How to make caramel with just one ingredient (Sugar free, vegan, gluten free)

How to make Caramel

A homemade healthy sweetener

How to make caramel with just one ingredient (Sugar free, vegan, gluten free)

You will never believe how good this caramel is when it actually only has one ingredient.   It is a vegan honey just made from apples.  Now you don’t have to go without your caramel any longer. You can use it as a honey substitute, as a syrup that you control the thickness of, instead of unhealthy corn syrup.  It is also much cheaper than buying expensive healthy sweeteners such as maple syrup or agave nectar.

As this recipe only contains apples, it is perfect for a number of diets including vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, paleo, unprocessed and most healthy diets.  Best of all this recipe is refined sugar free so you know that all this sticky goodness comes straight from the healthy apple.

This recipe couldn’t be easier but it’s not quick.  However it’s worth it for the thick sticky syrup that you get at the end of it.

How to make Caramel

How to make your own caramel Healthy RecipeTo make the caramel, you just take 1 liter or about 4 cups of apple juice.  You can use whatever type of apple juice you like.  To make things easier for yourself you can use a carton of store bought apple juice but if you want to be ultra healthy, you can juice your own apple juice if you have a juicer.  Some people don’t see what the point of juicing your own apple juice is, if you are just going to cook it anyway, but it’s still healthier and fresher to use freshly squeezed apple juice rather than store bought apple juice as you have complete control over the ingredients.  You can use organic apples and you know it’s not been heavily processed or been sitting in a warehouse for a very long time before it gets to you.  I however don’t have a juicer so I just used a carton of apple juice and it worked very well.  I’m sure the flavour would also be better with freshly squeezed apple juice.

** Please note that this post may contain affiliate links which means that I can receive a small payment if you make a purchase through my links.

All you do is bring the apple juice to the boil in a large pan and then simmer it until it turns a dark colour and reduces in quantity.  This will take anywhere from between 30-60 minutes depending on the size of your pan and how hot the pan heats.  Just be sure to watch it when it’s been on for a while as it can very easily burn.  If you stir it you’ll see how thick it is.  The longer you leave it, the thicker the syrup will become.

If you want to test this to see whether it’s ready, take a small spoonful out and place it in a bowl until it cools down.  You can now check whether it’s syrupy enough for you.

Be careful with it when you are pouring it as it’s very hot.  Make sure there are no young children around.

Pour this into a glass jar or a bowl, cover and store in the fridge.  When you want to use it, you may find it has hardened so you can either leave it at room temperature for a while or you can place the glass jar inside a bowl of boiling water to melt it quickly.

How to use caramel

Now you can use your new syrup in any number of gorgeous ways.  For example you could:

  • Add it to your smoothies
  • Top ice cream with it
  • Use it as a dip for fruit
  • Use it as a jam or fruit spread
  • Sweeten cakes, puddings or breads

The possibilities are endless.  Just use your imagination!

[tweetherder]This gorgeous sugar free, vegan caramel contains only one ingredient![/tweetherder]

Stay committed in your decisions but stay flexible in your approach


How to make caramel with just one ingredient (Sugar free, vegan, gluten free)

How to make your own caramel Healthy Recipe

You’ll never believe this gooey syrup could be made from just one ingredient.

  • Author: Katherine Kyle
  • Prep Time: 1 minute
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 31 minutes
  • Yield: About a 1/2 to 1 Cup 1x


  • 1 liter of Apple Juice (Fresh or from a carton)


  1. Bring the apple juice to the boil in a large pan.
  2. Simmer the apple juice for 30-60 minutes until it changes colour and thickens.
  3. Test the syrup be placing a teaspoon of apple juice on a plate, wait until it cools to check the thickness.
  4. Turn the heat off when the syrup reaches the desired consistency.
  5. Pour straight into a jar and allow to cool. (Carefully. It is very hot)
  6. Store in the fridge.
  7. When you want to use it, if you want to soften it, place the jar inside a bowl of boiling water until it melts slightly (if required).


