Salted Caramel Sauce (Vegan, Dairy-Free, Paleo)
Vegan caramel sauce that’s made from coconut milk and coconut sugar – so it’s also dairy-free and paleo. It’s sweet, golden, gooey and you’ll want to drizzle it on everything!
I’m sitting here trying to come up with a justification of how this salted caramel sauce is secretly healthy for you. And from a nutrient-dense standpoint, I have to admit it’s with deep regret that I’m at a loss.
But I can tell you with full health coach integrity that it truly is good for you. How? Because it will make you extraordinarily happy!
Watch My Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe Video
It’s easy to make this recipe, but it always helps to watch a quick tutorial video. Then you can see the perfect texture and color of the sauce before you chill it. Give it a watch below!
A Delicious Vegan Caramel Sauce
This salted caramel sauce is not your mother’s or grandmother’s caramel recipe, made from refined sugar, butter and heavy cream. This dairy-free, paleo and vegan salted caramel sauce leverages the wonderful coconut palm tree in all it’s glory, with three coconut products: coconut milk, coconut sugar and coconut oil.
And before you ask the question – “Does it taste like coconut?” – let me assure you it doesn’t. It tastes like honest to goodness, sinfully good, caramel sauce.
How to Make Vegan Caramel Sauce
If you’ve ever made traditional caramel sauce you probably remember watching it carefully – with one eye on the sauce (to prevent burning) and one eye on a candy thermometer (to ensure the appropriate temperature).
Well, good news. This version is far easier. Just mix the coconut milk, coconut sugar and salt and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. You will have to watch it more closely towards the end, but that’s it. Then, remove from the heat, add the vanilla and coconut oil and there you have it….the most divine salted caramel sauce.
Caramel Sauce Tips
- The first time I made this caramel sauce I got a little concerned at the dark color – so take note, it will turn a dark amber. But the next day after it’s been chilled, it will lighten up a bit.
- Another hint – judge the “doneness” of the sauce by texture, smell and taste. Cook until it coats the back of a spoon and tastes caramel-y. It will still be fairly liquid on the stove, but will thicken slightly as it cools. The cooking times will vary widely based on the brand of coconut milk used as well as stove temperature and climate. So for your first time making this recipe, just cook it slowly on a simmer and let it do it’s thing (on it’s own time). No need to rush this gorgeous sauce. The reward is worth the wait.
So what do you do with this sauce once you’re done? Oh, just drizzle it on absolutely everything. That’s what I’ve been doing.
This salted caramel sauce is also used in these other recipes: Vegan Caramel Cheesecake, Salted Caramel Apple Pie Ice Cream (Vegan) and Iced Matcha and Salted Caramel Latte. Enjoy!
Salted Caramel Sauce (Vegan, Dairy-Free, Paleo)
- 13.5 oz coconut milk, full fat
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Combine the coconut milk, coconut sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Bring to a boil (keeping a close eye on it, as it can quickly boil over), then immediately lower the temperature, keeping the sauce at a light simmer.
- Simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. As the sauce reaches the last 5-8 minutes of cooking time, stir more frequently to incorporate the darker caramel bits from the bottom into the sauce.
- Once the sauce has turned a dark amber and has thickened to coat the back of a spoon, remove from the heat and stir in the coconut oil and vanilla extract.
- Serve the sauce warm or refrigerate in a sealed glass jar.
- This recipe makes approximately 1 cup caramel sauce.
- The caramel sauce will stay good for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
- I receive a lot of questions on the coconut milk I use. I use this brand of coconut milk for all my recipes.
Recipe originally posted July 2015, but updated to include new photos and video.
Do you think this sauce could be tossed in the freezer? I made the sauce and the vegan cheesecake for a party, but the party’s been postponed. I’m hoping I can throw it in the freezer for a few weeks.
So simple delicious and easy. Will definitely make again.
Holy cow this is incredible! I’m dying waiting for it to cool, so naturally I’m scraping every last bit out of the pan and licking the spatula.😂 Can’t wait to try it in your salted caramel matcha latte tomorrow!
