Hummingbird Cupcakes

I have been hearing about hummingbird cake and hummingbird cupcakes for quite a few years now, but never took the time to do any serious investigative work. I guarantee that had I done so when I first heard about it, these cupcakes would have been made eons ago. Hummingbird cake is very popular in the Southern region of the United States and includes pineapple chunks, banana, coconut, and either walnuts or pecans, and is topped with a cream cheese frosting. Basically, hummingbird cake is a tropical version of carrot cake with chunks of sweet, fresh ingredients. I can’t ever get enough of carrot cake, and I certainly can’t get enough of hummingbird cake.

Some say the cake earned its name because each bite makes you hum with delight. (True.) Others say it’s because the cake is as sweet as the sugared water used to attract hummingbirds. No matter how it got its name, one this is certain – hummingbird cake is the real deal, and I’ve been missing out. For Mother’s Day, I thought it would be fun to create individual cupcakes, complete with their own dried pineapple flowers (you’ll find instructions below on how to make them). A quick note – if you decide to garnish the cupcakes with the dried pineapple flowers, be sure to allow yourself enough time. Once dried, they should sit overnight so that their shape holds.

An early Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! I hope you enjoy a wonderful weekend with family, and get to eat all of your favorite treats!

One year ago: Gazpacho
Two years ago: Classic Baby Shower Cookies

Hummingbird Cupcakes

Yield: 22 to 24 cupcakes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


Dried Pineapple Flowers (garnish):
1 whole fresh pineapple

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 & 1/3 cups mashed banana (2 to 3 large bananas)
2/3 cup crushed pineapple, drained (about half of a 20-ounce can)
2/3 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped
2/3 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened will work)
1 & 1/3 cups granulated sugar
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs

12 ounces cream cheese
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar


1. Make the Dried Pineapple Flowers: Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper. Cut the top and bottom off the pineapple, and slice off the outer rind. Using a small melon baller or measuring spoon, remove and discard the pineapple "eyes". Use a sharp knife to cut the pineapple crosswise into very thin slices. Place the slices on the baking sheets. Bake until the tops look dried, about 30 minutes. Flip slices; bake until completely dried, 25 to 30 minutes more (or longer, depending on their thickness). Pinch the center of each pineapple slice to shape into a cone; let cool in a clean muffin tin to form flowers. Let sit overnight so that they retain their shape. Once completely dried and shaped, the flowers can be stored (stacked) up to 3 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

2. Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard-size muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.

3. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside. In another bowl, stir together the banana, pineapple, walnuts, and coconut; set aside.

4. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Continue beating until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the banana mixture to the egg mixture, beating until combined. Stir in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula.

5. Divide the batter evenly among the lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. (Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in airtight containers.)

6. Make the Frosting: Using the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix to incorporate. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar, until it has all been incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium-high and whip until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

7. Assemble the Cupcakes: To finish, pipe frosting onto the top of each cupcake (or use an offset spatula to spread the frosting) and top with a dried pineapple flower. (Note: I used an Ateco #806 decorating tip to frost these cupcakes.)

(Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes)


66 Responses to “Hummingbird Cupcakes”

  1. Tracey on May 11, 2012 at 1:08 am

    These have been on my to-do list forever, if for no other reason than to make the pineapple flowers. They’re so pretty, and beyond perfect for Mother’s Day!


  2. Averie @ Averie Cooks on May 11, 2012 at 2:00 am

    These are just beautiful! So creative and love the cheery yellow!


  3. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on May 11, 2012 at 2:14 am

    Awww how cute are these!?!? Love the pineapple flowers…


  4. j3nn on May 11, 2012 at 3:06 am

    I’ve never heard of hummingbird cupcakes until now but they sure look lovely! The delicate flowers are so pretty. 🙂


  5. Debbi Hook on May 11, 2012 at 3:08 am

    I’ve made the hummingbird cake – and it is delicious and moist. However, you really wowed me with the pineapple flowers! How very clever of you!!!!


