This easy vegan caramel sauce recipe is made without coconut, dates, or dairy. It's got the perfect level of sweetness, stickiness, creaminess, and butteryness.
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!
If you're looking for a healthier caramel why not try this easy date caramel!
📖 Recipe Overview
- Amazing Consistency - Thick, smooth, and sticky with a great "caramel pull".
- Delicious Flavor - Buttery salted caramel flavor similar to traditional caramel sauce with no coconut taste.
- Quick & Easy To Make - No need for a candy thermometer or fancy equipment, and ready in under 30 minutes.
- Allergy-Friendly - Made without cornstarch or arrowroot starch, no coconut milk, coconut cream, or dates, which are commonly found in vegan caramel recipes. It's also dairy-free, nut-free, and gluten-free (depending on your condensed milk).
- Incredibly Versatile - Perfect for topping vegan desserts or as a caramel dip.
If you love caramel desserts try my vegan flan, caramel slices, caramel cheesecake, and salted caramel ice cream next!
🧾 Ingredients Needed
You just need 7 ingredients to make the best vegan caramel sauce from scratch. Here's what to grab:
- Vegan Condensed Milk - I use condensed oat milk by Nature's Charm to keep this caramel coconut milk free, but you can also make a homemade version. Bear in mind their condensed oat milk does contain coconut oil, so if you have a coconut allergy you could try making a different vegan condensed milk from scratch as shown by my friends over on Make it Dairy-Free.
- Soft Brown Sugar - This is an important ingredient as its acidity and caramelized taste give a delicious flavor to the caramel sauce.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - 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 - This thickens your vegan caramel sauce. Full-fat coconut milk is often used for this exact purpose in vegan caramel recipes. You need vegan block butter, not the spreadable margarine kind that comes in a tub, as this has higher water content.
- Soy Milk - It helps to thin the caramel slightly, and I personally find it adds a slightly 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 depending on the level of salted caramel you're going for!
🥣 How To Make Vegan Caramel Sauce
Find the complete list of ingredients, quantities, and instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post.
While it's incredibly easy to make caramel sauce vegan in a few steps, I do recommend that you give it your full attention and follow these steps closely for the best result:
Step 1: 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.
Step 2: Next, turn it up to medium-high heat 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 above), at this stage remove the caramel from the heat altogether.
Step 3: 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.
Step 4: 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 a pinch of salt, but you could try adding different flavorings and extracts at this stage if you're feeling adventurous!
Step 5: Transfer to storage jars and cool. Lastly, transfer the dairy-free caramel sauce to a clean glass jar. Make sure the jars are totally clean and dry, and that you have a means of sealing them so they're airtight.
🍽 How To Serve Caramel Sauce
There are quite literally endless ways to enjoy homemade dairy-free caramel - Including straight from the spoon! Seriously, it's that good. Here are some more of my favorite ways to serve it:
- Drizzled On Desserts - fudgy vegan brownies. or cakes and quick bread, like this pumpkin pecan bread.
- Poured Over Ice Cream - Such as vegan caramel ice cream, vanilla ice cream, banoffee ice cream, or rum raisin ice cream.
- Cake Fillings - Pipe it inside Pecan Pie Cupcakes, swirl through your frosting on top of Banana Cake, or add between layers of Vanilla Cake.
- Cheesecake Topping - It's great on top of salted caramel chocolate cheesecake or vegan Guinness cheesecake.
- Fruit Dip - Serve as a caramel dipping sauce for sliced apples and other fresh fruit.
- Level Up Breakfast - A cheeky drizzle on top of pancakes, non-dairy yogurt, oatmeal, waffles, French toast, or crêpes.
📝 Recipe Tips
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 it! 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.
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.
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.
Keep it in an airtight container or sealed jar in the refrigerator. 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.
🍯 More Condiments
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star ★★★★★ rating in the recipe card below and consider leaving a comment as well, thanks!
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Vegan Caramel Sauce
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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I asked about your Date Caramel if good for Cheesecake topping..
But your Caramel Sauce more appropriate for topping maybe?
But need more ingredients as Coconut Milk sweet condensed and Vegan butter
(Can substitute butter with Coconut oil or even better Coconut butter?)
Need Candy Thermometer to succeed in this recipe?
This caramel is great as a topping, but either work depending on if you want a wholefoods caramel, or a more classic caramel like this one.
Caramel can be a little tricky, however, so I don't. recommend swapping any ingredients. As mentioned in the recipe, there's no need for a candy thermometer but you do need to follow the steps and ingredients exactly.
Hey dear Christina,
Thanks so much again for your added informations always a pleasure to read you!
Everything is clear for this Caramel but a Candy Thermometer could be useful for other recipes with cacao butter I guess..
Anyway Im a Date Lover so a Caramel with them is my favorite but this Caramel Sauce give watery mouth 🤤
See you soon elsewhere 🙂
OMG I made this yesterday and it was sooo delicious and super easy to make 🙂
Amazing! Thanks so much for your great feedback!
Hii love the deep amber colour of this caramel.
Can i omit the vinager for sweet caramel.
how long do i have to refirigerate it for pouring consintency over the cheese cake.
Thanks inm advance for your reply,
The vinegar helps prevent crystallization of the sugars, you won't taste it. I've included more info on this in the ingredients notes section further up on the blog post. A couple of hours in the fridge should be fine before pouring it over cheesecake