Hummingbird Cake Recipe - a Favorite Southern Dessert

Delicious Hummingbird Cake
Delicious Hummingbird Cake | Source

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4.1 stars from 20 ratings of Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake has been a Southern favorite recipe for years, due to its taste, moistness, readily available ingredients and ease of making. What more could you ask for?

What started out as a tasty and simple cake has become a "claim to fame" for many high profile cooks. Paula Deen and Martha Stewart both have their versions of Hummingbird Cake. Southern Living magazine claims that they published the recipe first, in their February 1978 issue. However, I can remember my mother baking the same cake in the 1950s, without the fancy name of Hummingbird Cake. In our family we just called it Cake!

No one knows how it came to be known as Hummingbird Cake. Some have said it tastes so good that you hum when you eat it. Others believe it is as sweet as hummingbird nectar. Regardless of the name, it is an award winning cake having been voted the "Favorite Cake" at the 1978 Kentucky State Fair.

Truthfully, it is a very rich cake. But that's a good thing! It can be served in small slices so it stretches a long way for a large family or for a potluck dinner.

Tips for Success when Baking Hummingbird Cake

Here are some tried and true tips to assure success when baking Hummingbird Cake:

  • Make certain the pecans are fresh. They have a high fat content so they spoil quickly. They can be kept in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for three months and in the freezer for six months. Don't forget to note the date on the container.
  • Bananas become sweeter as they ripen and taste much better in this recipe. Very ripe bananas are also easier to mash and blend into the cake batter.
  • You can replace the oil with butter if desired. However, using oil assures a cake that is more moist.
  • Some people enjoy this cake without frosting (less sugar content!) but most bakers serve it with the Cream Cheese Frosting. Delicious either way.
  • You can add whole maraschino cherries and pecan halves to the top of the cake which makes it very attractive on a nice cake plate. Remember, presentation is important.
  • Put the cake in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving so the frosting can set up firmly. Uneaten cake (if any!) should be stored in the refrigerator.

Cook Time for Hummingbird Cake

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 50 min
Yields: Depends on size of slices

Ingredients for Hummingbird Cake

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, optional
  • Cream Cheese Frosting recipe below

Baking Instructions for Hummingbird Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour well three 9 inch baking pans.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the oil, sugar and vanilla at medium speed on mixer until fluffy. Add the lightly beaten eggs, a little at a time, and beat all together well.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to the mixture in the large bowl alternately with the buttermilk. Add mashed bananas, undrained pineapple and pecans.
  4. Pour the batter into the three pans evenly. Hold the pans a few inches above the counter and drop onto counter to get any bubbles out of the batter.
  5. Bake 30 minutes then check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center of each layer to see if it comes out clean.
  6. When done, remove the pans from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes while the layers are still in the pans. Then remove layers from the pans and let them cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe


  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Beat in sugar, vanilla and lemon juice.

Frost between each layer first then frost top and sides of cake.

You can leave the frosting plain or garnish with pecan halves, maraschino cherries (nice accent at Christmas) or chopped pecans as you desire. Lightly press the garnishments with your hand or fingers into the frosting.

Refrigerate cake at least 1 hour before serving so the frosting has time to get firm. Refrigerate any uneaten cake.

Have you ever eaten Hummingbird Cake?

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© 2013 Thelma Raker Coffone

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Please Share Your Comments on Hummingbird Cake 35 comments

Margie Lynn profile image

Margie Lynn 9 months ago from Beautiful Texas Hill Country

This cake is so mist and yummy! Thanks for recipe!

whatwhenwhereandwhy 12 months ago

This is a great cake its a distant cousin to Banana Nut Bread I think...

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 19 months ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Essie I have gotten some great reviews on this cake. It is pretty tasty! Thanks for reading and commenting.

EsJam profile image

EsJam 19 months ago from Southern California

Mmmmm, looks terrific! I'm not much of a baker...but I do like this one! Thank you...

Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 24 months ago from Germany

Wow! This cake looks delicious. I have not heard of hummingbird cake. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I have to try this. Voted up and shared to my fb account.

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 2 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Monis Mas it really isn't hard and the little bit of extra effort is so worth it! Thanks for your nice comments.

