Sometimes it’s all just too…too. The neighbor’s dog barks too early. Traffic moves too slowly, inboxes grow too full, and there are way WAY too many choices for sofas available. Grab a jar of Vegan Caramel Sauce and a spoon, and let’s deal.
Last week, Ben and I moved from a 500-square-foot apartment to a full-sized home, and—minus a bed and a few college-era plastic drawers—that home is devoid of furniture.
After three, 15-hour days spent furniture shopping, I’m confident that—at least when it comes to couches—we have too many options.
Fortunately for us, the vegan caramel sauce recipe I’m sharing today tastes as heavenly eaten standing in front of an open refrigerator as it does sitting on the finest of sofas.
All you need to do is grab a spoon, open the lid, and dive right into this sweet nectar.
5 Star Review
“I made caramel sauce with coconut milk, coconut sugar, and maple syrup and it was sooo good!”— Karla —
Although I adore a butter-bursting, heavy cream-laced caramel sauce as much as the next sane individual, I also eat dessert after every meal, including lunch.
I’ve found that keeping a few lighter dessert options (like this Vegan Apple Crisp) around allows me to satisfy my sweet tooth while living a healthy lifestyle.
I became intrigued by the idea of making a no-cream caramel sauce, and this vegan caramel sauce is the result.
This sauce comes together easily on the stove, and although it won’t thicken quite as much as regular, full-fat caramel, it’s still rich, decadent, and absolutely fabulous.
How to Serve Vegan Caramel Sauce
Enjoy this dairy-free caramel sauce as you would traditional caramel sauce. Here are a few of my favorite ways to serve it:
- Drizzled on ice cream (try it on this Banana Ice Cream)
- Dunked with apple slices or Apple Chips
- Poured over waffles (try it on these Blender Whole Wheat Waffles)
- Added to Healthy Hot Chocolate or coffee
- Swirled into these Caramel Apple Bars
- OR eaten directly from the jar (zero judgment—in fact, grab me a spoon too)
How to Make Vegan Caramel Sauce
Whether you follow a vegan diet, are looking for lower-guilt dessert choices, or run into an emergency shortage of heavy cream, this vegan caramel sauce will not disappoint.
- Sugar + Water. Just like traditional caramel, vegan caramel also begins with a base of sugar and water. (If you’re looking for a non-traditional caramel, try this Apple Cider Caramel Sauce.)
- Maple Syrup. Gives the caramel a subtle maple flavor and enhances the color.
- Cornstarch. Functions as a thickening agent for the sauce since vegan caramel contains less fat than traditional caramel sauces.
- Vanilla Soymilk. Our vegan swap for milk. Make sure to choose regular soymilk rather than light soymilk. Even vegan caramel needs a bit of “fat” to help it thicken and come together.
- Dairy-Free Margarine. Choose a soy-based margarine, like Earth Balance for best results.
- Vanilla. Enhances the natural flavor of the vegan caramel.
- Pinch of Salt. The perfect finish to balance out the sweetness of the caramel.
- Combine the soymilk, sugar, and maple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisking often, cook for 5 minutes.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the cornstarch and water.
- Add to the saucepan, then cook until the mixture bubbles, foams, and thickens slightly.
- Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.
- Transfer to a heat-proof container and let the caramel cool completely. Serve as desired and ENJOY!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Readers have reported great results using an equal amount of full-fat canned coconut milk instead of soymilk in this vegan caramel sauce recipe.
Yes. You may swap the granulated sugar for your favorite turbinado sugar. One benefit to using turbinado sugar is the caramel sauce will develop a richer, golden color.
Yes. While I have not personally tested it, readers have reported swapping the granulated sugar for coconut sugar with delicious results.
Vegan Caramel Sauce
- 3/4 cup vanilla soymilk or regular soymilk (do not use light)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot flour
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons dairy-free soy margarine such as Earth Balance
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- In a medium saucepan, combine the soymilk, sugar, and maple syrup over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, whisking often.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water, then add to the saucepan. Cook caramel for an additional 5 minutes. The mixture will bubble, foam, and thicken somewhat.
- Remove from heat and whisk in the soy margarine, vanilla extract, and kosher salt.
- Transfer to a heat-proof container and leave the lid ajar until the caramel comes to room temperature. The caramel will continue to thicken as it cools.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate leftover vegan caramel in a sealed container for up to two weeks. Stir before using.
- TO REHEAT: Warm gently on the stovetop or in the microwave until warm.
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I wonder how it’d do with coconut milk! Looks tasty and like a great alternative :)
Ashley, as long as the coconut milk has some fat content, I think it could work really well! If you try it, I’d love to hear how it goes, because that sounds deeeee-lish.