How to make Caramel with just one ingredient that you probably already have in your cupboard


  1. What an amazing idea, Katherine! This is too cool – I must try this. I’m envisioning [apple-]caramel-coated apples… ;P

    • Thank you Amber. Yes I was surprised it worked so well. What a great idea for caramel coated apples! It’s never too late for toffee apples! I might try that myself.

    • noreen thomas says

      Good idea but apple juice does contain sugar or have sugar added ( check label on each one) in many cases or even corn syrup. The ‘no sugar” added may contain natural sugars such as fructose so diabetics need to be aware of this.

      • Oh yes I was so excited to make this of my diabetic Hubby… Till I read it… this is like advertising maple syrup as sugar free, come on! its only boiled down sap of a tree… no sugar… um not really… Great Idea tho.

      • Thanks for pointing this out. Most of the pure apple juice in the UK doesn’t contain sugar. If it contains sugar it’s called ‘Juice Drink’ but I guess it’s different in different countries.

        • No, Katharine… ALL apple juice contains sugar. Just because it is ‘natural” sugar does NOT make it sugar free. This will have the same terrible effect on a diabetics blood sugar as any other caramel, probably worse because it has no fat to mitigate the effects of all that sugar. If you think there is no sugar in apples you are not only fooling yourself but misleading others. Please educate yourself. This may be great for vegans who don’t want to use cane or beet sugar (other “natural” sugars, yes they are just as natural) because of the way they may be filtered or processed, but it is a VERY HIGH glycemic food and will spike the daylights out of a diabetic. This could be called “no sugar added” which is still deceptive because of the high amount of natural sugar already present in the fruit, yes, even if you juice it yourself.

          • Hi Marie

            Sorry I should have said ‘refined sugar’ I get so used to referring to refined sugar as ‘sugar’ so I didn’t explain myself properly. Yes I agree that fruit contains natural sugar – I agree with everything you said and I’m sorry if it came across as misleading.

            • Well there’s nothing wrong with natural sugar I don’t see what the problem is, our bodies run off sugar. As long as there’s no ADDED sugar it’s fine?

          • Geez Marie, take a chill pill! When I read her recipe, I knew exactly what she meant — no added REFINED sugar. No DUH, fruits have natural sugars!

            Katherine – I think this is a brilliant idea! No need to apologize – I totally understood you. Some people just like to be trolls on the big bad internet, haha. Glad I found your blog! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Katherine, thanks for sharing. Is its anything like sweet freedom, as that is made from apples, grapes and carob. I am going to buy apple juice tomorrow! Shame your not coming Sunday, hope to meet you soon. x

  3. hi Katherine, thank you so much for sharing this! I’ve made the caramel from fresh apple juice and used it for my popped amaranth granola, it worked great! the flavour is superb! maybe i could use it as a substitute for sugar in making jams…

  4. Wow! When I saw the title of this post I thought the ingredient had to be honey or some kind of sweetener. Apple juice was a pleasant surprise! Definitely trying this! :)

  5. This is amazing! Such a great idea!

  6. I make my own apple juice by boiling apples for applesauce, and then I have apple juice. Wondering if I could use that for this, any thoughts?

  7. What a wonderful idea! Lovely photo, also. Found you via Wildcrafting Wednesday. :)

  8. Uhm so yeah, this is amazing! Who knew? And I just picked up a free jug of apple juice today at my market (they were giving them away with a purchase over $20) so you know what I’ll be cooking up tonight!

    Thanks so much for sharing this on today’s Waste Not Want Not Wednesday!

  9. So Cool! I’m going to make this and then add a little butter towards the end. :D pinning it too!

    • Great idea. I tried adding coconut oil at the end which was nice while it was melted but then it just hardened as a white layer on top so I decided not to do that again. Hope it went well!

      • It might work better if you try blending the coconut oil/butter/ghee with the caramel while they are both at room temperature. I have not done it myself yet but I remember having honey and butter on toast as a child and it used to blend perfectly and stay homogeneous even if refrigerated.
        Thank you for a great idea, Katherine!

  10. awww. I though adding a pic would use it as a profile pic not enlarge it. Sorry about that. I can’t find the delet button.

