Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread {Dairy Free}

by Heather

I learned two valuable lessons while creating this dairy free salted caramel shortbread recipe.

Dairy free salted caramel chocolate shortbread

1. Don’t attempt to make dairy free caramel when the heat index is well into the triple digits.

2. Write down your recipe creation immediately. Do not throw away your notes, do not proceed to the beach for a week and not think about it; do not pass go; do not collect $200.

I also probably learned that even if something intimidates you, give it a try anyway. What’s the worst that can happen? A sticky, sugary mess that tastes delicious?


Months and months ago I got a postcard in the mail for a free Starbucks petite treat, a tiny-bite sized dessert that was the new “in” thing at the coffee shop. I haphazardly picked the salted caramel square, thinking I wanted to know what this whole salt + caramel thing was about.

starbucks petite treat salted caramel square My mouth was blown away. You all know I’m not a chocolate person- that means everything else in the bite has to be good enough to make up for the chocolate flavor, and boy did it.

I knew immediately I’d have to recreate it; eventually I did. And just for fun, I made it dairy free and vegan too.

vegan salted caramel squares


Dairy Free Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread

First whip up the shortbread base and let cool completely while working on the dairy free caramel.

ingredients for vegan caramel - dairy free

Melt sugar, cream, and golden syrup. {You can try using a mix of corn syrup & molasses if you can’t find golden syrup.}

Stir in dairy free butter, then let boil without stirring until the temperature reaches 245 degrees. {I used a never-before-used-meat-thermometer. It sorted of worked.} If you don’t have a thermometer, the caramel mixture should stick thickly to a spoon. Drop a bit of caramel in cold water- if it makes a firm ball, you’re ready.

how to make vegan caramel

Pour caramel layer over shortbread and spread evenly. Let cool before starting chocolate layer.

caramel shortbread

Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil over a double boiler. The coconut oil will help keep the chocolate from getting too hard when it cools.

melt chocolate with double boiler

Spread over caramel layer.

making layered bars

Sprinkle with fleur de sel.

chocolate topped with fleur de sel

Let cool before slicing. Pull shortbread out of pan using foil so it’s easier to cut.

salted caramel chocolate bar

Slice into bite-sized pieces- this stuff is powerfully sweet! If chocolate cracks, score the top with the tip of your knife and let it warm up a little bit before cutting.

dairy free millionarie's shortbread recipe

vegan millionaire's shortbread recipe


Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread

Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread


  • 1/2 cup non-dairy butter, cold
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Caramel
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup non dairy creamer {I used Silk soy creamer}
  • 1/2 cup golden syrup {I used Lyle’s.}
  • 1 Tbsp non dairy butter
  • 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • Chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips {can use milk chocolate if not making vegan}
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp high quality sea salt {fleur de sel}


  1. Put butter, flour, brown sugar, and salt for shortbread in food processor and chop until blended.
  2. Press mixture into 11x7 or 9x9 baking dish lined with foil & greased, packing firmly. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
  3. Let cool thoroughly before moving on. {Can place in fridge.}
  4. In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix granulated sugar, creamer, and golden syrup. Stir consistently until sugar dissolves. If you have a thermometer, use it.
  5. When sugar dissolves, stir in butter. Continue stirring until mixture boils; hands off- don’t touch now!
  6. Let mixture boil until it reaches 245 degrees.
  7. Stir in vanilla, then pour on top of shortbread and spread evenly. Let cool completely.
  8. Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil over double boiler, stirring until smooth.
  9. Poor over caramel layer and spread evenly.
  10. Before chocolate hardens, sprinkle generously with fleur de sel.
  11. Let cool. May need to refrigerate or even freeze.
  12. Slice into bite sized pieces.


