Vegan hummingbird cake is filled with warming spices, natural sweetness from bananas and pineapples, and toasted pecans. Get ready to fall in love with this moist and sweet southern staple!
What is hummingbird cake?
Fear not, no birds were harmed in the making of this cake. Hummingbird cake is a classic Southern spice cake made extra sweet with bananas and pineapples. It was originally published in Southern Living in 1978, and since then it's been a classic Southern dessert staple.
Hummingbird cake tastes like banana bread with a touch of pineapple, a hint of nuttiness, and a balance of warming spices. This vegan hummingbird cake is adapted from the original Southern Living recipe. The original cake base is dairy-free as-is, so this vegan version is just like the original, but egg-free!
In short, it's delicious and a must-try Southern recipe. If you're looking for Southern dishes, I have a lot more vegetarian and vegan Southern recipes!
- Easy to make: This cake is made in just one bowl. No hand mixer or stand mixer required!
- Moist and dense: Hummingbird cake is made with oil instead of butter. It is very moist from the fruit and fruit juices.
- Fruit-filled: Made with pineapple tidbits, pineapple juice, and banana.
- Nutty: Topped and filled with toasted pecans for a great hint of nuttiness.
- Frosting: We're using a homemade vegan cashew cream cheese frosting to top this cake.
- All-purpose flour: We are keeping things simple with this cake and using regular all-purpose flour, just like the original recipe.
- Pineapple: I have made vegan hummingbird cake with pineapple tidbits and crushed pineapples and it turned out the same. Choose an 8 ounce can of pineapple with fruit juice because we will be using the juice in the cake. The pineapple flavor isn't super strong in this cake.
- Banana: Choose very ripe bananas, the kind you would use for banana muffins. The browner the peel the more ripe the banana. I recommend mashing the banana with a fork then measuring it out into cups.
- Pecans: Choose toasted pecans if available. If not, raw pecans will work and you can toast them yourself.
- Cashews: Choose raw, unsalted cashews. You can soak them overnight or soak for 15 minutes in very hot water to soften them enough to blend.
- Agave syrup or maple syrup work in the frosting. Honey also works depending on dietary preferences.
- Oil: Canola or vegetable oil are my go-to's for this cake, but you can use olive oil if you prefer. I recommend using a light olive oil so that the flavor doesn't overpower the cake.
Step by step instructions
Equipment: You will need a large two 9" cake pans, a mixing bowl, a whisk, and a mixing spoon. Hummingbird cake doesn't require a hand mixer or stand mixer!
However, the cashew cream cheese frosting requires a food processor or high-powered blender.
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Mash bananas and measure out two cups. Make flaxseed eggs by combining ground flax and water.
- Combine dry ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
- Stir in wet ingredients: Mix in the wet ingredients until just combined. Careful not to overmix. It will be a lumpy mixture because of the pineapple and mashed banana. Fold in the pecans.
- Transfer to a cake pan: Lightly spray two 9" cake pans with cooking oil. Divide the cake batter between the two pans, smoothing as needed.
- Bake the cake: Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cashew cream cheese frosting
Cashew cream cheese frosting is a healthier, lighter alternative to the classic cream cheese frosting that usually comes with a hummingbird cake. It's made using a similar method to cashew cream and cashew cheese.
Cashews are a great complement to the flavor of the pecans, and they create a wonderfully smooth and spreadable frosting.
To make the frosting, simply add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth. Add extra oat or soy milk 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to make a spreadable consistency. Adjust for sweetness.
Tips for success
While vegan hummingbird cake is one of the easiest cakes to make, I still have a few tips to make sure your cake comes out perfect every time.
- Spoon and level flour: Always spoon and level flour into a measuring cup for the most accurate measurements. To do this, spoon flour into the measuring cup until overflowing. Use the back of a knife to wipe off excess flour. Don’t shake or pat flour down.
- Preheat the oven: Always preheat the oven and bake the cake on the middle oven rack. I recommend using an over thermometer to confirm the oven temp.
- Frosting: Don't frost the cake until it is completely room temperature. Frosting a warm cake causes frosting to drip off of the cake.
- How to tell it's done: The cake is ready when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. This means there should be no more than a couple of crumbs clinging to the toothpick. The center of the cake should be slightly puffed up, but it will deflate a little when removed from the oven.
- Cool the cake: Always let cake cool in its pan for at least 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool. Cake is technically still baking when it is removed from the oven, so it needs to extra time in the cake pan to settle.
Storage and freezing
- How to store leftovers: You can store leftover cake in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days or cover and refrigerate for up to a week. Because hummingbird cake is very moist and dense, it won't dry out too much in the fridge.
- Freezing instructions: Freeze the entire cake or individual slices in a freezer-safe container. Let frozen cake thaw in the fridge overnight or reheat individual slices in the microwave.
Yes! Two round 9" inch cake pans make about 24 cupcakes. Fill each tin about ⅘ full with batter. Bake cupcakes at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Yes! Two 9 inch cake rounds of cake batter should fill one 9x13 inch sheet cake. You may need to adjust the bake time by a few minutes. Check the center of the cake for doneness before removing it from the oven to cool.
The true origin is up for debate, but one story says that because the cake is filled with sweetness from bananas, pineapple, and sugar, it's sweet enough for a hummingbird to eat.
I have not tried making this recipe gluten-free, so I can't say for sure if it works. If you want to try it out, I recommend using a 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. Almond flour and other alternative flours do not work.
Looking for more vegan desserts?
