“Hummingbird cake?!  What on earth is that?”  Is that what you’re thinking right now?  That’s definitely what I thought the first time I ever heard the name.  Turns out, a lot of my coworkers felt the same way.  Almost every time I passed around the cupcake menu for birthday selections, the question was inevitable: what is hummingbird cake?  This cake is fresh and fruity with a definite tropical flavor, thanks to the combination of banana, pineapple, and coconut.  It is finished off with cream cheese frosting (a sure sign of something good) and if you want, dried pineapple flowers.  Most recipes I have seen also seem to include nuts mixed in to the cake or on top of the frosting, but I omitted them.  I’m still of the mind that many perfectly fine desserts are ruined by adding nuts.

Reading through the ingredient list, I knew immediately that I would love this cake.  I’ve been dying to try it and was ready to just make it just because when a coworker finally chose it from the list.  (Thanks, Chen!)  Apparently this cake seems to be traditional around Mother’s Day, though my attempts to research any real connection between the two were unsuccessful.  I am guessing it is simply because this tropical, fruity cake is so well suited for a springtime celebration.  The dried pineapple flowers are a nice touch and a lot of people commented on how neat they looked.  I plan to do a separate post on how to make them very soon.


For the cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
11 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe banana
2/3 cup crushed pineapple, drained
2/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)
2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

For the frosting:*
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; whisk together and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, vanilla, and sugar and beat until blended and smooth.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Mix in the mashed banana.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Gently fold in the pineapple, nuts (if using), and coconut with a spatula until evenly mixed.

  • 02

    Divide the batter between the prepared liners, filling each about ¾ full.  Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • 03

    To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. (I used an Ateco #829 tip to frost these cupcakes.)

  • 04

    *If you are big on frosting as I am, you may want to increase the quantities by 50%.  That is what I typically do for a batch of 24 cupcakes.  I usually end up with some left over, but I would rather have too much frosting than not enough!


  • So loving the dried pineapple flower, it is a really nice touch.

  • Never had Hummingbird cake (or cupcakes :D ) before, but I’ve heard of the variety. The cupcakes are darling!

  • These look so delightful and refreshing! What a lucky group of coworkers!

  • I LOVE Hummingbird cake! I like it loaded with nuts and raisins too. The heavier, the better! Thanks for sharing!

  • “many perfectly fine desserts are ruined by adding nuts”


  • Wow, gorgeous! :) I can’t wait for the how-to on the flowers!

  • Oh my gosh! You are READING my mind! I have been DYING to try this cake. . . I feel like it is an “older” recipe since I always see it in older Junior league or church cookbooks! I can’t wait to try it! :-)

  • Hummingbird cake is a very traditional Southern dish. My grandmother has an amazing recipe that we all look for on the Easter dessert table. So delicious! Can’t wait to see how you made the flowers!

  • Hummingbird Cake is a Southern delicacy!! It makes grin ear to ear reading this post. I’m so glad you discovered this recipe!

  • Jessica Arnoldy

    My family has been making hummingbird cake for as long as i can remember…and often for our mother’s day gatherings. I’m not really sure why though? hmm…regardless, it is delicious!

  • Ooooo… I am so glad you posted this! I just saw them make a hummingbird cupcake on cupcake wars and was thinking that it sounded delicious and I must go find a recipe. I love the combination of pinapple and coconut. The pinapple flowers on top are amazing!

  • I LOVE the look of these. I’d never heard of hummingbird cake before you explained. Thanks!

  • The year my dad and stepmother were dating, I think I’d only met her once but she made me a birthday cake and left it at my dad’s house. It was a hummingbird cake. Will never forget it.

  • OH! And YES, I totally agree about nuts ruining perfectly good baked goods!

  • Meghan H.

    The pineapple flower is beautiful! Can’t wait to learn how to make them! Thanks for sharing!

