Can cajeta be made without baking soda?


Kurt Olsen

If you love caramel, this sweet, buttery, and ultra-creamy This recipe for vegan cajeta is for you. Coconut milk, which replaces the usual goat’s milk, is slowly cooked down with a splash of vanilla to create a sauce you’ll want to pour over everything!

Vegan Cajeta Coming Out of a Jar on a SpoonTry it with waffles, crepes, or ice cream!


We believe this Mexican caramel recipe is even better since it’s made in Mexico. made with only plant-based ingredients but still tastes delicious.

No tummy issues, no animal products necessary. Just sweet, creamy, and smooth cajeta made at home.

What is cajeta?

Cajeta is an utterly delicious Mexican caramel that may be found all throughout the nation (no pun intended).

As previously stated, it is created by reducing goat’s milk, sugar, and baking soda until a thick paste forms. thick, sticky, and golden caramel is formed.

Traditional recipes include goat’s milk, which has a distinct taste that is difficult to imitate in a dairy-free variant, but we challenge you to try it! This cajeta dish is so delicious that it’s difficult to rationalize using animal milk.

The coconut milk substitute, in our view, will readily satisfy your caramel cravings!

Types of cajeta

There are many sorts of cajeta available, so here is a simple explanation.

Cajeta quemada: this is the most “traditional” form of cajeta you may come across. It comes with a deep, rich, burnt flavor and a dark brown color . This is due in large part to a longer cook time.

Cajeta envinada: “envinada” refers to the act of adding wine (or alcohol) to the cajeta, imparting a subtle liquor flavor. Many producers of cajeta experiment with other spirits, but wine was the original alcohol added.

Cajeta de vainilla: This is the version we’re working on today, and it’s exactly how it sounds. Vanilla bean or vanilla extract is added to the cajeta recipe, which provides a characteristic sweet and smoky flavor (depending on the vanilla).

Cajeta vs dulce de leche

Although cajeta and dulce de leche are quite similar, there is one significant distinction between the two. Cajeta is prepared from goat milk, while dulce de leche is derived from cow milk. Cajeta has a distinct taste, a thicker consistency, and a deeper hue as a result of this differentiation.


Not surprisingly, many countries have staked their claim on the invention of caramel, but historian Daniel Balmaceda has a theory. He thinks this delectable delicacy is originated in Indonesia It ultimately made its way to the Philippines in the sixth century.

When the Philippines came under Spanish dominion in the 16th century, they began extensively colonizing them. bringing this delicacy to Mexico’s west coast . From there, it spread all throughout the Americas and the rest of the world!

Because Mexico (New Spain at the time) had a large number of goats, it stands to reason that cow’s milk was substituted with goat’s milk. form a new caramel candy — cajeta.

Fun fact: the word “cajeta” comes from the word “caja,” or “small box” . This is because the caramel was likely stored in these small boxes, forming little box-shaped candies.


The nicest part about cajeta is the variety of ways it may be prepared. Try it on pancakes or waffles, crepes, or as a fruit dip. .

You may pair your cajeta recipe with other sweet delights such as:

  • Gorditas
  • Vegan ice cream
  • Tamales
  • Cookies
  • Empanadas
  • Churros

Some people even serve it as a spread on toast or bollilos like you would peanut butter and jam. Whatever way you choose to consume your Mexican caramel, this recipe is both simple and delicious. vegan and gluten-free!

Key ingredients

Scroll down to our recipe card for a detailed ingredient list and step-by-step instructions.

Coconut milk

Taste: creamy, smooth, and rich The cornerstone for this vegan cajeta dish is full-fat coconut milk. With a slightly higher fat percentage than cow’s or goat’s milk, coconut milk provides an irresistibly delicious flavor.

Health: Vitamins and minerals found in coconut milk include manganese, copper, potassium, magnesium, and iron. Manganese, in instance, aids in the production of connective tissue, clotting factors, and hormones .


Taste: We added granulated sugar to our Mexican caramel to make it sweeter. If you’d prefer a less refined sugar, go for piloncillo , maple syrup, or unrefined cane sugar (which will all impart different flavors).

Health: Although sugar is not in any way healthy, we feel moderation is vital. Trying a wide variety of foods is a big part of what makes us happy, but limiting the amounts keeps us fit and healthy.


Taste: with sweet, bold, and lightly smoky elements When it comes to cajeta, Mexican vanilla is the best option. Using pure vanilla extract over imitation vanilla is always worth the extra money. For starters, it tastes better. And secondly, you don’t have to use much to achieve all the delicious flavors and aromas.

Fun fact: The three varieties of commercially available vanilla are as follows: vanilla planifolia (grown in Mexico and Belize), vanilla tahitensis (grown in French Polynesia), and vanilla pompona (grown in Mexico and South America). Depending on the soil, temperature, and other factors, each species has distinct traits.

Baking soda

Taste: baking soda is used in the recipe to induce a Maillard reaction, which is a chemical reaction of the sugar and amino acids found in coconut milk. Because this is a really sophisticated subject, all you need to know is new flavors, aromas, and colors are formed when the caramel is heated.

Fun fact: The inclusion of baking soda is primarily responsible for cajeta turning out significantly darker today than in previous recipes.


If you have any concerns regarding this vegan cajeta recipe, please see our FAQ section at the bottom of this page.