Hi this sauce is delicious however took me almost 2 hours to get it reduced and to get a thicker consistency and turn an amber color. Wow that’s a lot of babysitting for a small amount of sauce lol. Perhaps you could help me figure out what I’m doing wrong I’ve made this sauce an number times with same results every time. I have a gas stove so I use my simmer plate but that being said it still comes to a boil and then a simmer because I find with the direct heat from the flame is too much but it takes so long just the same. I even added a 1/2 tsp of agar to my coconut to help thicken it. Thanks Liz
I’ve made this a handful of times and while it takes me a bit longer than 40 min, it’s never taken mine longer than an hour.
Are you using full fat coconut milk? More fat will help with a thicker sauce, so full fat is key. Also, make sure you’re not adding in the extract until the end.
If none of these things apply, maybe it’s an altitude or humidity thing? Good luck!
OMG this salted caramel is so good 😊 l maid this on Thursday, today is Saturday it’s almost all gone thank you Lisa great recipe l will sure be making more 🤗
Hi. Can i use soy milk instead of coconut milk?
can the caramel be left out on the counter for a few days (is it shelf stable?)
I would not recommend it. I’d keep it in the fridge.
Eager to try this recipe! Quick question though…what does the coconut oil do at the end? Can I opt out of it? Or it is necessary?
It just helps to make it extra smooth, but yes, you can omit it if you’d like.
This is a perfect recipe! I’ve used it twice now and it is so delicious and wonderful consistency that I can control without too much effort. I’ve used different kinds of brown sugar and they work great too. Thanks!
Happy to hear you’ve made such good use out of this salted caramel sauce :)
Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe.I love using this awesome recipe and was wanting to know how to tweak it so that it becomes pipeable and freezable as well. Any input will be appreciated
Glad you love this caramel sauce Vineeta!
This caramel sauce is SOOOOO good … my brother was just about inhaling it today :) Thank you so much … links to this recipe have been distributed to everyone at the family gathering today where it was served with a healthy sticky date pudding!!!
Thanks so much for sharing and happy to hear you love this sauce Sally!
I just tried making this recipe but only had raw sugar. I was excited about this recipe. I was even more excited upon starting to cook it as it smells like heaven! A half hour later after simmering perfectly with only occasional stirring, I turned off the heat and added the coconut oil and vanilla. What I ended up with was a very tasty, very light colored, oddly gooey, gelatinous ” caramel ” sauce. Tastes like coconut. Lighter than pictured. Oddly gelatinous consistency. What happened to mine?
Hi Benjamin – that’s really strange. I’ve never had mine turn out gelatinous, so not quite sure what may have happened.
The same thing happened to me! I kept waiting for it to turn an amber colour but it never did, the texture is exactly how you described it. Not too sure what I did wrong
I think there’s a chance the cause the coconut oil is separating from the coconut milk or it could also be because of the starch from the coconut milk.
Can I use maple syrup instead of coconut sugar?
I made this recipe with the vegan cheesecake. Loved the entire recipe! It was devoured by my family in one sitting!
Wonderful! Glad this caramel sauce was a win Cynthia :)
I was wondering if you can can this caramel sauce? I was thinking if canning it & sending it as a gift? Or would you just mail it as is?
Delicious caramel sauce! I was skeptical at first using coconut milk but it came out perfectly.
Wonderful! Glad you enjoyed this sauce Michal.
Can you use sauce after it’s made or do you have to wait a day ?
You can use it right away or the day after!
Can you use coconut cream instead of coconut milk to make the caramel sauce , therefore cutting down the boiling time?
Hi Joy – I haven’t tried this recipe with coconut cream. If you try it, let us know how it turns out!
I just made with coconut cream – do not recommend. Very split
Hi Lisa! I loved this caramel sauce when using it for the vegan salted caramel cheesecake! My question: I’m wanting to make a veganized caramel apple pecan pie & was wondering how you think this caramel sauce would hold up if baked? The recipe I was going to adapt called for adding toasted pecans to caramel sauce & pouring it over the apples before baking. Hmmm… don’t know if that method would work with this caramel though. Any thoughts? Thank you so much!
