This easy vegan caramel sauce is made without coconut, dates, or dairy. It's got the perfect level of sweetness, stickiness, creaminess, and buttery-ness.

Honestly, I couldn't stop myself from eating it straight from the spoon, it's just got the best caramel consistency and buttery caramel flavor. More importantly, you could also be licking it from the spoon in less than half an hour, it's that quick to make!

What makes this caramel sauce so good

  • Thick, smooth, and sticky with a great "caramel pull".
  • Delicious buttery salted caramel flavor with no coconut taste.
  • Quick, easy to make, and ready in under 30 minutes.
  • Dairy-free, nut-free, and gluten-free.
  • No need for a candy thermometer or fancy equipment.
  • Made without coconut milk, coconut cream, or dates, which are commonly found in vegan caramel recipes.
  • Perfect for topping vegan desserts or as a caramel dip.
side view of two jars of caramel sauce with a spoon lifting some out of one of the jars.Pin

Ingredients overview

  • Sweetened condensed oat milk forms the base of this caramel recipe, but you can also use sweetened condensed coconut milk. As always, the brand I recommend is Nature's Charm. Bear in mind their condensed oat milk does contain coconut oil, so if you have a coconut allergy you could try making vegan condensed milk from scratch as shown by my friends over on Make it Dairy-Free.
  • Soft brown sugar is an important ingredient as its acidity and flavor give a delicious flavor to the caramel sauce.
  • Apple cider vinegar is a super important ingredient. A tiny amount of an acidic ingredient, according to Food52, is what helps prevent the crystallization of your caramel. I've only tried this particular recipe with apple cider vinegar, but lemon juice should also work. I did try this recipe without adding vinegar a couple of times and the consistency just wasn't as reliable.
  • Vegan butter is what thickens the vegan caramel. Full-fat coconut milk is often used for this exact purpose in vegan caramel sauce recipes. You'll want to use vegan block butter, not the spreadable margarine kind that comes in a tub, as this has higher water content.
  • Soy milk or any plant-based milk of your choice is stirred in at the very end. It helps to thin the caramel slightly, and I personally find it adds a slight malted taste in comparison to caramel that doesn't have milk. Of course, go for gluten-free milk to keep this recipe gluten-free, nut-free milk to keep it nut-free, and so on.
  • Sea salt and vanilla extract are your flavorings for the caramel. You can add more or less of the salt depending on the level of salted caramel you're going for!
top down view of a tray with the ingredients needed to make vegan caramel sauce.Pin

How to make vegan caramel sauce

(Full ingredient quantities and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post)

Make the caramel sauce base

First, add the vegan condensed milk, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar to a saucepan and place it on low heat. You just want to allow the ingredients to gently melt together for a couple of minutes to get a uniform mixture.

Next, turn up the heat to medium and bring the caramel sauce to a gentle simmer. Use a rubber spatula to gently stir the caramel every so often to help prevent it from burning to the pan. Once it's been cooking for 10 minutes or so, the color will turn amber (like pictured below), at this stage remove the caramel from the heat altogether.

Stir in the butter and flavorings

Once off the heat, you can start adding chunks of vegan butter to the caramel. The vegan butter will help to thicken the caramel sauce once cooled. Add them in a few at a time, allowing them to gently melt into the caramel whilst continuing to stir with your spatula.

When all of the butter has been incorporated into the caramel you can add your flavorings. In this case, we're keeping it simple with vanilla and sea salt, but you could try adding different flavorings and extracts at this stage if you're feeling adventurous!

Transfer to jars and cool

Lastly, transfer the dairy-free caramel sauce to storage jars. Make sure the jars are totally clean and dry, and that you have a means of sealing them so they're airtight.

pouring caramel sauce into a glass jar.Pin

Storage instructions

Store this vegan caramel sauce in an airtight container or sealed jar in the fridge. It will thicken slightly once chilled, but it still holds a pourable consistency. It should keep for up to 2 weeks refrigerated in an airtight jar. Before serving, give the caramel a good stir with a spoon.

How to serve caramel sauce:

Recipe tips for the best vegan caramel

  • Keep this vegan caramel refrigerated. I've noticed that it has the tendency to form sugar crystals if kept at room temperature for too long.
  • Add the vegan butter slowly, a few chunks at a time. You want to bring the temperature of the caramel down slowly, not add all of the butter at once. Make sure you gently stir using a rubber spatula while the butter melts into the hot caramel.
  • Don't whisk the caramel sauce! The first couple of times that I tested this recipe I used a whisk to mix together the sugar with the other ingredients. I ended up with a nice caramel, that then started to crystalize once set.

Frequently asked questions

Is caramel vegan-friendly?

Unless you buy a vegan brand of caramel, then the answer is probably not. A lot of caramel recipes use dairy in the form of cream, milk, or butter.

Why did my caramel crystallize after cooling?

It could be because the caramel was whisked during the cooking process or left at room temperature for too long before being transferred to the fridge for storage.

small bowl with two scoops of ice cream covered in homemade caramel sauce, on a white wooden surface.Pin

More vegan caramel desserts

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Vegan Caramel Sauce

5 from 6 votes
PREP TIME: 15 mins
Chilling Time: 15 mins
TOTAL TIME: 30 mins
Servings: 40 makes approx 580ml
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Description

The best vegan caramel sauce made without coconut milk or dates. Dairy-free, nut-free, and gluten-free. Sticky, thick, and perfect for drizzling over your favorite vegan desserts.

Ingredients

  • 320 g vegan sweetened condensed oat milk, or other vegan sweetened condensed milk
  • 220 g soft brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 80 g vegan block butter, room temperature, cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, more or less to taste
  • 30 ml soy milk, or other plant-based milk

Instructions

  • Add the vegan sweetened condensed milk, soft brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Dissolve the sugar slowly over a low heat over 2-3 minutes, using a rubber spatula to stir it every so often.
  • Increase to heat to medium until the caramel comes to a simmer, continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently with your spatula to prevent the caramel from sticking to the base of the pan. DO NOT WHISK. The caramel will turn a deep amber color, then remove from the heat.
  • Slowly add the chunks of vegan butter to the caramel a few at a time, stirring between each one to combine. Once all of the butter has melted into the caramel, add the vanilla extract and sea salt and stir again. Lastly, stir in the soy milk until mixed through and you have a smooth caramel sauce.
  • Transfer the caramel sauce to a clean, dry 600ml jar, or two 290ml jars. Allow it to cool to room temperature for 15 minutes, before sealing the jars and placing them in the fridge.

Storage instructions

  • Store in an airtight container or sealed jar in the fridge. It will thicken slightly once chilled, but it still holds a pourable consistency. It should keep for up to 2 weeks refrigerated in an airtight jar. Before serving, give the caramel a good stir with a spoon.

Notes

  • Keep this vegan caramel refrigerated. I've noticed that it has the tendency to form sugar crystals if kept at room temperature for too long. 
  • Add the vegan butter slowly, a few chunks at a time. You want to bring the temperature of the caramel down slowly, not add all of the butter at once. Make sure you gently stir using a rubber spatula while the butter melts into the hot caramel.
  • Don't whisk the caramel sauce! The first couple of times that I tested this recipe I used a whisk to mix together the sugar with the other ingredients. I ended up with a nice caramel, that then started to crystalize once set. 

Nutrition

Calories: 58kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 82mg | Potassium: 9mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg
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