Hummingbird Sheet Cake

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My Dad has never been an emotional person.  He’s the kind of guy that doesn’t really express his feelings – you know,  the rough, tough exterior kind of thing. I’ve never seen him cry (though my Mom tells me she saw it happen when our beloved family dog, Maggie, died several years ago).  I can probably count on one hand the number of times he’s said “I love you.”  And that’s okay with me.  I know he loves me.  We understand each other like that.  And honestly, though we might sign it in birthday cards or something, I can’t say that I’ve shared those 3 little words with him often either.  But again, I think he knows that I do love him.

The other day, I called to talk to my Mom and Dad answered the phone.  We chatted for a few minutes and when we went to say goodbye, I said “love you” in one of those accidental, habitual, that’s-what-I-always-say kind of ways.  It was a slip.  It shocked me.  Honestly, it caught us both off guard.  Neither of us knew what to say after that and Mom quickly came on the line.  At first I regretted creating the awkwardness.  But the more I thought about it, the more proud I became about what had happened, because the truth is… I do love him.  I love him for the father he was and is to me, the husband is to my mother, and the “Papa” he is to my little boy.  Maybe you should consider one of those accidental “I love yous” today.  You never know how it might make you feel…

Hummingbird Cake is one of my wife’s favorite desserts, but it can be challenging and time consuming.  Turning this into an easy sheet cake makes it easier to accomplish in a fraction of the time without sacrificing flavor.  Y’all enjoy!

Hummingbird Sheet Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
For Cake:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 bananas, chopped
For Icing:
  • ½ (1 stick) cup butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
For Cake:
  1. Combine dry ingredients, blend well.
  2. Add eggs and oil, mix well.
  3. Add vanilla, pineapple, bananas, and nuts. Stir gently to combine.
  4. Pour into greased 9X13 pan. Bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
For Icing:
  1. Blend together the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla.
  2. Slowly add powdered sugar until all is incorporated.
  3. Top cooled cake with icing.
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  1. Kathy Swearingen says:

    Thanks!! This looks yummy. I’ve always wanted to try making Hummingbird Cake, but I don’t like to make layer cakes. I’m so glad to be able to try it as sheet cake. I will definitely be making this one. Thanks again!!

  2. The hummingbird sheet cake is DELICIOUS!, Thanks!

  3. Crazy Good! Thanks Stacey.

  4. I made this for Easter, and there’s a misprint in the recipe. The pineapple should NOT be drained. Without the pineapple juice, the batter is crumbly. With the juice it is smooth. Compare your recipe to the original (see the Southern Living web site) and you’ll see the difference. Thanks for posting!

    • Hi LinC, thanks so much for looking out for me. Actually, the recipe is correct. This recipe is developed specifically as a sheet cake. If you’re comparing to the SL recipe, you’ll see that my recipe has more oil and that makes up for the pineapple juice and yields a more dense, moist cake. Adding the pineapple juice shouldn’t affect the overall outcome, so I think it’s fine to include it. I’m just curious why your batter was crumbly. I’ve never had that problem and we’ve been using this recipe for years and years. Hope y’all enjoy the cake!! Happy Easter!!!

  5. Amy Strack says:

    This is my all time favorite cake. My mother use to make this for me once a year on my birthday. That meant layers of yumminess. Well, she just sent me this recipe. Now I don’t have to worry with layers. I will be making this more often than once a year! Thank you!

  6. Angela Evans says:

    Making this right now and it smells great! I doubled the recipe and used a 12×16 pan. I’ve made this before but as a layer cake.

  7. I was wondering if this could be frozen? I would love to make it, but too much for just two to consume in a timely fashion Wondering if I could freeze part of it?

    Thank you so much!

  8. Do I bake this cake in a 9×13 pan or a jellyfish pan?

  9. I just learned about this Pinterest. I love it!
    I’ve been making my family humming bird cake for holidays for years.
    It is their favorite cake. I never thought to make it a sheet cake. Thank you for the idea.
    This is a very old recipe. I believe it’s from England. Not made from humming birds. Lol.
    It’s just sweet, awesome and everyone loves it.

  10. I made this tonite, and instead of the pecans in the cake I sprinkled them on top of the frosting. I also added a cup of shredded coconut into the cake batter. YUMMMM!!

