Salted Caramel Sauce (Vegan, Dairy-Free, Paleo)

226 Comments

This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy.

Jump to RecipeJump to Video

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!

Salted caramel sauce that's made from coconut milk and coconut sugar. It's a dairy-free, paleo and vegan caramel sauce. And it's extremely delicious! #CaramelSauce #Salted CaramelSauce #VeganCaramelSauce #CaramelSauceRecipe

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.

Salted caramel sauce that's made from coconut milk and coconut sugar. It's a dairy-free, paleo and vegan caramel sauce. And it's extremely delicious! #CaramelSauce #Salted CaramelSauce #VeganCaramelSauce #CaramelSauceRecipe

Salted caramel sauce that's made from coconut milk and coconut sugar. It's a dairy-free, paleo and vegan caramel sauce. And it's extremely delicious! #CaramelSauce #Salted CaramelSauce #VeganCaramelSauce #CaramelSauceRecipe

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.

Salted caramel sauce that's made from coconut milk and coconut sugar. It's a dairy-free, paleo and vegan caramel sauce. And it's extremely delicious! #CaramelSauce #Salted CaramelSauce #VeganCaramelSauce #CaramelSauceRecipe

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 that's made from coconut milk and coconut sugar. It's a dairy-free, paleo and vegan caramel sauce. And it's extremely delicious! #CaramelSauce #Salted CaramelSauce #VeganCaramelSauce #CaramelSauceRecipe

Salted caramel sauce that's made from coconut milk and coconut sugar. It's a dairy-free, paleo and vegan caramel sauce. And it's extremely delicious! #CaramelSauce #Salted CaramelSauce #VeganCaramelSauce #CaramelSauceRecipe

Salted Caramel Sauce (Vegan, Dairy-Free, Paleo)

4.80 from 65 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

A healthier take on salted caramel sauce that's made from coconut milk and coconut sugar. It's sweet, golden, gooey and you'll never taste the difference!

Video

Ingredients 
 

Instructions 

  • 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.

Lisa's Tips

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 184kcal | Carbohydrates: 25.3g | Protein: 0.6g | Fat: 9.9g | Saturated Fat: 8.6g | Sodium: 30mg | Sugar: 24.1g
Course: Dessert, sauce
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Dairy Free Caramel Sauce, Salted Caramel Sauce, Vegan Caramel Sauce
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

 Recipe originally posted July 2015, but updated to include new photos and video. 

You May Also Like

About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




226 Comments

  1. Why anyone would want to make salted caramel sauce any other way once they tried this recipe could only be considered foolishness:):)
    Served over brownies or ice cream or out of the jar with your finger, this recipe is a winner!!
    I have made it several times now by following the instructions and the end result has always been delicious and perfect. The color is beautiful and the flavour the same…..my new favourite!!!!
    It hides in my fridge just in case I want to add a dab to my granola or my coffee or my whatever. Excellent Lisa, thank you!!

    1. Hi Tracy – Thanks for leaving a review! Happy to hear this salted caramel sauce has been so helpful to jazz up all sorts of meals.

  2. recipe came out great! It thickened up beautifully and it’s a great alternative for caramel. I couldn’t find coconut milk in the store so I used coconut cream and it still turned out. If you are questioning at the beginning if you should add more salt, I can tell you from experience, do not. I added just a dash more of salt and it was too salty in the end. The longer it cooks the sweetness mellows out, and the saltiness became more prominant. Still delicious though. I really like the depth of flavor that comes from the coconut milk and coconut sugar but I think next time I might add ghee to give it a little bit more of a traditional caramel flavor. To me this it has a very strong coconut flavor although I don’t mind it. It will be a great addition to my coffee and I think this would be fantastic on Lisa’s cheesecake. Plus, this is exceptionally more simple than making caramel the traditional way. You will not regret trying this recipe.5 stars

  3. Not sure what I did wrong but it did not thicken up. I followed the instructions exactly as written. I removed from heat once it coated my soon but it never thickened up anymore Very runny. Delicious tasting just runny2 stars

    1. Hi Sue – this is a more runny caramel sauce than other recipes (as pictured above). So I’d recommend that if you’d like it a smidge thicker to boil it on the stove just a little longer.

      1. I was going to update my comment because I put it back on the stove the next day for almost an hour and it did thicken up Maybe it took so long because I was using a ceramic pot. But the final product was delicious and thicker. I gave a nice thick drizzle which I plan on using on top of downshiftologys chocolate mug cake5 stars

  4. 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. 

  5. 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!5 stars

  6. 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 Liz4 stars

    1. 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!5 stars

    2. Hey Liz,
      I would definitely consider the humidity and altitude where you live. I live fairly close to California and it is dry here. The altitude is also about 2500 feet. This is quite similar to where Lisa lives I assume. However when I lived in Florida, cooking times were much shorter for most things, but certain things like creme brulee never turned out for me. maybe there will be some good information on the Internet about adjusting time and temp for your climate?

  7. 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 🤗

  8. 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?

  9. 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!5 stars

  10. 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 5 stars

  11. 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!!!5 stars

  12. 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?

    1. Hi Benjamin – that’s really strange. I’ve never had mine turn out gelatinous, so not quite sure what may have happened.

    2. 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

      1. 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.

  13. I made this recipe with the vegan cheesecake. Loved the entire recipe! It was devoured by my family in one sitting!5 stars

  14. 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? 

  15. Can you use coconut cream instead of coconut milk to make the caramel  sauce ,  therefore cutting down the boiling time? 

  16. 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!5 stars

  17. 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!5 stars

    1. 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. 

      1. 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.

  18. 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! 🤤5 stars

    1. I’m so glad this caramel sauce was a success Sally! Can’t wait to see your final product with the cheesecake.

  19. 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!5 stars

    1. Hi Janaya- So glad you enjoyed this caramel sauce! Definitely keep this one on hand for future dessert recipes :)

  20. 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!5 stars

  21. 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.3 stars

    1. 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. :)

      1. Same exact thing happened to me. Once in fridge the ingredients divided and the sauce became chunks 🤦‍♂️

    2. 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. 

  22. 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. 5 stars

    1. 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 :)

  23. 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!5 stars

      1. 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. :)

    1. 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!

    1. 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!

  24. 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 ;)

    SO GOOD!5 stars

    1. Hi Justeen – Wow, this caramel drizzled over brownies sounds amazing! Glad you enjoyed this recipe :)

  25. 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.5 stars

  26. So yummy! Made this for the Caramel Cheeksecake recipe and it was wonderful. Will be making again as an icecream topping!!5 stars

    1. Hi Amy – I haven’t tried it as an ice cream topping yet! That sounds amazing :) Will have to try it sometime.

  27. This is amazing caramel! Its worthy the time you need to simmer lol It felt like forever, but once it was done, sooo good!5 stars

  28. Hi!

    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! 

    1. 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!

  29. 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 :)5 stars

  30. 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.4 stars

    1. Hi Betty – Yes, after refrigerating you will need to re-heat it and make sure to give it a good mix before serving!

      1. 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! 

      2. 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.

  31. 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 cake5 stars

    1. Hi Lisa!
      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.

  32. How long would we need to cook this and what modifications are needed if we want to make caramel apples (on a stick). Thanks!

    1. 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.