Food

Ultimate Guide to Vegan Caramel

From candy and sauces to snacks and ice cream, the VegNews staff spent an entire week sampling all-things caramel. Here are our favorite gooey, caramely finds you shouldn’t live without.

Here at VegNews, we’re tasked with many responsibilities on any given day. We edit, we write, we design, and we eat. And eat. And when what we eat includes caramel—as it did for an entire week during our official VegNews Caramel Taste Test—life doesn’t get much better. Imagine day after day of caramel candies, cookies, ice cream, coconut chips, and everything in between … it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Thankfully, those somebodies are us. Without withholding another day of our caramel findings, here are our hands-down favorites.

THE CANDY

Salted Vanilla Caramels by Allison’s Gourmet
Artful melding of sweet and salty give these coconut-based caramels next-level sophistication
Caramel factor: Authentic butterscotch flavor with a chewy consistency
Best for: Confection aficionados who relish a classic caramel experience
Where to find: allisonsgourmet.com
 
Mexican Hot Chocolate Caramels by Cocomels
Warming, Mexican-inspired spices (think cinnamon and cayenne) and chocolate unite in one toothsome, brown-rice-syrup sweetened treat
Caramel factor: A traditional caramel chew with earthy undertones
Best for: Stuffing the office candy jar during the holiday season
Where to find: jjssweets.com
 
Vegan Habanero Pink Salt Caramels by Amella
A buttery, chile-infused caramel sweetened with agave nectar, drenched in dark chocolate, and sprinkled with pink Himalayan sea salt
Caramel factor: The habanero provides a strong kick, but not enough to set off fire alarms
Best for: Adventurous foodies intrigued by the idea of a little heat in their sweets
Where to find: amellacaramels.com

THE BARS

Berkeley Bar by Coracao Confections
Nougat-like whipped cashew butter caramel gets a flavor boost from organic vanilla before it’s enrobed in a thick layer of dark chocolate
Caramel factor: Dreamy center gives a Snickers-bar style bite with a healthy, unprocessed twist
Best for: Anyone craving a healthier alternative to standard vending machine snacks
Where to find: coracaoconfections.com
 
Dream Big Bar by Eli’s Earth
Layers of caramel, peanuts, and peanut butter dipped in a smooth and creamy rice-milk chocolate
Caramel factor: A tempting combination of crunchy, chewy, and sweet without being cloying
Best for: Peanut lovers on the prowl for a nutty sugar fix
Where to find: sjaaks.com

Salted Coconut Caramel & Crushed Cashew Raw Chocolate Bark by Rawmio
A raw chocolate bar that’s even tastier than its traditional counterparts
Caramel factor: Caramel-coated cashews mixed with vanilla beans and ground dark chocolate
Best for: Healthy eaters who want a chocolate fix with the health benefits of raw chocolate
Where to find: rawmio.com

THE SAUCES

Totally Vegan Caramel Sauce by Hot Cakes
Small-batch sauce made from coconut and hemp milk with a signature buttery taste
Caramel factor: Flawlessly traditional with a dreamy texture and classic golden-brown color
Best for: Recreating the old-fashioned ice cream sundae experience at home
Where to find: getyourhotcakes.com
 
Sea Salt Caramel Spread by Love Bean
Built on a coconut base and magically transformed into a rich, butterscotch-style spread
Caramel factor: Simple sea salt perfection derived from clean ingredients
Best for: The health-conscious caramel lover who desires wholesome indulgence
Where to find: lovebeanfudge.com
 
Caramel Sauce by Date Lady
A versatile sauce that can be drizzled on anything or enjoyed straight from the jar
Caramel factor: A robust and fruity flavor stemming from a mix of dates, caramel flavoring, and sea salt
Best for: Topping raw banana ice cream or swirled into a latte
Where to find: ilovedatelady.com

THE ICE CREAM

Salted Caramel Cluster Cashew Milk Ice Cream by So Delicious
Sweet and salty, this rich frozen dessert bowled us over with chocolate-covered cashews and ribbons of gooey caramel
Caramel factor: Laced throughout the pint, the sweet-and-salty caramel is nice and thick
Best for: Satiating a Friday night ice cream craving
Where to find: sodeliciousdairyfree.com

THE SNACKS

Caramel Sea Salt Macaroons by Hail Merry
These mostly raw, caramel-infused coconut cookies are deliciously addictive
Caramel factor: Caramel and coconut are combined with a hint of salt that is indulgent without the processed additives
Best for: Clean eaters wanting to satisfy their sweet tooths
Where to find: hailmerry.com
 
Caramel Sea Salt Toasted Coconut Chips by Dang
This gutsy combination of coconut chips and caramel make for a crunchy, sweet, and festive snack
Caramel factor: A natural caramel flavor balances out the buttery coconut
Best for: Topping ice cream, yogurt, and even salads
Where to find: dangfoods.com

THE DRINKS 

Caramel Apple Red Tea by The Republic of Tea
Sweet African rooibos serves as the base for a pleasing caffeine-free blend
Caramel factor: Smooth caramel flavor with hints of crisp apple
Best for: Late-night tea drinkers who don’t want caffeine but do want to end the day on a sweet note
Where to find: republicoftea.com
 
Salted Caramel Iced Coffee by Califia Farms
Salty caramel with almond milk-infused coffee that is 100-percent Rainforest Alliance Certified
Caramel factor: Delicious caramel essence in a rich, coffee drink
Best for: A special treat with a boost of caffeine for the holiday season
Where to find: califiafarms.com

THE BALM

Lip Balm by Fuzzy Bunny
Simple, artisanal, and bee-free ingredients make this lip balm as sweet as candy
Caramel factor: Candy-flavored fragrant for a lip-smacking experience
Best for: Incorporating caramel in non-edible ways
Where to find: etsy.com/shop/fuzzybunny

Photo by Kate Lewis

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