Hummingbird cake recipe: Try this famous banana-pineapple cake with cream cheese frosting from 1978

Classic hummingbird cake recipe

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If you ever had the famous hummingbird cake recipe, it’s an experience you may never forget.

Chopped bananas, chopped pecans and crushed pineapple add a lot of delicious texture to this very moist cake — a delicious tropical-style dessert that keeps well and only improves with age.

And if you’ve ever wondered why it’s called hummingbird cake in the first place (what do birds have to do with it??), read on! We found the very interesting answer to this question — originally shared with newspaper readers in Wilmington, Delaware in 1987.

Delicious hummingbird cake slice
Photo by twenty20photos/Envato

How to make a Hummingbird cake (1978)

The single most requested recipe in Southern Living history. One taste, and the reason is obvious!

Hummingbird cake recipe

Classic hummingbird cake recipe

Hummingbird cake

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 26 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 16 minutes

Here's the classic hummingbird cake recipe, made famous by Southern Living magazine


  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of mashed bananas
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans
  • 8 ounces canned of crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 8-ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup of butter, softened
  • 16-ounces powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Shortening (or butter) to grease pans


  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F).
  2. Grease 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with shortening; then line the pans with waxed paper and grease paper, dust with flour, shaking out the excess.
  3. Combine the 3 cups of flour and next 4 ingredients (2 cups sugar, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon); add the eggs and oil, stirring until the dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.)
  4. Stir in the bananas, 1 cup of pecans, pineapple with liquid, and vanilla extract.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
  6. Bake at 350 (F) for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cake layers in their pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.
  8. Then, remove the cakes from the pans, and cool them completely on the wire racks.
  9. For the cream cheese frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter at a medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
  10. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating at a low speed until light and fluffy.
  11. Stir in the vanilla extract. (Makes about 4 cups.)
  12. Spread the cream cheese frosting between the layers, as well as the tops and sides of each of the cakes.
  13. Store in the refrigerator.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 823Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 421mgCarbohydrates: 109gFiber: 3gSugar: 79gProtein: 7g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.

Why it’s called a Hummingbird Cake, or a Doctor Bird Cake

by Nancy Coale Zippe – The News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware) July 1, 1987

Every once in a while, a truly outstanding recipe makes an appearance in What’s Cooking. Topping the list of the most distinguished is the doctor bird cake.

It made its debut in this column in September 1981, and returned in March 1984 under its alias, “hummingbird cake.”

No fewer than 45 readers submitted the recipe for those two columns. Several had been photocopied from Southern Living magazine and included the editorial comment: “We’re not sure what hummingbirds have to do with this cake, but it certainly caught our readers’ attention in the February 1978 issue. In fact, we’d rate it as our all-time most-requested recipe.”

Here’s the tale of the tie that binds. The doctor bird is a streamer-tailed hummingbird. It is the national bird of Jamaica, and is native to the Blue Mountains of that Caribbean island. It is also the symbol for Air Jamaica, and the recipe for the cake originated in the airline’s kitchens.

When Margaret Garris of Hurlock, Md., recently wrote to request the hummingbird cake recipe, I recalled the popularity of those past columns.

I normally avoid repetition through personal correspondence, but in this case, I decided that a true winner is always worth repeating.

Fruity hummingbird cake recipe
Photo via Freepik Premium

Easy cream cheese frosting for hummingbird cake

Anne Gore wrote, “On a scale of 0-10, this cake is a 10-plus.”

Cream cheese frosting

1 package (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans


Combine cream cheese and butter, beating until smooth. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy.

Yield: enough frosting for one 3-layer cake. Spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; then sprinkle 1/2-cup chopped pecans on top.

The printed recipe came with the cream cheese frosting. Other readers suggested “a thin white icing sprinkled with coconut,” “a dusting of confectioners’ sugar,” “a brandy custard” and “a brandy glaze.”

Brandy sauce/custard recipe for hummingbird cake

This suggestion was originally shared by Janet Grimmel.


3 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons brandy


In a medium saucepan, beat egg yolks; add sugar, vanilla and milk and combine thoroughly. Cook over medium heat, stir- ring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.

Mix cornstarch and water until smooth; add to milk mixture and continue to cook, stirring, until sauce is thickened. Add brandy and mix. Serve hot or cold with hummingbird cake baked in tube or Bundt pan. Makes about 2 cups of sauce.

Brandy glaze

Linda Crocker submitted this recipe in 1981.


2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons hot milk
1-1/2 tablespoons brandy
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 tablespoon salt


Put sugar in medium-size bowl. Gradually beat in hot milk, then remaining ingredients. Beat until smooth. Let stand until desired spreading consistency is reached. Glaze cake in tube or Bundt pan.

Another way to frost & decorate your cake

Hummingbird cake with decorative icing - banana pineapple spice cake
Photo via Freepik Premium

The classic hummingbird cake recipe from Southern Living

Banana-pineapple vintage hummingbird cake recipe

Food tips: How to make your bananas last

Bananas have been a favorite fruit for thousands of years. In fact. two ancient names for this fruit mean “fruit of the wise men” and “fruit of paradise.”

In these recipes, bananas lend flavor to desserts, a salad and bread.

When buying bananas, choose those in a bunch; single bananas are more likely to be bruised or cracked.

Here’s a guide to the amount to buy: There are usually two or three bananas in 1 pound, and 1 pound yields 2 cups sliced or 1-1/2 cups mashed bananas.

For best flavor, store bananas at room temperature to ripen. Leave them attached to the crown until ready to use.

Once ripe, bananas can be stored in the refrigerator several days to slow over-ripening. Although skins may darken, flavor and texture will stay the same.

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