Healthy Homemade Caramel Sauce

Oh yes.  Homemade Caramel Sauce…  HEALTHY Homemade Caramel Sauce!  Oh yes x 2.
It all started with those Millionaire Shortbread Bars.  I was shocked at how the caramel layer turned out perfectly.  As I stirred the cooking caramel on the stove I craned my neck over the pot to smell that smooth, creamy and enticing scent.  It was so similar to real caramel I couldn’t believe it.  I mean, sweet and velvety caramel sauce without the heavy cream, white sugar and butter?
Oh yes x 3.
I have wanted to healthify caramel sauce for so long now, I am so glad I finally did it.  I realized that I avoided so many recipes using the ingredient because I couldn’t find any healthy options out there that actually tasted like caramel.  So I made up for that by brainstorming ideas as I poured the caramel sauce into my serving glasses.
3 series 4 series 5 series

You can drizzle it over cakes, pancakes, ice cream, pie, etc.

You can stir it into your coffee.

You can fill cupcakes with it.

You can pour it into your mouth.

You can bathe in it.

You can marry it.

Healthy Homemade Caramel Sauce (refined sugar free!)

Healthy Homemade Caramel Sauce (refined sugar free!)



  1. Spray a ceramic dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a microwave-safe container, microwave the coconut milk, almond milk, shortening and salt at 20-second intervals, stirring between each one, until melted.
  3. In a medium-sized pot, whisk together the agave, water, sucanat and erythritol. Add a candy thermometer to the pot and place over medium-high heat. Do not stir, just let it come to a boil.
  4. At 250 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the milk/shortening mixture. Stop whisking once it's all added. Return the pot to medium-high heat.
  5. At 250 degrees Fahrenheit, turn off the heat and whisk in the vanilla.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and let sit at room temp for 1-2 hours.
  7. Stir mixture well, then scoop/pour into a container (I put half in a squirt bottle and half in a maple syrup server)


*I made this a few times with varying levels of coconut milk, agave and water to get myself a little more familiar with caramel-making and the liquid:sugar ratio. This caramel sauce also works with 1/3 cup agave nectar and 2 tbs water instead of 1/4 cup of each. This also works with pure maple syrup instead of agave.

This recipe is: reduced fat, reduced sugar, gluten free and vegan!


This homemade caramel sauce goes well over everything.  Like these super awesome individual apple pies  🙂

apple1 apple2

drizzle1 drizzle2

I drank could drink this homemade caramel sauce.  Who needs water?

45 comments on “Healthy Homemade Caramel Sauce

  1. Oh my word! This looks heavenly. I would like a large ladle full, please! Yum

  2. This sounds AMAZING. Caramel is one of those things that you just NEED for some desserts, but it’s so HEAVY. Will absolutely be trying this for a whole bunch of recipes.

    THANK YOU. =]

  3. Wow! This caramel looks so dreamy and silky! You captured it perfectly! 🙂

  4. Why do you not own the condiment and dessert industry? The earth would teem with well-nutritioned superhumans.

  5. Is there anything you could use instead of shortening? It’s really hard to get hold of unhydrogenated shortening here in the UK

    • dessertswithbenefits

      You can buy nonhydrogenated shortening online here, but you can try using coconut oil. Coconut oil may smell like coconut out of the jar but I don’t think it will provide a strong flavor in the caramel since there is only 1/4 cup of it. If you want that classic butter taste like in REAL caramel, you can add 1/4 tsp butter extract at the end along with the vanilla extract.

  6. Pingback: Desserts With Benefits

  7. has anyone tried brown rice syrup in place of the agave?

    • dessertswithbenefits

      Hi Carmen,
      I haven’t tried brown rice syrup but I would assume that would work as an agave replacement. Brown rice syrup is a bit thicker than agave and it has a stronger flavor, but if you don’t mind that then go ahead with the b.r.syrup! If I were to make this with brown rice syrup I would add an extra two tablespoons of coconut milk to the microwaved mixture. Good luck 🙂

  8. is there anyway i can make this without using the thermometer ?

