Coconut Milk Caramel Sauce: 5 Ways

Yield: Approx. ⅔ cup
Vegan, Paleo, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free

Aerial view of vegan and dairy-free caramel sauce in a small glass bowl, surrounded by scattered coconut sugar and a small wooden bowl of flaky sea salt, on a dark blue backdrop.

PSA: you can make ooey gooey, lusciously decadent (and vegan!) caramel sauce that will knock any dairy and refined sugar-based version out of the park. It’s so dangerously good that you might want to start drizzling — or heavy-handed pouring — it on everything. But maybe stick to adding it to sweeter dishes like pancakes, waffles, ice cream, clafoutis, crumbles, galettes and brownies. (And on the savoury flipside, whip up some tahini-coconut sauce for dishes like grilled veggies.)

Our straight-up salted caramel is the bomb, but we’ve included some extra variations for when you’re feeling, well, extra. If you’re craving some umami in your life, then we definitely recommend whipping up a batch of the miso.

Ingredients

  • 14 fl oz (imperial) (400 mL) can of full fat coconut milk (*not coconut cream)
  • ¼ cup (37 g) coconut sugar
  • 5 tablespoons (100 g) honey or maple syrup (use maple syrup for vegan version)
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon (15 mL) coconut oil or ghee (use coconut oil for vegan version)
  • Optional: ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or ⅛ teaspoon vanilla bean powder)
  • Optional: small pinch flaked sea salt (such as Maldon)

Flavour Variations

  • Bourbon (or other liquor of choice): Add 1 tablespoon of bourbon to the mixture along with the salt in Step 2.
  • Pumpkin Spice: Add ½ – ¾ teaspoon (to taste) pumpkin spice blend to the mixture along with the salt in Step 2.
  • Miso: Add 1 tablespoon mild or sweet miso paste (we love this one!) to the mixture along with the salt in Step 2.
  • Lapsang: Use 1 tablespoon Lapsang Souchong (pine smoked) black tea. See variation below.
  • Earl Grey: Use 1 tablespoon Earl Grey tea. See variation below.

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk, sugar and liquid sweetener and bring to a light boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to low and simmer for about 35 minutes, stirring frequently with a heat-proof spatula, until mixture thickens to a caramel sauce consistency. Cooking time will vary depending on the water content of your coconut milk and stove temperature.
  2. Remove from the heat, add the salt and if using, vanilla and oil or ghee, and stir well to incorporate.
  3. Pour over cake, ice cream or any dessert (or breakfast!), or eat with a spoon out of the jar (we won’t judge). Caramel sauce can be served warm, or transfer to a heat-proof jar, let cool slightly and refrigerate — the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. If the sauce gets too thick to pour, re-warm slightly and/or add a tiny splash of warm coconut milk to thin it out. Sauce can be refrigerated for 1 week.

Lapsang and Earl Grey Variations

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk and tea leaves and bring to a very light boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat, give the mixture a quick stir, cover and let steep for 10 minutes. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain out and discard tea leaves and return coconut milk to the saucepan.
  2. Add sugar and liquid sweetener to the infused coconut milk and bring to a light boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to low and simmer for about 35 minutes, stirring frequently with a heat-proof spatula, until mixture thickens to a caramel sauce consistency. Cooking time will vary depending on the water content of your coconut milk and stove temperature.
  3. Remove from the heat, add the salt and if using, vanilla and oil or ghee, and stir well to incorporate.