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Coconut Caramel Sauce

I’m obsessed with coconut milk lately.  It’s just so weird, and cool, and delicious, and coconutty-yet-milky (as the name might imply).

Still not a fan of coconut water, but baking with coconut milk has totally been my thing the last few weeks.  See this Coconut Creme Brûlée of last week, if you need proof.  It’s just such a nice substitution for heavy cream.  Here’s why:

  1. Fewer calories than heavy cream (I use light coconut milk);
  2. Yummy coconut flavor that is surprisingly delicate when cooked/baked; and
  3. I always have it on hand–much more likely to have a can (easily stored) of coconut milk in the pantry than a pint of heavy cream (easily spoiled) in the fridge.

I mean, if that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.  Not that I’m going to pour coconut milk into my fettucine alfredo (let’s get real), but this coconut caramel sauce is truly delicious and a perfect fun variation on your normal caramel sauce.

Plus, I’ll show you a recipe tomorrow for some caramelly, fudgy brownies…and you may want to marry me.

(However, I am taken.  Available for friendships, though).

Coconut Caramel Sauce

  • 1 can light coconut milk (14 oz)
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 1 T light corn syrup
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T butter (optional, for those vegans out there…I love you, too)
  • 1 t vanilla extract

This is a very easy recipe.  Combine the coconut milk, salt, corn syrup, and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and let it cook until thickened (really thickened, bubbly, and pulling away from the edges of the pan), about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and cool for a minute, then add the butter (if using) and vanilla, and stir to mix.  I just added the butter to get a little bit of that buttery richness, but it was already delicious without it, so really, I leave it up to you.

This makes about a pint of caramel sauce, which I am storing in the fridge.

The coconut taste is a little more pronounced than it was in the creme brûlée, but still silky and delicious.

The texture of this sauce is not quite the same as a heavy-cream based recipe; it’s slightly more toffee-like, almost.  Hard to describe.  Still totally delicious cooked into brownies, or (I can imagine) drizzled over ice cream or on top of apple slices.

I plan on trying the apple slices tomorrow, and I’ll let you know.

As soon as I finished photographing the sauce, I walked to the fridge to put it away, turned back, and found Henry in position for a photo shoot.

I love taking pictures of this cat.  He’s so photogenic!

And handsome…and slightly evil.

Plus, I really think he likes having his picture taken.  He strikes poses and holds them just long enough to hear the camera click before moving on to the next one.  He’s a born superstar (when he’s not trying to bite my hand off).


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  1. Anna W.

    This recipe looks dynamite!

    Henry is so dang photogenic! He really is a gorgeous kitty (I’ll bet he already knows that ;))

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      He DEFINITELY knows it.

  2. megan @ whatmegansmaking

    oh my… this sounds amazing. The pictures totally sold me!

  3. Sandi

    This sounds absolutely wonderful. And I have all the necessary ingredients. Caramel is my chocolate and I love coconut. The trick will be not to eat it right out of the jar.

    As an aside, I found out that heavy cream actually keeps a very, very long time in the fridge…like a couple months if you put it on the bottom shelf in the back where the frequently opened door caused temperature changes will affect it as little as possible. I first became curious when I picked up a container of heavy whipping cream for Christmas goodies at Costco a few years ago. It had a use by date almost 6 weeks from the day I bought it which I thought odd enough to Google, thinking it was an error. Apparently, the higher fat content in your dairy product, the longer it lasts, which I guess is why my butter never goes bad but fat free milk sometimes does very quickly. I always make sure to pick it up at a place with a high volume of sales and it often stays quite sweet and usable for 2 weeks or more past the use by date (I ALWAYS taste it before using, just to be safe). Is this a good thing? Lol, probably not. Especially since the DH developed a taste for Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken or shrimp and tons of fresh spinach (Mr I Hate Spinach for the first 17-18 years we were married). But I stretch it a bit with fat free milk and a bit of corn starch so it’s not too bad. And a quick dinner on a tired night. Frozen shrimp will defrost in cold water faster than you can bring water to boil for the pasta. A few chicken tenders are almost as quick. Fresh fruit for dessert and I feel virtuous for not getting take out, lol.

  4. ally

    i adore your idea here. i’m going to make some asap! thank you for sharing!

  5. Heidi @ Food Doodles

    Wow, this looks great. I’m with you, I always have coconut milk in my cupboards but I only buy cream when I specifically need it for something. I just realized that this recipe could be really dangerous because of that, haha.

  6. Jenny @ BAKE

    this sounds delicious! and caramel and apple slices sounds soo addictive!

  7. Renee

    Yum, yum, yum!! I just made this to go with some vanilla ice cream. It is so delicious… And I always buy extra coconut milk–which might be a problem, come to think of it.

  8. DJ

    I love your blog! I’m so glad I discovered it. This sauce looks amazing!!!!

  9. Brooke

    My husband and I just started eating vegan and I thought I would go crazy not having my flavored coffee creamers in the morning. This is 100 times better! Thank you for making my morning coffee decadent :)

  10. Jenny K.

    This looks fantastic! I did have one question. I have a ton of coconut in my freezer, and I love to make homemade coconut milk. Any idea if I can use homemade coconut milk instead of canned? It would save me a bit of money and use up some of the coconut I have.

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      Sorry it took me a while to get back to you. I definitely think you should try, it might need to cook down a bit longer since I imagine it has a higher water content?

      1. Jenny K.

        I made the caramel the first time with a can of coconut milk so I could see what it’s supposed to be like. It was incredible! I put it on this cake (http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/caramel-apple-cake/print) without using the recommended caramel icing because my son is allergic to dairy. I’m making the cake again today for my son’s 2nd birthday and I’m going to try the homemade coconut milk. I’ll let you know how it goes!

        1. Lauren Zietsman

          Glad to hear it worked out! I’m glad you found something that works for your son so he can enjoy his birthday cake :)

  11. alsiasoiset

    The pictures are glorious. Looks so yummy. And your kitty’s pretty darn awesome.

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