Vegan Caramel


5 from 344 votes
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This vegan caramel is thick, sweet, and so easy to make. Also known as condensed milk caramel, it needs just one ingredient to make!

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! 

Table of Contents
  1. Condensed milk caramel
  2. How to make vegan caramel
  3. Can I make this without heating up the cans? 
  4. Tips to make the best recipe
  5. Serving suggestions
  6. Storage instructions
  7. Frequently asked questions
  8. Vegan Caramel (One Ingredient!) (Recipe Card)

Condensed milk caramel

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!

  • It’s thick and sweet just like traditional condensed milk.
  • You can either use the stovetop or microwave method for it.
  • The caramel is thick, rich, and creamy.
condensed milk caramel.

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. 

Stovetop method

This is my preferred method of making condensed milk caramel. 

Place the cans in a small saucepan and cover them 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 method

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 them 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 them cool for 5 minutes, before placing the cans in a bowl of cold water, to cool down. Open the cans and transfer them to a sealable container or jar. 

Microwave method

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! 

Tips to make the best recipe

  • 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 salted caramel, add 1/2-1 teaspoon of salt. 

Serving suggestions

Storage instructions

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. 

vegan caramel sauce.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use standard condensed milk?

Yes, this works with standard condensed milk, however, the recipe will no longer be vegan.

What brands of caramel are vegan?

Cocomels and Sweet William are two prominent brands that feature vegan caramels and caramel-flavored candy.

Can I use any brand of coconut condensed milk? 

There are several brands of coconut condensed milk on 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

vegan caramel recipe.

Vegan Caramel (One Ingredient!)

5 from 344 votes
This vegan caramel recipe is thick, rich, and perfectly sweet, and needs just one ingredient to make! Also known as condensed milk caramel, it is truly magic!
Servings: 8 servings
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 4 minutes
Total: 5 minutes



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: 1servingCalories: 133kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 5gFat: 1gSodium: 66mgPotassium: 3mgVitamin A: 121IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 181mgIron: 3mgNET CARBS: 30g
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I did it wrong lol – but was able to find a shorter stove top method!

    I opened and emptied can into pot and diluted with 1-2 cups of water. I brought to boil and simmered for 2 hours or so, stirring frequently.

    It’s delicious!!

  2. This is my third try to submit a comment.
    What other ingredients are in the condensed coconut milk? I avoid the dairy-based condensed milk because it contains a corn syrup derived sweetener. I’m very allergic to corn & corn-derived products.
    Thank you! I would like to try this idea, because I love “caramel”, but never can eat the “regular” kind!

  3. 5 stars
    Please tell me what I did wrong…..I purchased the exact product you listed…..tried the stovetop recipe, as well as the crockpot method…..NEITHER worked…..even after leaving the evaporated product simmering for hours and hours (over 15) there was no caramel to be seen. I put the first batch in a sealed jar after it hadn’t caramelized the first time and simmered it again on the stove top (covered completely with water each time), after many hours no caramel. So I threw that out and decided to try a new can in my crockpot….left in for 20 hours….no caramel. I paid over $6 per can and had to throw both out. HOW ON EARTH DID YOU GET THIS PRODUCT TO CARAMELIZE????

  4. Hi, would this be suitable for a banoffi pie or a caramel slice? How firm does it get once cooled? And does it have a bit of a chew? Sorry for all the questions…excited to try!

  5. 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.

  6. 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

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