This keto sugar free caramel sauce recipe has rich, buttery caramel flavor with a hint of vanilla. It has just 1g net carbs per serving and takes less than 15 minutes to make; you’ll want to drizzle it on everything!
Imagine sitting down to a decadent caramel brownie sundae.
There’s a fudgy, rich chocolate brownie as the base.
The brownie is topped with a generous scoop of velvety ice cream flecked with vanilla beans.
Cascading down the ice cream is none other than this luscious keto caramel sauce.
A beautiful dollop of freshly whipped cream adorns the top.
THIS IS KETO.
I’m not saying that keto is all about indulgences, because it’s not. It’s about quality fats, low carb produce, organic grass-fed meat and dairy.
But sometimes a girl just wants to have her caramel brownie sundae and eat it too. And stay in ketosis. Right?
I know the idea of low carb or sugar free caramel sounds a little silly because caramel is just burned sugar! However, with the fabulous sugar substitutes that are available on the market today, keto or low carb caramel sauce isn’t as crazy as it first seems.
What is Sugar Free Caramel Made Of?
Regular caramel is made by caramelizing – that is, burning – regular sugar. To make caramel sauce, the burned sugar is combined with butter and cream, and sometimes other flavorings, such as vanilla and salt.
Sugar free caramel sounds like an oxymoron; how can we have caramel when caramel is inherently sugar?! That’s the magic of low carb and keto cooking, my friends. Sugar free caramel uses a keto-friendly sugar substitute, and of course keeps the butter and cream.
In this recipe for keto caramel sauce, we use a combination of granulated erythritol (which caramelizes like sugar) and stevia glycerite for sweetness. I don’t consider this caramel to be truly sugar free because I include a touch of blackstrap molasses, which contains sugar.
This small amount of blackstrap molasses adds depth of flavor and richness of color instead of sweetness, and don’t add a ton of carbs. Additionally, the blackstrap molasses slightly improves the texture of sauce.
But if you want a sugar free caramel sauce with as few carbs as possible, you can omit the blackstrap molasses in this recipe.
UPDATE: I now prefer making keto caramel sauce with allulose instead of with erythritol. This is for two reasons: 1) allulose doesn't have the cooling effect that erythritol has, and 2) keto caramel made with allulose doesn't crystallize the way that keto caramel made with erythritol can.
The Best Keto Caramel Sauce Recipe
Ingredients in Keto Caramel Sauce
- Unsalted butter
- Granulated keto sweetener (erythritol or allulose)
- Heavy whipping cream
- Blackstrap molasses
- Cream of tartar
- Stevia extract
How to Make Keto Caramel Sauce
- Add the butter and granulated keto sweetener to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then cook until it caramelizes (i.e., turns a light golden brown).
- Whisk in the cream, molasses, vanilla, cream of tartar, stevia extract, and salt. Bring it back up to a boil, and then cook until thickened. Don't overcook because it will thicken more as it cools.
Do Sugar Alcohols Count as Carbs on Keto?
In general, sugar alcohols have less of an impact on blood sugar because the gut doesn’t fully absorb them.
Because of this, sugar alcohols are typically subtracted from total carbs (along with fiber) to determine net carbs.
Sources of sugar alcohols include the following: xylitol, erythritol, glycerin, isomalt, sorbitol, mannitol, lactitol, and maltitol.
What is Stevia?
Stevia is a non-nutritive sugar substitute. (Non-nutritive means that it has almost zero calories.) It tastes about 200 times as sweet as sugar.
Stevia is extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana, which is native to Brazil and Paraguay.
Can Stevia Replace Sugar?
For the most part, stevia has a very intensely sweet flavor. However, it can also have a bitter aftertaste at high concentrations that some people can detect more easily than others.
Stevia can replace sugar to sweeten many different things, such as:
- Hot and cold drinks, such as coffee and tea
- Sprinkled on toast
Stevia can also be a good choice for baking. However, it requires a bit of finesse because it doesn’t act the same way sugar acts.
Stevia is much sweeter than sugar, so not only will you have a sweeter flavor if you don’t compensate, but you also won’t have the bulk that sugar adds when baking.
Additionally, stevia doesn’t brown the same way sugar does. Because of this, if you’re not familiar with baking with stevia, I recommend following a recipe as-written that has been tested if it calls for stevia.
