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Vegan Caramel Sauce


Drizzle your Vegan Caramel Sauce over Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream for a wonderful dairy-free treat.

I began obsessing over dairy-free caramel sauce earlier this year when I made my own version of Tammy Credicott’s Samoa Girl Scout Cookies.

Recently, I’ve wanted to develop an even creamier caramel sauce for a very special treat I’ve been working on –and this caramel sauce recipe fits that bill. After referencing Tammy’s, Danielle’s and Kelly’s caramel sauces, I’ve come up with this incredibly smooth and rich delight which is perfect for drizzling over any of the vegan ice creams in my new book Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry. Those ice creams –which include the flavors Coffee and Cookie Dough –are even more delicious when smothered in this new creamy condiment, which I tested more than 15 times to perfect.

Vegan Caramel Sauceprint

  1. Place coconut milk fat, coconut sugar, and honey in a saucepan
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer
  3. Continue simmering for 10 minutes
  4. Allow caramel sauce to cool for 5 minutes
  5. Stir in shortening until completely dissolved
  6. Serve

Makes about ¾ cup caramel sauce –store in refrigerator

In order to obtain coconut milk fat for this recipe, refrigerate two cans of coconut milk for 24 hours, then open the cans and scoop the rich creamy fat off of the top, measuring out ¾ cup for this recipe. You can use the water that has separated for smoothies or discard it.

If you would like to substitute various ingredients in this recipe, feel free. Please note that unless I test a substitute I really have no way of knowing how or if it will work –that’s why I had to test this recipe more than 15 times. As I’ve mentioned before, I wish I had a crystal ball that would write the recipes (and test the substitutions) for me, however, I do everything the old fashioned way using my own sweat and loads of ingredients to perfect each and every recipe for you all until I get it just right!

Stay tuned for a very special treat that I will post later this week which will incorporate this dairy-free caramel sauce. The next installment in building said treat will be a vegan chocolate ganache that is dairy-free and super simple to make.

Drizzle Vegan Caramel Sauce over these dairy-free ice cream recipes:

posted on October 2, 2013, 52 comments

  1. Mary

    That looks so good, and so much better for you than the store-bought version. I would love to make this for my Niece, but I cannot get the vegetable shortening anywhere in Canada, nor do they ship it. Is there a substitute I could use in place of it, such as grass-fed butter or coconut oil? Thanks.

  2. Jenny

    Just as a heads up, many vegans do not eat honey (animals are used to produce the honey) so this would be inappropriate to label as a vegan caramel sauce. I am hoping that a substitution with maple syrup will give similar results. Thanks for the recipe :)

  3. Hollis Zelinsky


    The sauce looks yummy, but I really wish that, just as you’ve managed quite successfully to move away from your regular use of agave syrup in your recipes (good move. . .), you’d similarly consider doing so with palm oil. The severe environmental devastation, including the absolutely appalling effects on the now-seriously endangered and increasingly abused oranatangs of Indonesia is so horrible, I don’t see how anyone who’s aware of the consequences of the slash and burn monoculture involved with palm oil production can touch the stuff. And it’s not as if there aren’t alternatives: I notice that the caramel recipes you used for inspiration used coconut oil, which is my oil of choice. Even if it results in a slightly less gooey confection, I think that’s more than worth it, if it means not supporting such terrible practices.

    For anyone who’s not aware of what palm oil production is all about,
    here’s some information for you:





    • Hollis

      As Sara mentioned above (and I should have included in my comment),
      Tropical Traditions is a company that you can feel confident produces
      a palm oil that doesn’t contribute to the environmental, social, and
      every other way devastation of the Indonesian rain forests, being
      produced in South America under strict guidelines. And their products are great! Here’s the pertinent information about this
      from their website:

      Tropical Traditions Organic Palm Shortening – Sourced from Eco-friendly Sustainable Farms

      Tropical Traditions Organic Palm Shortening comes from small scale family farms in South America. These farmers are certified by ProForest, which ensures that they meet strict social, environmental and technical criteria. With regard to environmental criteria, the assessments are carried out at the landscape and operational level at both the farms and processing facilities. These assessments cover environmental impact on the soil, water, air, biodiversity and local communities. The lands the farmers use are not lands that were deforested. The lands used to grow the palm fruit are lands previously used for agricultural purposes (cattle, rice, banana).

