This dairy-free caramel recipe is one you’ll come back to again and again! It’s rich, smooth and creamy!

Plus, you only need 5 ingredients and 5 minutes to make it!

A spoonful of caramel drizzling in a jar


Caramel sauce is a treat I love to make during the holidays. Or anytime, really. When put into small jars with cute labels, it makes for a great food gift.

I love it folded into banana cream pie, baked into carmelitas, poured over fresh apple pie, or just for dipping caramel apples! 

Caramel sauce is also another thing I wanted to recreate to be dairy-free and refined-sugar-free. People with food allergies should be able to enjoy the good stuff, too!

Fortunately, this dairy-free caramel sauce is as delicious as any traditional caramel sauce I’ve ever had. Trust me — you would never guess it’s dairy-free. It is smooth, rich, and creamy liquid gold! Not to mention, it is a cinch to make.

I love the taste of salted caramel, so I always put a good pinch of salt in it.

Caramel and apple just go together! This sauce was so delicious over a flat apple pie I made this weekend.

Since it is a necessary ingredient for so many of my favorite things, I’m happy to the best caramel sauce in my life! Your taste buds will be happy once you try this caramel syrup!

Jump to:

For more dairy-free treats, try this dairy-free coconut cream pie, dairy-free banana cream pie, dairy-free eggnog and dairy-free fudge.

You also might like this dairy-free potato soup, dairy-free lasagna and dairy-free mashed potatoes.

Dairy-free caramel in a jar with a spoon in it

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Smooth, creamy, and rich
  • Easy to make with simple ingredients
  • Tons of uses
  • Vegan caramel sauce recipe

Ingredients You’ll Need

Here’s what you’ll need to make this dairy-free homemade caramel sauce:

Caramel ingredients on a counter top
  • Coconut milk: It’s best to use the solid, thick coconut cream that separates in the can of coconut milk. This creates a creamier, thicker consistency that is similar to the results you get with heavy cream! Use canned full-fat coconut milk, not boxed refrigerated coconut milk.
  • Vegan butter: Any vegan butter will work for this recipe. I like to use Kite Hill brand and set it out at room temperature before using.
  • Brown sugar: Regular brown sugar adds the deep, natural caramel flavor you know and love! Use dark brown sugar for an even deeper molasses flavor. Do not use white sugar for this recipe.
  • Vanilla: Use real vanilla extract for best results in this dairy-free caramel sauce.
  • Salt: Kosher sea salt takes this sauce to the next level! Salted caramel sauce has a more complex flavor and balances the sweetness perfectly.

How to Make Dairy-Free Caramel Sauce

Caramel ingredients combined in a sauce pan
  • In a medium heavy bottomed pan, combine the brown sugar, dairy free butter, salt and coconut milk.
Simmering caramel in a sauce pan
  • Bring to a simmer over low heat, whisking constantly.
A whisk in a sauce pan of caramel sauce
  • Once the dairy-free caramel is simmering, cook until slightly thickened, about 8-10 minutes. (Caramel should coat the back of a spoon when stirred, and have a light caramel color.)
Vanilla added to the sauce pan of caramel ingredients
  • Remove the hot caramel from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  • The non-dairy caramel will continue to thicken as it cools. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.

Storage Instructions

Refrigerate this vegan caramel recipe in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. You can re-warm it slightly if you want to drizzle it.

FAQs

Is there dairy in caramel?

Yes, traditional caramel sauce is made using butter and heavy cream.

What is dairy free caramel made of?

My dairy-free caramel is made using vegan butter instead of regular butter, and full-fat coconut milk instead of heavy cream.

What can I use instead of cream in caramel?

Full-fat coconut milk is the perfect substitute for cream in dairy-free caramel sauce. It’s rich, thick, and creamy, without the need for dairy.

