Bananas, pineapple, and pecans come together in this easy one-bowl Vegan Hummingbird Cake! It’s a moist and warmly spiced dessert that’s bursting with bright, tropical flavors.

a slice of vegan hummingbird cake on a grey plate.

This Vegan Hummingbird Cake has become one of my favorite desserts ever! Every bite has beautiful layers of fruity, nutty, warm, and sweet flavors while the cream cheese frosting on top perfectly complements the wide range of complexities. If you love carrot cake, then you may just love hummingbird cake even more.

Four key ingredients set this popular Southern cake apart from carrot cake and other spice cakes. They are:

  • Warm spices, like nutmeg and cinnamon
  • Toasted pecans
  • Pineapple chunks and their juices
  • Ripe bananas

Altogether, they infuse this cake with gorgeous tropical flavors that beautifully contrast the warming spices. Plus, with its moist and fluffy crumb, you’ll have a hard time stopping after only one slice!

a cream cheese frosted-vegan hummingbird cake with a slice being removed.

Why is it called hummingbird cake?

The original recipe for hummingbird cake comes from Jamaica, where it’s known as the Doctor Bird Cake. It gets this name from its national bird, the swallow tail hummingbird.

Eventually, the recipe became popular throughout the Southern United States, where it was re-named “hummingbird cake”. Some say the name comes from the sweet flavors attracting hummingbirds or that it’s so good, you’ll want to hover around the cake until you get a slice (just like a hummingbird). The true reason, however, is up for debate.

How to make vegan hummingbird cake

Find the complete recipe with measurements in the recipe card below.

Start by whisking the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl.

whisking flour, sugar, and spices together in a large white bowl.

Next, add the oil, crushed pineapple, mashed bananas, almond milk, vanilla, and pecans to the same bowl as the dry mix. Mix until just combined and no dry flour streaks remain.

using a wooden spoon to stir hummingbird cake ingredients together in a large white bowl.

Pour the cake batter into two prepared cake pans. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Set them aside to cool while you make the icing.

Once the cake layers are completely cool, add some frosting in between each layer before frosting the sides and tops. Sprinkle more pecans on the outside for decoration, then slice and enjoy!

Decoration ideas

Hummingbird cake is traditionally decorated with cream cheese frosting. It’s also very nice with the lemon frosting from my Vegan Lemon Cake and Vegan Buttercream.

Chopped pecans are a must-have hummingbird cake decoration, although you can also add toasted coconut, dried fruit, or other types of crushed nuts on top.

hummingbird cake batter in a large white bowl.

Vegan hummingbird cupcakes

You can use this recipe to make cupcakes by making the batter as normal, then pouring it into a lined muffin tin until each cup is ¾ full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Tips for success

  • Always use toasted pecans! They’re 10 times as flavorful as raw pecans and will give your cake an added layer of warmth. Either buy pre-toasted pecans or toast them yourself in a dry skillet over medium-low heat.
  • Overmixing the cake batter will lead to a dense cake. I like to combine the wet and dry ingredients by hand (with a wooden spoon) to avoid overmixing.
  • You’ll know the cakes are ready to come out of the oven when the tops are set, the edges are turning golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (some crumbs stuck to the toothpick are ok).
  • If you’re short on time, place the baked cake layers in the fridge to help them cool down faster. Only do this after they were left to cool in the pans for 15 minutes.
  • This recipe makes enough batter for a two-layer cake. If you want to make a four-layer cake like in the photos, slice each cake layer in half lengthwise with a serrated knife.
2 layers of hummingbird cake on a wire rack.

Frequently asked questions

I have a nut allergy. What can I use instead of the pecans?

You can make a nut free hummingbird cake by omitting the pecans and using soy milk or oat milk instead of almond milk. Alternatively, replace the nuts with sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. The flavor will be slightly different but the crunch will still be there.

Can it be made gluten free?

I haven’t tried making a vegan gluten free hummingbird cake, but a good quality gluten free flour mix, like Better Batter, may work in place of the all purpose flour.

Can it be made oil free?

Old-fashioned hummingbird cake recipes, like the original printed in the 1978 copy of Southern Living, were made with a generous amount of vegetable oil to achieve a decadent and moist crumb. While there isn’t as much oil in my version, it’s still crucial and should not be replaced. Even melted vegan butter shouldn’t be used as a substitute because it doesn’t provide the same amount of moisture.

How far in advance can you make the cake/frosting?

