Have you tried date caramel yet? This easy-to-make caramel is gluten-free, vegan, and dairy-free, making it an excellent fit for everyone! Keep reading to learn all about this Simple Date Caramel Recipe.
This healthy caramel sauce is perfect for all your dipping needs! It's an excellent afternoon pick-me-up and also makes a great spread for desserts. You'll love how easy it is to make date caramel. If you've never tried dates, let this delicious recipe introduce you to the natural sweetness this versatile ingredient offers.
Dates are a type of stone fruit, which means they have a single seed (called the pit) surrounded by fleshy fruit. Apricots and peaches are other examples of stone fruit. Dates are excellent to use in sweet recipes like this caramel sauce because they are a great natural sweetener and are naturally sticky. They're also perfect for making granola bars and my Chocolate Coconut Energy Bites.
Why this recipe works
No refined sugar-This recipe is an excellent option for a healthy caramel dip. Traditional caramel sauce uses sugar as a base and a lot of it. Rather than a lot of brown sugar, butter, and heavy cream, this caramel sauce uses no refined sugars.
Dairy-free- Our friends with food allergies, specifically dairy allergies, can enjoy this date caramel with no problem. My recipe uses coconut milk instead! This also makes the dip a good option for those who follow a vegan diet since there's no cream or butter.
Easy to make- You throw everything into a food processor or blender, and it does all the work for you. This vegan caramel sauce comes together in under 5 minutes!
Versatile-You can use this recipe as a dip for so many things! I featured it on a board with different fruits, cheeses, nuts, and pretzels. I used peanut butter in this dip, but feel free to swap in your favorite nut butter, such as almond butter or cashew butter.
This date caramel sauce is made of only five ingredients! Most of them you might already have in the pantry.
Dates- You will want dates that are still moist. If they are dry, soak them first for at least 30 minutes. They will blend much better once they're rehydrated. I know Medjool dates are really popular to use, but they can also be pretty expensive. I bought the pitted dates from Walmart, and they work great.
Full Fat Coconut Milk- Do not skimp here. The full-fat coconut milk blends up much better and gives the caramel a rich depth of flavor. Do not go with light coconut milk! Any dairy-free milk will work, but I strongly suggest full-fat coconut milk.
Vanilla Extract- It only takes a little, but you will notice it if you don't use it. Make sure and use pure vanilla extract if you can rather than imitation. It will have a better flavor.
Salt- It only takes a small amount, but a sprinkle of salt is an excellent addition to sweet recipes. I like to use kosher salt, but any will do. It will bring out the flavors and balance the natural sweetness of the dates.
Peanut Butter- We love peanut butter in our house, but if you prefer another nut butter, go for it! You can also leave this out to make a nut-free date caramel sauce, but the peanut butter adds good flavor and creaminess.
How to Make Vegan Date Caramel Sauce
Cut the dates into chunks
This isn't necessary, but it makes them easier to blend. Also, if your dates are a little harder, you may want to microwave for 30 seconds or soak them in water for 30 minutes.
Blend the dates
It is important to have a food processor for this or blender. It makes this step so much easier. I have used and loved this Cuisinart Food Processor for a really long time! Blend the dates until they're mostly broken down.
Add the remaining ingredients
Add the vanilla extract, salt, and coconut milk to your blended dates. Pulse and add more coconut milk as needed. How much you add will depend on your desired consistency.
It might take a while to get it smooth and creamy, so be patient. Mine took about 2 minutes. Now, you will add the peanut butter. It is optional, but it is so good! Continue to mix until everything is well blended and smooth.
Use Moist Dates-Moist dates are REALLY important. If yours have dried out a little, soak them in water for about 30 minutes or microwave them for about 30 seconds. Either method will help to soften them up. Also, it will make them so much easier to blend!
Customize it-There are a lot of nut butter that tastes amazing in this date caramel. Almond butter is a really good one that I keep in the pantry. Cashew is also delicious. You can add whatever type you like here; feel free to get creative!
Don't skip the salt-Although the amounts of vanilla and salt are really small; they make this dip so delicious. It's those small elements that take this caramel sauce to the next level.
Ways To Use The Vegan Caramel Sauce
There are so many ways to use this date caramel; I think you will be surprised. I promise you will find many ways to use this date caramel once you make it! You will be addicted just like I am!
- It's an excellent sweet fruit dipping sauce! But, if you want a healthier dip for those apples, this date caramel is it. You can slice up your apples, drizzle this sauce over them, and top them with chopped nuts, coconut flakes, and a few chocolate chips for a decadent dessert!
- Use it on a Simple Fall Charcuterie Board as I did. Cheddar isn't my favorite cheese, but enjoying it with this date caramel sauce and apples or crackers makes a huge difference.
- Topping toast or oatmeal in the morning is another great way to use this caramel sauce.
- How about a flavor add-in on top of Homemade Instapot Yogurt or ice cream? Yep, it is good on all those as well!
The Finished Caramel Peanut Butter Dip
Below is the finished dip. Doesn't it look just like a regular, full-dairy caramel? I think so too. Only this one is a million times easier, and so much healthier!
FAQ Date Caramel
In the fridge, in an airtight container, it will hold for up to 4 days.
Honestly, it is a lot like regular caramel. Dates have a natural caramel flavor, making them perfect for a healthy swap like this. Make sure it is blended well and will be just as thick and creamy as traditional caramel!
It tastes like a milder version of caramel. Yes, you can taste the dates, but the flavor is not overpowering, especially when adding peanut butter or another nut butter. Feel free to add a drizzle of pure maple syrup or a sprinkle of your favorite spices, such as ground cinnamon.
You can use alternative milk options, but they will taste less creamy.
Other Clean Eating Recipes
- Pork Tenderloin Buddha Bowl
- Quick and Healthy Breakfast Hash
- Mediterranean Hummus
- Salmon Grain Bowl
- Broccoli and Cheese Bites
- Beet and Popped Quinoa Salad
Date caramel and peanut butter dip
- 1 cup dates, chopped
- ¼-1/2 cup coconut milk or almond milk Start with ¼ cup and add more as needed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
- Microwave your dates for about 30 seconds to soften and heat.
- Add them, ¼ cup coconut milk, vanilla, and salt to a food processor or blender. Blend really well. This might take a little bit of time, so don't stress. If you need to, add more coconut milk to get the consistency you want. I wound up using about ⅓ cup.
- Next, add in your peanut butter and blend smoothly again.
- That is it!! It is done. It is seriously so simple and so good!! I think you will love this!
- It is so good served with apples, pretzels, nuts, or even chocolate wedges.
- If you don't eat the day you make it, this caramel will hold well for up to 4 days in the fridge in an airtight container. You will want to throw it in the microwave for about 30 seconds to 1 minute to heat the caramel if it is chilled.