Is caramel vegan? – 2023

If someone says they dislike caramel, they’re probably lying. The golden brown delicious sauce is perfect with any type of dessert. Drizzle it over a slice of cake, cover your pancakes with it or dip slices of apple in it. The possibilities are endless. 

Anyone who has ever made caramel knows that the sauce is traditionally made from a few simple ingredients. Are those components vegan-friendly, or will we have to leave the sauce out of our diet? Let’s find out!

Is caramel vegan?

Caramel is sugar that has been heated until caramelization happens, creating a sticky and sweet liquid. However, caramel usually comes in a saucy consistency and form. Other ingredients are used together with the sugar to get that perfect consistency. Traditionally caramel sauce consists of sugar, heavy cream, and butter. When you’re purchasing the sauce from a store, you will most likely see a long list of food additives on the label, too.

As you can see from the ingredients, it’s the opposite of vegan friendly. Cream and butter are dairy products. Some strict vegans even avoid sugar as bone char is sometimes used during the sugar refining process. But this does not mean that you can never have caramel again! It is pretty simple to make it in your kitchen.

Homemade vegan caramel sauce

Have you recently switched to a plant-based diet and miss pouring caramel on your Sunday morning’s pancakes, or you’re just craving the sugary sauce? There is a way to fix that craving. While finding vegan-friendly caramel sauce at the store is difficult, it’s not difficult to make it yourself! All you need is the following.

homemade vegan caramel sauce
  • Condensed Coconut Milk
  • Vegan Butter/Margarine
  • Brown Sugar

Throw all the ingredients in a saucepan and let them melt together over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer while continually whisking. You will want to remove it from the heat once you see the sauce turning a dark caramel shade – it won’t take long for it to burn. And that is it – you now have vegan caramel sauce! I like to add a bit of sea salt to give it that salt caramel taste.

Is caramel coloring vegan?

Caramel is the opposite of vegan-friendly as the caramelized sugar is traditionally mixed with heavy cream and butter to form a thick and flavorful sauce. Thanks to this, vegans often feel disappointed whenever they see caramel coloring listed as an ingredient somewhere.

While it is easy to assume that caramel coloring comes from caramel, this is not the case – don’t mix the two up. The food coloring is made by heating sugar compounds, sometimes with acids or alkalis. Caramel color is generally free from animal products and, therefore, suitable for vegan folks.

Is Starbucks caramel vegan?

vegan starbucks caramel syrup

Who doesn’t love a hint of caramel in their hot beverage? Many vegans avoid caramel-flavored drinks as they tend to be non-vegan. However, Starbuck has a way around it.

You will want to avoid the famous caramel drizzle/sauce as it contains nonfat dry milk, heavy cream, and butter – obviously not vegan. But Starbucks syrup is 100% fine for vegan folks! 

Did you know Starbucks has many vegan drinks and even more beverages that can be made vegan with some slight modifications? Whether you want a cold brew, a hot chocolate, or a caramel macchiato, the coffee chain has you covered. Swap the dairy milk with a plant-based alternative, request caramel syrup instead of the caramel sauce, and enjoy. If you’d like to grab a bite on the side, you can read more about their vegan food options here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most caramel popcorns are not vegan as they contain dairy. However, some vegan-friendly options are on the market – such as Angie’s salted caramel popcorn.

Yes, most syrups used at Starbucks are vegan, and so is the caramel-flavored one.

Caramel Brulee latte is a well-known Starbucks drink but is unfortunately not fit for vegans. One of the main ingredients in this drink is caramel brulee sauce which is not vegan.

Caramel sauces generally contain dairy products such as heavy cream and butter. This makes most caramel sauces non-vegan.

Most caramel dips contain dairy, making them non-vegan. However, it is simple to make a plant-based version yourself!

Cruelty Free Reviews

Cruelty Free Reviews

CrueltyFreeReviews serves as a digital guide and a handy manual for new vegans and experienced plant-based veterans alike. Founded back in 2018 by a group of plant-based enthusiasts, we are dedicated to a vegan lifestyle and animal rights. With our team having more than 10 years of plant-based guidance experience by now, we want to give back to the vegan community and support anyone on this journey.