This recipe for vegan caramel is the epitome of ‘whatever you can make, I can make vegan’. I’m not interested in settling for the faux semi-healthy vegan caramels made from dates or tahini or coconut oil. Millionaire’s shortbread did not get its namesake by including water-soaked and pureed dried fruit.
When it comes to caramel I want the silky smooth, incredibly decadent, liquid gold caramel. I want the real thing!
To make real vegan caramel, you’ll need just three ingredients; caster sugar, vegan butter (the solid kind) and coconut cream (also the solid kind). For added flavour, this recipe includes vanilla and flaky salt but they’re optional. And the process of making vegan caramel is the exact same as regular caramel. Dissolve sugar in water, simmer until deep golden brown, add the butter and coconut cream, mix and simmer again.
The only part of the process that’s tricky is making sure your sugar does NOT crystalize. Luckily there’s a simple solution. DO NOT stir the sugar and DO cover the pot with a lid during the first simmer. The lid will cause water to run down the sides of the pot and prevent sugar crystals from forming! Dreamy vegan caramel is 20minutes away!
Hate scrolling through reams of text before you get to the recipe? Me too! I’ve included all the recipe notes at the bottom of the page with the hope of improving your experience here at blue border. Everything you need to know about this real vegan caramel recipe is there, including answers to your questions, ingredient suggestions and troubleshooting. If you find this useful I’d love your support on Instagram, click here to follow.
- 300g caster sugar
- 60g (¼ cup) water
- 100g non-dairy butter
- 200g coconut cream, solid cream only*
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. flaky sea salt
Add the sugar to a small saucepan and cover with water (you can gently move the sugar around with a spatula if it’s not completely covered by the water but do not stir). Place the pot on the stovetop at low heat and dissolve the sugar.
Once the sugar has dissolved, cover the saucepan with a lid, turn the heat up slightly and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Keep a close eye on the sugar making sure it does not burn but do not stir and always return the lid to the pot.
Once the sugar starts to change colour remove the lid and gently swirl the pot if required. The caramel is ready once it is has a light amber hue. Take the pot off the heat and add the butter and coconut cream (be careful as the caramel will bubble viciously when you do this). Very briefly stir to combine and return to the heat.
Allow the caramel to bubble for another 10-15mins, swirling regularly to prevent burning. If you have a candy thermometer, bring the caramel up to 115C. The caramel is ready when it is a deep golden brown (I noticed my caramel split a tiny bit during one test, if this happened vigorously mix with a whisk).
Add the vanilla and salt (if using), stir to combine and set aside to cool slightly. Transfer to jars to store.
NOTES: How To Make Real Vegan Caramel
The best kind of coconut cream for this recipe is one that has a thick layer of solid cream at the top. Try shaking the tin while you’re in the store, you’re looking for one that sounds solid rather than liquidy.
Alternatively, place your coconut cream in the fridge overnight to thicken. Scoop out the thicken cream and allow it to come to room temperature before adding to your caramel. Do not add cold coconut cream to the caramel.
You will get the best results by using a solid vegan butter. In the UK and Europe try Naturli Vegan Block. In the US I know the solid vegan butter brands are Earth Balance, Miyoko or Country Crock Plant Butter.
My caramel crystallized?
Sugar crystals form when the hot sugar comes into contact with the cold sides of the pan. If you get crystals forming on the top of the bubbling sugar or the side of the pan, unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to save it. You’ll need to start again.
The best approach is to completely avoid the formation of crystals. Always use low heat to dissolve the sugar in water, keep a lid on the pot until the dissolved sugar starts to change colour and avoid stirring the caramel at all costs.
My caramel is grainy?
Grainy caramel is the result of crystallization. Some cooks advise allowing the caramel to cool completely, adding a couple of tablespoons of water to the caramel and reheating to dissolve the crystals. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. Again the best way to handle grainy caramel is to prevent the formation of crystals in the first place (see the previous note).
My caramel burned and it’s all over my pot?
If your caramel is burnt or crystallized you’ll need to discard it safely. Lay a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and pour the caramel onto the parchment paper. Once the caramel has cooled and set you can put it in the bin.
To clean your pot fill it with water and bring the water to a boil. This will dissolve any caramel left on the pot and you can pour the water down the sink before cleaning it.