’s not plain chocolate or vanilla, he won’t eat it. I on the other hand LOVE everything in this cake, especially the addition of coconut! 💛

  24. My god!! How delicious this is! Me and my mommy love the coconut in our home actually. This cake is superb and looks so tempting in your pictures. But is it necessary to use Egg? can I make it without using egg? Looking forward to more recipes, Thanks for sharing this with us. Best wishes and Regards.

    • Yes, unfortunately, you’ll need to use eggs in this recipe. You could try an egg substitute, but I have no experience with those (like applesauce or a flax seed mixture), so unsure if it would work. Eggs provide some lift and structure. If you do give it a go, let me know how it turns out!! Thanks for your sweet comment 🙂

  25. I love the name let alone the ingredients and the look of this beautiful cake!

  26. Good morning or whatever it is where you are…from Yorkshire in England. (Yes the home of Yorkshire puddings).
    Just love this recipe….I have made it gluten free….and you really couldnt tell. Sorry, no photos as I had a guest take a knife to it before I thought about the photos. ….says it all…

    Fab cake, moist, flavoursome…easy to make. What more could you want.?

    Have fun..and if in any doubt….twice!!


  27. Such a gorgeous cake, Liz! Love that pretty cream cheese frosting! Glad this was a hit with your girlfriends, I know I would adore this! 🙂

  28. Liz, your Humminbird Cake looks scrumptious – moist, delicious and very elegant! Not surprised that the members of your Book Club raved about it!

    P.S.: For some reason, I am having trouble commenting on your site. It simply won´t post my comments…hope it works this time.

  29. This is one beauty of a cake and one of the most decadent. I have lots of picky eaters also but that won’t deter me from making this. My daughter made one for Easter and I think I’m still wearing it around my hips!

  30. When I want something besides chocolate, I always think of carrot cake. This will be changing soon because this cake sounds divine!

  31. I’m glad the book club ladies loved this cake. You really are a master of layered cakes Liz, so beautiful.

  32. This is such a beautiful elegant cake! Never had the chance to make a Hummingbird Cake! I wish I had that slice right now!

  33. The Delicacy of this cake makes me to adore it. Simple but yet very classy for any occasion. The coconut creamy part looks so fabulous . i Feel like eating whole but then keeping it mind that i have to make this cake for my mother as she love coconut cake. Its texture is really nice. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Its definitely in my list.

  34. I’ve been dreaming about this cake for a week now, Liz! It just calls to me! That fluffy frosting, super moist cake texture and the crunch of walnuts and coconut. Dessert perfection.

  35. Hi Liz, Thanks for the lovely recipe. If I make it the day before my dinner party, should I put it in the refrigerator?

    • Hi, Terri,

      To play it safe, I’d keep it in the refrigerator. I’d pull it out an hour or so before dessert, so it has a chance to warm to room temperature to serve. Hope you enjoy!!!

  36. Hi Liz, Thank you for your suggestion. One more thing please. Do I measure my toasted pecans
    Before or after I chop them ?

    • Hi, Terri,

      Measure them after they are chopped, then toast. Happy baking!

      • Thanks so much. I have never made a hummingbird cake before, so I really appreciate your response to my questions. It’s a big deal to me, because a new family member is having a birthday and secretly I am making your recipe, her favourite birthday cake. Hope she likes it ! I will definitely let you know. P.S Mine is not quite sooooo very pretty as yours.

  37. I do hope you see this question, I can’t believe no one noticed it. But did you really use 31 eggs????? Im sure it’s a type O…as I have made this recipe once 17 years ago and Im sure I didn’t use that many eggs. So is it 3 or 1?? LOL!!!!!

    • LOL, Tammy! Good catch! I’m pretty sure that’s an “L” for large eggs, but who the heck would know that??? I’ve deleted the letter so the recipe reads 3 eggs. Thanks for letting me know!!

  38. A Fellow Baker February 3,2019

    I’ve made this wonderful cake before but never added coconut. I’m having a dinner party soon and I’m making your recipe and I’m confident my guests will rave. Thanks for your lovely website.

  39. This cake sounds so amazing!!! I love everything about it. That icing sounds wonderful too!!

  40. This is my husband’s favorite cake ever. And your version is one of the best I have ever made. 5 stars all the way!

  41. This cake is absolute perfection! Going to make this for Easter!

  42. This is what I want as my birthday cake this year!

  43. Can this cake be made in bunt pan or Angel food pan I don’t want to frost

    • Hi, June,

      Since I haven’t tested it, I did a little research. It looks like it’s possible to do, but the baking time will be longer, the cake will be denser and the crust will be thicker. Since it’s a 3 layer cake instead of a 2 layer cake, watch so you don’t fill the pan too much. I’m not 100% sure it will work well. You could also just bake the layers and serve one or two with dusting of powdered sugar (freezing the leftovers for later). Here is where I found my information:

    • I wish I could give you a definitive answer. Let me know if you try it!

  • Liz, your cakes are always so stunningly perfect! I’ve never had a Hummingbird cake, and I’m thinking it’s about time I did. I’m feeling inspired after reading this. 🙂 ~Valentina

  • This cake looks simply amazing. If there is a slice looking for a good home I’m available… 🙂

  • I love the story behind this delicious cake, it looks and sounds delicious.

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