  6. Caroline from Caroline Makes on May 11, 2012 at 6:12 am

    I made a hummingbird cake a little while back, I didn’t think I would like it as I hate bananas, but it was amazing!
    BTW I don’t know if you’ve come across the blogging challenge I cohost, the idea is we pick a random letter every month and ask people to make something with a name or an ingredient beginning with that letter. This would be just perfect for May’s challenge as the letter is H! If you want to enter you can find details here, I hope you don’t mind me mentioning it but it’s a relatively new challenge and we’re trying to spread the word!


  7. Kiri W. on May 11, 2012 at 6:47 am

    I don’t even like pineapple, but these are absolutely gorgeous. How creative!


  8. Katrina on May 11, 2012 at 7:38 am

    I’ve always wanted to try these. They sound so yummy!


  9. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on May 11, 2012 at 8:18 am

    I was wondering what Hummingbird cake was. I”ve seen it popping up a lot lately. I love the combination of everything in it!! I have to make it!


  10. Mary on May 11, 2012 at 9:36 am

    I adore the pineapple flowers! They are so beautiful and delicate. I’m always looking for inventive garnishes for cakes, cupcakes and cookies. I’m adding this one to the list of recipes to try!


  11. Catalina @ Cake with Love on May 11, 2012 at 9:40 am

    These are beautiful, love your photos!


  12. Lauren on May 11, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I’ve seen these all over the web! So in love with this idea!!


  13. Jessica@AKitchenAddiction on May 11, 2012 at 10:00 am

    These are beautiful! I love how you make the flowers out of pineapple!


  14. Ali @ Gimme Some Oven on May 11, 2012 at 10:03 am

    I have so been wanting to try these after seeing the pineapple flowers on Pinterest! So cute!!


  15. Kaitlin on May 11, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I’ve never heard of hummingbird cake before but it sounds just delightful! These are absolutely beautiful as well!


  16. Stephanie on May 11, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Mmm, these look great!


  17. Stephanie on May 11, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Those flowers are pineapples!? What!? Amazing!!!!

    My Mom always makes her carrot cakes with chunks of pineapple. I’ll have to tell her she is actually making a hybrid carrot-hummingbird cake!


  18. Kristy on May 11, 2012 at 11:59 am

    This sounds like a great spring recipe! Not to mention they sound delicious. 🙂


  19. CJ at Food Stories on May 11, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Where have I been all this time? I’ve never heard of these before. They look amazing!


  20. Audrey on May 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Unreal timing! I JUST saw a recipe this morning in an issue of “Southern Lady” magazine, and was intrigued. With your special touch of Pineapple Flowers, this goes on my “must make” list for our Tropical Tea Party this summer!


  21. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel on May 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    the pineapple flowers make these so pretty!


  22. Jamie | My Baking Addiction on May 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    The are absolutely gorgeous – the flower is just so special.


  23. Jennifer on May 11, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Lovely! I tried hummingbird cake for the first time this year also! A friend requested this type of cake for her birthday, so I made it. According to Southern Living magazine, it’s one of the most requested recipes that they have. Who knew? It was really good even though I looked at the ingredients doubtfully before I made it. Very dense and sweet.


  24. madge @ vegetariancasserolequeen on May 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    I’ve never heard of these either, but they sound delicious! You are so ambitious with your pineapple flowers! Good job!


  25. Amber @ Slim Pickin's Kitchen on May 11, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Yum! I lurve hummingbird cake, but I am from the south so that’s expected, I guess! We almost had hummingbird cupcakes at our wedding, but we opted for BUTTERBEER instead!!!


  26. Debra Kapellakis on May 12, 2012 at 11:28 am

    The pineapple flowers are like hummingbirds themselves, light as air ans so pretty.


  27. Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. on May 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Hummingbird cake is one of my faves! These are perfect for Mother’s Day! I love the pineapple flower!


  28. Moo Eleven on May 12, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    What a delicious sounding recipe. Definitely a keeper… Moo x


  29. Mario Matassa on May 12, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Wow, they look great. What a great idea for Mother’s Day.


