Make your fall a little sweeter with this easy date caramel sauce recipe. Ready in 5 minutes, this caramel date sauce is perfect for dipping apples and using as a healthier alternative for traditional caramel sauce.
It’s that bittersweet time of year when we finally say goodbye to the last remains of summer and head squarely into fall wearing our coziest of sweaters, pumpkin lattes firmly in hand. But aside from the cooler weather and all the expected pumpkin mania the change of season also brings two of my fall favorites: apples and caramel.
Slices of crisp apples dipped in a rich caramel sauce is a quintessential treat this time of year whether you’re looking for something to serve as an afterschool treat for the kids (and yourself) or for a fall-themed or Halloween party. Of course I like to give mine a healthy twist and make a date caramel.
What is Date Caramel?
Date caramel makes the perfect healthy dip for apples. Made with soft Medjool dates and coconut oil instead of refined sugar and heavy cream it’s an easy, naturally sweetened 5-minute sauce that’s a healthier alternative to traditional caramel sauce and makes a great dipping sauce for fruit. The caramel-like flavor of the dates makes it a natural for the job and since there’s no heavy cream or butter involved the date caramel sauce is both dairy-free and vegan.
(Here are a few notes about the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe. As always find the full list of ingredients and directions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.)
- Non-Dairy Milk or Apple Cider/Apple Juice – Use your favorite non-dairy milk such as coconut milk, cashew milk or macadamia nut milk. You can also use apple cider/apple juice instead to give the sauce a hint of delicious caramel apple flavor. (When I say cider, I mean the freshly-pressed, unfiltered kind you get from an apple orchard or in the fresh section of the market not hard or sparkling cider. You might also see it called unfiltered apple juice; the important thing is that it’s fresh and unfiltered.) Using apple cider/juice gives the date caramel just a hint of apple flavor, for a caramel dip that tastes like that first bite of a caramel apple; sweet and tart and oh so good!
- Medjool Dates – Medjool dates are best for making caramel sauce since they are softer and sticker than other date varieties and have a natural caramel flavor.
- Coconut Sugar – A spoonful of coconut sugar brings even more caramel flavor to the sauce and deepens the color.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Just a hint of apple cider vinegar gives the sauce a bit of tartness that offsets the sweetness of the dates. (If you are using dairy-free milk instead of apple cider you can omit this.)
- Coconut Oil – Instead of butter we are using coconut oil to make the sauce silky and rich. You can use either a refined or unrefined coconut oil.
- Sea Salt – A pinch of sea salt is a nice compliment to the caramel flavor.
- Cinnamon – I like a hint of cinnamon with the caramel and apple flavors but you can also use vanilla if you’d prefer.
How to Make Date Caramel:
(Here are the basic steps and some helpful tips on how to make the recipe. Find the full directions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.)
5 minutes is all you need to make this easy caramel date sauce.
- First you’ll heat the milk or apple cider in a small saucepan.
- Next you’ll place your dates, coconut sugar, apple cider vinegar (if using), coconut oil, sea salt and cinnamon in in the jar of a blender or small food processor and pour the warm milk or apple cider over the top. (If your dates are hard you can let this mixture sit for 5 minutes to soften.)
- Process the mixture until smooth and silky and you are done! The result is a golden sauce that you’ll want to put on everything this season.
You can serve the sauce either warm or chilled. Store leftover date caramel in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
How to Serve Date Caramel:
This date caramel sauce isn’t just for dipping apples (as delicious as that may be), here are a few ideas for how to enjoy it.
Try this easy, naturally sweetened 5-minute date caramel sauce as a healthier alternative to traditional caramel sauce.
- ½ cup/120ml non-dairy milk or fresh pressed apple cider/unfiltered apple juice
- 5-6 large, very soft Medjool dates, pitted
- 1 teaspoon/5ml apple cider vinegar (only if using apple juice)
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon/12g coconut sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon or vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons/30ml coconut oil, melted
- 2 apples, thinly sliced for serving
- Heat the milk or apple cider in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer then turn off heat.
- Place the dates, vinegar (if using), sea salt, coconut sugar, cinnamon or vanilla and coconut oil in a small blender jar or food processor and pour hot milk or apple cider over the top. Blend on high until silky and smooth.
- Transfer to serving dish, let cool to room temperature or chill in fridge until needed and serve with sliced apples or fruit of choice.
Use non-dairy milk of choice or apple cider/ apple juice.
Use vanilla extract instead of cinnamon.
Serve with fruit of choice.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free (If using apple juice), Paleo, Refined Sugar-Free
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 107Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 18mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 0g
Nutritional information for recipes contained on this website, such as calories, fat, carbs, etc. are only estimates and are not guaranteed to be accurate.
Sylvie Shirazi is the recipe developer and food photographer behind Gourmande in the Kitchen. For the last 10 years she's been making eating more healthfully easy and accessible with gluten-free, grain-free, paleo and vegan recipes that are free from processed ingredients.