Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

by | Feb 9, 2018

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You’ll love this easy one-bowl Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. This cake has banana, pineapple pieces and pecans inside, and is filled with a fluffy and rich cream cheese frosting.

A Hummingbird Cake is a classic North American dessert, particularly in the Deep South. It’s a sweet cake filled with tropical fruits like banana and pineapple, pecan nuts, cinnamon spice, and topped with lush cream cheese frosting.

The Hummingbird Cake is believed to be a Jamaican creation. However, that wasn’t its original name. It had the intriguing title “Doctor Bird Cake”. But how did the Hummingbird cake get its name? Apparently “Doctor bird” is Jamaican slang for their national bird, the hummingbird. And the pops of yellow colouring in the cake allegedly drew comparisons to the yellow-hued hummingbird. Another popular theory is that the hummingbird cake is so sweet and enticing that the hummingbirds were attracted to it like nectar.

Hummingbird Cake Recipe

Yet another theory is that hummingbird cake is so delicious that humans hover over it, picking at it like hummingbirds. I’ve seen this one play out for real in our household.

This tropical cake made its way from Jamaica to mainland America due to some clever marketing at the 1968 launch of Air Jamaica. The recipe was included in travel media kits sent to the US. It “went viral” in modern terms, was published in the Southern Living magazine, won Favourite Cake awards in the US, and in 1990 it took the title of the most requested recipe in Southern Living’s history.

I love making a layered Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s very simple to put together, and is mixed in just one bowl! There’s no butter in the cake. Instead, the moisture comes from oil, and the crushed bananas and pineapple pieces.

The key to this cake and any cake involving bananas is to use extremely ripe bananas. They’re ready when their skins are mottled heavily with brown spots. Too soon, and the cake won’t have that sweet rich taste.

As usual, I have a Hummingbird cake video tutorial below to watch for the method I used.

Enjoy baking this cake, and be sure to snag a piece for yourself when it’s done before the other hummingbirds around you take their share.


How to make Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Print Recipe


Hummingbird Cake is flavoured with banana, pineapple pieces and pecans. It's filled with a fluffy and rich cream cheese frosting.
Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Course Cake
Cuisine Baking
Servings 12 slices
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Passive Time 60 minutes cooling


  • 300 g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 300 ml Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
  • 3 Very Ripe Bananas mashed
  • 100 g Tinned Pineapple drained, diced
  • 100 g Pecan Nuts chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Bicarbonate Soda
  • 300 g Plain Flour
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 600 g Icing Sugar
  • 100 g Unsalted Butter softened to room temperature
  • 250 g Cream Cheese chilled, cubed
  • 50 g Pecan Nuts chopped, to decorate


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 degrees fan-forced; 350 F). Line the bottom of two 20cm round cake tins with baking paper and grease the sides with non-stick spray.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer add the sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla, cinnamon and mashed banana. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Mix in the drained pineapple pieces, pecan nuts and salt.
  3. Add the bicarbonate soda and half of the flour. Gently fold into the batter. Add the remaining flour and mix gently by hand until just combined.
  4. Split the cake batter evenly between the two cake tins. Bake on the middle rack of the oven, for about 30-35 minutes. The cakes are done when their tops are golden brown and they spring back when lightly pressed. A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean.
  5. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Turn them onto a wire rack and let them cool completely. Meanwhile, make the cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Add the icing sugar mixture and soft butter to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat them together on medium speed with the flat paddle attachment until all combined. The texture will look dry and sandy for now.
  2. With the beaters still running drop in the cream cheese one cube at a time. As more cream cheese is added the dry texture will transform into a soft creamy frosting. On medium-high speed continue beating for about 5 minutes, until the frosting until it’s fluffy.
Cake Assembly
  1. When the cakes are cool, slice any lumps and bumps from the tops so they’re both flat and even. Sandwich the two cakes together with at least 1cm of cream cheese frosting. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Decorate the top with chopped pecan nuts.

Recipe Notes

  • If the frosting is runny it’s been over-beaten and/or the butter used was liquid rather than soft and spreadable. Place the frosting in the fridge to firm up before using.
  • Store the cake at room temperature in an airtight container or protected from the air in a cake stand with the lid on. It keeps for about 3 days.
Cake Mistress 9 February, 2018

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