  30. Lissa (Bellenza) on May 13, 2012 at 4:09 am

    Like you, I always wondered what hummingbird cakes/cupcakes actually were. Now, I know! They sound delicious…and look so pretty with that dried pineapple topper. 🙂


  31. Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen on May 13, 2012 at 6:34 am

    hummingbird cake! I love the name, love how it is. 🙂 These cupcakes are beautiful.


  32. Katie A. on May 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    These cupcakes look amazing! My mom is flying out for a visit this week and I would really like to make these for her as her (belated) mother’s day gift. However, she is allergic to bananas!! I was wondering if you could recommend anything as a substitute for bananas in this recipe. They have such a unique consistency when mashed, and I cannot think of anything that could replace them. Thanks for your help! :o)


    • Michelle on May 15th, 2012 at 8:05 pm

      Hi Katie, I would try applesauce. Usually I use unsweetened, but given the sugar content in bananas, I think I would go ahead with regular here.


  33. Paula on May 13, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Beautiful. When I saw the title of this post in my reader I was expecting a cupcake with a little hummingbird on it. I love the decorative pineapple! They sound delicious.


  34. Lester @ CupcakeIdeasForYou on May 14, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    These cupcake looks so tasty! I never tried dried pineapple before so it made specially on cupcakes. It made me curious on how this cupcake taste.


  35. Amanda on May 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    I made these for my family this Mother’s Day and they were AMAZING! I am from the South and have never heard of this before, but I will totally make these again. Thanks!


  36. Marissa on May 17, 2012 at 5:36 am

    Bravo on the adorable cupcakes!!!! My mom found a recipe called Dr. Bird cake, in the newspaper when she was a kid…and its essentially the same cake without nuts and coconut. Made in a bundt pan (typically) and sprinkled with brown sugar before popped in the oven! It is her signature dessert and definitely a favorite of mine…so everytime I see a reference to hummingbird cake I always think of her Dr. Bird cake and now it finally makes sense why it is called such a funny name!


  37. Madi on May 24, 2012 at 2:35 am

    Hey, I was wondering if this cake is very crumby or not. It sounds delicious and I am considering using it for my Wilton corse but am concerned about icing it if it is too crumby


    • Michelle on May 24th, 2012 at 12:15 pm

      Hi Madi, I took the Wilton courses and I wouldn’t recommend this particular cake for your class. For practicing icing cakes and decorating, it’s helpful to have a sturdy cake. Due to the pineapple and nuts in this, I don’t think it would serve your purposes well.


      • Madi on May 24th, 2012 at 12:56 pm

        Yeah I kind of figured so. Looks like I have an excuse for cupcakes as well now 🙂


  38. Mei-i @ gastronomic nomad on May 29, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    I have never heard of a hummingbird cupcake or cake! Thanks for introducing this to me as I love all the flavors in it. I especially love the addition of the beautiful pineapple flower. It finishes it off! Buzzed AND pinned.


  39. Bopha on June 2, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Do you think you could bake this in a 9×13 or would it be too much batter? I really want to try this cake but transporting the cupcakes won’t be easy.


    • Michelle on June 4th, 2012 at 9:57 pm

      Hi Bopha, You could definitely use this to make a 9×13-inch cake, you’ll just need to increase the baking time a little bit.


  40. Kate on June 14, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Thanks for the delicious cupcakes. Quick question: I made the frosting as directed, but no matter how long I beat it, it was soupy! What happened?


  41. Heather Bebout on June 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    I’ve made these several times…RAVE REVIEWS!! These cupcakes have a perfect balance of sweet and spice. I love the crunch of the nuts and the icing is to die for!! I have had a harder time perfecting the pineapple flowers though. I’ll keep trying! I usualy top mine with a little toasted coconut and a cute little wedge of fresh pineapple. The kids are fighting the adults for them! Thanks for a fantastic recipe!


    • Michelle on June 23rd, 2012 at 8:44 pm

      I love the idea of topping them with toasted coconut and a wedge of coconut. So pretty (and easier)!


