Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars (Dairy-Free)

By Jess

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No, you didn’t misread the title. You might be wondering how in the world we have managed to make cheesecake without any dairy allowed on the Paleo diet. And I am happy to say that it’s actually easy. There is no baking required, which should make this recipe very popular during the summer months. All you need is a blender or food processor. The answer to Paleo cheesecake lies in soaked cashews.

Salted Caramel “Cheesecake” Bars- this is perhaps my favorite dessert of all-time! These cheesecake bars are so good.

Finished Bar Recipe

Paleo cheesecake is very simple to make. All that is required is a bit of time to let cashews soak in water overnight. This allows the cashews to absorb a lot of the moisture, therefore making them easier to blend the next day. If you are in a rush, the cashews only absolutely need to soak for two hours.

But the results will not be as creamy as when they are soaked overnight. Really give your food processor a workout to get a super smooth and creamy texture from the cashews.

Making The Crust

Coconut oil also plays a large role in the recipe; substituting it for something else would not work as it sometimes does for other recipes. It is vital to helping the cheesecake maintain its shape as it cools and hardens. Lemon juice is also added, though start with a small amount and taste the mixture before adding more. If the blended batter looks very thick, add more almond milk a tablespoon at a time until it is smooth. The batter will then harden in the freezer.

So, the cheesecake part of this recipe is easy. Blend two batches of ingredients, toss them in the freezer, and done. You can walk away at this point. Top the bars with some blueberries and mint, and call it good. Or you can continue on to the caramel. The only reason this recipe is hard is because of the caramel.

Easy Cheesecake Bars

Once the cheesecake has been put into the freezer to set, you can turn to the making the caramel. The caramel is the not-so-healthy portion of this recipe. It also uses palm sugar and palm shortening, which are not ingredients you just happen to have in your pantry. Don’t get me wrong, it tastes amazing. But it is a bit difficult.

The caramel sauce must be closely monitored and stirred regularly while it is cooking on the stove. Try to keep it at a frothy, rolling simmer. And if you are impatient like me, you might think it will never turn out.

Dairy Free Cheesecake Bars

But after about 15-20 minutes the sauce turns a deep, caramel brown. Once it is ready, immediately spoon it onto the bars. The caramel will harden as it cools, making it harder to spread. The recipe makes about a cup of caramel, which was more than I needed, but it depends how much caramel you like.

Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars

Lastly, top the bars with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt to get the delightful sweet and salty combination. It might not taste exactly like dairy cheesecake, but it comes darn close to being the best substitute I ever had. It is a rich, succulent, sweet, and salty dessert.


  • For the crust
    • 1 cup walnuts
    • 1/2 cup almonds
    • 5 pitted Medjool dates
    • 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
    • Pinch of salt
  • For the filling
    • 2.5 cups raw cashews
    • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • For the caramel
    • 3/4 cup coconut cream
    • 1/4 cup ghee
    • 1 cup palm sugar
    • 3 tbsp honey
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1/3 cup palm shortening


  1. Place the cashews in a bowl of water. Cover and soak overnight, rinse, and then drain.
  2. Place the dates in a bowl of water and soak for 10 minutes. Rinse and set aside.
  3. To make the crust, line an 8x8-inch baking dish with parchment paper. Place the walnuts and almonds into a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the dates, coconut flakes, and salt and blend until combined. Press the mixture into an even layer in the pan. Place in the freezer to chill while the filling is prepared.
  4. To make the filling, place all of the filling ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until it reaches a smooth, batter-like consistency. Pour the mixture over the crust in the baking pan. Place back in the freezer for at least one hour to harden.
  5. Meanwhile, make the caramel. Whisk together the coconut cream, ghee, palm sugar, honey, and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a soft boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and is a rich golden brown.
  6. Allow the sauce to cool for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the palm shortening until dissolved. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer and cut into bars. Add a dollop of caramel onto the top of each bar and use a spoon to spread over the top. Sprinkle with sea salt. Serve immediately or store in the freezer.


