Vegan Caramel (Dulce De Leche)

5 from 193 votes

This 1 ingredient vegan caramel is thick, sweet, and ridiculously easy to make- Just 30 seconds to prepare! All you need is condensed coconut milk, and it has no dairy or refined sugar! Gluten free.

vegan caramel

Perfect drizzled over ice cream, stuffed into brownies, and used in homemade Twix bars, you won’t believe how easy this vegan caramel sauce is to make! 

Seriously, I DARE you to find an easier caramel sauce recipe out there. It’s seriously like magic! 

Many vegan caramel recipes call for nut butter, syrups, and oil, but not this one. 

It was inspired by the classic condensed milk caramel trick, involving simmering a can of condensed milk for several hours. Once the lid is removed, you are left with delicious and thick caramel. Unfortunately, using condensed milk has dairy, so isn’t vegan friendly. 

Instead, I used my vegan substitute for condensed milk- Coconut Condensed milk!

I was curious to see if this method could work for a dairy free version, and was pleasantly surprised- A gooey caramel made with no dairy or refined sugar. In fact, it’s healthier than traditional caramel!

Caramel or Dulce De Leche?

Now there are some debates as to whether this is caramel or Dulce De Leche. 

Dulce De Leche is the heating up of sweetened milk slowly until it becomes thick and dark. Caramel, on the other hand, is made by heating up a variety of sugar. 

Honestly, I use them interchangeably, and if a recipe calls for caramel or Dulce De Leche, I’ll use this very recipe.

vegan dulce de leche

How to make vegan caramel

Making this caramel can be made in three ways- Stovetop, slow cooker, and in the microwave. Regardless of which method you choose, the longer you ‘cook’ it, the darker and thicker the caramel will be. 


This is my preferred method of making the condensed milk caramel. 

Place the cans in a small saucepan and cover with water, about 1-2 inches above the cans. On medium heat, heat up the saucepan until it just begins to simmer. Reduce to low and cover, letting the condensed milk simmer for around 2 hours. 

Slow Cooker

Making caramel in the slow cooker is the easiest method, but also the most time-consuming.

Place the cans of condensed coconut milk in the slow cooker and fill with warm water, until it is about 1-2 inches above the cans. Set on slow for 8 hours. Using metal tongs, remove the cans from the slow cooker and let cool for 5 minutes, before placing the cans in a bowl of cold water, to cool down. Open the cans and transfer to a sealable container or jar. 


You can microwave the condensed milk to produce a gooey caramel or dulce de leche. However, I do not recommend this method if you are after a really sticky and dark caramel.

To microwave, you will need to pour the condensed milk into a deep bowl and cover it completely. On 40-50% power, microwave the mixture for 5 minutes, before removing and whisking it together. Next, you’ll need to reduce the power further, to prevent overspilling. Microwave in 2-3 minute increments, until the desired texture is achieved. 

coconut condensed milk

Can I make this without heating up the cans? 

If you’d prefer not to slow cook or simmer the coconut condensed milk in their cans, you can transfer the milk to a sealable jar, and heat it up in jars instead. Simply follow the same process as using the cans. Just be sure your jars are sealed very tightly! 

Can I use any brand of coconut condensed milk? 

There are several brands of coconut condensed milk in the market right now. I’ve tried two different brands and there was quite a stark difference. If your condensed milk is thick, you will have a thick and smooth caramel. If your condensed milk is thin and weak, you’ll find the caramel very difficult to thicken up nicely. 

As pictured, I used Nature’s Charm brand

Tips to make the best vegan caramel

  • Whether you use the slow cooker or stovetop method, you must submerge the cans in them both. If they are not covered in water, there is the potential for the cans to explode- something we do NOT want.
  • Do NOT open the cans while they are still hot/warm- Submerge them in water to cool down. 
  • For a darker, thicker caramel, continue cooking/simmering the cans for an extra 1-2 hours (as pictured). 
  • For a vegan salted caramel sauce, add 1/2-1 teaspoon of salt. 