    • dessertswithbenefits

      I’m afraid that the thermometer is required to make caramel sauce… If u heat the sauce too much the sauce will be too thick and/or crystallize… Too little and it will not be syrup 🙁
      Thermometers are cheap and easy to find. I bought mine at Bed Bath & Beyond!

    • I know, this is really old question, but I have the solution!

       I made this without thermometer, actually I have never use one when making candy sauce. I use the cold water test. You know your sauce is ready when you drop a hint of sauce in to cold water and it keeps its shape. If you keep sauce on the heat after that it will be too thick.. 

      Thanks for recipe! I was delicious (so I ate it too much and know I swear that I’ll never eat any sweets..)

  9. Hi, will these make caramel apples?
    I don’t want to buy the caramel bits nor do I like the sound of many caramel sauce recipes around the web. This one sounds great to me and I would love to try it out for making the apples…Wud appreciate your reply. Thanks in advance 🙂

    • dessertswithbenefits

      Hmmm, I’m not really sure I haven’t tried that yet. I think you can give it a try, just dunk the apples in and quickly put them in the fridge to firm up. At room temperature this caramel sauce is probably too much of a “sauce” to stay on the apples, this is more for drizzling into coffee and over desserts. If you don’t want to risk the caramel running off the apples then I would recommend my healthy soft caramels recipe. Just skip steps 7-11 and coat the apples in the caramel “fudge” after step 6. I hope this works out for you, I didn’t even think about making caramel apples until I read your comment. GENIUS!!
      PS: Also, I’m sorry, I didn’t measure how much the caramel sauce makes but I believe it is around 1+1/3 cups.

  10. ..and oh also how much does this yield?

  11. This is amazing!

    I used coconut oil ( I can’t get the shortening you mentioned), pure maple syrup (instead of agave) and xylitol (is this the same thing as erythritol?)

    It filled one 500ml mason jar perfectly.

    Thank you for this great recipe!!

    • Sarah-
      YAY!! I’m so glad the coconut oil worked (I really wanted to try that out) and I’m sure the pure maple syrup added a rich and buttery flavor 🙂
      Xylitol is different than erythritol, but they have many similar properties and basically taste the same.
      Thanks for providing the final yield amount, I forgot to measure the caramel out because I used some in my coffee right after making it. Oops!

  12. Pingback: Desserts With Benefits

  13. I am allergic to coconut, do you know something I could substitute for the coconut milk? Thanks! 🙂

    • Shandra Grace-
      You can probably use any other nondairy milk out there, such as soy milk, more almond milk, other nut milks, etc. Hopefully this works just as well as coconut milk. I hope you like the recipe!

  14. oh oh…want this! do you think it could be made with coconut sugar instead of succanot?

  15. How long will this stay good for? What is the best way to store it?

    I can’t wait to try it!

    • Crystal-
      I don’t know exactly how long this caramel sauce lasts because I used it all up within a couple weeks. I think 2 weeks is around the right amount of time 🙂
      I stored my caramel sauce at room tempe because refrigeration will cause the sauce to harden. Hope you like the recipe!

  16. Can I use a regular thermometer ??

    • Marcy-
      Candy thermometers are built specifically for candy making. They withstand extremely high temps and can be submerged in boiling liquids without breaking. I’m afraid a regular thermometer might break/melt if used directly in a pot over a heat source. Candy thermometers are fairly cheap (just a few bucks!) and you can find them in almost all grocery stores, and stores like Bed Bath & Beyond (I got mine at BBB) 🙂

  17. I have the same question as Crystal, any idea how long it would stay good for? Does it need to be refrigerated? Thanks!

    • Alex-
      Thanks for commenting, for some reason I didn’t get a notification of Crystal’s comment!
      I don’t know exactly how long this caramel sauce lasts, as I used it all up within a couple weeks. I think 2 weeks is around the right amount of time 🙂
      I stored my caramel at room temperature because refrigeration will cause the caramel sauce to harden (due to the non-hydrogenated shortening)
      Hope you like the recipe!

