Vegan Caramel

This vegan caramel is made simply by blending dates with vanilla, cinnamon, coconut oil, lemon juice, and water. An easy, naturally sweetened vegan treat you can slather on anything.

Vegan caramel? Yep. This naturally sweetened but truly delectable sugar fix with toffee overtones really does coax a rich, sweet, satisfying experience from good-for-you ingredients. More surprisingly, the list of ways to swirl, spread, and drizzle this sublimely silky treat will take longer to read than the recipe itself. We’re talking yogurt, oatmeal, and apples. Pancakes, waffles, muffins, and quick breads. Did we mention vanilla ice cream? Better tell your bottle of store-bought caramel there’s a new kid in town.Jenny Howard

Vegan Caramel

Swirls of vegan caramel with a knife on the side
This vegan caramel is made simply by blending dates with vanilla, cinnamon, coconut oil, lemon juice, and water. An easy, naturally sweetened vegan treat you can slather on anything.
Marisa Alvarsson

Prep 10 mins
Total 10 mins
5 from 1 vote
Print RecipeBuy the Naturally Sweet Vegan Treats cookbook

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  • 1 cup medjool dates pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons coconut oil*
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups warm water


  • In a food processor or blender, combine the chopped dates, vanilla, cinnamon, coconut oil, lemon juice, salt, and 1 cup water. Blitz until very smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes, adding more water, a little at a time, if necessary, to achieve the desired consistency, whether you care for more of a stiff dip or a runny sauce. Taste and, if desired, add another pinch of salt.
  • Store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Print RecipeBuy the Naturally Sweet Vegan Treats cookbook

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*Coconut Oil Note

Either refined or virgin (unrefined) coconut oil will work in this recipe. Refined coconut oil is essentially flavorless and won’t interfere with the caramel flavor, whereas an unrefined oil will add mild coconut undertones to the finished sauce. Your choice.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This vegan caramel has a silky smooth texture with a rich taste and can be made in under 10 minutes. I ended up adding a couple more dates to thicken it up a bit. Delicious as a topping on ice cream, yogurt, waffles, pancakes, donuts, etc.

This took minutes to whip up in my blender but an immersion blender or mini processor would work just as well and be easier to clean up.

I didn’t add any more water but I did add a couple of extra dates to thicken it up.

This vegan caramel seemed unusual but it was very versatile. I spread it on pound cake, French toast, and sautéed pears. It also turned out to be perfect with almond butter on my toast!

I used a food processor for the blitzing and it took about 45 seconds. My spread was a thin consistency until I refrigerated it. After an hour in the refrigerator, the spread was more of a sauce consistency. I did not add additional water.

This can just stay in my refrigerator from now on for any caramel needs I might have!

I was pleasantly surprised by this vegan caramel sauce, despite some degree of skepticism about it’s somewhat unusual ingredient list. I was mildly concerned that the date flavor would overwhelm, but the additional spices and flavorings moderated any cloying sweetness and did indeed lend a toffee-like flavor to the finished product.

I won’t pretend that I didn’t miss the rich and buttery background of a real caramel, but for a healthier rendition that barely takes any effort in the kitchen, this one’s a keeper. I was especially taken with the silky texture and the perfect degree of cinnamon goodness, both of which will make this a delicious topper for some gingerbread, banana muffins, pancakes, or even perhaps a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. If I still had young children in the house, I’d use this as a sneaky way to eliminate some refined sugar and sub in some nutrient-dense, fiber-enriched sweetness instead.

I blended the mixture for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. The spread thickened more the longer I let it blitz.

Unexpected treat! I want my family to veer away from sugar, as most of us do, and that is always a tall order. I haven’t jumped too far into the realm of natural sweetening, but this is excellent!

Reminiscent of sticky toffee pudding, this was a great treat and a simple and accurate recipe. This could be easily doubled, or tripled, and seasonings could be enhanced as well, perhaps nutmeg, cardamom, etc. It is fantastic as-is, though.

My 8-year-old son eats with his oatmeal in the morning—and just off the spoon if I let him! Added to smoothies, this adds bulk and natural sweetening. I noticed my green shake emulsified better with it. (I made a green shake directly in the Vitamix after making this spread, an easy way to get the last bits out of the blender for clean up, it emulsified very well.)

I hope to incorporate this into more snacks and toppings for our family.

Originally published January 09, 2019


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