Is Caramel Vegan?

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Caramel is a delicious sweet treat added to chocolate, drizzled over desserts as a sauce, or enjoyed as a hard candy.

It is known for its delicious taste and stickiness that transports all of us back to childhood. But is caramel vegan? It can often be tricky to find out if your favorite caramel candy is vegan or not. 

The ingredient list seems to go on for an eternity, and with confusing names and tiny print, you can be left frustrated and squinting, wondering if you will ever find out if caramel is vegan or not. 

Well, no more! Today we have the answers for you. Keep reading to find out if caramel is vegan or not and everything you need to know about the varying forms of this delicious sweet treat! 

Is Caramel Vegan?

Sadly, in most cases, caramel is not vegan. Most caramel that you purchase in stores or restaurants will have non-vegan ingredients added to the caramel, making it unsuitable for vegans to enjoy! 

But, don’t panic! There are ways that vegans can enjoy caramel. You can make caramel at home easily, and as the market continues to grow, more and more vegan-friendly caramel are popping up across the country! 

When purchasing caramel, make sure you check the ingredients list carefully. We know this can be tedious and often challenging due to the small print used, but it is the safest way to check if the caramel is suitable for you to eat or not.

We have found it easier to search for the name of the candy we are purchasing online. That way, you can see the ingredients list clearly and check if it is vegan or not. It saves so much time! 

Why Are Most Caramel Not Vegan?

Why isn’t caramel vegan? Well, caramel is made with browned sugar that is heated until the sugar breaks down. This caramelization process removes water from the sugar molecules, leaving a sticky and sweet golden-colored liquid that we all know and love. 

For caramel to not be vegan, non-vegan ingredients will have been added to it. These typically include butter, cream, and milk, which help boost caramel fat and protein content. They also help to enhance the texture of caramel, giving it a more velvety and rich texture. 

Non-vegan caramel is often found in candies, puddings, sauces, and other baked goods. The next time you consider purchasing a caramel candy bar, check out the ingredients list. We bet you will find some non-vegan ingredients listed! 

Can I Find Vegan Caramel?

We have covered non-vegan caramel, but what about vegan caramel? Well, this comes in two forms. We have clear caramel and caramel color. Both of these caramels are made with water and caramelized sugar.

Clear Caramel 

Clear caramel is typically used in flan, crème caramel, and other desserts. Unlike dairy-based caramel, it doesn’t feature a cloudy dairy product and will remain a glossy brown liquid. Clear caramel will look like how you picture homemade caramel coming straight off the stove to be. 

Caramel Color 

Caramel color is darker and tastes more bittersweet than other caramels. It is a water-soluble food coloring that is used in a wide range of food and drinks. It’s most commonly known for its addition to colas, where it has been a staple ingredient for over 150 years. Caramel color is free from dairy and other non-vegan ingredients, making it safe for vegans to enjoy.

Store Bought Vegan Caramel 

You can purchase vegan caramel from stores too! Typically, vegan caramel is made using coconut milk to give it a similar taste to non-vegan caramel.

The sticky substance can be added to candies and chocolate to make caramel bars, or it is used as sauces with your favorite desserts.

Vegan caramel is often found in crème brulee, caramel apples, pralines, and ice creams. You can find it as hard caramel pieces (sometimes with sea salt added to create a salted caramel), or as the smooth and runny caramel sauce we all know and love! 

Homemade Vegan Caramel

It’s also super easy to make your own vegan caramel at home! You need to boil sugar, vanilla extract, plant-based milk, and butter slowly. Over time, the mixture will become a gooey consistency just like the caramel you purchase! 


Although most caramel found in stores isn’t vegan, there are more and more options out there for vegans to enjoy!

It might take some searching initially, but you can still enjoy a caramel candy or make your own caramel to add the perfect sauce to your cake or dairy-free ice cream!

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