  11. I learned how to make this cake about 30 years ago from a beautiful lady in our church. My very good friend also goes to the same church and ever since I learned the recipe she wants one every year for her birthday. She know what she’s getting and she’s happy and it makes me happy I learned this one. It is delicious. Thanks for putting it on again.

  12. Oh, mercy me!! Forget my diet till this is all gone Smell was wonderful and the taste even better ..oooooh, so devine~~~

  13. So moist and tasty! Wish I hadn’t had to skimp on the pineapple but I didn’t have the full amount. Next time it will be that much nicer. Not dry or crumbly at all. Thank you for sharing your family’s recipe…I can see why it’s a tradition.

  14. this sounds wonderful but is not a sheet cake. This is an original cake made in a 9×13 pan a sheet cake is made in a cookie sheet pan. Or maybe this can be put in a pan like this let me know would like to make it. Thanks

    • Most bakers I know refer to any single layer cake a sheet cake, though the actual dimensions vary – half sheet, whole sheet, quarter sheet. This recipe uses a 9×13 pan.

  15. Winnie Mom says:

    I made this and omitted the frosting completely. My wonderful husband and I don’t like frosting’s but
    a light dusting of powdered sugar worked wonderful. I did not drain the pineapple and it turned out perfect. I’m wondering if I could bake in two loaf pans and serve more like a banana bread. Of course would have to adjust baking times but that’s not a problem. I just might try it next time. Hubby says this is a keeper. Thanks Stacey for all your wonderful recipes.

  16. Debbie Caraballo says:

    Hi Stacey…I’m all excited about this Hummingbird Sheet Cake, but for some reason, the recipe doesn’t show for me. Don’t know if it’s just my computer, or if something isn’t loading right. Help??


  17. Debbie Caraballo says:

    Ok, now that I posted, it’s here! Lol…Can’t wait to make it!

  18. Anna Unruh says:

    made this cake and the frosting it’s a good cake… will make it again…

  19. I have made this twice, and both times I had to bake for much longer than 45 min as the center was jiggly and basically still batter. I think I may have overdone it the first time, but it’s hard to get just right (2nd try is cooling now). The outside browns pretty dark but isn’t burnt. I haven’t noticed any issues like this for my oven with other recipes. Just wondering if others have had variation in bake time, and any ideas on what the issue might be? The cake is very good and I love the combination of ingredients. And it’s so easy! I like to add lemon zest and a bit of juice to the frosting. Thanks for a great recipe!

  20. Stacey I’ve made the layer Humming Bird Cake. My recipe
    made a very large layer cake. It was very good, however, took entirely too much time. I will happily make this sheet cake for our Easter meal. Thanks for posting the sheet version.
    Also, didn’t you feel really good after saying love you to your Father? I always say “I love you” each time I talk with my family members and close friends. Life is so short, it might be the last time we have to say that. I always hang up the phone and have that smile on my face that I’m so happy.
    I enjoy your stories. Keep up the 7 work.

  21. Connie Quintana says:

    I usually make the Hummingbird bundt cake. It is easy, decorative and always well received. This sheet cake pan will be easier for a small family get together. Thanks for sharing.

  22. I’m not able to eat nuts, and I’m wondering how you think this would be if I leave them out. Thanks – looks yummy!!!

  23. Someone earlier ask if this cake could be frozen and I also would be my question?

  24. Barbarainnc says:

    I wonder if this cake can be baked in a jelly roll pan (10 by 15.) ?? Just found your site by Pinterest. I could stay here for hours.

  25. Can I use a different fruit? This cake sounds awesome but I’m allergic to pineapple.

  26. I LOVE Hummingbird cake! The first time I had it was after my grandmother’s funeral in the church basement. You know that cake was made with love by one of her sweet old friends. I’ve made a healthy version which I loved, too, by Andrew Weil. RECENTLY, I went to a fancy restaurant and was sadly disappointed by their dried out version. bummer. I love to make a pretty layer cake, but sometimes you just need a good sheet cake! And that is what I’m after today. So THANKS a MILLION for providing the recipe in this format. I can see this will not disappoint!

