Hummingbird Carrot Cake

Prep Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 40 mins
1 8-inch layer cake

When you give carrot cake a hummingbird-inspired spin, it really takes a slice to new heights. To capture the essence of a classic Hummingbird Cake, we stirred shredded coconut and puréed pineapple into our batter and swapped butter for oil to get a rich crumb and featherweight texture. Then we coated the classic frosting with chopped pecans and topped it with a nest of candied carrots.



  • 1 cup vegetable oil, plus more for brushing

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger

  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • ¾ cup canned diced pineapple in juice, drained and puréed

  • 3 cups finely shredded peeled carrots (from 1 bunch)

  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut


  • 1 ½ pounds cream cheese, room temperature

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

  • 2 ½ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • cup whole pecans, toasted and finely chopped, for decorating (optional)

  • Candied Carrot Curls, for decorating


  1. For the Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans with oil. Line bottoms with parchment rounds; brush with oil. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt to thoroughly combine. In another bowl, whisk together oil, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla, and pineapple. Stir wet mixture into flour mixture just until no dry flour remains (if you overmix, the cake will be tough). Fold in carrots and coconut.

  2. Divide mixture evenly between prepared pans, smoothing tops. Bake until cakes are puffed slightly and golden, and a tester inserted into centers comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack 20 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack, remove parchment, and let cool completely.

  3. For the Frosting: In a bowl, beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add confectioners' sugar so it incorporates evenly and continue mixing until smooth. Beat in vanilla.

  4. To Assemble: Split cakes in half horizontally with a long, thin-bladed knife to create 4 layers. For an evenly stacked cake, place a bottom layer, bottom-side down, on a cake plate with edges lined with parchment strips (to catch excess frosting). Spread a scant 1 cup frosting over it. Place a top layer, top-side down, over frosting. Spread with a scant 1 cup frosting.

  5. Repeat with second top layer and more frosting. Stack last layer on top, bottom-side up. Spread a thin layer of frosting over top and sides of cake to create the "crumb coat," which prevents crumbs from getting into the final frosting layer. Refrigerate remaining frosting and cake until crumb coat is firm, 20 minutes.

  6. Smooth remaining frosting evenly over cake with an offset spatula. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days. Press pecans evenly into bottom third of frosting. Pull away parchment; discard. Top with candied carrot curls.

    Hummingbird Carrot Cake Recipe
    Chris Simpson

Cook's Notes

Shredding the carrots on the finer side of a box grater ensures that they'll blend right in with the sweetened coconut and puréed pineapple.

For clean slices of cake and frosting that stays put, make sure the cake is thoroughly chilled before cutting.

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