  • Anne Marie

    Holy moley, there’s a cupcake menu that you give your coworkers?? They must absolutely adore you! I completely agree with you that nuts can ruin a perfectly good dessert. These cupcakes look fabulous! I’m sure the pineapple flowers are delicious!

  • Rachel

    I have never been more excited about one of your recipes. Hummingbird cake at Taste in Broad Ripple is my all time favorite dessert. The only difference I can see is they coat their cake in more coconut instead of a pineapple flower. Can’t wait to try this one out!

  • Alice

    These look beautiful – love the pineapple flower! This cake is so popular in the South – glad to hear you’re spreading the word about this delicious treat up there :)

  • Simply sublime, beautiful post!

  • Those pineapple flowers are too beautiful!! I love decorating desserts with natural ingredients!

  • These look so lovely! They remind me of a Mexican Wedding Cake I had years ago. The flavor combination was identical. I will definitely have to try these!

  • Wow, these look simply beautiful and good enough to eat! I’m really craving some cupcakes today and wishing I had one of these!

  • I love hummingbird cake although, I think one of the reasons I love it so much is that I am obsessed with anything that has cream cheese frosting. This reminds me of a dinner I had with Tom at Art Smith’s Table Fifty-Two. He hates sharing desserts and ordered the hummingbird cake. The waiter tried to talk him out of eating it alone, since it was huge but Tom would not listen. So he seriously ate the equivalent of about 3.5 slices of hummingbird cake. Hah. I’ll have to make this better-portioned version for him. :)

  • Annie

    Hahaha, that is so awesome. I wish I could have seen that. That reminds me of the “Friends” episode where Joey eats a whole turkey.

  • TheresaSea

    I recently found a recipe for Hummingbird Cake on Sweetapolita’s blog, and it’s on my list of what I’m making soon. Yummo!

  • Hummingbird cake is probably one of my favorite cakes. It always turns out so moist.

  • These are beautiful! And how can you go wrong with a flavor combo that includes pineapple, banana and coconut!

  • I have never ate nor made hummingbird cake, but I have seen the recipe often. This is one cake that is on my list for spring.

  • “many perfectly fine desserts are ruined by adding nuts”

    So true! Thanks for sharing this recipe. I’ve never heard of hummingbird cake before.

  • A Southern staple! When I lived in Maine I worked with a woman from Texas who had to clarify for our co-workers that no hummingbirds were harmed in the making of the cake. It’s one of the southern staples I’ve embraced (along with okra, but try ordering it not fried and your I’m not Southern cover is totally blown).

  • Kim

    I have been eye-balling these cupcakes in Martha’s book since I got it about a month ago. I make Hummingbird cake for my husband’s birthday every year, but always as a layer cake. These look great!

  • Kim

    As a side note- the Hummingbird cakes I’ve had/made here (in Louisiana) have pecans both in the cake and on top of the frosting. I’m anxious to try the pineapple flowers though.

  • I love how you decorated these!!… and I absolutely love hummingbird cake, though if I made them, I would feel obliged to use my grandmother’s recipe :)

  • I’ve never tried hummingbird cake but it definitely sounds like a winning combination of flavors!

  • Just beautiful! Perfect for spring-time.

  • I love sweets but will turn down a brownie if it has nuts! So funny! I can’t wait to see how you made these pineapple flowers!

  • These are so lovely, Annie! The pineapple flower is stunning, as well, and I love the unique flavor combination you used in the cupcakes. These would be wonderful for a spring wedding or baby shower or birthday! Thanks for sharing.

  • micaela

    Those look awesome!! I LOVE the pineapple flowers! You are so creative!

  • I love hummingbird cake/cupcakes! Growing up in Alabama, we had these at every family gathering, shower, etc. When I mentioned it in college, my friends from areas outside the south had never heard of it. Anyway, this version looks amazing, and I love the pineapple on top!

  • When I first saw the picture I thought those were real flowers! I have always wanted to try hummingbird cake, this just may be the recipe I’ll try.
    P.S. I agree with you about nuts ruining desserts and I’m glad I’m not alone.

