A spice cupcake filled with banana, coconut and pecan, also known as Hummingbird Cupcakes, is just the thing for spring. The brown sugar cream cheese frosting on top is the perfect accompaniment to the multitude of flavors in the cupcake below.
Best Hummingbird Cupcake Recipe
Before we talk about this recipe, can we please just take a moment and look at all the different flavors inside this little cupcake? The batter is made with mashed bananas, canned crushed pineapple, almond extract and plenty of cinnamon. It's a total flavor surprise, in the best way possible.
The cupcake frosting is my brown sugar cream cheese frosting. Each bite is packed with flavor, and I absolutely cannot get enough. If you want to add a splash of rum to it, I won't judge. If you want something lighter, try my whipped cream cream cheese frosting instead.
How to Make Hummingbird Cupcakes
Hummingbird cake is a very popular Southern recipe that frequently graced the table when I was growing up. It is a soft white cake full of banana, pineapple, coconut and pecans. These ingredients were considered special during our grandparent's time and were saved for the holiday season. Since ingredients are available all year these days, you can make this cake any time of year. That's a very good thing, trust me.
The traditional frosting is cream cheese, but I opted for my brown sugar cream cheese frosting here. I love the molasses flavor paired with pecans.
- Banana. Just half of one small banana, mashed. It should measure about ¼ cup of mashed banana.
- Oil. Any neutral oil: canola oil, vegetable oil, safflower oil all work here.
- Granulated Sugar.
- Crushed Pineapple. Canned crushed pineapple is measured first by scooping out of the can, and then lightly draining. For this recipe, scoop out ¼ cup of crushed pineapple from the can, and then drain it in a sieve before using.
- Coconut. Just 2 tablespoons of sweetened coconut flakes.
- Egg. One whole egg; egg yolk and egg white for this recipe.
- Almond Extract. Yes, we're using almond not vanilla, because it plays so well with cinnamon here.
- All-Purpose Flour.
- Baking Powder.
- Cream Cheese. Soften this to room temperature before making the frosting.
- Brown Sugar. Light or dark brown sugar both work.
- Powdered Sugar. The majority of the sweetness for the brown sugar cream cheese frosting will come from powdered sugar, because all brown sugar would be too grainy.
- Pecans. Completely optional, though you may want them for decorating.
- Gather all ingredients for the hummingbird cupcakes, and place 4 cupcake liners in a muffin pan.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the banana, oil and granulated sugar. Mash the banana with a fork while stirring everything together. Some chunks are okay, but try to fully mash it and make the mixture homogenous.
3. Once everything is combined, add the drained crushed pineapple, coconut, egg, and almond extract. Whisk or stir by hand very well to combine all of the wet ingredients.
4. Sprinkle the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt on top of the wet ingredients. Stir gently to combine, and divide between the 4 cupcake liners. Bake for 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. The cupcakes will also spring back when you gently press on them.
5. Let the cupcakes cool while you make the frosting: combine the cream cheese, butter and brown sugar and beat until combined. We're beating this well to dissolve the brown sugar.
6. Add 3 tablespoons of the powdered sugar, and taste to see if it's sweet enough. If it's not sweet enough or too stiff, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar. Powdered sugar will thin out a frosting, not thicken it up, because sugar dissolves and is technically a wet ingredients in baking.
7. Once the frosting is fluffy and ready to be piped onto the cool cupcakes, scrape it into a piping bag. Alternatively, you can spread it on the cupcakes with a butter knife, too!
I was always told it's called hummingbird cake because it's so sweet, just the way hummingbirds like their flower nectar. Another story goes like this: because the cake has the flavors of Jamaican in it (tropical pineapple and spices similar to those found in rum), and the Jamaican airline logo is a hummingbird, it was crowned hummingbird cake.
Hummingbird cake is a unique flavor: it's a white cake with cinnamon, mashed banana, pineapple, and pecans. It typically has a sweet cream cheese frosting.
If you wish to make these cupcakes ahead of time, freeze them in freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature, and make the frosting the day you plan to serve them. The cupcakes can be refrigerated with frosting for a few hours, but cream cheese does harden so let it soften at room temperature before serving.
For the cupcakes:
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- ½ small banana
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ¼ cup crushed pineapple, lightly drained
- 2 tablespoons sweetened coconut shreds
- 1 large egg
- ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
- ⅓ cup + 3 tablespoons flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of salt
For the brown sugar cream cheese frosting:
- 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 3-5 tablespoons powdered sugar
- toasted pecans for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350, and line a muffin pan with 4 cups. Gather all ingredients for the cupcakes, and have the frosting ingredients resting on the counter coming to room temperature while you bake.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the canola oil, banana and sugar. Mash the banana into the oil and sugar mixture.
- Once it's well incorporated, stir in the pineapple, coconut, egg and almond extract. Mix well. Sprinkle the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt on top. Stir until combined, but don't overmix.
- Divide the batter between the 4 cups and bake 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese, butter and brown sugar.
- Begin by adding 3 tablespoons of the powdered sugar and beating it together well. If the frosting is too stiff, add the remaining powdered sugar.
- Frost the cupcakes and serve.
Banana: One small banana, mashed, is about ¼ cup.
Oil: Any flavorless oil, like canola or
Crushed Pineapple: Scoop out ¼ cup of crushed pineapple from the can, and then drain it before using.
Coconut: Just 2 tablespoons of sweetened coconut flakes.
Egg: One whole egg.
Almond Extract: You can use vanilla extract, if you're more comfortable.
Cream Cheese: Soften to room temperature
Brown Sugar: Light or dark brown sugar both work.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 412Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 83mgSodium: 159mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 1gSugar: 36gProtein: 4g