What is sugar free caramel made from?

What ingredients are used to make sugar free caramel?

Sugar free caramel is made without any added sugars like white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, etc. The main ingredients used to make sugar free caramel are:

  • Sugar substitutes – The most common sugar substitutes used are erythritol, stevia, xylitol, and allulose. These provide the sweet taste but have little to no calories or glycemic impact.
  • Butter or cream – This provides the fatty richness typical of caramel. Using full fat dairy helps provide a creamy, smooth texture.
  • Non-dairy milk – Nut milks or oat milk can be used by those avoiding dairy. The milk helps thin out the mixture.
  • Flavorings – Vanilla, salt, and sometimes cocoa powder are often added for depth of flavor.

The specific ingredients and ratios vary between recipes, but sugar substitutes, fat, and milk/cream make up the basic building blocks of sugar free caramel. By finding the right balance of these components, you can create a rich caramel flavor and texture without added sugars.

What sugar substitutes work best in sugar free caramel?

The most commonly used sugar substitutes for making sugar free caramel include:

Erythritol – This natural sugar alcohol provides sweetness while resisting crystallization. It has a glycemic impact of zero and about 5-10% the calories of sugar. The drawback is that large amounts can cause digestive upset in some people.

Stevia – The stevia leaf extract is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar yet has no calories or glycemic impact. It can provide a very sweet taste at low concentrations. The downside is that some people detect a bitter aftertaste.

Xylitol – This sugar alcohol looks and tastes similar to sugar, though not quite as sweet. It has about two-thirds the calories of sugar and a very low glycemic index. Like erythritol, xylitol can cause digestive issues if consumed in excess.

Allulose – This rare sugar occurs naturally in small amounts in foods like raisins and maple syrup. As a sweetener, it tastes remarkably similar to table sugar with 90% fewer calories and minimal impact on blood glucose. Large amounts may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.

The best approach is often to use a blend of sugar substitutes. This balances out the pros and cons of each one. For example, combining erythritol and stevia provides bulk and texture from the erythritol plus intense sweetness from just a little stevia.

What is the process for making sugar free caramel?

Here is a step-by-step overview of the basic process:

  1. Combine the sugar substitute(s) and any dry ingredients – Whisk together your chosen sweeteners with any spices like cinnamon or cocoa powder. This helps disperse them evenly.
  2. Melt the butter – In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until completely liquid.
  3. Add non-dairy milk – For a smooth, creamy caramel, stir in milk or cream. Nut milks or coconut milk work well.
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce heat – Once the mixture reaches a boil, lower the heat to a simmer. This prevents it from boiling over.
  5. Simmer until thickened – Gently simmer the caramel, stirring frequently, until it has reduced down and become very thick and sticky. This can take 20-40 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat – When the desired consistency is reached, remove the caramel from the heat source.
  7. Cool before use – Let the caramel cool completely so it sets up. Then it is ready to use as a topping, in candies, in desserts, etc.

The long, slow simmering helps drive off moisture to achieve a thick, rich caramel consistency. Be sure to watch closely near the end so it does not burn. The finished caramel can be stored in an airtight container and should keep for 1-2 weeks without refrigeration.

What is the best way to thicken up sugar free caramel?

Here are some tips for achieving a thick, luscious sugar free caramel texture:

  • Cook it low and slow – Long, slow simmering evaporates water and concentrates the flavor. Be patient and allow 20-40 minutes for good reduction.
  • Stir frequently – This prevents scorching or burning on the bottom of the pan.
  • Use xanthan gum – Just 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of this thickener can add body that mimics sugar’s texture.
  • Add cornstarch – A slurry of 1-2 tsp cornstarch mixed with cold water also thickens nicely.
  • Cook to higher temps – Caramel needs to reach 230-245°F on a candy thermometer for a thick consistency.
  • Chill it – Cooling sets up the texture. Refrigerating overnight makes it even thicker.
  • Simmer down any thin spots – If you have thin areas after cooling, you can re-simmer briefly to reduce further.

The starch options like xanthan and cornstarch help provide viscosity. But cooking to the right final temperature is also key for allowing moisture to fully evaporate and sugars to caramelize. Letting the caramel chill fully helps “lock in” the thickness.

Does sugar free caramel taste as good as regular caramel?

Sugar free caramel can come extremely close to mimicking the taste and texture of full sugar caramel when made carefully. However, there are a few key differences:

– The sweetness may seem slightly different depending on the sugar substitutes used. Combinations of erythritol and stevia tend to provide the most sugar-like taste.

– The flavor might not be quite as complex. Sugar plays a role in caramelization and Maillard reactions that lead to richer, deeper flavor notes.

– The texture may be a little thinner or not quite as sticky/chewy. Sugar’s bulk and viscosity are hard to perfectly replicate.

– Cooking times and temperatures need to be adjusted slightly from traditional caramel recipes.

– There is often a “cooling” sensation from sugar alcohols like erythritol. Stevia also has a slight aftertaste for some.

– Higher amounts can cause digestive side effects like gas or bloating. Moderation is key.

With the right recipe tweaks and ingredients, sugar free caramel can come very close to the real thing. Side-by-side, most people would notice only subtle differences. The largest difference is that sugar free caramel avoids the blood sugar spike of regular caramel.

What can you use sugar free caramel for?

Here are some of the many ways you can use sugar free caramel:

Dip for fruit – Drizzle caramel over apples, pears, bananas, or other fruits.

Topping for desserts – Use as a topping for cakes, cupcakes, brownies, ice cream, pies, crepes, waffles, etc.

Filing for chocolates – Use as a filling for chocolate bonbons or other candies.

Swirled into yogurt or oatmeal – Create a caramel yogurt parfait or mix into overnight oats.

Mix into coffee drinks – Add a swirl of caramel to coffee, lattes, frappes, etc. as a flavoring.

Caramel candies – Pour flat into molds before cooling to make sugar free caramel candies or pralines.

Caramel sauce – Serve warm as a drizzling sauce over desserts. Or cool completely and use as a topping sauce.

In place of brown sugar – Use in recipes for things like cookies, bars, muffins, breads, etc.

Fill layer cakes – Spread or drizzle between cake layers before frosting the cake.

The possibilities are endless! Sugar free caramel makes a great topping, dip, filling, or candy thanks to its sticky, sweet consistency and rich depth of flavor.

Is there a shortcut version using caramel syrup?

Yes, you can make an easy shortcut sugar free caramel by doctoring up store-bought sugar free caramel topping or syrup. Here’s how:

– 1 cup sugar free caramel syrup/topping
– 2 tbsp unsalted butter
– 1/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
– 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
– Pinch of salt

1. Pour the caramel syrup into a small saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add the butter and stir until melted.
3. Pour in the cream and vanilla extract. Bring to a gentle boil then lower heat.
4. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened.
5. Remove from heat and stir in a pinch of salt.
6. Let cool at least 10 minutes before using.

The added butter and cream make this shortcut caramel richer, while the vanilla and salt enhance the flavor. Simmering it briefly helps thicken up the consistency. You can then use this elevated syrup anywhere you would use regular homemade caramel. It’s ready in just 20 minutes!


In summary, sugar free caramel is made using sugar substitutes, fat, and dairy instead of sugar to create the characteristic texture and taste. Slow simmering is key to developing a thick, rich caramel with concentrated flavor. Sugar free versions may differ slightly but can come very close to regular full-sugar caramel when carefully crafted. This versatile sweet treat can be used to top or fill a huge range of desserts, candies, baked goods, fruits, coffees, and other foods and drinks. With some recipe experimentation, those with dietary restrictions for sugar can still enjoy the delights of homemade caramel.

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