  4. yvette jarvis

    Love this!! Thanks so much for all the time and effort you put into these posts and wow…amazing food. I appreciate so much that you share them.
    You Rock !!

  5. Deb M

    I’d like to use coconut oil instead of the vegan shortening. If anyone tries this substitution, please post about your results and any modification on the amount.


    • Joelle

      I’d like to know this too. I have palm shortening, but I would also like to be considerate of what Hollis was talking about in the future. THAT and I love knowing alternatives because I live in a rural area, and I do not always have the luxury of running out to get an ingredient. =)

  6. Barb Patchin

    Looks delicious! Can’t wait to make it. Thanks for sharing all of your wonderful creations! I will be using all of the original ingredients you’ve listed. I get disgruntled at everyone who always wants to change everything up after all your hard work.

  7. Patricia

    While this caramel sauce may be good it is not vegan – honey is an animal product and vegans do not eat it.

  8. Rosemary

    can you please just send me one text, I always get two of the same text.

  9. Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty @ dairyfreebetty.com

    OH MY GOSH!! Caramel is one of the things I miss most being dairy free!!

  10. Michelle

    WOW very good. I served the sauce with your cinnamon apple cake. I did not found coconut sugar i used brown instead. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Stephanie

    Honey isn’t vegan. :(

  12. rika@veganmiam @ veganmiam.com

    Vegan Caramel? Looks absolutely divine! And need this in my life!

  13. melanie

    Has anyone tried to use this for dipping apples? I have to find a dairy free caramel dip before 10/18 so my little girl can have a caramel apple at a party and am hoping this will be it. It looks soft but I wonder if I put it in the fridge if it will set. Any feedback anyone can give me is much appreciated!


  14. Brandon K

    This looks awesome! Any tips on where to look for a vegan caramel recipe that would work in making home made baby ruth bars? Something thicker that will hold together with peanuts basically. I plan to dip in chocolate when done :-D

  15. jacklyn

    Hi, is this really coconut-e- I am looking for a yummy caramel sauce for caramel macciatos! :)

  16. Anna

    Hello! I am going to the Fair pretty soon and I was looking for a “Healthy” Carmel Apple Recipe, Do you know if this would work for apples? Or does the sauce stay soft? :)

    Thank you!


  17. Erika

    For those who are not vegan, I made this with butter instead of shortening and it came out just lovely, though it took several hours in the fridge to cool and set up completely.

  18. Grace

    Hi guys, some of you were wondering about coconut oil, and I tried it since I love coconut oil and I didn’t want to go get shortening. Plus, it’s super healthy for you! :)

    It worked out really well actually. It thickened up nicely and made it more caramel-y (like in color and texture) after it was refrigerated overnight and stirred thoroughly. While it’s heated, it’ll look like a weird liquify maple syrup, but don’t worry. Just refrigerate and it’ll be thick!

    I used agave and I can honestly say that next time I make this, I’m just going to omit, since the coconut sugar is plenty sweet. I found enough coconut cream in 1 can, so that was nice. And it is sort of coconut-y, but I found that after a couple days of refrigeration, the coconut flavor kind of went away.

    I made the paleo caramel brownies with this and the chocolate ganache and it’s amazing. When you refrigerate it, its texture becomes sort of fudge like after a few days! Super yummy. I’d definitely recommend making that with this caramel. Anyways, hope that helps somewhat.

    Thanks for the awesome recipe Elana! I’m a caramel fanatic but I won’t eat it anymore since it’s so bad for you! Glad to have a healthy alternative!

