This vegan caramel is sweet, caramel-y, thick, and creamy. It's perfect for drizzling, dipping, spreading, or enjoying by the spoonful! The recipe is vegan (dairy-free, egg-free), grain-free (gluten-free), soy-free, nut-free, and refined sugar-free.
The success of a date caramel depends on the variety of dates you use. There are about 400 different types of date cultivars - some are sweeter and stickier and better for desserts, while others are better for cooking with their smaller size and dryer texture.
While you can't go wrong buying whatever dates you can get your hands on, the date varieties listed below are best for vegan caramel:
- Medjool: also called the 'king of dates,' Medjool dates are the most commonly grown and, thus, the most widely available. Since Medjool dates are sold as fresh fruit, they have a high moisture content (~ 25%) and a soft, juicy texture. Their flavor is very sweet, rich, and almost caramel-like, which is why they are used in many desserts.
- Sukkari: also called the 'queen of dates,' Sukkari dates have all the characteristics of Medjool dates - sweet, caramel-like flavor and soft, juicy texture. Just like Medjool dates, they are also sold as fresh fruit. However, compared to Medjool dates, which are amber to reddish-brown, Sukkari dates are golden in color.
- Barhi: extremely sweet and soft, Barhi dates have a sweet flavor similar to caramel, brown sugar, butterscotch, or syrup. They are often compared to candy and are mostly reserved for straight snacking. These small golden dates can be difficult to find in stores because they're too delicate to be commercially shipped. But if you live in California, you will likely find them at a local farmer's market.
- Halawy: the sweet flavor of Halawy dates tends to have the same characteristics as caramel or honey. The texture is quite tender, and the dates melt in the mouth like a highly delectable candy. Compared to other dates, Halawy dates have smooth golden-brown skin that doesn't flake and isn't sticky.
- Mazafati: these dates are one of the best dates for snacking. They boast a sweet caramel taste, soft, juicy flesh, and a dark brown color.
Other dates that would be acceptable for vegan caramel are:
- Dayri: these dates do have a soft texture, so they blend quite well, but their sweet flavor is not overly rich or caramel-like.
- Khadrawi: these dates are gooey and very sweet but more straight-up sugary than caramelly.
Dates that are too dry to use for blending, and more specifically for making date caramel, include Deglet Noor, Khudri, Mabroom, Safawi, Piarom, Thoory, and Zahidi.
Tips for Making Vegan Caramel
This date caramel is not your classic caramel with butter and heavy cream, but it is indulgent nonetheless. The ingredients you'll need are:
- Medjool dates: when shopping for Medjool dates, look for soft, plump, and shiny dates without any sugar crystallization (a sign of aging and thus moisture loss). If your dates are too dry, you won't achieve that smooth, creamy caramel consistency. The dates should also look and feel distinct rather than squished into a lump.
- Coconut nectar: many raw caramel recipes call for a liquid sweetener to increase the viscosity of the caramel. Coconut nectar is one of the stickiest liquid sweeteners and works incredibly well here. Brown rice syrup is a good one too. Other liquid sweeteners, such as maple syrup, agave, yacon syrup, etc., are too thin to create a sticky caramel.
- Coconut milk: a little bit of liquid is essential to turn date paste into date caramel. Full-fat coconut milk is great because it not only thins out the caramel but also adds richness and creaminess. You can customize the thickness of the date caramel by adding more or less coconut milk. I promise the resulting caramel does not taste like coconut.
- Vanilla extract: a touch of vanilla deepens the flavor of the date caramel.
- Sea salt: salt balances and enhances the flavors. Without it, the caramel is too cloying, too sweet. If you like salted caramel, use a generous pinch of salt.
How to Make Vegan Caramel
To make this date caramel, you need a high-speed blender, although a good food processor should be ok too.
- Blend. Add all the ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend on high until completely smooth. That's it!
How to Serve Date Caramel
There are about a million ways to enjoy this date caramel, and they're all delicious.
You can drizzle the caramel over nice cream (bananas and caramel is a classic flavor combination), use it as a fruit dip (apples and caramel is yet another classic), bake it with pears, serve it with pancakes, swirl it into oatmeal, or add it to smoothies and shakes.
How to Store Date Caramel
- Refrigerating: transfer the date caramel to an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks. The caramel will thicken slightly in the refrigerator, so you'll need to reheat it or thin it with additional coconut milk to get it back to a thinner consistency.
- Freezing: transfer the date caramel to an airtight container and freeze it for up to 3 months.
More Vegan Caramel Recipes
- Salted caramel sauce: this salted caramel sauce is sweet, gooey, and so easy to make. There's no heating and melting to precise temperatures and no danger of sugar crystallization. The best part? You'll want to drizzle this caramel sauce on everything!
If you try any of these recipes, please, leave a comment and rate the recipe below. It always means a lot when you do.
- 1 cup Medjool dates
- ¾ cup full-fat coconut milk
- ½ cup coconut nectar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- pinch sea salt
- Blend. Add all the ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend on high until completely smooth.
- Store. Transfer the caramel to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. For longer-term storage, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Hey dear Petra,
Im first to comment here and what a wonderful discovery recipe!
