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Coconut Caramel

Did you know that you can make thick and completely vegan coconut caramel sauce from a can of coconut milk?

coconut caramel

1 can coconut milk

Pure vanilla extract

Sweetener of choice

Pinch of salt

Just four or five ingredients, and you’re on your way to the perfect coconut caramel sauce, good for serving with fruit, pancakes, or over my Banana Ice Cream Recipes.

And the best part is that there’s NO heavy cream and NO high fructose corn syrup required for this recipe!

Above – Watch the video how to make coconut caramel!

Step One:

Combine all ingredients except vanilla extract in a medium saucepan, and whisk everything together.

Bring to a boil, then let it boil for around 3-4 minutes.

caramel recipe

Step Two:

Turn to a simmer, and let the mixture cook down to about half its original volume, stirring as needed.

Turn off the heat, stir in the vanilla extract, and let the vegan caramel cool. Then refrigerate.

vegan caramel

The homemade coconut caramel sauce will continue to thicken overnight.

Use it as you’d use caramel sauce.

It tastes absolutely amazing over homemade Coconut Ice Cream.

coconut milk caramel

Or try it on top of this Frappuccino Recipe!

Stored in the refrigerator, the jar of vegan caramel sauce will last for at least a week.

I don’t know if it lasts longer or if it can be frozen, because I’ve never been able to keep a batch around long enough to find out!

How To Make Homemade Caramel From A Can Of Coconut Milk (Easy Recipe)
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Coconut Caramel Sauce

How to make easy vegan coconut caramel sauce from a can of coconut milk!
5/5 (17)
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yield 2 /3 cup


  • 13.5 oz coconut milk (Coconut-free recipe here)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, honey, or agave
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar OR simply increase the above liquid sweetener to 2/3 cup
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • optional 1 tbsp butter-type spread or coconut oil, for richer flavor


  • *Use the brown sugar (or coconut sugar) if you want more of a caramel flavor; however using all liquid sweetener still yields delicious results. Make sure to buy full-fat canned coconut milk, not lite or coconutmilk beverage.
    Combine all ingredients except the vanilla extract in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Let it boil for around 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously, then lower to a simmer. Let it simmer—stirring as needed—until it cooks down to about half its volume and thickens. This usually takes around 50-60 minutes, depending on your climate, stove, and the fat content in your particular can of coconut milk. Turn off the heat, stir in the vanilla, and let it sit for about an hour. Cover and refrigerate overnight – it continues to thicken as it sits.
    Instant Pot Version: Combine all ingredients except vanilla in the instant pot, and use the sauté setting. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and let cook down until thick, about 20 minutes. Turn off, and stir in the vanilla. Thanks to reader Jaclyn for creating this version and commenting to let us know it can be made in an instant pot!
    View Nutrition Facts


Also be sure to try this recipe for Coconut Whipped Cream.

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Published on March 2, 2017

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    • Rachel Sandler says

      Quoted from the text:

      13.5 oz coconut milk (Coconut-free recipe here)
      1/3 cup pure maple syrup, honey, or agave (vegans use the maple or agave)
      1/4 cup brown sugar OR simply increase the above liquid sweetener to 2/3 cup
      1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
      1/4 tsp salt
      optional 1 tbsp butter-type spread or coconut oil, for richer flavor

    • Julie Dove says

      I did a quick google search, and it seems like many people say the two are interchangeable (taste-wise). Traditionally, they (caramel and dulce de leche) are made with different ingredients, but of course this recipe is made with different ingredients from both of them. Especially considering dulce de leche is made with sweetened milk, I’d think this recipe would be pretty similar!

    • Deb says

      Under instructions it says… “Make sure to buy full-fat canned coconut milk, not lite or coconutmilk beverage.”

  1. jordan @ dancing for donuts says

    whaaaaaat i had no idea you could do this!!!! what a delicious and (fairly) healthy sauce to keep on hand. it’s always pumpkin season to me, so i think i’ll take your suggestion and use it to top pumpkin pancakes 🙂 thanks for sharing!!

  2. Beth says

    there are two different recipes here…..and quite different from one another. I’m confused. What is the difference between the two and why do you have two recipes for the same caramel sauce? Or are they for different things?

    • Julie Dove says

      Hi, can you explain what you mean by two recipes? I only see one recipe on this post.

      Julie (media director)

      • Jessica T says

        The list of ingredients at the beginning of the blog post is slightly different than the one at the bottom of the blog. The first list has 4 ingredients, the bottom one has 6 (one is optional). I’m assuming that’s what she was talking about. 🙂

        • Julie Dove says

          Four ingredients are not optional – the two variations are optional. Hope that helps clarify! 🙂

          • Brigitte says

            This look super good I will be making it tomorrow . I was reading the posts to find out the comments on the taste or if someone already made it ..anyway as I am reading this so many questions about this simple recipe ! Your recipe is very explanatory , i think people are not reading the directions ……..Thanks I will write a comment when I am done making it .

  3. MaryJane says

    This looks great! Although, if more into a low calorie caramel, follow my recipe: 1 can light coconut milk and 1/2 cups coconut sugar (if you like sweet caramel, use 2/3 cup coconut sugar instead). Mix and bring to a boil, always mixing for about 15-20 minutes for a sauce and 25-30 for a hardening caramel. Turn off heat and add salt and vanilla to taste. It’s about 35 calorie per tablespoon.

