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Dairy Free Caramel Sauce

A delicious dairy-free caramel sauce to pour over desserts or use as a dipping sauce. This 15 minute recipe is made without corn syrup or refined white sugar, is great for anyone with food allergies, and includes a coconut-free option.

This easy vegan caramel sauce is like liquid gold, especially if you have a sweet tooth.

It’s made with just 5 simple ingredients and has a pourable consistency that’s perfect for pouring over baked apples with oatmealdate snickers, on top of ice cream, dairy free apple crisp, or as a dip for pretzels or fresh apple slices.

Ingredient List

  • Full fat coconut milk – a great replacement for heavy cream in traditional caramel sauce.
  • Maple syrup – the main sweetener in this homemade caramel sauce.
  • Brown sugar – use light or dark brown sugar. This helps give it that signature caramel color that you won’t get from the maple syrup alone and also adds more dimension.
  • Refined coconut oil – this adds a luxuriously smooth texture. Use refined for no coconut taste.
  • Vanilla extract – for added flavor.
  • Sea salt or kosher salt – a small amount helps to balance out the sweetness.

How to Make Dairy Free Caramel Sauce

Step 1. Whisk together the canned coconut milk, maple syrup, brown sugar, and coconut oil in a medium saucepan. As the pot heats up, the coconut milk and oil will start to melt (if they are solid). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Step 2. Reduce to medium heat and continue to let the mixture boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t boil over, until your sauce has reduced by about half. If you want a thick caramel sauce, cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Step 3. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and sea salt (or kosher salt). The caramel sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.

How can you make this dairy free caramel sauce using what you already have? Here are some ideas…

  • No full-fat coconut milk? – use a can of coconut cream instead.
  • No maple syrup? – you can also use all light brown sugar or dark brown sugar, coconut sugar, or a combination of sweeteners.
  • No refined coconut oil? – use vegan butter instead.
  • Coconut allergy? – use oat milk and dairy-free butter made without coconut oil such as country crock plant butter or earth balance.
  • Make salted caramel sauce – increase the amount of salt.
  • Variations – make dairy-free dulce de leche using 1 cup of homemade dairy-free sweetened condensed coconut milk (or storebought) and 1/4 cup of brown sugar for color. Reduce the cooking time since the condensed milk is already thickened.

Helpful Tips

Prefer a thicker consistency? You’ll want to cook the sauce for an additional 5 minutes to cook out as much water as possible. It’ll continue to thicken as it cools.

How to know when the caramel sauce is ready? It’s ready when you dip a spoon into the sauce and the caramel easily coats the back of the spoon or ribbons when it falls off the spoon.

No candy thermometer is needed. Just use your eyes to determine when it’s reduced by about half.

How to Store

Let the caramel sauce cool to room temperature, then store it in an airtight container or jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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5 from 6 votes

Dairy Free Caramel Sauce

A delicious dairy-free caramel sauce to pour over desserts or use as a dipping sauce. This 15 minute recipe is made without corn syrup or refined white sugar, is great for anyone with food allergies, and includes a coconut-free option.
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time15 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Whisk together the canned coconut milk, maple syrup, brown sugar, and refined coconut oil in a medium saucepan. As the pot heats up, the coconut milk and oil will start to melt (if they are solid). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Reduce to medium heat and continue to let the mixture boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn't boil over, until your sauce has reduced by about half. If you want a thick caramel sauce, cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and salt. The caramel sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Notes

Let the caramel sauce cool to room temperature, then store it in an airtight container or jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
It has the best pourable texture at room temperature or when gently heated.

Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

No full-fat coconut milk? – use a can of coconut cream instead.
No maple syrup? – you can also use all light brown sugar or dark brown sugar, coconut sugar, or a combination of sweeteners.
No refined coconut oil? – use vegan butter instead.
Coconut allergy? – use oat milk and dairy-free butter made without coconut oil such as country crock plant butter or earth balance.
Make salted caramel sauce – increase the amount of salt.
Variations – make dairy-free dulce de leche using 1 cup of homemade dairy-free sweetened condensed coconut milk (or storebought) and 1/4 cup of brown sugar for color. Reduce the cooking time since the condensed milk is already thickened.

4 Comments

  1. Evie Ugrin says:

    The caramel sauce is delicious.
    So nice to have a tasty ‘dairy free’ caramel sauce that’s easy and good.
    Thank you Lindsay.

    Evie

  2. 5 stars
    Found this today and whipped it up. Love that it has common ingredients! The only change I made was that I used maple syrup AND some coconut sugar, to add that deep taste and a little more color. Cooked it slow and low, only stirred when it seemed right. Could NOT stop “quality control checks.” Delicious over a homemade spiced quick bread. Thank you!

    1. Hi RitaFaye,

      Love the quality control checks, that’s funny! Thank you for letting me know. I’m so glad you loved it!

5 from 6 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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