Monis Mas profile image

Monis Mas 2 years ago

This cake looks sooooo good. And it doesn't seem too hard to make, which means I can give it a try :-)

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

randomcreative thanks for taking the time to stop by and read about the hummingbird cake. I appreciate your nice comments.

randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I'm from the midwest and had never heard of hummingbird cake before, but it sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing this great recipe and for providing so much information about it.

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

IslandBites welcome to HubPages! I look forward to seeing more of your Caribbean recipes. Thanks for the comment.

IslandBites profile image

IslandBites 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

Nice recipe

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

billybuc I always enjoy and appreciate your comments. Thanks!!! Come on down south sometime, we don't bite!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I have never heard of this, but of course I've never been to the South, so there you go. :) It sounds and looks delicious. Thanks for the recipe and nice job of including some history with the recipe.

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

RTalloni thanks for your great comments about Hummingbird Cake. I hope if you adapt the recipe for people with allergies to cow milk that you will write a hub about it. Thanks so much!

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

Very interesting to read about the history of the so-called Hummingbird cake. It makes me think of the proverb, "There's nothing new under the sun." :) Anyway, the cake is a fabulous treat. One day I hope to work on a version that uses coconut oil, coconut/almond milk, and goat's milk to replace the cow milk products (due to allergy). Before I knew that problems were due to consuming cow's milk I tasted this wonderful dessert. It could be my next choice after chocolate! :) Neat hub, thanks!

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

prasetio30 I bet your Mom would make it for you. Thanks for your comments and voting up!

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Elisha if you figure out how to make it gluten and dairy free, that would make a great hub. Thanks for stopping by.

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 3 years ago from malang-indonesia

Delicious and you make me hungry, my friend. Wow...I should share with my mother and I hope she'll make it for me. Thank you very much. Voted up and useful :-)


Elisha Jachetti profile image

Elisha Jachetti 3 years ago

I love hummingbird cake. I need to figure out how to make it gluten and dairy free.

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

paxwill it is very sweet and delicious. But the best part it is so easy to make. Try it sometime. Thanks for your comments!

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Hello drbj ... glad I made you hum with this recipe. It really is worth humming about!

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Hello neighbor c mark walker from 2 towns away. Thanks for stopping by and for your nice comments.

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

vocalcoach you are as sweet as the Hummingbird Cake for sharing it and voting it up. Thanks so much!

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

rebeccamealey thanks so much for sharing my hub on your facebook page. I really appreciate it! I see you are from northeast Georgia ... I am in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Thanks Neighbor!

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

bridalletter from the "Show Me" state of Missouri. Glad you like the recipe and that you are going to try it out. Let us know the results.

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Just Ask Susan I'm glad you are going to try the recipe. Let us know how you like it!

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

moonlake I'm sure there are good cooks up north that know about this recipe too. Thanks for your comments!

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

I've never eaten Hummingbird cake before, Thelma, but I am now humming with anticipation as I read your delicious recipe. Thank you.

c mark walker profile image

c mark walker 3 years ago from Jasper Georgia

Haven't had a Hummingbird Cake in years. This looks like a good recipe Thelma with some good advice along with it.

paxwill profile image

paxwill 3 years ago from France

I'ts been a long time since I've had it and I didn't know it was officially called hummingbird cake, but it makes sense since it is soooooooo sweet!

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

This is a 'too-die-for' recipe! And the additional tips you've provided are a nice bonus. Good photo. Sharing and voted up plus 5*.

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

I have heard of hummingbird cake before, but had forgotten. Thanks for the reminder. It looks and sounds delicious. I shared on my FB.

bridalletter profile image

bridalletter 3 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

Thank you for sharing the recipe. I have it at tea rooms whenever it is available. I love the name of it too. I am positive I will try this recipe out myself. So many good ingredients in it.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Oh my this sounds so good. Thanks for sharing your recipe and I can't wait to try it.

Pinning and Voting +++

moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

We've ate this cake up north years ago, my mother=in=law made it. We ate it way before Martha or Paula. We also just called it cake. I'm from the south and don't remember my mom or any family member making it. Enjoyed your hub voted up.

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