Hi Courtney – This recipe isn’t the best for caramelized apples unfortunately :(
Will this recipe harden in the fridge?
Hi Kat – no, this caramel is not the kind that will fully harden. It will stay fairly liquidy.
excellent! used the entire recipe to make a salted caramel ice cream – for the ice cream, I added 1 entire can of full fat coconut milk. Flavor on this caramel recipe is strong and intense (as it should be) – will make again!
Wow! Happy to hear you were able to turn this into an ice cream recipe!
Nancy did you use this caramel as a ribbon in the ice cream or as the base flavoring. Wanting to make this and can’t find a good vegan caramel sauce that will stay gooey in the freezer within the vegan ice cream. I have an awesome coconut base ice cream recipe but would like to have the caramel ribbon swirled within the base.
I have tried some coconut milk ice cream bases without much success, would you be willing to share your recipe? I am vegan and my family is not so it is always wonderful to find a recipe everyone can enjoy.
Forgot to add rating to my comment – 5 stars!!
I made this recipe in advance because I’m going to try and make the cheesecake tomorrow. I can’t believe how PERFECT it turned out. I am no cook and if I can do it – anyone can!! Thank you for such an amazing recipe – I hope the cheesecake works out for me too! 🤤
I’m so glad this caramel sauce was a success Sally! Can’t wait to see your final product with the cheesecake.
Absolutely DELICIOUS! Omg I’m still in aw of how good this tastes and that I actually made it! Lol. Great recipe that i will use for the years to come!
Hi Janaya- So glad you enjoyed this caramel sauce! Definitely keep this one on hand for future dessert recipes :)
After looking at your vegan salted caramel cheesecake recipe forever I decided this weekend I will actually attempt it. Made the caramel sauce this morning and it was easy and is super tasty! Looking forward to attempting the cheesecake next!
Hi Jennifer- Woo! Can’t wait for you to make the cheesecake now :) You’re gonna love it.
Hi! Would coconut cream work instead of coconut milk?
I have not tried this recipe with coconut cream, so unfortunately don’t know.
Is there a way of making the sauce thicker?
I don’t know what happened, but I followed the recipe exactly, and my sauce didn’t thicken, even after 1hr of simmering. I used full-fat coconut milk, coconut sugar, and salt, boiled it and then simmered. There were never any bits and no thickening. It must have gone past that point where the coconut milk/oil separates in the fridge. The flavor is so good but the texture is too liquidy.
Hi Jennifer – oh no, that’s a bummer. The only thing I can think of is maybe it’s the brand of coconut milk you used. Sometimes certain brands are just funky like that. Next time try a different brand and see if it helps. :)
Same exact thing happened to me. Once in fridge the ingredients divided and the sauce became chunks 🤦♂️
Same thing happened to me. My guess is that you have to use a coconut milk w/ guar gum added. Mine I used doesn’t have that in it.
Same happened to me and I used one with guar gum. Followed recipe exactly and timing and all it’s liquidy :(
I was not expecting to like this recipe as much as traditional caramel sauce, but I actually prefer this version! it is amazing! And our kids loved it. I added some potato starch to thicken it and poured it over ginger cake. I’ve tried other vegan caramel sauce recipes and this is my fave.
Hi Kathleen – I’m so glad you found a vegan caramel recipe that you love now! Always a good sign too when kids enjoy it :)
I also made this using brown sugar. For those curious, it takes MUCH longer, about 1.5 hrs. I was a little nervous it was taking so long, but eventually it came together really beautifully. Just be patient!
Solidified in the fridge and completely separated upon rewarming.
Just to add, mixing it did not help, and it ruined my cake by being so oily.
Hi Emily – this sauce should never solidify in the fridge. The only way that happens is if it’s overcooked on the stove and you turn it into the hardball candy stage, which then might lead to the oils separating. Next time I’d recommend cooking it less on the stove. :)
Yum! How long can you keep in freezer before serving – could you keep it for 3-4 days?
Hi Lauren – I would recommend to keep this in the fridge for the 3-4 days :) But I would suggest to make this the day before so it’s extra fresh!