Erin, this made a gorgeous silky caramel sauce!! After I made a run to get new maple syrup (as opposed to the moldy stuff i found in the tan jug from Costco thank you very much :( ), I swapped the white sugar out for Sugar in the Raw turbinado. The color is stunning, it really continued to thicken up as it cooled. I did skim 1/8″ of foam off after it cooled (right onto my tongue ;) ). And it’s so easy!! Making the apple bars tomorrow. Thank you, missy! This one’s a keeper!
I’m so excited that you tried and loved this recipe! That’s a great idea to skim off the foam as well (and I love what you did with it ;-) ) Thanks so much for taking time to let me know how this turned out. It makes my day, and I hope you enjoy the bars just as much.
I made caramel sauce with coconut milk, coconut sugar, and maple syrup and it was sooo good!
Hi Karla! I’m so happy to hear that you liked it. I bet the coconut milk was delicious!! Thanks for taking time to let me know and have a great day :)
Could you recommend any replacement for maple syrup? I can’t find it where I live :( Its cool that i found this blog since I’m also a law student’s wife and, he happens to be vegetarian so, he would appreciate a vegan caramel sauce.
Hi Eli, This is really tough, because maple syrup gives the caramel both consistency and flavor. You could experiment with honey, though the final taste of the caramel will be different than what I posted (and it won’t be vegan). If you do try it, please let me know how it goes. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help!
Over a year too late, but golden syrup might work.
So excited to try this recipe! My niece is vegan and always seems to be left out of all the Christmas goodies at our family gatherings. One question…can I use brown sugar instead of white sugar in this recipe? My usual recipe calls for brown sugar.
Hi Lynn, I’m so happy that you found this recipe (and happy for your niece too :) ). I’ve never tried the recipe with brown sugar, so to be safe, I’d recommend using white. The white will caramelize as the caramel cooks, so you’ll still have a nice flavor. If you want to use brown, feel free to experiment—I’ve just never done it that way, so I can’t vouch for the results.
Uh oh…screwed it up I assume because I used a coconut milk creamer that is actually FAT FREE! Who knew? (Guess I should have paid more attention) Anyway, it tastes yummy, but isn’t thickening. I will make one last trip to the store for soy milk and try again. At least it is not a really time-consuming endeavor, thankfully!
Lynn, I’m sorry to hear that, but as you discovered fat is critical to making any kind of caramel. If you prefer to use coconut milk, the canned full fat variety would be absolutely amazing in this recipe, maybe even better than soy :-)
Thanks, Erin. I was actually able to “tweak” the failed try and managed to get it to turn out fairly well. Next time I will try the full fat version of coconut milk!
Merry Christmas and A Joyous New Year to you and yours!
So happy it worked out Lynn! A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too :-)
Can I use almond milk instead of soy?
Thanks, can’t wait to try.
You can, Diosdado! I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!
I haven’t made the caramel sauce, yet. But I wanted to commiserate and empathize with you about furniture. We moved into our new house December 2020 and well, we still have no couches despite having ordered living room furniture in January. I sincerely hope you don’t suffer the same fate and that you’ve gotten or are soon to be getting yours.
Hi Lisa! Hope you get them soon! And I hope you enjoy the recipe! Thanks!
It would not be fair to rate this recipe since -I did not follow the instructions.
I wanted to use this recipe to make a dairy free caramel flavored chocolate ganache. My caramel turned out very dark, because I used brown sugar, water, and golden syrup. I recommend using a bigger pot than you think you need, because it foams/bubbles a lot while boiling.
I did not have any maple syrup or alternative dairy free milk. I doubled the starch (tapioca flour, since I had neither cornstarch nor arrowroot) because I wanted a thick caramel. The caramel looked great and tasted ok.
BUT- This caramel did not work out as intended in my ganache. I ended up with an oily dough like ganache. The cocoa butter in my 50% chocolate separated. I know this is about caramel- but hope it helps someone out there who like me pushes the boundaries. I ended up juggling between adding water when the ganache was too oily or icing sugar when it was too runny . It may have been ok if I did not add the starch to the caramel or overcompensate for lack of creaminess by adding lard.
Eventually, I managed to get a smooth ganache, using a stand mixer. Cheers to you for the joy baking dairy free/gluten free .
PS: In case you are wondering- yes- I had tried using just dairy free margarine only- for my ganache, but I wanted something that would better hold its shape, when pipped.
Hi Adriana! I appreciate that. Thanks for your feedback.
Just wanted to say that overnight rest did firm it up. Thank you for this recipe!
Hi Adriana! So great to hear! Thank you!