  18. 6 tbs Unsweetened Almond Milk (or 1 cup + 2 tbs light coconut milk)

    Is it 1 cup + 2 tbs light coconut milk, canned or carton?

  19. I made these today and it turned into thick caramel. I followed the instructions exactly, what could have possibly gone wrong and is there any way to make it saucey?

    • Jules-
      The coconut milk is from a can. I updated the ingredient list so it’s not so confusing 🙂
      I’m not sure what went wrong if you followed the ingredient list and instructions… did you caramel sauce just turn very thick, did it set into “sliceable” caramels or did it harden into a toffee-like brittle? These are signs that the caramel may have been overcooked (only a few degrees can change the final product).
      As for making your caramel more liquidy, try heating it up again on the stove and adding more coconut milk. Whisk in one tablespoon at a time until you like the consistency.
      Hope this helps!

  20. Thank you for your help Jessica!

    That could have been the problem! I stepped away for only a few seconds and the temperature reached a little over 250 degrees Fahrenheit before I added the vanilla extract.

    The caramel thicken, yet soft enough to slice.

    What is the difference between using coconut milk and almond milk and canned milk versus carton milk?

    Do you know if the caramel will spoil since there is milk in it?

    • Jules-
      Yeah, cooked desserts/candies are really finicky… a few degrees can determine whether or not you’re cooking a soft fudge or a hard candy! No wonder so many people like cooking over baking, haha
      Personally, I haven’t noticed a huge difference between using coconut milk and almond milk in the caramel sauce, but almond milk won’t work well if you’re trying to make actual caramels. I think the fat in the coconut milk helps keep it soft and smooth 🙂
      I’m not sure exactly how long the caramel sauce will last, but I would say about a week or so at room temperature would be about right. Dairy milks usually require refrigeration more than nondairy milks 🙂

  21. Here’s an update, I incorporated the caramel last night to make Samoa Cookies, and sadly the caramel was so hard, but not as has as brittle. I melted it and added more coconut and almond milk.

  22. That caramel sauce looks yummy. Besides replacing agave with maple syrup can the succanate & erythritol be replaced with coconut Sugar?

    • Lorraine-
      Yup! The coconut sugar should replace the sucanat and erythritol just fine. I think I tried a batch like that before and it was delicious! The flavor was a little different, since sucanat tastes like brown sugar, but it was still good 🙂
      I hope you like the recipe!

  23. What is inside of the apples on those pictures? Just trying to come up with some dessert ideas.

  24. Nevermind, clicked the link. Lol

  25. Pingback: Bananas Foster Ice Cream | Dessert Bullet

  26. Hey Jess, I love that you actually respond on here and have always answered my questions.  I was wondering why shortening vs butter?  and by butter I mean the real stuff not margarine.  I could probably good the differences and figure something out but I was just curious about your personal logic between the 2.  I was hoping to use this in a Salted Caramel Gelato recipe. If it works out I’ll send you the recipe!  I made a full sugar full dairy version to make sure it turned out ok before I start replacing things with almondmilk and erythritol 🙂  Thanks for helping us indulge our fantasies of enjoying treats without having to run 10 miles afterward!

    • Chelsea-
      Aw thanks so much Chelsea!! 😀
      I used the non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening because it’s what I had on hand, and coconut oil didn’t seem like it would work as well. I’m sure butter could work just fine in place of the shortening! I always recommend organic grass-fed butter (for the omega 3’s and a better ratio of 3’s:6’s).
      By the way, Salted Caramel Gelato? YUMMMM! I have no other words, just YUMMMM and I WANT SOME NOW PLEASE 😉
      I hope you like the Caramel Sauce! 😀

  27. What could I use in place of Erythritol? Would need to be gluten free dairy free soy free…?

  28. Hello Jessica, Quick question – What is the nutritional information for this sauce? Also, do you have any recommendations to reduce the sugar further by replacing the Agave Nectar with an alternative, as well as the Sucanat with perhaps additional Erythritol? Any advice on these questions and the nutritional breakdown with these changes, as well as in the original format would be appreciated. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This website may use cookies.