Expert Tips & Tricks

  • Don’t shake your coconut milk. If you’re used to shaking up a can of coconut milk before using, refrain from doing so with this dairy-free caramel recipe! You want the coconut milk to stay separated so you can use the thick cream.
  • Use a candy thermometer. A candy thermometer really isn’t necessary for this recipe, but if you’re doubting yourself, feel free to use it! Caramel should reach about 230 degrees to reach a syrup consistency. Higher temperatures will make a thicker, more firm caramel.
Caramel in a jar with a spoon in it

I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you try this dairy-free caramel recipe, be sure to leave me a comment/rating below. I’d love to hear from you!

A spoonful of caramel touching a jar
4.88 from 8 votes

Easy, Dairy-Free Caramel

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Servings 8 servings (2 cups)
This dairy-free caramel recipe is one you'll come back to again and again! It's rich, smooth and creamy!
Plus, you only need 5 ingredients and 5 minutes to make it!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter I recommend Earth Balance or Kite Hill
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup full-fat coconut milk the thick solid part
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, vegan butter, salt and coconut milk.
  • Bring to a simmer over low heat, whisking constantly.
  • Once the caramel is simmering, cook until slightly thickened, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  • The caramel will continue to thicken as it cools. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.
  • Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. You can re-warm it slightly if you want to drizzle it.

Notes

Coconut milk: Use canned, full-fat coconut milk. NOT boxed coconut milk. Try to use the solid part of the coconut milk.
STORAGE: Refrigerate this caramel in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Re-warm it slightly in the microwave if you want to drizzle it.

Nutrition

Calories: 137kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 155mg | Potassium: 70mg | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg

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Hi, I’m Erin!

BS Food Science,

MS Nutrition

I believe you can make amazing, gluten-free food with everyday ingredients that everyone will enjoy. I’m here to share my tried-and-true recipes with you!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hi, thank you for your recipe! It looks awesome! I’m planning on making this but I only have regular sugar, will that work?

  2. I see in your notes you started using trader joe’s Coconut cream instead of separating the milk. Did you use 3/4 cup of the cream? Or did you change the amount?

  3. “I knew I loved you before I met you!” Lol:) This is the recipe I used when making caramel for a cake I wanted Kenny to be able to eat during one family celebration a long time ago! Amazing recipe and so easy to eat by itself! Thanks for your hard work!

  4. Hi! Can’t wait to try this out. Was wondering what your symptoms were for the casein sensitivity? I have an issue with cow milk that causes initial nasal stuffiness then full blown post nasal drip (thickness depends on how much milk I had, sorry if TMI lol) but goat milk doesn’t bother me. Doesn’t matter if the cow milk is processed, fermented or whatever. Except for butter. Butter doesn’t bother me like milk, yogurt, kefir, etc.

    Thanks for the recipe and the feedback on this post.
    AJ

    1. AJ,
      My son is allergic to the casin in cows milk and like you he can have goats milk without any problems. Also like you, when we first realized he was allergic, be would get a stuffy nose and a scratchy throat. As time went by the symptoms got worse and he started to have severe and uncontrollable mood swings. It has progressed to the point where the doctor fearss that his next reaction could be anaphylactic and has given him an Epipen. He also has no problem with butter. According to our allergist it is because butter is just the fat from the milk, the casin is in the whey which separates out when butter is made.
      Debra

    1. This can happen depending on the brand of coconut milk you use. Just give it a stir and it should be still be great!

  5. I want to make this for a healthier Halloween treat and send it to my daughter away at school. Will it keep for the few days it will take to get to her in the mail w/o refrigeration? She can refrigerate it once it gets there.
    Thank you, Zandra

    1. Unfortunately I don’t think this will keep well in the mail! It needs to be refrigerated. Sorry about that!

  6. Wow – this looks amazing! I’m going to try it for a dessert I’m making for a kids party. We’ve got allergies to manage so I’m going to have to check out your other recipes for more things to try.

  7. very nice recipe, great flavour and consistency and colour, but you might want to note that it is not dairy free if you add butter or ghee.

  8. Perfect! It looks so yummy! I really must try this recipe.
    Thank you for sharing these great recipes!

    Sara

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