Hummingbird cake is a classic southern favorite! I’ve made them into perfectly moist cupcakes filled with bananas, pineapple, and toasted pecans and topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting. Try my fan favorite banana bread next!
Have you ever had hummingbird cake? Wait, let me back up. Have you ever heard of hummingbird cake?
Hummingbird cake is a Southern favorite that’s essentially banana bread on crack. The cake batter contains mashed bananas, chopped pecans, allspice and crushed pineapple. Yes, pineapple – stick with me here.
I also love them in cupcake form over cake, because… well, I just kinda always prefer cupcakes to cake. It’s perfectly portioned and involves no slicing.
Although, cake is much better when you really want to dig into a pile of cake and frosting.
But cupcakes are less bulky to transport than a layer cake.
However, cake is less likely to tumble over in a carrier going from A to B.
Okay fine, I love cake and cupcakes both equally. But I will say that I kinda love hummingbird cupcakes without any frosting at all because they’re like more moist and flavorful banana bread and then I can eat them for breakfast.
But if we’re not trying to pass them off for breakfast food, the frosting is a must. The traditional frosting for hummingbird cake is a cream cheese frosting, and I mostly stick to that with one minor addition – lemon juice. There’s something about it that just turns the frosting flavor up to 11. This is one of the very few frosting recipes that I purposely don’t worry about getting a stable enough consistency to pipe sky high onto the cupcakes. I’m okay with just slathering it on top and then garnishing with chopped pecans. Okay, fine – I don’t really slather it. I still pipe it with a pretty piping tip, but just do it in a simple, swirly circle.
… and garnish with chopped pecans.
I love the subtle crunch that the pecans give the batter, but I always like a little on top, too.
I toast the pecans because it makes them more flavorful – truly! Please don’t skip this step.
The aroma of these cupcakes is just so comforting. I don’t know if I would call it a comfort food, per se, but the warm spiced cake smell sure does make me happy.
The cupcakes are moist, but not in a dense and heavy way. You can store them in the fridge (in an airtight container) after they’ve been frosted, and they’ll still taste great.
Side note: I have Big Hero 6 on in the background as I write this, and the scene where Baymax is petting the cat going, “Hairy baby!” never fails to make me laugh. That has nothing to do with this recipe, but if you haven’t seen that movie you should. There are so many quotable moments:
“I am not fast.”
[drunken, loud whisper] “We jumped out a WINDOW.”
“I wear them front. I wear them back. I go inside out. Then I go front and back.”
“I have some concerns.”
[fist bump] “Balalalala.”
Anyway… hummingbird cupcakes. You should make them. I feel like cupcakes are less of a commitment than a big layer cake, so if you’re not sure if you’re going to like it it’s easier to make them in cupcake form and give them away if you’re not down with it.
Mind you, I don’t see a way you would not be down with it, but I try to be accepting of all flavor palettes.
Another side note, but actually related to my last comment: Have you seen the Kalen Reacts videos? This kid KILLS ME. If you haven’t, it’s just this guy reacting to weird and ridiculous food videos and he’s HILARIOUS.
He will call people out when they are making just… terrible food choices. I’m not talking about using too much butter or something like that – it’s like making a “potato salad” with apples, pickles, and hot dogs.
You have to check it out – it’ll make your day.
And when you’re done watching all his videos, come back and make these cupcakes, k? K.
After you’ve made this recipe, please consider coming back to share your experience with others by leaving a comment below with a star rating!
- 1 cup pecans, chopped and divided
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- Pinch of salt
- ⅔ cup mashed banana
- 1 egg, room temperature
- ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 ounces crushed pineapple
- 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- Milk, as needed
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread chopped pecans onto a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 5 minutes.
- Prepare a muffin tins with paper cupcake liners and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Set aside.
- In another large bowl, whisk together banana, egg, brown sugar, sugar, oil and vanilla until combined. Fold in crushed pineapple.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir to combine. Fold in ¾ cup pecans (the remaining ¼ cup will be for garnish).
- Fill cupcake liners ⅔ full and bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only moist crumbs.
- Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
- While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting! In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and butter on high speed until smooth and creamy.
- Add powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and salt and beat to combine on low speed, then bump it up to high speed until smooth with soft peaks. Add milk or more powdered sugar if necessary for desired consistency.
- Once cupcakes have completely cooled, either fit a piping bag with desired tip and fill with frosting or use a spatula to frost each cupcake. Top with toasted pecans and enjoy!