Frosted individually plated warm carrot cake

Copycat J Alexanders Carrot Cake Recipe

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Copycat J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake Recipe (With optional zucchini and Greek yogurt – reduced sugar!)

Copycat J Alexander’s Cake with Zucchini

If you are looking for a copycat version of J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake or you are looking to use up some zucchini from the garden this Copycat J Alexanders Cake Recipe is it! It has less sugar than most recipe versions I’ve found online, and I add shredded zucchini and Greek yogurt!

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About 2 years ago my sister-in-law introduced me to the carrot cake at J. Alexander’s. I NEVER order carrot cake. Why? Because there is no chocolate in it of course and it usually just tastes like cloves to me. But, I wanted to be polite, and my SIL never steers me wrong, so I tried a bite. WOW, it’s like no other cake I have ever tried. I knew I had to come up with a Copycat J Alexanders Cake.


All I can say is that it is incredibly moist and buttery. I couldn’t quite tell how it was made or all the ingredients, but I knew there was butter. Lots and lots of butter! Most carrot cakes taste like a dry spice cake to me, and this simply does not. It’s cinnamony, nutty, rich, and very buttery! I’m just waiting for an occasion to bake another one!

It’s not hard to make, but it does take some time, as most cakes worthwhile do. You have to make the batter and bake the cake, and you have to make the buttermilk cake syrup, then you have to make the cream cheese frosting… But it’s soooo worth it, and you can make the syrup and frosting while the cake is baking! I lighten up the frosting by using Neufchatel cheese, it’s like cream cheese but 1/3 less fat.

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My new favorite cinnamon

I recently found Enspice, spices enhanced with vitamins and minerals and I love them! Part of the proceeds goes to help end childhood malnutrition around the world. You can read all about Enspice here (not an affiliate link). The Sri Lankan Cinnamon has organic kale, pumpkin, sweet potato, and other natural ingredients added and I love the deep, rich, unique flavor it adds to this cake. I think you will too!

If you love this copycat J Alexanders Carrot Cake recipe, try my copycat Panera Cheese Soufflé Recipe!

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Copycat J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake with Zucchini (Reduced Sugar)

After searching for copycat recipes, I tried several and came up with this slightly less sweet version. I also swap some of the carrots for zucchini, but you don't have to! One great thing about this cake is that it is best served warm! That means you don't have to cool it completely before frosting!
There are three steps to making this cake, mixing and baking the cake, making the cake syrup, and mixing up the frosting. It's not difficult, but it will take some time, but you can work on the cake syrup and frosting while the cake bakes!
Ingredients are listed in three separate ingredient groups, cake batter, cake syrup and frosting.
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5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 9
Calories 424 kcal



Carrot Zucchini Cake Batter

  • ¾ cup white whole wheat flour I like *King Arthur. You could use all AP flour.
  • ¾ cup AP flour
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp Enspice Sri Lankan Cinnamon Regular cinnamon is fine, but Enspice Sri Lankan cinnamonis amazing. Purchases of Enspice help to fight malnutrition. Visit their website to read all about it.
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg Fresh grated is the best
  • tsp salt
  • 1 egg Lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt Optional, in place of additional egg or oil. I like Greek Gods or Fage Greek Yogurt.
  • 3 tbsp low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tbsp orange zest Optional, or use orange juice if you have it
  • 3 oz crushed pineapple Strain and set aside juice
  • ½ cup carrots Grated.
  • ½ cup zucchini Optional, you can use carrots instead, however, you may want to add about 1/4 cup additional buttermilk or pineapple juice to the batter.
  • 2 oz sweetened shredded coconut flakes About 3/4 cup not packed. I used sweetened coconut flakes.
  • ½ cup pecans Chopped (add a full cup if you like extra nuts, or save some for garnish)

Buttermilk Cake Syrup

  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 5 tbsp butter Salted is fine
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese Room temperature. I use Neufchatel.
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter Room temperature. Salted will work however you may need to add extra powdered sugar.
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract I like pure vanilla extract.


