Dairy free caramel sauce is a cinch to make. You’re going to love this easy dairy free caramel recipe!
In addition to being dairy free, this caramel sauce is also gluten free, paleo, refined sugar free, can be made vegan, and is a whole heck of a lot healthier than store bought caramel! It’s just delicious!
What Is Caramel Made Of?
Traditional caramel is made from heavy cream or milk, and sugar. But this recipe uses coconut milk to keep it non dairy. And let me tell you, it can definitely compete with it’s dairy milk caramel opponent.
Along with using coconut milk, this dairy free caramel recipe uses honey as the sweetener, instead of refined table sugar. But you could use coconut sugar for a coconut sugar caramel, or maple syrup to keep this caramel vegan.
I like to sweeten my dairy free caramel sauce with honey. However, like mentioned above, you can also sweeten it with maple syrup or coconut palm sugar for a vegan caramel sauce.
Coconut palm sugar will give this non dairy caramel a deep, rich caramel flavor, and a darker color. I personally prefer a lighter flavor and that’s one of the reasons why I opted for honey.
What Makes This Caramel Dairy Free?
The answer is coconut milk! It’s such an amazing and magical thing. And of course – dairy free.
Coconut milk caramel sauce is a great alternative to traditional caramel that uses milk or cream.
And best of all, you only need a few ingredients, one pot, and a little bit of time.
Dairy Free Caramel Ingredients
The ingredients for this coconut caramel are affordable and easy to find. If you don’t already have them on hand, you can easily find them at any major grocery store. Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe:
- Full fat coconut milk (canned)
- Honey (maple syrup and coconut palm sugar also work)
- Vanilla extract
- Sea salt
How Do You Make Dairy Free Caramel?
First, open the canned coconut milk and pour it into a small sauce pan. Depending on the brand, and how much coconut cream is on top, you may need to use a spoon to scoop out all the contents from the can. It can harden up like coconut oil and be difficult to get out without help from a utensil.
Add the sweetener to the pan (I used honey) and warm it up over medium heat. Whisk the coconut milk and honey mixture until it’s smooth and uniform, and the honey has dissolved.
Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low, or until the mixture is at a gentle simmer. It will be simmering for 45-55 minutes, so it doesn’t need to be an aggressive simmer.
Remove from the heat once the timer has gone off and the mixture has reduced by half. Stir in the vanilla extract and sea salt and let it cool. The dairy free caramel will continue to set up as it cools.
Once it cools, transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the fridge. The coconut caramel will continue to thicken as it sits in the cold fridge, so I recommend refrigerating it overnight before using.
Tips For Making Dairy Free Caramel Sauce
Tip 1: You’ll want the coconut/honey mixture to reduce by half. That’s how you’ll know it’s done.
Tip 2: There’s no need to stir it more than a few times while it’s simmering. Just let it do it’s thing.
Tip 3: You may need to adjust the heat up or down throughout the cooking time. Keep an eye on it and make sure to always keep it at a gentle simmer.
Tip 4: If you use coconut sugar as the sweetener for this dairy free caramel, you’ll want to watch it towards the end, because it can burn easy. You will probably need to lower the temperature as it gets closer to being done.
How Do You Use Dairy Free Caramel?
Use it however you’d like! Get creative!
Slice up some apples and use it as a dip for dairy free caramel apples
Drizzle it over ice cream
Add some extra salt for a dairy free salted caramel (make sure to use coconut sugar or maple syrup for a vegan salted caramel)
Slather it on your favorite cookie or cake recipes
Notes For Coconut Milk Caramel Recipe
While I haven’t made it myself, I would guess that this recipe would work with brown sugar or cane sugar as the sweetener – if you prefer to cook with those. I prefer healthier non refined sweeteners like honey and maple syrup, but to each his own!
Even if you chose to use refined processed sugar, I’d still venture to say this recipe is healthier than store bought. There’d be no preservatives or junky ingredients. So it’s still a win in my book!
I hope you love this non dairy caramel sauce as much as we do!
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Dairy Free Caramel Sauce (Gluten Free, Paleo, Vegan)
- Combine the canned coconut milk and honey (or whatever sweetener you're using) into a small sauce pan.
- Whisk the milk and honey mixture over medium heat until the honey has dissolved.
- Bring to a boil and boil for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium low, or until the mixture is at a gentle simmer. Simmer for 45-55 minutes until the dairy free caramel has reduced by half, and darkened in color.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and sea salt.
- The caramel will continue to set up and thicken as it cools. So I highly recommend storing it in an airtight container in the fridge overnight before using.