Storing and Freezing Tips

  • To store: Caramel would store best at room temperature, in a sealable container. You can refrigerate it, especially if you’d prefer a thicker caramel. It will keep well for up to 1 week, longer refrigerated. 
  • To freeze: If you’d like to freeze caramel, store in a jar and keep in the freezer for up to 6 months. 

coconut condensed milk caramel

Serving vegan caramel sauce

coconut condensed milk dulce de leche

1 Ingredient Vegan Caramel

Magic 1 ingredient vegan caramel made with coconut condensed milk! This gooey and thick caramel is similar to dulce de leche and takes 30 seconds to make. Naturally dairy free and gluten free.
5 from 193 votes
Print Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 133kcal
Author: Arman



Stovetop Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, add your can of coconut condensed milk and cover with warm water, about 1-2 inches above the can.
  • On medium heat, heat up the saucepan until it just begins to simmer. Once it begins to simmer, reduce to low and cover. Simmer for 2-3 hours. The longer you simmer, the darker the caramel.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat. Using tongs, remove the can from the water and submerge in a bowl of cold water. Let sit for 10 minutes, to cool down. Once cool, carefully open, and transfer to a bowl or jar.

Slow Cooker Instructions

  • Place the condensed milk in a slow cooker and cover with water, leaving 1-2 inches above the can.
  • Cook on slow for 8-10 hours, 10 hours if you'd like a thicker caramel.
  • Turn off the slow cooker and using tongs, remove the can and submerge in a bowl of cold water for at least 10 minutes, to cool down. Open the can of coconut condensed milk and transfer to a bowl or sealable container.

Microwave Instructions

  • Pour the coconut condensed milk in a large, microwave safe bowl. Cover completely.
  • On 50% power, heat up the condensed milk for 5 minutes, ensuring it doesn't spill over.
  • Remove from the microwave and whisk together. Cover again, and reduce the power to 20-30%. Microwave in 2-3 minute increments, watching carefully to ensure it doesn't spill over. Remove from the microwave once it has reached your desired consistency.


Be very careful when following the stovetop and slow cooker methods. The cans of coconut condensed milk must be covered with water, at least an inch above it.
Do not open the cans when hot. There is a risk of them bursting open, which is unsafe. 
The cans must be cooled before opening. 


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 133kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 66mg | Potassium: 3mg | Vitamin A: 121IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 181mg | Iron: 3mg | NET CARBS: 30g
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!


23 thoughts on “Vegan Caramel (Dulce De Leche)

  1. I cannot wait to try this!! Now I’ll have a caramel dip for apples this fall without the guilt! Thank you!! 🤗

  2. After you have submerged the cans in cold water to cool off after simmering the required time, why can’t you store the unopened cans at room temperature the same time as any other canned good? Why must you open it & store it in something else?

  3. 5 stars
    This sounds awesome! Can I do this in an Instant Pot? Is it safe to cook in cans due to the lining? How do you seal a glass jar?

  4. Sounds and looks insanely delicious. Just have a couple questions. I know you can use normal or coconut condensed milk, but would it work with homemade vegan condensed milk? Can’t eat dairy and not really a fan of coconut where it shouldn’t be (like vegan ice cream and condensed milk. It dectracts from the actual flavour imo) so I make my own condensed milk which has a little bit of coconut but is primarily cashew and agave based. Would it work with that? Also, this should work in place of caramel in millionaire’s shortbread right?

  5. I cannot wait to try this – my mum used to make this for us when we were kids. She used cows milk, so I will treat my family and mum (one day) with the vegan version! Thanks for this.

  6. This was great! Just did a can to use in vegan dulce de leche tamales. I have one of the small slow cookers (Lil Dipper) and the water sat exactly one inch above the top of the can! I was nervous for explostions…so only did low for about ~10 hours and it was a light caramel but next time I will go longer for darker. Thanks!

  7. 5 stars
    Love, love, love this! I wasn’t sure what to do with my condensed coconut milk can. This was perfect when my 9 yr old was asking for caramel sauce for his vegan ice cream. Super easy & uncomplicated. I did the stovetop version for 2 hrs.
    This is a must try for dairy-free caramel lovers! 😍

  8. Hi! I am a Vegan Chef. This recipe sounds good. One concern about transferring cream from can to sealed jar. If using glass jar, when removing from water mixture after several hours do not submerge jar into cold water immediately! jar will shatter!! I would wait til jar cools naturally. I believe it would be helpful to include this in your post.

  9. Do you think it’s possible to use this in a pie? I was going to spread it on a graham cracker crust. Would it harden or would it be soupy. The pie doesn’t require baking. Thank you

  10. I was so excited to try this. When I first tasted it, it tasted great but the more I took, the more I tasted coconut. It’s not that I don’t like coconut but I love caramel. So I put it aside. Next day I’m getting my usual apples and peanut butter snack. I saw the caramel sitting on the counter…hmmmmmm. I put a dollop of the caramel in my peanut butter and viola! Omg, so dang good.

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