Prepare the carrot cake batter

  • Grease/butter and flour an 8X8 baking pan. Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Mix all the dry ingredients for the cake in a large bowl. (All-purpose and whole wheat flour, baking powder, Enspice/cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, brown and white sugar, and a pinch of salt.
    Dry ingredients for cake
  • Mix all the wet ingredients for the cake batter in a medium bowl. (Egg, canola oil, yogurt, buttermilk, vanilla, orange zest or juice, strained pineapple, coconut, carrots, and zucchini together in a medium bowl.)
    Wet ingredients for carrot cake
  • Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir in chopped pecans.
    Carrot Zucchini cake ready for the oven
  • Pour the batter into the 8X8 pan
  • Bake for 35 minutes at 350°F. (While the cake is baking, prepare the cake syrup.)
    Carrot zucchini cake
  • Test with a toothpick. If it's still raw in the middle, reduce the temp to 325°F and cook another 15 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. You should be able to press lightly and the cake will spring back in the center.
  • Cool for only five minutes before adding cake syrup.

Prepare the Cake Syrup

  • Add ingredients for the cake syrup (white sugar, brown sugar, butter, buttermilk, and vanilla) to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and cook until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has thickened. It won’t take long, about five minutes. Remove from heat. You will poke holes in the cake and pour syrup over the hot cake.
    Cake syrup

Prepare the Cake for the Syrup

  • Use a thick skewer or large fork carefully and gently poke holes all over the cake while it is still very warm, or hot.
    Poke holes all over cake
  • Pour the cake syrup very slowly over the hot cake. Set aside to cool slightly before serving.
    Pour cake syrup over warm cake

Prepare the Frosting

  • In medium bowl, whip the cream cheese until smooth.
  • Add the butter and vanilla and beat until combined and fluffy.
  • Slowly mix in the powdered sugar.
  • Put the frosting in a piping bag or a zip top bag until ready to frost the cake.

Frost and Serve

  • I prefer to cut the cake into 9 pieces and pipe frosting on each individually plated warm piece. You can frost the entire cake, the choice is yours! I like to garnish with pecans or a sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg! You could garnish with a few gratings of carrot too.
    Frosted warm carrot zucchini cake
  • Refrigerate leftovers.
    Garnish with pecans


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I adapted this from a few recipes, the one I recall most is There are a lot of great recipes on mybakingaddiction!
*When shopping for a mandoline, I recommend that you stay away from v-shaped blades that are made of two pieces crossed over or butted up together. Food gets stuck and they don’t slice well (in my opinion.) I’m thinking of this one from Amazon to replace my annoying v-shaped mandoline.
This cake is amazing served warm with frosting piped or spooned over the top.
I like to store the leftover frosting in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator. I take it out and let it warm up to room temperature a bit, then pipe it over pieces of cake that have been warmed in the microwave.
This is a very rich, sweet, buttery cake. I use less sugar in the cake batter than other copycat recipes since the cake syrup and frosting are so very sweet.


Calories: 424kcalCarbohydrates: 54gProtein: 6gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 161mgPotassium: 247mgFiber: 3gSugar: 36gVitamin A: 1729IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 104mgIron: 1mg
Keyword breakfast cupcakes, carrot cake, carrot zucchini cake, carrots, cinnamon, copycat, copycat j alexanders carrot cake, copycat recipe, cream cheese, cream cheese frosting, decadent, easter dessert, enspice, garden goodies, j alexanders, j alexanders carrot cake, mothers day dessert
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I hope you try this Copycat J. Alexanders Carrot Cake recipe! If you do, please remember to rate the recipe! If you love this recipe, try my Banana Filled Cake with Espresso Buttercream!

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I started eBookFoodie in 2018 as a hobby, to quiet a nagging voice inside my head to be creative and to be more productive. It went live in January 2019. I’ve always been hesitant to post about myself or my life, but when it comes to recipes and books, I find that I enjoy it! I especially like posting recipes inspired by books that I’ve read, and recreating family favorites!