  11. Wow, this was a huge surprise! How neat – can’t wait to try. :)

  12. That’s so cool! Thanks so much for sharing at Thrifty Thursday. :) I’m pinning it!

  13. What an incredible idea!! Thanks for bringing this to Tuesday’s Table – hope you come back next week!

  14. I will have to try this. Neat idea.

  15. Wow what a great tip! Awesome, I will have to try this ;)

    By the way, thanks so much for sharing this recipe at the last Potluck Party – I’ve extended it so it runs through this week also. (you’re welcome to add something new if you wish ;))

    Ps. Just wanted to remind you about the FREE recipe eBook I have – hope you grabbed a copy ;)

    Happy Holidays!

  16. Wow what a great tip! Awesome, I will have to try this ;)
    By the way, thanks so much for sharing this recipe at the last Potluck Party – I’ve extended it so it runs through this week also. (you’re welcome to add something new if you wish ;))
    Ps. Just wanted to remind you about the FREE recipe eBook I have – hope you grabbed a copy ;)
    Happy Holidays!

  17. I was so pleasantly surprised to see it was apple juice and not some other unnatural sweetener. I am going to try this, as I am a big fan of caramel, but it is hard to find without corn syrup. Thanks for sharing on Hearth & Soul Hop. :)

  18. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome recipe with Full Plate Thursday. Hope you are having a great day and come back real soon!
    Miz Helen

  19. YUM, how cool its made from apple juice! Love that! And easy too!
    We have been having such great recipes at our Gluten Free Fridays parties! I really appreciate you being part of the link up and part of the community! :)

    Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! :)
    I hope to see you again this week!

    Cindy from

  20. Katie@Mexican Wildflower says

    I need to make some apple juice so I can make this! :) Thanks for sharing with Simple Meals Friday! This is one of our featured posts! I hope you join us again for our Holiday Edition.

  21. Hi! My 4 cups of store bought apple juice simmered down to an empty pot! What did I do wrong? After 60 minutes of simmering it was still just like I poured it in the first place. Please help.

  22. Yes! It was just like plain ol apple juice the entire time. I used a normal good sized pot. I read a few others on here did it, and I found another site that does it. I don’t know what happned?

  23. Don’t be sorry…it’s not your fault! The most trouble was waiting for the what I wanted to do with the end result! :(
    I’ll try again soon…I’m going to make a caramel apple pie before summer ends and think the flavor of, or what I hope the flavor will be, should go perfect.
    Thanks for your reply. :)

  24. Just made this… Really tart- I used granny smith apples

    Kind of a cool/easy product. Definately does not resemble caramel flavor.. Maybe would be closer by using a sweeter apple.

    Thanks for sharing! It was fun! :-)

  25. How cool is that? I’m going to try this! TY for sharing!

  26. It’s a cool idea, but I’m wondering… does it taste like Apples? I like my caramel to taste like buttery goodness.

  27. Do you think it would work to can the caramel? I love this idea! We have so many apples to use this year… I’d like to preserve it.

  28. Carol Samsel says

    Sorry sinfully delicious ! Can’t wait ti try it out.

  29. Genius and so easy! Thank you so much for sharing this!

  30. What a cool idea! I’m going to see if this will also work by using the “water” from soaking dates overnight…

  31. Has anyone tried this with apple cider? Was wondering how that would work out…

  32. How long does this keep in the fridge??

  33. I just made it from 6 apples, as I didn’t have more.. This is really great !! Usually I put in all sweet recipes honey, but I know that’s too sweet .. Now I can sweeten my recipe’s only with apples…..!! Thank you so much for your website !!

  34. Mine completely disappeared? Was I supposed to leave the lid on? It all evaporated and there was nothing left, I used 1 litre :(

  35. It is not sugar free!!! It has no added sugar but evaporated apple juice is just sugar, natural but still sugar. That’s why it caramelizes. It metabolizes the same way as cane sugar would so it is no healthier for you.

  36. Kathrine, do you think this would work with pears?

    Trying to do it without all the salicylates.

    Great post
    Paul :)

  37. Would the nutritional values be the same as the 4 Cups of apple juice?

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