  27. Terri Hughes says:

    Love the story about you and your Dad, make it a habit. My Dad was the same way, he didn’t say it a lot, but I knew he loved me. My Dad has long passed and I sure miss him, so tell your Dad you love him more often. It shouldn’t be awkward for either of you. Because when they are gone, it is too late. Thanks for the easier version of this Hummingbird cake. The original way is time consuming. But, boy are they GOOD. Thanks!

  28. Elizabeth (Liz) Jackson says:

    Thanks Stacy, Ilike that this so much easier than A layer cake. This will be my first time making this kind of cake. Thanks for the story about you and your Dad, some time we just need to follow our heart.Stay well and God bless


  30. Misty LaGrou says:

    I want to thank you for such a easy recipe to follow. I made this for a woman’s group and I had so many compliments, It was so easy to make and so super yummy. I will make this several times a year.. It was super good!!!

  31. The pineapple is drained?

  32. Kristina says:

    Stacey, thanks for the recipe. My aunt used to make a hummingbird sheet cake, but at 83 can no longer find the recipe. I tried it out yesterday. It was so good my husband has declared the entire cake “his” to “work on all week!” I will make it again in a couple of weeks to share with my mom and aunt. Delicious!!

  33. Awesome! Everyone enjoyed this recipe and went back for seconds. Will be making again and again!

  34. Rose Heintz says:

    Love this recipe it came out wonderful. Great texture and flavor. My one question to you is like other posts have asked. My batter was very cookie dough like until I added the pineapple juice than batter was fine. So do you have any idea what I could have done wrong being you don’t add juice? I followed the recipe with everything else.
    Thank you.

    • Hi Rose! Yes, the batter is very thick, but it bakes up perfectly. I’m not sure why that’s throwing everyone off. We’ve been making this recipe for 30 years and haven’t had trouble with it. Regardless, I’m just tickled you enjoyed the cake!

  35. Really great fragrance filled the house while baking. I found the batter had almost that “cookie-dough” look after adding the egg/oil/vanilla to the dry ingredients. Almost gave in to temptation to engineer it myself & add some of that juice drained off the pineapple when I put the fruit into the bowl. But I resisted the urge to second guess the author, electing to wait & see what happened when the fruit was mixed in. Voila! A few turns of the paddle in the old Kitchenaid mixer & the fruit alone smoothed out the batter to a beautiful, slightly thick (just like my carrot sheet cake) batter. I knew it would be fine. And indeed it IS!

  36. Does this cake need to remain in the pan and be frosted just on top or can it be inverted without it falling apart. I want to do it for a birthday cake but don’t want to have to leave my wilton pan behind.

    • Honestly, Amy, I’ve never done it that way. It’s a very dense cake, so I worry about it falling apart. If you do decide to give it a try, please let me know.

  37. Hi. Love this idea! Do you refrigerate it or is it ok to store at room temperature? Also, any thoughts about soaking dried cranberries in the remaining pineapple juice and adding the reconstituted berries to the batter? Just wondering since I’m considering baking this for Thanksgiving. I do not want to ruin this lovely cake. It’s my favorite. Thank you!

  38. Saying “I love you” has become so much easier for me as I have aged. I am learning to say it to dear friends and not just to family members. You never know when it may be the last earthly conversation you’ll have with that person, and I don’t want to have the regret of not sharing words of love with those who have meant so much to me.

    As far as the cake goes—this brings back the memories of my mother-in-law helping me to celebrate my birthdays over the years. She always made me Hummingbird cake and my husband, a rich poppyseed cake with cream frosting. Our birthdays are about 3 weeks apart, and we always gained a little extra weight around those celebrations. Mom Pat has not been able to make us cakes for the past several years, but I think in her honor, I will have to try this recipe for my next birthday—or maybe sooner!

  39. Can I make it without adding pecans?

  40. Diana Limon says:

    I just made a full sheet and took it out of the oven and I noticed that the cake is very dense unlike a typical cake that is fluffy and lite. I hope this tastes good as I am feeding 40 people . I am very nervous about how the texture will be.

  41. This recipe looks wonderful. Which type of baking pan do you use for it … glass, nonstick with darker coating, or a regular metal?

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