Voila. Salty, sweet, deliciousness.

recipe for starbucks salted caramel squares

If only the temperature weren’t in the triple digits and my caramel could survive more than 30 seconds outside the fridge. Perhaps I should wait until fall or winter before attempting this decadent dessert again.

dairy free caramel drizzle

Although it might just be too good to wait…

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica @ Bake a Little July 28, 2011 at 9:34 am
These look amazing! Would it also work if you used regular butter and creamer?
Heather July 28, 2011 at 9:48 am
Jessica @ Bake a Little July 28, 2011 at 10:17 am
Great! I cannot wait to give this a try! Thanks for sharing!
Callie @ Callieflower Kitchen July 28, 2011 at 10:45 am
oh. my. god. *runs to the kitchen*
chloe @ 321delish July 28, 2011 at 10:46 am
YUMMMOOOOO! do you think you could use already made caramel?
Heather July 28, 2011 at 11:00 am
Hmm I'm not could probably try a really thick caramel sauce. (?) It's not as thick as chewy caramel candies, but a little more solid than caramel sauce. Maybe if you freeze them to get the sauce to thicken? Or maybe melting down already made caramels...
Faith @ lovelyascharged July 28, 2011 at 11:05 am
Faith @ lovelyascharged July 28, 2011 at 11:06 am
You just said the magic words every PMSing woman needs to hear...salt and chocolate...and then you put caramel in there for good measure? Oh dear me.
Kristina @ spabettie July 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm
that last photo is the best one, I want that right now!! good call salting the top - what a great pairing of flavors!
Shelly July 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm
Elise July 28, 2011 at 6:25 pm
this shortbread looks amazing. i'm totally going to have to try it with gf flour. my mouth is watering just looking at the pictures and imagining their deliciousness.
Sasha @ The Procrastobaker July 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm
uhm..WOW! you had me at golden syrup :) addicted to the stuff! been looking for a good recipe for millionaires shortbread and this looks PERFECT! definitely going to try this sometime :)
T-Byrd August 6, 2011 at 8:36 am
ohhh i love the gooey picture at the end. This will be perfect for a friend of mine. I dont have many vegan recipes. pinning it! found you over at #LBSTeaParty
Gillian August 6, 2011 at 9:33 am
JDaniel4's Mom November 16, 2011 at 9:16 am
Yum! I sometimes loose my notes too.
Amy ~ Eat. Live. Laugh. Shop. November 16, 2011 at 1:30 pm
Pure evil goodness!!
Amy ~ Eat. Live. Laugh. Shop. November 16, 2011 at 1:31 pm
pinned it too!
Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama November 16, 2011 at 4:18 pm
Looks delicious!!
shari lynne November 18, 2011 at 10:41 am
Can't wait to try this! Blessings Shari
Kristl Story November 18, 2011 at 7:31 pm
Looks good enough to eat off my computer screen!!!!
Lindsey November 28, 2011 at 10:54 am
Any tips on cutting through the caramel layer?! Not sure what I did but I cannot get a knife through it. I even left it at room temp over night.
Corey Wrenn January 10, 2013 at 1:32 am
The recipe was easy enough...but I used the new Smart Balance vegan butter and it has ruined every batch of cookies including this shortbread recipe. You should specify Earth Balance, which has never let me down. Just gross, had to throw it all out which is a shame considering treacle is hard to come by.
Elizabeth December 9, 2013 at 5:30 am
These did not work for me. The shortbread was way too dry even after adding extra earth balance and the caramel was far too runny.
Michelle December 15, 2013 at 9:08 pm
I made these tonight following this recipe closely. The only difference was I did not use vegan ingredients. They turned out amazing & just as beautiful as your photos! I will be making them again! The only change I would make is adding some sea salt to the caramel layer as well as the top. I sprinkled them very generously with salt but the rest of the square is so sweet the salt flavor was kinda lost. But that's a simple fix. The shortbread was perfect! I hand mixed mine.. literally with my hands and it was the perfect consistency! I highly recommend everyone to try them! This was also my 1st attempt at home made caramel.. SUCCESS! Thank you! :)

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