    -Grace :)

  19. Robin

    Delicious caramel. Just a few issues: the oil never did stay mixed in (I used Earth Balance in place of the coconut cream). I poured off the oil. When refrigerated it turned hard as a rock, but was fine when warmed. It stuck in our teeth just like a caramel apple. Despite those warnings, everyone loved it! I used brown rice syrup, so it was lower glycemic.

  20. Naomi Hatkin

    Maybe I’m nitpicking but I want to be sure I make this right. The first ingredient is “coconut milk fat.” The link to this ingredient is for coconut milk. Are we to use full fat coconut milk or to somehow separate the fat out of the milk and just use that? I apologize if I’m being dim-witted about this. I’ve been thinking about how to make a sugar-free and paleo-friendly caramel sauce. My own experients have not been fully successful. Thank you so much for your hard work and your blog. I love it!

    • Patricia R.

      As she states in her instructions, put the can of milk in the fridge at least overnight. I used a pointy can opener to poke holes in the bottom and drained off the liquid. I opened the top and scooped out the thick “cream”. That is what you measure. I only needed one can and had more than the 3/4 cup needed. I made this for a gathering for ice cream and everyone said they liked it. I know I did. I used honey and palm shortening. I am having some right now. Yum!

  21. Lucie Taustine

    So…how is it vegan, if it contains HONEY?

  22. shirley

    this sounds amazing. Sometimes I have a craving for caramel and this sounds like it will fit the bill! One question, do you think I can use coconut oil instead of the shortening? Has anyone done that? I have never seen the shortening, will have to look for it. thanks!

    • Gaby

      Scroll up through the comments and you’ll see someone used coconut oil instead of shortening and liked how it turned out. I just made it using coconut oil, but am waiting for it to thicken up. I added a little bit of arrowroot powder also hoping to give it a little of the texture that’s there when you use powdered sugar. Also, I substituted maple syrup, and while it turned out delicious I’ll probably go with the other commenter and skip it next time since I think the coconut sugar makes it sweet enough.

  23. Cathy Brak

    I substituted butter for the vegan shortening, and it turned out well. I know it’s not vegan or dairy-free, but I find that I can use butter and full-fat non-homogenized cream. It’s the fine fat particles in homogenized milk that seem to permeate my leaky gut.

  24. danielle

    Do you have a version to make actual caramels??

  25. Oh my goodness!! How DO you manage to stay so slim while making (and testing) recipes like this?!?! It’s crazy delicious and super easy! I may (or may not) have eaten a spoonful or two of this on top of homemade ice cream….

  26. Tiffany

    Has anyone used something other than the coconut sugar, besides brown sugar? We don’t use it because it’s horrible for the coconut tree to have it harvested (check out tropical traditions info on this).

  27. VaGF

    How long would this last in the fridge?

  28. Joni

    Does anyone have a great recipe for caramel with out using any of those sugars. I can only have stevia or xylitol or I get very sick. I miss not having caramel.

  29. victoriavanvlear @ victoriavanvlear.wordpress.com

    Thanks for sharing your recipe! I tried making it and ended up with some nice candy balls, but not sauce. The shortening never would stay mixed, and I ended up pouring it out. As a result, the caramel turned hard like candy. They were delicious, just not saucy. Any tips for getting it to remain a liquid?

  30. betterlivingthroughfoodsK @ gravatar.com/betterlivingthroughfoods

    I just made this with trader joes coconut cream ( gives you the milk fat without the refrigeration step) and coconut oil. Thanks to those who commented about letting it sit overnight because it does seem a bit runny.

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Comments are greatly appreciated! Unfortunately Elana is not able to answer substitution questions, as the only way to know if something works is to test it, and she does not provide this service. If you have a substitution question, please don't hesitate to leave a comment here, and another reader may jump in to answer. ↑ back to top