Vegan caramel sauce is made with brown sugar, coconut cream, and an optional shot of bourbon! It’s a deliciously creamy, silky smooth sauce, ready to drizzle, pour, and dip!

Jar of vegan caramel with sauce dripping down side of jar.

If you’re not vegan, you may be asking yourself, why would I need a vegan caramel sauce? The real question you should be asking yourself is, why not? Whether you’re following a vegan diet or you just happen to enjoy deliciously smooth, silky and luscious, thick and creamy sweet caramel sauce, well then, this recipe is for you!

About this recipe

The only thing better than a homemade caramel sauce is a homemade salted caramel! The balance between the sweet and salty is a game-changer.

This recipe requires only 6 ingredients and the bourbon is optional. Most caramel sauces contain butter but this recipe is dairy-free, made with the richness of coconut cream. It’s also gluten-free.

Psst: Looking for a non-vegan caramel? Try this caramel recipe.

What’s Coconut Cream?

Coconut cream is that deliciously creamy stuff that sits on the top of the coconut milk liquid in a can. Coconut cream also comes in its own package which is very convenient.

In no time at all, you’ll have a generous amount of smooth vegan caramel ready to be used as a drizzle on your vegan apple pancakes, waffles, and crepes, or perhaps as a dip for fresh fruit or as a caramel coating on fresh crisp apples! Make some caramel popcorn with it or drizzle it your chocolate cake. Try it on pina colada pancakes, an apple skillet pancake, or pumpkin pecan pancakes. You can also use it to make caramel iced coffee or to rim the glass of an apple cider mimosa.

It’s a magical, irresistible sauce that is ready to elevate whatever it is you add it to…even if it is just the spoon you’re licking it from!

Caramel in a small glass jar with a silver spoon.

What you need

  • Brown Sugar – Brown sugar is the base of the caramel. It’s the brown sugar that gets cooked down, melted, and boiled.
  • Cornstarch – Cornstarch is a thickening agent used to create a thick, creamy consistency.
  • Coconut Cream – Coconut cream does what butter and/or heavy cream does in a non-vegan caramel sauce. It helps achieve a creamy texture.
  • Vanilla Extract – A warming note of vanilla extract is always a nice addition to the flavor of caramel.
  • Salt – Transforms caramel into salted caramel and balances out the sweetness. So good!
  • Bourbon – Optional, but amazing. Rum is also tasty!
Overhead view of ingredients needed for recipe.

How to make it

Boil the brown sugar, cornstarch, and coconut cream in a small saucepan. Cook until the sugar has fully dissolved.

Caramel cooking in a small metal saucepan.

Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer until it starts to thicken slightly. If you have a candy thermometer, it should be just below the soft ball temperature. 

Caramel in a small saucepan.

Remove the caramel from the heat and add the vanilla extract, salt, and bourbon (if using).

Caramel in a small glass bowl.

Transfer the caramel to an airtight container and store it in the fridge until ready to use. This caramel will become hard quickly as it cools, so you’ll need to reheat it prior to use.

How to make this caramel your own

  • There is no shortage of uses for this sauce! Pour it over a scoop of vanilla ice cream or your bowl of oatmeal.
  • Allow it to cool slightly and thicken to a spreadable consistency. Slather on top of toast, muffins, or donuts.
  • if you prefer, swap out the cornstarch for arrowroot starch. The ratio would be 4.5 teaspoons of arrowroot starch for every 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
  • Coconut sugar is a great slightly less refined sugar than brown sugar. It will still give it a lovely caramel brown color. Texture may be slightly different.

Storage Suggestions

This caramel will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks, stored in an airtight container.

Reheating Tips

Reheat the caramel in small batches in the microwave using 30 seconds intervals. If you would like it a little thicker, try 15 second intervals.

Caramel on a spoon to show texture.

Other sauces and toppings

Jar of vegan caramel with sauce dripping down side of jar.

Get the Recipe: Vegan Caramel

This recipe for vegan caramel sauce is made with brown sugar, coconut cream, and an optional shot of bourbon! It's a deliciously creamy, silky smooth sauce, ready to drizzle, pour, and dip!
5 from 1 vote

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ cup coconut cream (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1 ounce bourbon, optional

Instructions

  • Combine brown sugar, cornstarch, and coconut cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until sugar has fully dissolved, about 2 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the mixture to simmer for 5 minutes, or until it starts to thicken slightly. If you have a candy thermometer, it should be just below the soft ball stage (235-245ºF).
  • Remove caramel from the heat and add vanilla extract, salt, and bourbon (if using). Transfer caramel to an airtight container and store in the fridge until ready to use.

Notes

  • Makes about 1 cup of caramel.
  • Keep caramel in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
  • Reheat the caramel in small batches in the microwave in 30 second intervals.
  • Coconut cream is the solid white part that settles on the top of full fat coconut milk— make sure to use it, not the liquid below.
  • This caramel will become hard quickly as it cools— just reheat it in the microwave as necessary.
Serving: 2tablespoons, Calories: 169kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 9mg, Potassium: 91mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 27g, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 25mg, Iron: 1mg