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How to Make Refined Sugar Free Caramel Sauce

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Learn how to make refined sugar free caramel sauce at home using coconut sugar! This 4-ingredient salted caramel sauce recipe is completely dairy-free and vegan. It’s an easy recipe that comes together in 20 minutes without the added fear of burnt sugar or caramel burns. Use it for everything – from topping vanilla ice cream, adding to brownies, or even filling a cake or cupcakes!

a spoon sticks out of a jar of dairy-free caramel sauce sitting on a wooden serving board

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What is sugar free caramel made of?

Sugar free caramel sauce is normally made using artificial sweeteners like erythritol, heavy cream, and butter. However, this refined sugar free caramel sauce doesn’t require any of those ingredients!

Instead, we’re using healthier, whole food ingredients like coconut sugar, coconut milk, a dash of vanilla, and a pinch of salt to create the ultimate gooey and rich caramel sauce. Bonus – it’s completely vegan too.

What ingredients you’ll need for refined sugar free caramel sauce

  • Coconut sugar: This natural sweetener is perfect for making caramel sauce because it has a characteristic caramelly flavour already. We’re simply enhancing that by cooking it down and adding a few other key ingredients.
  • Full-fat coconut milk: I cannot stress enough that it needs to be full-fat for this recipe to work. The fat in cream is what helps create the thick consistency required for caramel. Light coconut milk simply doesn’t have the same effect. Make sure you shake up the can well before measuring!
  • Vanilla extract: A dash of vanilla gives this refined sugar free caramel sauce an extra dose of sweetness and enhances the flavour.
  • Sea salt: Absolutely essential to cut through the sweetness of the coconut sugar and season the sauce. I prefer the flavour of a ½ teaspoon, but if you like your caramel sauce quite salty, feel free to add up to a whole teaspoon.
a tan plate serves a jar of refined sugar free caramel sauce with a spoon set on the side

What can I substitute for heavy cream in caramel sauce?

Coconut milk or coconut cream is an excellent alternative to heavy cream in caramel sauce. It’s what we use in this refined sugar free caramel sauce recipe.

You want to make sure the substitute you’re using has a high fat content because that’s what thickens the sauce and makes it rich and creamy.

How to make caramel sauce from scratch

This is my preferred way to make homemade caramel sauce because it’s super quick and really easy. There’s no need to fear caramel burns either because we’re not adding anything cold to the hot coconut sugar. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Add the coconut sugar and milk into a medium to large saucepan and place it over a medium heat. Whisk to bring both the ingredients together while the liquid comes to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes or until it’s thick and reduced by ⅓.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat once the caramel sauce is thick and whisk in the vanilla and salt.
  4. Decant the sauce into a heatproof sealable jar and leave to cool completely to room temperature before using. The sauce will thicken up more as it cools.

Full details are in the recipe card at the end of this post.

a spoon is drizzling some vegan caramel sauce back into the glass jar that sits on a wooden serving board

Uses for refined sugar free salted caramel sauce

There are so many uses for refined sugar free caramel sauce, I couldn’t possibly list them all! Here are a few classic ways to use it:

How to store refined sugar free caramel sauce

Once it’s cooled to room temperature, you can store homemade caramel sauce in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.

You can also freeze it in the same way for up to 3 months. Defrost the caramel at room temperature and then give it a good mix up as it may separate.

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Refined Sugar Free Caramel Sauce FAQ

Have a question about making refined sugar free caramel sauce? Let’s get you some answers! If your question isn’t answered here, feel free to leave a comment below.

Why isn’t my caramel sauce thickening?

Runny caramel sauce happens for one of two reasons:

  • You didn’t boil the sugar/milk mixture long enough. This process usually takes around 10 minutes to get to the correct consistency. It might be helpful to set a timer the first few times you make this caramel sauce recipe so that you can be sure it’s been reducing long enough.
  • It needs time to set. Allow the caramel sauce to come to room temperature before judging the final consistency. As it cools, the caramel will thicken up more.

Why is my caramel sauce grainy?

Grainy caramel sauce happens due to crystallisation, which occurs when the sugar loses moisture from splashing up the side of the pan. When you’re whisking the caramel, do so gently to minimise splashing. Take your time and use a lower heat.

