New Recipe: Best Hummingbird Cake Recipe – How to Make Hummingbird Cake

the pioneer woman's hummingbird cake recipe

Will Dickey

Sweet, tender, and comforting, hummingbird cake is basically a two-layer dessert hug. Hiding beneath the thick swoops of cream cheese frosting are two cake layers, gently spiced with cinnamon and kept soft with generous additions of ripe banana and crushed pineapple. When searching for a stunning Easter cake, a Mother’s Day cake, or a cake made from scratch for any special occasion, hummingbird cake is the answer!

But why is it called hummingbird cake?

Despite the rumors, there never was (and hopefully never will be!) any actual hummingbirds in hummingbird cake! This layered masterpiece got its name from its home country, Jamaica, where the hummingbird is the national bird. Fun fact: in Jamaica, hummingbirds are called “doctor birds,” so as you might guess, in Jamaica this cake is called “doctor bird cake.”

What does hummingbird cake taste like?

Hummingbird cake tastes like the best banana bread ever, crossed with a carrot cake that some absent-minded baker forgot to bake with the carrots and raisins. The cream cheese frosting is sweet and just slightly tangy, rounding out the natural sweetness in the cake layers from the crushed pineapple and the ripe bananas.

How do I decorate hummingbird cake?

Decorating hummingbird cake is so easy! Just use an offset spatula to spread on an even layer of cream cheese frosting. There’s no need to strive for perfection, because you can cover up any “oopsies” with pecans. Make a decorative border around the base of the cake with whole pecans, or chop them up and sprinkle them all over the top.

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– 12


Prep Time:





Total Time:





For the Cake

1 1/3

granulated sugar

1 1/2

vanilla extract


8-oz. cans crushed pineapple in juice, undrained

Nonstick baking spray with flour

For the Frosting


unsalted butter, softened


cream cheese, softened

For Decorating


toasted pecan halves

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  1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. 
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl. Stir in the oil, eggs, vanilla, and pineapple until evenly combined. Mash the bananas slightly then add to the bowl with the pecans. Stir to combine. 
  3. Spray 2 (8-inch) round baking pans with nonstick baking spray (or, butter and flour the pans). Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with just a few small crumbs, 33 to 37 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the wire rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.
  4. For the frosting: Beat the butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar then mix at low speed just until combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla and salt. Beat frosting on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  5. Place one of the cake layers on a serving plate and top with about 1 cup of the frosting, spreading evenly to the edge. Top with the second cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake. 
  6. To decorate the cake: Press the pecan halves along the base of the cake and around the top of the cake to create a ring. Slice and serve. 

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