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J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake

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This copycat version of J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake is every bit as perfect as the original: full of carrots, pineapple and coconut, and soaked with a buttermilk syrup for a melt-in-your-mouth slice of cake.

This copycat version of J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake is every bit as perfect as the original: full of carrots, pineapple and coconut, and soaked with a buttermilk syrup for a melt-in-your-mouth slice of cake.

I don’t throw out the word “best” in front of many of my recipe titles, but I almost did for this carrot cake.

I’ve been obsessed with the carrot cake from J. Alexander’s for no less than 10 years. In my opinion, it is carrot cake perfection.

I would get a piece to go almost every time I ate there and nibble on it every night for dessert throughout the week.

J Alexander's Carrot Cake is moist and delicious, perfect for your Easter table

When we moved to Cleveland from Toledo, my love affair with J.’s kind of ended because the closest one is now almost an hour away. :(

Last Easter I decided to search for a copycat recipe for the cake and stumbled upon one from the Sun-Sentinel. You guys, it is pretty much an exact dupe.

I have no idea why I forgot to share the recipe with you last year, but I knew I couldn’t let another spring go by without introducing you to this carrot cake. It’s hearty, moist, perfectly sweet and the frosting – it’s seriously eat-it-with-a-spoon good.

If you’re looking for a last-minute dessert for your Easter dessert table or just one seriously delicious cake recipe, I promise you, this carrot cake will quickly become your new fave!

Carrot cake is an Easter favorite, and this copycat version of J Alexander's will be your family's new go-to!


Even as someone with a self-proclaimed baking addiction, it’s not all that often that I recommend a restaurant based solely on one dessert. But J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake is everything you could want.

The thing that I think makes J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake special and different from other carrot cake recipes is the cake syrup.

J Alexander's Carrot Cake is moistened with a sweet buttermilk syrup for the best cake you've ever had

Most carrot cake recipes have a yummy cake base and a tangy cream cheese icing. But J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake is soaked in a sweet buttermilk syrup before it is frosted.

The result is a carrot cake that never dries out and almost melts in your mouth.

This copycat version of the carrot cake from J Alexander's is full of pineapple, coconut and pecans


One of the other things I love about J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake recipe is the inclusion of pineapple, coconut and chopped pecans.

If you love Hummingbird Cupcakes, you’ll love pineapple in your carrot cake. The bright, almost tart pineapple and the sweet coconut are a great match for the carrots in this cake.

You'll love how easy it is to make the perfect carrot cake with this copycat of J Alexander's Carrot Cake

Make sure you grab the canned, crushed pineapple for this copycat J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake. There’s a time and a place for fresh pineapple, but for baking recipes like carrot cake, morning glory muffins or pineapple fluff, canned is the way to go.

Cream cheese frosting is everyone's favorite topping for carrot cake, including this copycat of J Alexander's version


Cream cheese frosting is traditional for carrot cake, and J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake is no different.

There’s just something about tangy cream cheese frosting paired with the sweetness of the carrot cake. The texture of the frosting is also soft and pillowy and so perfect with a moist carrot cake.

You'll love the moist cake and sweet frosting for this copycat J Alexander's Carrot Cake recipe!

The frosting for this copycat J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake is actually super simple: just butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar. The cake is so flavorful, especially after soaking with the cake syrup, that the frosting doesn’t need to be anything fancy.

This year, enjoy your Easter brunch with plenty of ham, hash brown casserole and amish ham and pea salad, but make sure to leave lots of room for a big ol’ slice of this J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake. You’ll be glad you did.

Top this moist carrot cake with sweet frosting for a delightful copycat of J Alexander's cake!
This copycat version of J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake is every bit as perfect as the original: full of carrots, pineapple and coconut, and soaked with a buttermilk syrup for a melt-in-your-mouth slice of cake.

J. Alexander's Carrot Cake

Yield: 1 13x9-inch cake, about 12 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours

This copycat version of J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake is every bit as perfect as the original: full of carrots, pineapple and coconut, and soaked with a buttermilk syrup for a melt-in-your-mouth slice of cake.