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Vegan Hummingbird Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting
- 9 tablespoon water
- 3 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 and ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 1 and ½ cups vegetable oil see note #1
- 1 and ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 (8 oz) can pineapple tidbits, with juice see note #2
- 2 cups mashed riped banana see note #3
- 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted (plus more for topping) see note #4
Cashew Cream Cheese
- 1 and ½ cups raw unsalted cashews, soaked see note #5
- 3-4 tablespoons soy milk see note #6
- 2 tablespoons agave syrup more to taste
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray two 9" cake rounds with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Prepare flax eggs by mixing together 3 tablespoons ground flax and 9 tablespoons (½ cup + 1 tablespoon) water. Let set for at least five minutes before using.
- Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice.
- Stir in flax eggs, oil, pineapple tidbits with juice, mashed banana, and vanilla. Stir until just combined.
- Divide batter evenly between the two oiled cake pans. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool in cake pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then turn out of pans and let cool for one hour before frosting.
Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting
- Soak cashews in water overnight or in very hot water for just 15 minutes.
- Drain water off the soaked cashews. Add cashews, agave syrup, milk and vanilla extract to a food processor. Blend until smooth. Taste for sweetener. Add extra milk as needed to smooth to an easily spreadable texture.
- This recipe makes enough to frost just the tops of the cake. Double the recipe to frost the sides as well. Decorate the top with additional pecans.
- Oil: Canola or vegetable oil are my go-to's for this cake, but you can use olive oil if you prefer. I recommend using light olive oil so that the flavor doesn't overpower the cake.
- Pineapple: If unable to find 8 ounces pineapple tidbits, crushed pineapples in juice work.
- Bananas: Choose very ripe bananas. Two cups = about 5 small bananas or 3 large.
- Toasting pecans: If you're unable to find toasted pecans you can make your own. Line pecans on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
- Cashews: Cover with water and soak overnight or for one hour in very hot water.
- Soy milk: Most non-dairy milk, like almond, oat, or cashew will work.
- Storage: You can store it in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days or cover and refrigerate for up to a week.
- Freezing: Freeze the entire cake or individual slices in a freezer-safe container. Let thaw in the fridge or reheat in the microwave.
- Cupcakes: Two round 9" inch cake pans make about 24 cupcakes. Fill each tin about ⅘ full with batter. Bake cupcakes at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Did you make this recipe?
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This recipe was originally posted on April 3, 2018. The post was updated with new photos, a video, and more tips on February 5th, 2021. The recipe remains the same.
Great moist cake but This tasted overwhelmingly like banana with barely a hint of pineapple. I would try to find a way to increase the pineapple next time or perhaps there is a difference in type of pineapple used?
Pineapple tidbits might make the pineapple flavor stronger than bigger pieces since they would distribute more through the cake. If you make it again you can always increase the amount of pineapple used and keep the pineapple juice amount the same. Thanks for trying the recipe!
Traditional hummingbird cake (like the one most people are familiar with from Southern Living magazine decades ago) tastes like a banana spice cake, the pineapple provides the moistness, not necessarily the flavour (original recipe has 2 cups mashed bananas and 1 8oz can pineapple, just like this one)... 🙂
Can I use almonds instead of cashew nuts to make the frosting
I can’t say for sure since I haven’t actually tried it but I don’t think almonds will work as well.
Make the traditional recipe all the time for special occasions. After deciding to take part in a 30 days vegan eating challenge I was so excited to find this recipe! It took me some time to figure out the cashew frosting but I’m glad I took the time. Turned out amazing. Thank you for sharing
Hi Michael, thanks for the review! The cashew cream cheese frosting is definitely a little different from traditional frosting but I'm glad you ended up liking it. 🙂
I had never heard of hummingbird until recently, and I'm so glad I came across this vegan version! It was sooooo good. I made them into cupcakes, but they took a few minutes more than indicated to cook through. I didn't use the icing recipe here, so I can only vouch for the amazing cake portion of the recipe.
I'm so glad you gave it a try! Thanks for the review 🙂
hi i would like to make this but i need to make it gluten free can u helo me here ? and i cant have sugar
Cassidy Reeser, RDN, LD
Hi! I haven’t made this recipe with either of those substations. You could try gluten free all-purpose flour. Unfortunately I don’t think this recipe will work without sugar. Hope this helps.
I made it! Hi from the UK ?. It’s delicious. Chashew nut cream is a revelation. I made mine a little too thin but it’s definitely delicious and I won’t make the same mistake next time. The only part of recipe I wasn’t sure about was the pineapple and juice? I wasn’t sure how much juice so I just weighed the amount of pineapple and added a splash of the juice. Anyway it all turned out great. Mine cooked 10 minutes sooner than you specified but I had halved the amounts (only 2 of us)! I loved it anyway and will make again. )and again!! Many thanks ???
Cassidy Reeser, RDN, LD
Hi Diane, that's exactly how I felt the first time I tried this frosting! So glad you enjoyed the cake. The can of pineapple tidbits I used for this recipe came in 8 ounces, so I just dumped the whole can in there. I see how that could be confusing if you have a larger can! I'm glad what you did worked.
Yes I am going to use a gluten free mix and instead of sugar you could try some coconut sugar or other sweeteners. With the pineapple and banana I feel it would be fairly sweet already and might now need any sugar. I like to use maple syrup a lot but that can mess with the consistency when baking. Maybe date sugar would work well.
You can swap with coconut sugar instead of regular sugar but it will likely still be sweet. It is a pretty sweet cake. You are right, I don't think maple syrup would work, but let me know if you try the other swaps.
Stevia Powder would work.