Date Caramel! For me the Date lover it is THE RECIPE ro have!
I loke the way you talk about Dates variety and I almost tasted them all!
My favorite are Barhi and Sukari especially extra fresh soft ones they melt in mouth like Caramel!
As you said These 2 varieties are fragile especially Barhi which is so melty!
My daughter love these 2!
MEDJOOL Juicy is amazing too! The variety called "bonbon" in Israël..have to be store frozen! You know it?
So for your Caramel I will use Barhi or Sukari because I have very fresh ones easy to blend...
Im also sure I could make a Caramel only by mixing these Dates!
So for your recipe you use Coconut Milk but the Thick part or both liquid and solid well shaked on the can or mixed in a bowl with wisk?
We can also use Coconut Cream?
I drizzle it on top of my daughter Smoothie Bowl!
She loves! And Date Syrup from Sukari I have too! It can substitute Coconut Nectar for a 100% Sukari Caramel sweetened?
I dream about a Vitamix since years especially the legendary TNC5200 or PRO750
You have which one? An Ascent?
I only have Nutribullet now or a food processor old school...
What would be best for Caramel?
Hurry to read your thoughts about all that!
Hi Henri - I am happy you're excited about this recipe. I am sure you'll love it 🙂
1. For this recipe, I don't refrigerate the full-fat coconut milk as I don't want it to separate. You need some liquid to blend the dates into a smooth paste.
2. You could probably substitute the coconut nectar. I like the flavor of coconut nectar as it gives the caramel a bit of a dimension in terms of flavor (without it, the caramel just tastes like, well, dates).
3. Hmm, I am not sure how powerful your food processor is, so it's hard to say. You could start the recipe in the food processor and then, if it's not completely smooth, transfer it to the blender. I have several Vitamix blenders, as I am an affiliate for Vitamix. but highly recommend the Ascent (A3500).
Hey dear Petra
For sure Im really excited to make and try your Date Caramel!
Last year I made your Date Caramel Sauce with Cashew Butter, it was really tasty we enjoyed!
What is the difference between the 2 ans their different uses?
Which one could make a great Cheesecake or Brownie Topping?
I have the choice between different Barhi, Sukari, Medjool...
For Caramel the 2 first has already the perfect Taste as you know...
They bring "melty texture"
But Medjool has more "thick texture" and set up more compact..
If you agree?
So you choosed Medjool over the 2 why?
Even if I dont refrigerate and shake well I always have solid part of the can...
Do I have to whisk the whole can in a Bowl to mix and obtain the same consistency you have in the recipe?
I Totally agree with you for the Coconut Nectar flavor and perfect Consistency!
I just thought about Date Syrup (or even Date Molasses) because we are in a Date Caramel recipe
If the Coconut Nectar doesnt hide Dates taste...
#FOOD PROCESSOR and BLENDER
Great Idea to switch between the 2 but if I use my Juicy Dates, they will be mixed without any effort for sure!
Oh really you are affiliate to VITAMIX so lucky you are!
I dream about it since years!
Even the oldest TNC5200 would make me so happy! And the Pro 750 too..
Ascent is beautiful and has more "technology" but Im an old school guy haha!
You are in USA?
Their company is in Cleveland Ohio if Im right...and in Germany not too far of me in Paris!
They also release a food processor I think?
Please make a Date Caramel Cheesecake with Topping it would be amazing!
Thanks so much dear Petra
Your Dates friend
1. I adapted that first recipe. Without the cashew butter, the date caramel tastes more like caramel, for lack of better words. The flavor is more intense and caramel-y.
2. You can use any of the dates you mentioned. I can't easily access Barhi or Sukari dates, whereas Medjool dates are readily available in any grocery store here in Canada.
3. Since you'll be blending the caramel, it doesn't matter that the coconut milk is not completely smooth.
4. I just checked French Amazon, and there are many Vitamix blenders you can choose from. The food processor attachment is not available in France, but the blender is. Hope it helps 🙂
Great to read you again!
#DATE CARAMEL RECIPES
As you say even if the previous version was great this one looks like a real CARAMEL we all love!
Do you think we could use as a middle layer on a Cheesecake like the Lady fingers in Tiramisu? Different texture of course..
Or a Cheesecake Topping?
For Storage, you keep in the fridge but if it harden how to make it smooth again?
I would love to share Barhi and Sukari with you dear Petra!
These are my favorites...with MEDJOOL JUICY "bonbon" if you know this variety?
In France we dont find wonderful Dates quality in superstore except in Fruits and Vegetables sellers..
Canada looks awesome!
I just found a new product Full fat Coconut Milk in Pak already well mixed so perfect for Caramel and easy for my Nutribullet waiting for a Vitamix..
There are on Amazon but for this amount it can be safer to find an official reseller..not much in France only internet..
A German Website still have TNC5200 or PRO750 and accessories!
Did you try all the modelsxand which one you prefer? The most potent?
Ascent has advance technology but I like the unbreakable TNC5200 !
Do you use unrefined for all recipes?
Thanks again dear Petra
Did you see my previous comment?
How you reheat Caramel once fridge?
I made your Strawberry Cheesecake and Tiramisu!
Waiting for my daughter now!