Serving Size





Print Recipe

Ghee-Free Caramel Sauce Recipe

Incredibly smooth paleo-friendly caramel sauce is a rich delight for drizzling over Paleo ice cream or desserts. Closely monitor the sauce while it is cooking on the stove and stir regularly. The mixture must come to a boil and then kept at a frothy, rolling simmer. After 15-20 minutes the sauce will turn a deep caramel brown. Serve immediately, because it will harden when cooled.

Paleo Caramel Sauce Recipe


1 cup coconut cream
1 cup palm sugar
3 tbsp honey
1/3 cup palm shortening


1. Combine the coconut cream, palm sugar, and honey in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and is a rich golden brown.

2. Allow the sauce to cool for 4-5 minutes. Stir in the palm shortening until dissolved.


Ask a Question 

      • No need to use palm or sugar ypu can make caramel topping with dates or hulled tahini & honey super easy no cooking required

      • ha! I totally thought it said 25 and thought to myself sadly, “Darn. Guess this recipe is an automatic no-go. I cannot afford 25 cups for one recipe!” I can’t wait to try this! 🙂

    • Ha! I am glad that I am not the only one who thought it was 25 cups of cashews. On my screen and my print out, looks like 25. I did not think that was right, but you never know!

    • I thought the same thing! I was not going to bury that many cashews in one cake! So glad someone pointed out that it is 2.5 not 25. Bad font!

    • The only substitute I know of which works for a caramel recipe is butter instead of palm shortening, although butter is not Paleo. I am also not sure how butter would react with the other ingredients. Caramel can be a tricky thing.

  1. Hi Rebecca

    Can one use anything else than Palm shortening? I have never seen it for sale in New Zealand? also I am dairy intolerant and so do not use Ghee. Can I use coconut oil instead?

    • I don’t know of any dairy-free substitutes for palm shortening, but the shortening can be found online on Amazon or Tropical Traditions. I do not believe coconut oil would work to replace the ghee for the caramel because of the difference in composition, unfortunately.

  2. Sounds delicious! What do you mean by coconut cream? Do you mean the thicker “cream” on the top of a can of coconut milk or a can of what is called coconut cream (often used in alcoholic beverages)? It gets confusing with coconut milk in a can with the thicker cream in it and the kind in the box on the shelf called coconut milk. Then there is the what is the coconut cream used in drinks which I’m sure has more than just coconut in it. I also just read that coconut butter is sometimes called coconut cream too.

  3. does it taste similar to cheesecake? I cannot wait to try out this recipe in hopes that it’s amazing for the holidays. Thank you!!

  4. I just made these! They are fantastic and I look forward to sharing such a healthy dessert with family this Thanksgiving!
    Thank you for sharing this recipe with us!

  5. I just finished making two of these “cheesecakes”–one caramel and one raspberry. They both taste delicious! I had a little trouble getting the crust just right so I put some walnut oil on my hands to press it nice and even. I also found the mixture a little too sweet so in the case of the one that has the caramel topping I added double the lemon juice to the filling and also grated some lemon rind on top before adding the caramel. Everything worked perfectly, the consistency is almost identical to a real cheesecake. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.

    • I am also interested in the answer to this, as I am also intolerant to cashews. I can have any other nuts, no wheat unless Durham, no corn, no dairy, minimal ginger and minimal yeast. Allergic to eggs

    • My family cannot have cashews either since they are allergic to the poison ivy family (poison ivy, mangoes, cashews, etc). I have read on other sites that raw macadamia nuts are a good substitute when making cheesecake recipes such as this one.

  6. Hey, I was super intrigued when this popped up on my news feed. I’m deathly allergic to cashews and a few people I know and cook for are as well. Do you think that almonds could do the job? Any other nut besides peanuts cashews and pistachios?

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