Healthy Homemade Super Soft Caramels

homemade caramels

homemade caramels

After making Millionaire Shortbread Bars and Homemade Caramel Sauce, the next step in my caramel quest was to make… well, caramels!  I thought the only thing I had to do was reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe but that wasn’t so.  These healthy homemade caramels aren’t firm like the storebought kinds, these are incredibly soft and chewy — they literally melt in your mouth!

homemade caramels homemade caramels

Not to mention, these homemade caramels are made with light coconut milk (rather than cholesterol-filled heavy cream), non-hydrogenated shortening (instead of saturated fat-packed butter) and a mixture of sucanat and erythritol (to avoid high-glycemic white sugar) so you are able to enjoy these without feeling guilty.  As if you needed another reason to make these!

Super Soft Healthy Homemade Caramels (low sugar, vegan)

Yield: 1+3/4 cups = 56 caramels



  1. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
  2. In a microwave-safe container, add the coconut milk, shortening and salt. Microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each one, until shortening has melted.
  3. In a medium-sized pot (preferably a tall one, but not a wide one), whisk together the agave/maple syrup, water, sucanat and erythritol. Add a candy thermometer to the pot and place over medium-med/high heat. Do not stir.
  4. When the mixture reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit (should bubble/froth/rise in height), remove pot from heat and slowly whisk in the coconut milk/shortening mixture.
  5. Return the pot to the heat. When mixture returns to 250 degrees, turn off the heat and whisk in the vanilla.
  6. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and let sit for 3-4 hours.
  7. Give the fudge a stir until the mixture is even. Scoop the fudge onto a sheet of foil or parchment paper and loosely wrap and leave at room temperature. Moisture (a mixture of liquid/sugar) will be removed from the caramel. The next day, change the "wrapping" and scoop the caramel onto a clean sheet of foil/parchment. Feel free to do this step again to remove more liquid.
  8. Scoop the caramel onto the center of a sheet of parchment and fold the sheet in half. Use a cookie sheet to press against the caramel and form a log. Refrigerate overnight.
  9. Slice the log of caramels with a greased knife and wrap individually (I used plastic, you can try wax)
  10. I store my caramels in the fridge.
  11. This is what your caramels will look like if you just slice them and skip the wrapping*:


*I prefer them wrapped because it feels like you are opening a present, but some prefer to eat fuss-free, easily accessible caramels ;)

Store caramels in the fridge.

This recipe is: low fat, low sugar, gluten free, vegan!

Time for a nutrition label showdown!  The Kitchn’s recipe is on the left, the DWB recipe is on the right:

KITCHN Nutrition Label  DWB Nutrition Label

My homemade caramels are lower calorie, lower fat (and lower saturated fat too!), low carb and lower sugar!  Go ahead, eat an extra one  :)

28 comments on “Healthy Homemade Super Soft Caramels

  1. These look like the perfect candy for Easter baskets!!

  2. I’ve got to try to make these candies. They look so good! Thanks and happy Easter.

  3. I can’t wait to try these!I love the touch with the papers : )

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  5. “so you are able to enjoy these without feeling guilty”

    I tend to not feel guilty for eating any kind of food, but thanks.

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  7. Made this recipe last night as caramel is one of my weaknesses!!! YUMMY! I used coconut palm sugar as I was out of sucanat. IT turned out just fine! Has anyone tried using more erythirtol to lower the sugar/carb content even more? Just wondering if it would still work.

  8. Hi Laura, I’m so glad you liked the recipe! Palm sugar sounds delicious :)
    I have tried making this with more erythritol but it was not very caramel-like — it wasn’t super chewy, it was more like a light/soft fudge … It’s hard to explain, but it just wasn’t the classic caramel.

  9. Would coconut oil work in replace of the spectrum? I stay away from palm oil but would love to try these! Or maybe full fat coconut milk instead of light and no shortening or oil? Thanks!

    • dessertswithbenefits

      Hi Audra, I haven’t used coconut oil in these yet but it should work. I wouldn’t recommend omitting the oil/shortening though. Good luck!

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  11. These look so fantastic – I am excited to try them! Do you think xylitol might work instead of the erythritol?

  12. you have such a talent!!! I’ve been looking through all your amazing recipes – keep up the good work!! Great photos, great healthy recipes just LOVE your site!! :-)

  13. Hmm… I have tried this twice now and I just can’t seem to get it to work! Each time my caramel just become rather crystally and just melts away without any chew at all… I used coconut sugar after reading the above comments so I thought it would work… tips please? :)

    • dessertswithbenefits

      Oh no! I have no idea why the caramel crystallized. I haven’t tried this recipe using coconut sugar but I would assume that ingredient would be fine, especially since it worked for another commenter. Just wondering, did you use a candy thermometer?

  14. Hi Jessica! Thanks for the answer. I did use a candy thermometer, but I had to boil the mixture for at least 30-40 minutes after adding the coconut milk before it finally reached 250 degrees. Is this normal? I thought it was kind of long but when I googled it most sites said it was normal to have a long waiting period…

  15. Hi, Jessica! I do love your recipes, and your use of sugar alcohols like erythritol and xylitol. Thumbs up for your mouthwateringly good photos!

    I did want to bring up a point of contention concerning what was said about cream and butter. Saturated fat and dietary cholesterol are no longer the black sheep. :) The latest research, along with studies of the the dietary history of traditional peoples, are showing us that over consumption carbohydrates–particularly, sucrose–is to blame for the high prevalence of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and obesity in the U.S. in recent years. Here’s a book that provides a good review of the body of evidence:

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  17. Hi Jessica,
    Thanks for sharing your creativity! Do you think vegetable glycerin would work for all or part of the sugars in this recipe?

    • Marissa-
      Sadly, vegetable glycerin doesn’t work to replace the sugars :(
      I’ve tried it… FOUR TIMES!!! The “caramel” doesn’t turn brown and it actually stays pretty clear. But the weirdest part is the scent, it smells almost exactly like buttery popcorn. I got five different people to smell it (because I thought I was crazy) and they all said the same thing. I mean, it tasted okay but not great. And it needs to be cooked to a much higher temperature for a much longer period of time (it took about 3x as long as regular caramel).
      I’m working on a sugar-free recipe but it will take some time. Sorry!

    • Marissa-
      Oh, and I forgot to mention, it doesn’t solidify. It stays like a “caramel” sauce!

  18. is it only 90 calorie for all of them or just one?

    • Tova-
      The nutrition label on the left is for the unhealthy caramel recipe, and it’s 90 calories for 2 caramels.
      The nutrition label on the right is for my healthified caramel recipe, which has 60 calories for 2 caramels :)

  19. HI,

    I tried making this today & set the mixture to cool for 4 hours but the mixture still isn’t tight. Its still liquid. what do i do ?

    • Ridhima-
      Just wondering, did you use a candy thermometer? It’s crucial to cook these caramels to an exact temperature… a little too low and you’ll get caramel sauce… a little too high and you’ll get brittle.
      If it’s simply caramel sauce, you can use that in coffee, over ice cream, in oatmeal, as a dip for apples, etc. and then try the recipe again if you want to :)

  20. These look super yummy! The patience it takes for extra special treats is a serious gift 😉 Nicely done, I can’t wait to give these a try :)

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