Dairy-Free Caramel Sauce with Apples and Cinnamon - Danielle Walker

Who doesn’t love a thick, creamy caramel sauce? In my Celebrations cookbook, I made a recipe for caramel apples and have wanted to create a deconstructed version ever since. This Dairy-Free Caramel Sauce with Apples and Cinnamon does not disappoint! With ingredients I can tolerate (no butter or heavy cream here!), plus unrefined sugar, and the fiber benefits of apples, this is an indulgence I can feel great about. 

Homemade caramel sauce for caramel apples

Out of curiosity, I searched the origins of the caramel apple, and the first was made in the 1950s by a man named Dan Walker. (What are the odds?!) Who knew that seventy years later, here I am, Danielle Walker, creating a paleo version of this decadent treat! While my version doesn’t come on a stick, it can be served atop your favorite dairy-free ice cream, or drizzled onto my grain-free biscuits (just omit the cheese), or some gluten-free pancakes for breakfast. Caramel apples don’t just belong to Halloween, or to desserts, anymore! 

Above shot of ingredients for dairy free caramel apple sauce

How to thicken caramel sauce 

Traditional caramel sauce is made with white sugar, heavy whipping cream, and butter. Since I don’t tolerate any of these ingredients, I knew I needed to find substitutions. BUT, I still wanted to retain the classic, thick, creamy texture and rich flavor of a traditional caramel sauce. So to my test kitchen I went, and found that coconut cream and cashew butter are the perfect combination to achieve that luscious caramel texture!

You can purchase a little can of coconut cream to use. Or, if you have a can of full-fat coconut milk, pop it in the fridge overnight, and in the morning you’ll have a nice, solid layer of coconut cream on top.  

Best apples for caramel apples 

When it comes to apples, only certain varieties are available seasonally, but Granny Smith can be purchased all year round. The tartness of the Granny Smith apple cuts the sweetness of the caramel, mellowing out the richness of the sauce. I also just love  how firm and crunchy they are. Even as they cook down and get softer, Granny Smith’s still holds some of their firm texture so you get that delightful crunch with every bite.  

Close up shot of dairy free caramel sauce dripping from silver spoon into jar of more sauce

Dairy Free Caramel Sauce Recipe

This recipe makes one cup of Dairy-Free Caramel Sauce, but if you double or triple it, you can store your leftovers in the fridge for up to a week. I’ve been known to use it mid-day with my second cup of coffee when my sweet tooth hits, atop some CocoJune yogurt in the morning, or as a little dessert during the week for my kids. 

I hope you enjoy this sauce as much as we do. Here’s to finding ways back to our favorite flavors, one paleo recipe at a time! 


above shot of gluten free pancakes covered in dairy free caramel apple cinnamon sauce on a white plate


Shop the Recipe

Watch me make this Dairy Free Caramel Sauce on Instagram! 



More Dairy-Free Caramel Treats 

Caramel Glazed Doughnuts 

gluten and grain-free caramel glazed donuts on a cooling tray

Dark Chocolate Caramels 

close up shot of dark chcolate caramels with a bite taken out of one

Seven-Layer Bars

A plate of delicious seven layer bars that are gluten and egg free.



Dairy-Free Caramel Sauce with Apples and Cinnamon

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  • Author: Danielle
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 13 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x


  • 1 tart apple (e.g., Honeycrisp or Granny Smith)
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½  cup coconut sugar
  • ¼  cup coconut cream
  • 3 tablespoons raw, unsweetened cashew butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt


  1. Chop apple slices. You can peel, or not!
  2. Heat 2 tsp coconut oil in a skillet.
  3. Add 1/4 tsp cinnamon; sauté briefly.
  4. Keep sautéed apples in the pan.
  5. Add 1/2 cup coconut sugar and 1/4 cup coconut cream; let it simmer to caramelize.
  6. Whisk in 3 tbsp cashew butter.
  7. Stir in 2 tsp vanilla extract; continue simmering for 2-3 minutes until caramel-colored and thickened.
  8. Drizzle over desserts, yogurt, ice cream, biscuits, pancakes, waffles, and more!
  9. Store extra caramel in the fridge. Enjoy! 🍏🍯


Dairy-Free Caramel Sauce with Apples and Cinnamon

above shot of gluten free pancakes covered in a dairy free caramel apple sauce with apples on a white plate and extra sauce on the side


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