This dairy-free caramel sauce is so dreamy! Use this paleo caramel sauce recipe on top of ice cream, fruit, smoothies, and use it in any recipe that calls for caramel sauce.
After years of making healthy caramel sauce and it not having a dedicated post all to its glorious self, I decided it was time to highlight this liquid gold in a stand-alone post. No one will guess this is a paleo, vegan caramel sauce, because it tastes just like the regular kind.
What Is Caramel?
Caramel can vary between being a sauce or chewy candy. Dairy-free caramel sauce is a delicious topping that can be used on top of many treats and in several sweet recipes. When the ingredients are heated, they caramelize, and that is where caramel gets its name.
Enjoy healthy caramel sauce with all your favorite dessert recipes! It also makes a wonderful gift idea if you put it in a cute jar.
This gluten-free paleo caramel sauce recipe is versatile and can be used in many different ways.
How To Make Caramel Sauce
I actually have two versions of this recipe to share, both are really delicious, and it’s more of the “what ingredients do I have on hand?” than one being more delicious than the other. One uses maple syrup, and one uses coconut sugar. Here are the 2 sweetener options:
- 3/4 cup maple syrup OR
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
Feel free to use whichever you have on hand!
There are just 2 easy steps for how to make healthy caramel sauce:
- Combine coconut milk, maple syrup (or coconut sugar), coconut oil, vanilla extract, and sea salt in a medium saucepanover medium-high heat. Stirring frequently, bring the caramel to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. This may be medium or medium-low, depending on your stove.Continue to stir frequently for about 15 minutes, until it has reduced and thickened just enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool.
How To Make Caramel Sauce Perfectly Every Time
PRO TIP #1: Use a tall-sided pot. The caramel will bubble up in the beginning, so to avoid a boil over, use a larger saucepan that you would think was necessary. Trust me when I say it’s not fun to clean up!
PRO TIP #2: Watch it closely. To tell when the caramel is done, you’ll want it to be able to coat the back of a spoon but not be super thick. As it cools, it will thicken up a bit more, so to avoid having hard caramel, be sure to pull it off at the right time.
Troubleshooting Tips For Dairy-Free Caramel Sauce
Sometimes, healthy caramel sauce can turn out different than what you intended. These troubleshooting tips will ensure you end up with perfect, delicious dairy-free caramel every time:
- Don’t pull it off too early. If after letting it cool for about 10 minutes at room temperature, it’s super runny, simply place it back on the heat and bring it to a simmer for a bit longer to thicken more.
- Don’t cook it too long. So you’ve let it get to the hardball stage, and your sauce is more like taffy? I’d suggest spreading it out onto wax paper and cutting into little squares. My favorite thing to do when this happens is to coat them in chocolate and top with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Yum!
If you follow the steps above you’re just a few moments away from having a jar of liquid gold to drizzle, scoop, and dollop.
Does Vegan Caramel Sauce Go Bad?
Yes, vegan caramel sauce can go bad. If you notice that it smells funny, looks really thick or watery, or has mold growing on it, then it’s time to toss it.
How Do You Store Dairy-Free Caramel Sauce?
Store dairy-free caramel sauce in the fridge in an airtight container or jar for 2 weeks. Additionally, you can store easy caramel sauce in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Warm this paleo caramel sauce recipe in the microwave for a few seconds before using, or reheat over low heat in a saucepan. After it is warm and melty, it’s ready to eat.
TIP: Sometimes homemade caramel sauce can split or separate if you heat it too fast. Pureeing it in a blender can help bring it back together.
What Can I Use Homemade Caramel Sauce For?
Homemade caramel sauce is great for so many things! Here are some common uses:
- Fruit – Drizzle a little bit of dairy-free caramel sauce on fresh apples, bananas, pears or any other fruits you enjoy.
- Desserts – Cookies, cakes, or ice cream. Healthy caramel sauce will make almost any dessert better!
- Drinks – Stir in a little bit of fresh vegan caramel sauce into your hot or cold drink, especially coffee or tea.
Paleo Dessert Recipes That Use Paleo Caramel Sauce
So many paleo desserts are better with homemade caramel sauce! Here are a few favorites:
- Vegan Caramel Creme Brulee
- Caramel Apple Nachos
- Paleo Iced Caramel Macchiato
- Paleo French Toast with Fried Bananas
Paleo Vegan Caramel Sauce Recipe:
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Healthy Paleo Dairy-Free Caramel Sauce Recipe
See how to make dairy-free caramel sauce with 4 ingredients + 25 minutes! This vegan, healthy paleo caramel sauce recipe is EASY and silky smooth, with no refined sugar.
Recipe VideoClick or tap on the image below to play the video and learn how to make this recipe!
Please ensure Safari reader mode is OFF to view ingredients.
- 1 can Full-fat coconut milk
- 3/4 cup Maple syrup (or coconut sugar - see notes)
- 1 tablespoon Coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon Sea salt
More TIPS about this paleo recipe in the post above!
- Place all caramel ingredients into a medium sauce pot and set over medium high heat. Stirring frequently bring the caramel to a boil.
- Once boiling reduce heat to medium or medium low depending on your stove. You want to keep it at a simmer. Continue to stir frequently for about 15 minutes until it has reduced and thickened just enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool.
Serving size: 1 tablespoon
Recipe makes about 1 cup.
*Option 2: Use 1/2 cup coconut sugar in place of the maple syrup.
Nutrition Information Per Serving
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database. Net carb count excludes both fiber and sugar alcohols (though the latter are rarely seen on this site), because these do not affect blood sugar in most people. We try to be accurate, but feel free to make your own calculations.
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It never thickened for me during the simmering phase. Any suggestions??
Hi, I was wondering if I could use this recipe to make caramel candies. Should I decrease the coconut milk? Thanks!!
EUREKA! Finally found measurements for caramel sauce. It was probably there all the time! Thank you & I’ll let you know how delicious it turns out.
I’m so wanting to try your caramel sauce made w 3/4 c. maple syrup; however, I can’t seem to find proportions for coconut milk, coconut oil, vanilla & sea salt. I’ve bought my ingredients and am set to go, but I need a little help from you please.
Being dairy free due to breastfeeding had me missing caramel toppings SO much, but this is PERFECT!
Can you use unsweetened Almond milk instead?
You mention hard ball stage if you’re making taffy, what is the temperature for the sauce?
This was so easy to make and quick. Stored well in the fridge. Thanks!
Hi , I would love some recipes on new stuff to put in coffee I liked the pumpkin coffee ice cream float I’ll try that thanks
Is there a substitute for the coconut milk? I don’t like coconut.
Hi Karen, It doesn’t really taste like coconut when it turns into caramel, so you might want to try it anyway. The only other alternative would be heavy cream, but it would not be dairy-free or paleo.
This is exciting! Will this last in the refrigerator? If so, how long?
Hi Leslie! It depends on how long you cook it. If you follow the instructions and tips within the post it should be fine refrigerated. If it does end up getting hard simply place the jar in a bath of hot water for a few minutes to loosen it up. If it’s still too thick after that place it back in a pan and thin it out with some warm coconut milk. Hope that helps!
Awesome! I’ll try that! <3
Yum!! This looks delicious!! My husband is a caramel fanatic…..which he hasn’t had since being paleo. I am going to make this for Valentine’s Day!! Thank you !