Can i use maple syrup instead of coconut sugar?
Hi Patricia – You can try using maple syrup, you will just need to cook it for a bit longer as maple syrup holds more moisture. Also, the color probably won’t come out as a deep brown as shown in the picture. Hope that helps!
Love the salted caramel recipe. Easy, delicious, perfect consistency, Thanks, Barbara
Hi Barbara – So glad you enjoyed this sauce :)
I just made this to drizzle over brownies and WOW! It is perfect. The recipe yielded about 3/4 cup for me.. but only because I ate 1/4 cup straight out of the pot before it was done ;)
Hi Justeen – Wow, this caramel drizzled over brownies sounds amazing! Glad you enjoyed this recipe :)
Can I use regular sugar for this?
Yes, but it might change the cook times. You’ll need to keep an eye on it for proper color.
You can’t go wrong if you follow the recipe. This is so yummy I had to restrain myself from eating it with a spoon.
Hi Rita – This is definitely an addictive recipe! :)
This sauce turned out amazing! Just wondering if it can be stored in the freezer for use later?
Yes, no problem!
Hi Lisa! I love this recipe so much❤️ I was just wondering how much a serving is?
Hi Farah – One serving is about 2 tablespoons :)
So yummy! Made this for the Caramel Cheeksecake recipe and it was wonderful. Will be making again as an icecream topping!!
Hi Amy – I haven’t tried it as an ice cream topping yet! That sounds amazing :) Will have to try it sometime.
Do you need to keep a lid on while it simmers?
Hi Summer – No, you do not need to keep a lid on :)
This is amazing caramel! Its worthy the time you need to simmer lol It felt like forever, but once it was done, sooo good!
Hi Dea – Happy to hear you enjoyed this caramel! It tastes great on top of my cheesecake as well :)
Thank you so much for amazing recipes on your blog! I just have a question about this caramel recipe. Is it possible to use maple sugar instead of coconut sugar? Thank you in advance!
Hi Tammi – that’s a great question and unfortunately I haven’t tried it yet. If you do try that substitution, let me know how it goes!
This worked SO well for me. I used Trader Joes coconut milk and brown sugar. I did end im simmering for about 1hr20 but it made an amazing caramel. I also added a bit of bourbon in to make a bourbon caramel :)
Hi Jacqueline – I love the addition of the bourbon :) Happy you enjoyed this recipe!
This is very good however after its been in the frig, hard as a rock, due to the coconut milk I guess. Needed to be reheated a bit to use it. I also noticed that when I reheated a few seconds in the microwave it seemed oily. Also tastes a bit coconutty for me. I used date sugar in place of coconut sugar.
It seemed the right consistency before refrigeration.
Hi Betty – Yes, after refrigerating you will need to re-heat it and make sure to give it a good mix before serving!
What method do you suggest is the best for reheating? I made this tonight, but wont be using it until tomorrow so I am going to refrigerate it overnight. Do you suggest putting it back in a pot to reheat or just microwaving until soft to pour on!
Hi Mikayla – you could use either method to reheat it. But if you’re pouring it on the cheesecake, I probably wouldn’t reheat it at all. Maybe just let it come to room temperature. You don’t want it too liquidy when pouring.
Will this sauce harden for candy apples?
I saw you answered this already. Oops :)
No worries. :)
Unfortunately, no. It stays more liquid.
So I used granulated sugar and lactaid whole milk and it is still yummy I cant wait to put it on my husband’s birthday cake
Hi Brittany – Amazing! I hope your husband loves the final cake :)
Can we use fresh coconut milk?
You’ll need the canned coconut milk for the creaminess!
Thank you so much for your amazing work, you’ve made my eating habits slightly healthier. Sorry, can I leave out vanilla extract out of the recipe? I love it, but since it has alcohol I won’t use during pregnancy.
Hi Olga – yes, no problem. :)
How long would we need to cook this and what modifications are needed if we want to make caramel apples (on a stick). Thanks!
Hi Carla – This caramel sauce actually won’t be the best option for a caramel apple as this is more liquidy and doesn’t harden.