    • Veronica says

      This caramel looks delicious! Always great with a low calorie version too, so thanks to both Katie and Mary Jane for sharing yummy recipes! 🙂

  4. Whitney says

    I just made this. Oh my gosh, it is PERFECT! I did change it up a bit, though. I can’t have the maple syrup or coconut sugar (they all have a bad effect on my system), so instead, I used 1/4 cup of granulated xylitol, and 1/2 tsp of blackstrap molasses. Everything else, I followed to a tee, and it is SO hard to stop eating (and it hasn’t even cooled, yet)! Makes me wonder why I spend any time scouring Pinterest for a perfect, healthy, sugar-free caramel recipe, when Katie’s just going to make it better?

    • Constantina says

      Just made it with a can of coconut cream, and it thickened in about 35 minutes of shimmering… The smell and taste and texture are great, thanks so much Katie!!!!

      • Rachel R says

        Good to know it can be made with coconut cream! Exactly what I was searching the comments for ? Can’t wait to try it!

  5. Maria says

    This makes the best sauce for ice cream/nice cream!!!! And ooooh, some of your gooey brownies is a sunday with this sauce?!?!? That sounds amazing right now!

  6. Melissa says

    Wow, I had absolutely no idea this was even possible, but I will definitely be trying it! I’m a big fan of caramel sauce, but never really knew how to make it both tasty and healthy, but this sounds like the ideal option!

  7. Sara says

    Is this the consistency of sweetened condensed milk? I’ve found evaporated coconut milk, but not a sweetened condensed version, and there are some recipes that I have that I would love to adapt to dairy free.

    Any attempts I’ve made to make my own sweetened condensed coconut milk has failed.

    (so if this isn’t the same consistency and sweetness, I’d love for you to try and come up with one that works!)

  8. Tiffany says

    Would this work with a sweetener like stevia instead of the honey, maple syrup or agave? I’m on a low carb diet and don’t want to use any of those syrups or sugars.

  9. salma says

    can you please tell me if it has the taste of coconut, ’cause I don’t like it much, yet, this recipe looks really tasty

      • Betty says

        Julie I am guessing you are the administrator of this site? I have made two comments asking questions on two different recipes but when I go back to see if there are any answers my post if gone. I entered my email , can you help?

        • Jason Sanford says

          Hi, I’m actually taking over for Julie here. Be sure to look on the correct page (often comments will be separated into multiple pages). The other thing that could be happening is your computer could be caching the page, meaning your comment wouldn’t show up for a few days. But I can see them, so rest assured they are showing up!

          • Betty says

            Thank Jason…..Good to know……so now my questions with this recipe….I did make it…..but after it simmering for only 35 mins……. the whole thing turned black…..the recipe said to simmer for 40 to 50 but after that amount of time I assumed it burnt????? Can anyway offer any tips please and thank you!!

          • Jason Sanford says

            Your “simmer” setting might be hotter than other ovens or the can of coconut milk might have had less fat. It’s a good idea to not step away from the stove and keep an eye on that pot! 🙂

  10. Samantha from YLA says

    Finally! I now have a healthy alternative for maple syrup on my gluten free pancakes. I am trying to find good alternatives for pancake drizzle and I often get frustrated with options having excess sugar, and additives on it. But it really surprising (and clever one) to find coconut milk as an ingredient for a caramel.
    I will definitely make one tonight and I’ll use honey as my sweetener of choice. By the way Katie, do you know what’s the shelf life or expiration date of this recipe? I just want to know for me to make one that is good enough before it expires. Thanks!

  11. Marie-Eve says

    Made this recipe last weekend. I don’t know what happened, but when stored in the fridge the caramel separated into three phases. The oil came at the surface and formed a thick layer like coconut oil… I decided to melt it in the microwave and stir it but I had the same problem. Did you experienced something like this? Does the brand of the coconut milk used could have an influence? Thank you 🙂

    • Rita says

      I have had this happen to me with regular caramel sauce when I overheated it. I fixed it by gently reheating it and whisking in a little extra cream till it reemulsified. You could try doing this with a bit of extra coconut milk, or just gently reheating and whisking vigorously.

  12. Rita says

    Does this have a coconut flavour? I make caramel sauce quite often but quite like the idea of a coconuty caramel sauce.

  13. Betty says

    Hi, I am not much of a cook but thought this sounded so simple…..sadly not for me…..I was doing great with it and it smelled so wonderful. I boiled it for 4 min. Then turned down the flame and set the timer for 40 mins. I stirred it several times. There was about 11 min. left and it still looked great. I came back just a few minutes later and it was all black and syrupy….That was only about 35 mins. of simmering……did I have the flame to high maybe????

    • Jason Sanford says

      Hmm maybe… I didn’t have that problem, but it’s definitely a better idea to not go away from it at all during the final minutes.

  14. Whitney says

    This stuff is incredible. I’ve been making it since this recipe was first published (I alter it a bit, though, to cut the sugar), but I just now used it to make healthy Brigadeiro! Took this recipe (instead of sweetened condensed milk), added 1 Tbsp of the fat from a can of coconut milk (instead of butter), and 1/4 cup of cocoa powder (mixed with a little water to make a paste), cooked it down nice and thick, and now waiting for it to chill so I can form it into balls. Ten times healthier, magically delicious, and highly recommended! Thank you, Katie!!!

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