  • These look as though a hummingbird may suck nectar from them at any moment!

  • Kylie

    So I am not a fan of coconut what so ever, but these cupcakes do sound delicious so I was wondering do you think that they would still be good without the coconut or is there something I could substitute it for and still get the same effect?

  • Next to Red Velvet Cake, the ‘forgotten’ Hummingbird Cake is a Southern classic. I love the flower decorations, it’s a beautiful personal touch.

  • I’ve been to try Humming Bird cake and yours looks beautiful!

  • Annie

    Please read my FAQ page regarding substitutions.

  • alexis

    I was so excited when I saw this, I am getting married in may and our wedding cake is going to be hummingbird flavor! It is such a yummy but different option.

  • What beautiful little cupcakes! I made a Hummingbird Carrot Cake once and it was so incredibly moist and flavorful! I loved the pineapple chunks, too. And yes, cream cheese frosting always makes things better :)

  • I absolutely love the Coconut, Banana, and Pineapple trio! So tropical! :)

  • My friend makes the best hummingbird cake! I would love them as a cupcake! Thanks!

  • Ann Williams

    Stop it!:) These are so pretty! There is a bakery called the Hummingbird Bakery – in NYC, I believe? They have a lovely cookbook, if you didn’t already know!

  • Yum!! I bet this was delish with all the fruit in it:) They look so pretty too;)

  • christyd

    Love the dried fruit flower! Hummingbird cake/cupcakes are huge in the south!! I absolutely love it! You should try it with the nuts in it…tastes really good!

  • I just went searching on what a Hummingbird Cake was last week! It’s making it way around the blog world. Your pineapple flowers definitely make the cupcakes look high class. I’m looking forward to that post.

  • everything about these cupcakes sounds amazing. i’m looking forward to your post on making the dried pineapple flowers. i am a walnut freak and love to eat them in everything. i know a lot of people aren’t fans of nuts in their baked goodies so I usually do half and half when possible so everyone gets what they like. the unnecessary added ingredient in many baked goods that ruins them for me are raisins. :-)

    I love your site, annie! i look forward to reading it every time i see you have a new post! :)

  • My husband loves hummingbird cake, I never thought to make cupcakes. You are so creative!

  • These sound great and I LOVE the name of the cupcakes. I’ve never heard of them, so thank you for teaching me something new :)

  • This has been one of our family favorites so long I don’t even remember the first time I made it! When we moved to OR, no one we knew had ever heard of a Hummingbird Cake. It’s nice to see that word of this delicious Southern favorite is spreading!

    My husband and children made one for my 40th birthday- the party wasn’t nearly the surprise that the cake was! They decorated it with a drawing of Flit from Disney’s Pocahontas. I love the pineapple ‘flowers’, but I think the drawing my little girls did of Flit will always be my favorite decoration for a Hummingbird cake. :)I’d share the photo, but it doesn’t have that amazing staging that your photos typically have. Love the blog!

  • I love hummingbird cake, and I’ve had my eye on these cupcakes ever since I bought the book. Your’s look so pretty!

  • These sound amazing. I’ve never heard of hummingbird cake before. I can’t wait to try this for my husband’s birthday, hel loves tropical flavors.

  • Robin

    One of my co-workers brought these to work for a bake sale we had to benefit Junior Achievement this week. They were absolutely scrumptious and beautiful! I’ve got to keep this recipe in my files!

  • Kristi

    I made these right after you posted them for my coworkers. They loved them. One said they were the “best cupcakes I have had in my entire life!” Thanks for posting! (I also agree that many deserts are ruined by adding nuts!)