FIX IT: If this refined sugar free caramel sauce does happen to crystallise after it cools, you can place it back in the pot with a couple tablespoons more coconut milk and reduce it down again.

a spoon drizzles the best refined sugar free caramel sauce onto a bowl of vanilla ice cream

Why does my caramel sauce taste bitter?

Bitter caramel sauce is caused by burnt sugar. This usually happens when you colour the sugar too far – you want a light to medium amber colour and a slightly nutty scent. If the caramel turns a dark amber and starts to smell burnt, it’s gone too far and you’ll need to start over.

One of the reasons I like this refined sugar free caramel sauce recipe so much is because this is never an issue. By reducing down the coconut sugar and milk together, we avoid the colouring step altogether.

Why did my caramel sauce harden in the fridge?

The cold temperature of the fridge solidifies the butter (or coconut milk in our case) in the caramel sauce, causing the sauce to harden. It should soften at room temperature and become drippy again. If it doesn’t you can always take the lid off the jar and place the caramel sauce in a saucepan of lightly simmering water to heat it up.

Learn how to make refined sugar free caramel sauce at home using coconut sugar! This 4-ingredient salted caramel sauce recipe is completely dairy-free and vegan. It’s an easy recipe that comes together in 20 minutes without the added fear of burnt sugar or caramel burns.

Tips for making this recipe perfectly

  • Don’t leave this refined sugar free caramel sauce alone. I must stress that you need to be present and stirring gently and frequently while the sauce is reducing. This will help prevent burning.
  • Use full-fat coconut milk (from a tin). The fat in the coconut cream is what makes this sauce thick and rich – using low-fat milk won’t produce a thick sauce.
  • Need salted caramel sauce? Try adding more salt to this mixture! Depending on your preference, you can get away with adding up to 1 full teaspoon.

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If you make this recipe, let me know by snapping a picture and tagging me on Instagram @naturallysweet_kitchen. I love seeing your creations and sharing them in my Stories. Or let me know you love this refined sugar free caramel sauce recipe and tutorial by leaving a comment and rating below!

Refined Sugar Free Caramel Sauce

Learn how to make refined sugar free caramel sauce at home using coconut sugar! This 4-ingredient salted caramel sauce recipe is completely dairy-free and vegan. It’s an easy recipe that comes together in 20 minutes without the added fear of burnt sugar or caramel burns. Use it for everything – from topping vanilla ice cream, adding to brownies, or even filling a cake or cupcakes!

Category Dessert, Frostings & Fillings
Cuisine American, British, Canadian, French
Keyword easy caramel sauce, homemade caramel sauce, how to make caramel sauce, salted caramel sauce, sugar free caramel sauce, vegan caramel sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Serves 300 ml
Author Amanda | Naturally Sweet Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 150 g coconut sugar
  • 250 ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt

Method

  1. Pour the coconut sugar and coconut milk into a medium to large saucepan and place it over a medium-high heat. Whisk to bring both the ingredients together while the liquid comes to a boil.
  2. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes or until it’s thick and reduced by at least ⅓. The liquid will bubble furiously, and that’s okay. Keep stirring it frequently to prevent burning.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat once the caramel sauce is thick and whisk in the vanilla and salt.
  4. Decant the sauce into a heatproof sealable jar and leave to cool completely to room temperature before using. The sauce will thicken up more as it cools.

Notes

  • If you like a saltier caramel sauce, you can add up to 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • The caramel sauce will keep sealed in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 1 week. To reheat, bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer and place the jar of caramel sauce – lid off – in the hot water for 5-7 minutes or until it reaches your desired temperature. It may split and need a good whisking to bring it back together.

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2 Comments

  1. Hello, what could you substitute Coconut Sugar and Coconut Milk for please in your Refined Sugar Free Salted Caramel Sauce? I have a Coconut Allergy.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Emma! So happy to hear you’re interested in the caramel sauce. I’m sorry that you have a coconut allergy and are unable to make it as is. Unfortunately, I haven’t tested this recipe with any sugar or milk substitutions, so I wouldn’t feel comfortable suggesting something that may not produce a good result. I hope you can find a different recipe that fits your requirements! 🙂

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