For the Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup canola oil, plus more for pan
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 cups julienne carrots
  • 3 ounces shredded coconut, about 1 cup
  • 1 cup pecan pieces

For the Syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar


Make the Carrot Cake:

  1. Generously grease a 9x13-inch cake pan, set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix remaining cake ingredients in a separate medium bowl. Combine the wet ingredients with the flour mixture, mixing well.
  3. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake approximately 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cake should be 1 ½-inch thick.
  4. While the cake is still hot, poke holes all over the top with a large fork. Pour the Cake syrup over the top, allowing cake to soak up the syrup. Refrigerate cake until completely cool.
  5. Frost with Cream cheese frosting. Refrigerate cake to let frosting set.

Make the Syrup:

  1. Using a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved.

Make the Frosting:

  1. Using the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed, combine ingredients, mixing until smooth and free of lumps.


From the Sun-Sentinel

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Wednesday 28th of September 2022

This is BY FAR THE BEST carrot cake EVER!!!!! There could never be one to beat it. THANK YOU SO MUCH for this recipe! This is just out of this world! My husband loves carrot cake. It's his favorite. I make it for his birthday, which is tomorrow. So I made it today. YUM!

Happy baking! Brian


Thursday 29th of September 2022

So glad you and your husband love this recipe, Brian! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your feedback! Happy baking – Jamie

Carol Ann

Saturday 10th of September 2022

My husband loves this cake and I make it every year for his birthday....which is tomorrow, 9/11. However each time I make it it "falls" in the middle so the syrup is mostly in the middle too. I think it is because we live in the mountains at 9750 feet altitude and I have no idea how to adjust the recipe. Any suggestions are welcome! (PS: The middle pieces are the best because they have the most cream cheese frosting! I put grated orange peel in the frosting for an interesting "pop".)


Wednesday 28th of September 2022

@Carol Ann,

I found this on google.

Raise the oven temperature by 15 to 25° F. Because goods will bake faster at a higher temperature, set your time for 5 to 8 minutes less per 30 minutes of baking time in the recipe. Increase your liquid. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons at 3000 feet and an additional 1 1/2 teaspoons for every additional 1000 feet of elevation.


Tuesday 13th of September 2022

Hi Carol – I'm so glad you love this cake! Unfortunately I don't have any experience with high-altitude baking, so I'm not sure how to adjust the recipe. Perhaps someone else will have some ideas for you. Happy baking! Jamie


Tuesday 24th of May 2022

This is an awesome recipe!! I made it for a boss’s birthday and received rave reviews!! It has great flavor and looked nice topped with pecans. I grated my carrots a little finer to have them incorporate more and liked the texture a lot!! Thanks for a killer recipe!


Wednesday 25th of May 2022

So glad you enjoyed the cake, Emily! Thanks for stopping by to share your feedback! Happy baking – -Jamie


Sunday 23rd of January 2022

10 stars. We did a side-by-side comparison with J. Alexanders original carrot cake tonight and agreed this recipe is identical but much tastier and more moist. My hat is off to whoever made this recipe. Fans of the original will def. not be disappointed.

Note: I had trouble with the syrup not infusing and instead pooling around the sides. Poking bigger holes (like with a turkey baster) and pouring before the cake formed a hard crust did the trick.


Tuesday 25th of January 2022

So happy to hear you enjoyed the carrot cake, Ralf! This recipe was originally published in the SunSentinel and is adapted from the J. Alexander's recipe. Thanks so much for coming by and leaving your feedback! -Jamie

LeDeithra McKinney

Saturday 11th of December 2021

I just made the cake. It. Is. Utterly. Delicious! Moreover, your cream cheese frosting is actually better than the restaurants! In fact, I am upset that since I now know how to make the cake; I undoubtedly will gain some more unwanted pounds: ) You are incredible, Jamie! Now, if I just had a recipe for their champagne vinaigrette dressing…

LeDeithra McKinney

Tuesday 4th of January 2022

Sorry Jamie, I didn't mean to post my review twice but when I saw that my posting was still pending a month later, I posted it again in December because I wanted others to know how delicious your recipe truly is! I will be referring back to your website anytime I need a recipe for any occasion. Tag me just as soon as you post that vinaigrette recipe ; )


Tuesday 14th of December 2021

This is seriously one of my very favorite recipes. So happy to hear you enjoyed it too! I'll get to work on that vinaigrette! ;) -Jamie

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