The cake layers will stay moist and fresh for up to 1 week ahead of serving. Wrap them in a layer of plastic and keep them in the fridge, or in the freezer for longer.

Vegan buttercream or cream cheese frosting can also be made 2 to 3 days in advance. Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge until it’s time to decorate the cake.

using a fork to take a bite from a slice of vegan hummingbird cake.

Want more incredible vegan cake recipes?

close up on a slice of vegan hummingbird cake on a grey plate.
5 stars (19 ratings)

Vegan Hummingbird Cake

Bananas, pineapple, and pecans come together in this easy one-bowl Vegan Hummingbird Cake! It’s a moist and warmly spiced dessert that’s bursting with bright, tropical flavors.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Chilling time: 2 hours
Total: 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 16 slices

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, with juice
  • 2 cups mashed overripe bananas 4-5 bananas
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans plus more for topping
  • 1 Recipe Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare 2 8-inch round pans by lining them with a circle of parchment paper on the bottom and spray well with non-stick spray.
  • In a large bowl, add the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk well.
  • To the dry ingredients, add the oil, crushed pineapple, mashed bananas, almond milk, vanilla and pecans. Mix until just combined, but do not over mix. It's helpful to mix by hand so you don't accidentally over mix the batter and cause the cake to be dense.
  • Divide the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the tops of the cakes are set.
  • Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then carefully remove them and let them cool on a cooling rack until completely cool. Please do not try to frost this cake when it's still warm at all, it will slip and break.
  • Once the cakes have cooled, prepare the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting. You may also use Vegan Buttercream or the lemon frosting from my Vegan Lemon Cake, if you prefer.
  • For a four layered cake like my photos, slice each cake into two layers using a large serrated knife (or simply leave as two layers).
  • Add frosting between each layer, then frost the outside and top of the cake as well. Sprinkle additional chopped or halved pecans for decoration, if desired. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Store leftover cake in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze for longer.
  2. May omit the nuts if needed, or use sunflower seeds instead.
  3. May use any plant milk instead of almond, such as soy or oat.
  4. I haven’t tried this cake gluten free, but a good quality gluten free mix may work pretty well. I like Better Batter brand.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 16 slices | Calories: 323kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Sodium: 244mg | Potassium: 236mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 30IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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Comments

  1. Hi! A question: The can of crushed pineapple with juice, you don’t drain it — you add the entire can in? 😊

  2. I made this recipe as cupcakes, and they were a hit! So delicious! I left out the granulated sugar, and they turned out perfect. They disappeared so quickly, I didn’t even have time to put frosting on them. Thank you Nora, another great recipe!

  3. This looks amazing Nora! I would like to make this for my birthday but I don’t want all the banana to overpower the pineapple and would like to add coconut. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. It’s kinda hard for me to suggest changing the recipe too much without trying it myself. You can try adding less banana, but the cake might be dry. I haven’t added coconut myself, but I’m sure you could. You can certainly play around with the recipe yourself though, I hope it works out and you have a great birthday!

  4. I made this vegan hummingbird cake for a group of non-vegans and they absolutely loved it! It was delicious.

    1. Hi Catherine. I agree that this is a fabulous tasting cake! I’m glad it was a hit in the group you shared it with! Thank you for your wonderful feedback!

  5. I’ve made this recipe several times now and have never been disappointed and all my friends who taste it want the recipe.

  6. Hello, Nora! Can this be made as cupcakes like your one bowl carrot cake recipe? If so how long do you suggest baking? Thank you for all your amazing recipes- they are a staple in my house.

    1. Sure! Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean or mostly clean. Thank you so much for enjoying my recipes!

  7. Thank you so much for making this fabulous recipe! It took the guess work and trial and error out of converting my non-vegan recipe. You r recipe is PERFECT as provided… Thank you again 🙂

  8. Lovely recipe. It’s like a tropical banana bread cake. I made it with the vegan cream cheese frosting and everyone at the table loved it! (None were vegan). Thanks Nora!

    1. Yes, that should be fine. Bake it for around 1 hour but check it at the 50-minute mark just in case. Hope this helps!

  9. I made this cake for my friend’s wedding and everyone absolutely loved it! Amazing flavours, nice and moist. And the cake also looked gorgeous. With your recipes, Nora, I’m trying to veganize the Netherlands!

    1. Hello in the Netherlands! I am so glad the cake was hit for the wedding! Thank you so much for taking time to share your amazing review and feedback! Wishing you lots of happy cooking in the Netherlands!

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