  42. Anissa on July 9, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    These are delicious cupcakes! So moist and great flavor. I did toasted pecans and chopped them real small. Perfect!


  43. alyssa on August 12, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I tried these for the first time today, just because they looked so darn cute and delicious – And they most certainly were! Adding them to my recipe book:) The only thing I didn’t do was toast the walnuts.. and I wasn’t able to do the pineapple flower – I used canned instead of purchasing an actual pineapple. DEFINITELY BAKING THESE AGAIN!!


  44. Samantha on August 16, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Thank you for this recipe! I made these a few days ago for a pregnant friend who demanded cupcakes and she was ever so grateful. I love the spice in here. Scrumptious.


  45. Katie on June 26, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    I just came across your blog and am loving it so far! I make hummingbird cupcakes all the time and get rave reviews. I use a coconut buttercream icing topped with toasted coconut instead. Just use coconut milk and extract in your normal buttercream icing. Delish!!


  46. Sarah on July 13, 2013 at 12:47 am

    Yummy! So cute! Love that Hummingbird! And I totally agree, I could use some patience too!


  47. Sandy B. on December 20, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    These look so wonderful! I’m not much of a fan of coconut, do you think I can simply leave it out with good results?


    • Michelle on December 20th, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      Hi Sandy, There is a substantial bit in there, so I’m not sure if just omitting it would wreck havoc on the texture of the cakes; I have not tried doing so. You could try substituting shredded carrots for more of a tropical carrot cake flavor, if you’re into carrot cake.


  48. Miau on May 4, 2014 at 5:45 am

    I made it and it was very delicious 😉


  49. sue griffore on June 24, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Hi again. Anxious to try these. I have just found dulce de leche and love it. Do you have any thoughts (good or bad) about filling the hummingbird cakes with it??? Or, other than chocolate, do you have a cupcake that you would recommend? thank you


    • Michelle on June 26th, 2014 at 11:03 am

      Hi Sue, I don’t think that I would fill these particular cupcakes with dulce de leche; these have a very bright and fruity flavor, which I don’t think would pair that well with dulce de leche. Chocolate, of course, is a great option. Mocha would be, too.


  50. Sherry Ann Mari on September 26, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    Can I substitute banana pudding mix for banana


    • Michelle on September 28th, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      Hi Sherry, No, that would not work.


  51. Vika Tsymbal on April 17, 2015 at 1:56 am

    Is there anything I could possibly substitute for the pineapple in the cupcakes, like a can of mandarins, or even mangos? My friends birthdays coming up and she’s allergic to pineapple.d


    • Michelle on April 21st, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Hi Vika, Ahh such a shame! I haven’t tried it with anything else, so I couldn’t give you a definitive answer. If you do canned mandarins (probably the closest), be sure to drain and chop.


  52. Humairah on June 14, 2015 at 11:39 am

    hello Michelle
    If I wanted to substitute the melted butter with oil , how much of oil would I need ?

    Thank you


    • Michelle on June 16th, 2015 at 4:36 pm

      Hi Humairah, You would use the same amount.


  53. Samantha on August 24, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Just made these yesterday for a friend of mine’s birthday. Everyone loved them!I dud use cake flour instead of AP, and they were super soft, but I imagine AP flour would work just fine. We’re culinary students, so we kinda get a little joke in using stuff our teachers swear by haha.


  54. Ashley Akers on January 21, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Have you tried freezing these? Also have you made your hummingbird cake recipe as cupcakes? Don’t see why it wouldn’t work.


    • Michelle on January 22nd, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      Hi Ashley, I have not tried freezing them, but I think they would freeze just fine before frosting them (frost after thawing). I have not done the hummingbird cake as cupcakes yet.


  55. Michelle on April 23, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    I made these cupcakes last night and they are divine. Very yummy & moist. My only change was to nix the pineapple garnish and add toasted coconut as a garnish to the frosting. It came out wonderful. I also made these as mini cupcakes to take to a party & they were a big hit. We had some extra minis left over that we ate without frosting this morning. Like little Hummingbird muffins. Thanks for this recipe.


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