Step 1: combine the coconut milk, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, and salt together in a large pot. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring regularly, until it reaches a simmer. Note: The combination will practically double in size at first, so use a pot big enough to handle this.

Step 2: Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for another 50-60 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes or so. The cajeta is done when you can see the bottom of the pot after scraping it or when it sticks to the back of a spoon easily (like the consistency of molasses).

Step 3: take the pot off the heat and allow the mixture to cool before transferring it to a mason jar for storage. Serve your cajeta on waffles, crepes, ice cream, toast, and other similar items. Enjoy your meal!


Making this dish is not difficult, and preserving it is more simpler. Just follow these tips to keep your Mexican caramel nice and fresh.


Your cajeta should last in the fridge for up to 1 month . After that, it will start to crystallize. Ours is kept in mason jars using airtight lids to avoid any flavor-seeping from prior dishes.


If you don’t finish your cajeta recipe quickly enough, it will stay in the refrigerator. freezer for up to 5-6 months So long as you keep it in freezer-safe containers.


When you’re ready to eat some more, run the mason jar under hot water to soften it. Alternatively, you can warm it in the microwave in 30-second bursts.

Pro tips

We’d like to share some of the ideas and methods we discovered when experimenting with a vegan cajeta recipe:

  • Use good quality coconut milk. To prevent bad tastes or textures, we find the Thai coconut milk brands to be the best. Just make sure you use as few items as possible!
  • Heat it low and slow. To ensure that it caramelizes without burning, set the heat on medium or lower and stay close to your kitchen.
  • Add a little alcohol. Experiment with spirits like bourbon or brandy to infuse extra tastes.
  • Switch up the sweetener. Try replacing ordinary sugar with brown sugar for more interesting tastes. piloncillo , maple syrup, or cane sugar.
  • Use different vanillas. Try this cajeta recipe with other vanilla kinds or forms, such as vanilla pods or paste.

Tasting notes

This dairy-free version of Mexican caramel sauce is so good, you’ll soon be eating it by the spoonful. It’s:

  • Sweet
  • Creamy
  • Rich
  • Buttery
  • Caramelly

Vegan Cajeta

If you like caramel, you’ll enjoy this sweet, buttery, and ultra-creamy cajeta dish! Coconut milk, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, and a touch of salt combine to form a sauce that will blow your tastebuds away!

Cook ModePrevents your screen from going dark

Prep Time 5 mins

Cook Time 1 hr

Total Time 1 hr 5 mins

Course Sauces, Sweets

Cuisine Gluten-Free, Mexican, Vegan

Servings servings

Calories 197 kcal


  • Large stockpot
  • Whisk
  • Mason jars


  •  27 ounces (2 cans) full-fat coconut milk ($4.44)
  •  ⅔ cup sugar (white or cane) ($0.02)
  •  1 ½ teaspoon vanilla ($0.33)
  •  ¼ teaspoon baking soda ($0.01)
  •  ⅛ teaspoon salt ($0.01)


  • In a large pot, combine the coconut milk, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Heat the mixture, stirring constantly, over medium heat until it reaches a simmer, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for another 50-60 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes or so.
  • When you can see the bottom of the pot after scraping it or when it readily clings to the back of a spoon, the cajeta is done (like molasses).
  • Remove the pot from heat and allow the mixture to cool before transferring it to a mason jar for storage. Serve on waffles, crepes, ice cream, toast, and other similar items. Enjoy your meal!


  • Thai coconut milk products are the finest for avoiding off flavors or textures.
  • While cooking, add a cinnamon stick for added flavor.
  • The baking soda causes a Maillard reaction, which enhances the cajeta’s color and fragrance.
  • Our recipes’ prices and calories do not include optional items.
  • Cronometer is used to determine nutritional information for our recipes.
  • Recipe cost figures are based on locally available items and may vary from dish to recipe.
  • All prices are in USD.


Calories: 197kcal | Carbohydrates: 14.8g | Protein: 1.5g | Fat: 15.9g | Saturated Fat: 14.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.7g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 57.2mg | Potassium: 176.1mg | Fiber: 1.5g | Sugar: 13.4g | Vitamin C: 1.9mg

Similar recipes

Check out our for some delectable sweets to go with your cajeta.

  • Gorditas for a sweet take on the classic antojito prevalent across Mexico.
  • Churros to try a vegan version of this world-famous cinnamon-sugar delicacy.
  • Buñuelos for golden and crispy Mexican fritters on the exterior yet light and soft on the inside
  • Plátanos fritos Crispy, creamy, and perfectly ripe plantains are topped with delicious crema and strawberry jam.


Is baking soda necessary in cajeta?

Baking soda is used for the Maillard reaction to change the color, flavor, and aroma of this cajeta recipe. If you leave it out, the finished outcome will be somewhat different.

How sweet is this cajeta recipe?

This cajeta recipe is sweet, but it’s only meant to be consumed in small amounts. You may always adjust the amount of sugar to your liking.

Can I use any plant milk for this recipe?

Although you may use other plant milks such as soy, oat, or almond, we found that full-fat canned coconut milk tastes the best in this recipe.



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Contact Us

For more information or to make comments and suggestions, please contact:
Kurt Olsen
Dairy Development Coordinator, Missouri Department of Agriculture
Phone: (573) 291-5704
E-mail: [email protected]