  • Laura R

    I made these cupcakes this weekend with the dried pineapple flowers! The cupcake is good and so is the frosting, it taste more like a muffin to me but they are really good. The pineapple was hard to cut thin but they turned out really well. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Thank you for the recipe! I made these and they turned out awesome. I posted the recipe and my own photo on my blog and linked back to you – hope that’s ok! :)

  • Samantha S

    This recipe is amazing!!I made it for my Mother-in laws 59th birthday, and she said it was the best she ever had!! Brownie points for me:)I turned it into a layered cake, doubled the frosting and topped it with toasted coconut, I also only used 6Tbsp. of the butter and 5Tbsp of applesauce! It turned out fantastic!! I will be making this again and again!!

  • Brittany Weaver

    These are the most beautiful cupcakes ever! I made them last night and brought them to work and everyone loved them and I love the way they look. The pineapple on top is so beautiful. This is the most amazing website. I love all of the recipes and I am going to start trying them. I also love the photos they make all the food look so nice.

  • Jen

    I’ve made these a few times and everybody absolutely loves them! But my frosting always seems to melt and droop even when I’ve let the cupcakes completely cool. Do you have any tips on how I could make stiffer frosting so it looks as lovely as yours?

  • Annie

    A weird thing I have found is that using clear/imitation vanilla extract keeps the frosting much stiffer than when I use pure vanilla extract. But if that doesn’t make enough of a difference, you can always refrigerate the frosting or add more powdered sugar (I never need to do either of those things, though.)

  • Jen

    Oh thanks Annie! I have been using pure vanilla extract every time, so I will try it with clear!

  • Priscilla

    Hi annie,
    This is my first post on your website despite the many recipes I have tried from your blog. Well I made these cupcakes last night. I followed the recipe exactly and they were great, good flavor, but they were dense and a little, barely, kinda, dare I say, Gummmy. I hate to say it, it might just be me, but do yours turn out very dense and well gummy dense. The consistency is not like a normal cake, it is not fluffy. I was expecting this to be like a fluffy carrot cake minus the carrots. Let me know if this is how they are supposed to be. Thanks.

  • Annie

    I think they are a bit more dense than a regular cake due to all the fruit, but it’s only a very slight difference. Mine were still very tender and definitely not gummy.

  • I have been wanting to make these cupcakes since my kids and I visited Magnolia Bakery in New York City in March. Thanks for the recipe.!

  • katie

    i just wanted to say that my parents had never heard of hummingbird cake until i made these as a thank you to my father for driving me to the airport at an absurd hour. HUGE hit!!! thanks for the recipe!

  • Heidi

    I have a question about the cake. I have made and love the banana cake recipe you use for the Banana split cupcake, could you use that as a base here..I noticed the ingredients are obviously different but wasnt sure the reason for difference in eggs etc.. What do you recommend?


  • Anonymous

    I would use this version. The batter is thicker and probably better at keeping the various mix-ins distributed correctly in the cake.

  • Molly

    Where do you find your unsweetened coconut in the grocery store? I can never find it. Thanks!

  • annieseats

    Mine has it in the baking aisle, but I imagine every store is different.

  • Lana

    I wanted to make a small 1/2 batch of these for Fathers Day….if i cut everything by half would it bother the end results? I know baking is specific to measurements so just being sure. Also, i have sweetened coconut already in my freezer, would it be ok to use instead of unsweetened?
    Thx sooo much,

  • annieseats

    Sure, you can halve it. Sweetened is fine. Enjoy!

  • Marstemac

    This is a great recipe, a massive hit with everyone! Thanks for sharing. Love love love the pineapple flowers!

  • sam

    hi annie,

    if all i have is fresh pineapple, how would i make that work for the 2/3 cup crushed pineapple?

    also, do you think there would be enough pineapple left to make the beautiful flowers? (its a fairly large pineapple)


  • annieseats

    I almost always use fresh. I just finely dice enough to get 2/3 cup.

    If your pineapple is large, it might be enough. The only issue is that you will have to make all your slices perfect (if you are wanting 2 dozen flowers). I typically have quite a few mistake slices (too thick, uneven, or didn’t get the full circumference in the slice). Good luck and enjoy!