Can You Caramelize Stevia?
No, stevia will not caramelize the way sugar does.
How Do You Make Caramel Sauce with Stevia?
Because stevia doesn’t caramelize, if you want to use it to sweeten sugar free, low carb, or keto caramel sauce, I recommend using stevia in combination with another sweetener, such as erythritol or allulose.
I like to use either a stevia/erythritol blend or a stevia/allulose blend to make perfect keto caramel sauce.
What is Erythritol?
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol with negligible calories and carbs, which is frequently used as an alternative sweetener to sugar. I talk more about what erythritol is in my post on Vanilla Bean Low Carb Cheesecake Frosting.
Does Erythritol Taste Like Sugar?
Erythritol is about 70% as sweet as sugar. The issue with erythritol’s flavor is the fact that it can have a slightly cooling effect. The best way I can describe it is a menthol or peppermint-like effect.
How to Reduce the Cooling Effect of Erythritol
Through a lot of experimentation, I’ve found that there are two ways that work fairly well to reduce the cooling effect that erythritol can have:
- When possible, use powdered erythritol instead of granulated, or dissolve erythritol in liquid.
- Instead of using only erythritol to sweeten a recipe, use a combination of erythritol and stevia. Erythritol cuts the bitterness of stevia, and stevia reduces the cooling effect of erythritol.
Does Erythritol Caramelize Like Sugar?
Yes, erythritol caramelizes and browns like sugar. This makes it a very good option to make low carb caramel sauce!
What is Allulose?
Allulose is a type of low-calorie sugar that's similar to fructose. It's found naturally in certain foods, including wheat, corn, figs, raisins, and jackfruit. Allulose has about 1/10 the calories of cane sugar.
Does Allulose Taste Like Sugar?
Similar to erythritol, allulose is about 70% as sweet as sugar. This means that for every 1 cup of cane sugar, you will need 1 ⅓ cups of allulose to get the same sweetness level.
However, unlike erythritol, the benefit of allulose is that it doesn't have a cooling effect.
Does Allulose Caramelize Like Sugar?
Yes! If you want the PERFECT keto caramel sauce, allulose is the way to go. Allulose caramelizes like sugar, but doesn't have a cooling effect and doesn't crystallize.
Above: Perfect Keto Caramel Sauce - Made with Allulose! As you can see, it's a little thicker and a little darker in color than keto caramel made with erythritol.
How to Use Perfect Keto Caramel Sauce
- On top of ice cream
- Drizzled on a low carb brownie
- As a dip for apple slices
- To flavor hot chocolate or to drizzle on top
- On top of a 90-second keto English muffin
- To sweeten low carb oatmeal
Keto Sugar Free Caramel Sauce Recipe
- Add the butter and granulated erythritol to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then cook until it turns light brown, about 3 to 4 minutes, swirling the saucepan occasionally.
- Add the heavy whipping cream, molasses, vanilla, cream of tartar, stevia glycerite, and salt. Bring to a boil, and then cook until the sauce is thickened slightly (it should coat the back of a wooden spoon), about 3 to 5 minutes. (Don’t overcook it, because it’ll thicken more as it cools and it will set into a thick caramel paste if refrigerated overnight.)
- Serve hot.
- Net Carbs: 1g per serving (each serving is 2 tablespoons)
- If you can't find stevia glycerite, you can omit it and use ¼ teaspoon liquid stevia extract instead.
- Cool leftover Caramel Sauce to room temperature, and then put it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. To reheat caramel sauce, put it in a microwave-safe container and heat it in the microwave in 15-second increments (stirring between each increment), or in a double boiler. Note that it will thicken after it’s refrigerated, but it will thin out after reheating.
- Don’t skip the cream of tartar because it helps prevent crystallization so your caramel sauce is silky smooth.
- UPDATE: I now prefer to use allulose instead of erythritol in this recipe. Allulose caramelizes like sugar, but doesn't have a cooling effect and doesn't crystallize. To use allulose instead of erythritol, simply omit the erythritol and add 4 tablespoons granulated or powdered allulose (yes, 4 tablespoons is correct).
This post was first published on Healthy Sweet Eats on January 17, 2019. It was updated with more information on September 19, 2021.