Figs were first cultivated in Egypt thousands of years ago and have a long culinary history that can be traced back to many ancient populations. In fact, nutrition-rich figs were even mentioned in the Bible and in some other ancient writings too, with many people referring to them as a “holy” food. Fig recipes became more popular across ancient Greece and Rome around the 9th Century B.C. when their uses began spreading. Figs were introduced to the Western Hemisphere during the 16th century, when conquering Spaniards brought them overseas during the voyages.
Figs are a fruit native to the European and Middle Eastern regions that have been a part of traditional diets for thousands of years. Today they are widely available and popular around the world, making an appearance in a wide variety of international cuisines. While they are often found dried, due to their short harvesting season, figs are completely edible when fresh (and delicious too!). On top of this, figs contain some impressive health benefits. This is what makes fig recipes so easy and smart to make!
Note: I recommend using natural sweeteners like raw honey, real maple syrup or organic coconut sugar to get the most nutrients out of these recipes. Also eliminate conventional cow’s milk and use coconut milk, almond milk or organic grass-fed goat milk or cheese, replace table salt with sea salt, and replace canola and vegetable oil with coconut oil, olive oil or ghee. Replace olive oil with avocado oil when cooking at a high temperature.
25 Fantastic Fig Recipes
Figs are often described as having a “velvety”, unique taste. When found fresh, their “flesh” is soft, seedy and sweet, although not overwhelming. What really makes figs so great is their ability to be versatile in many different types of recipes — everything from homemade low-sugar jams to grass-fed beef entrees. Because they last a long time in dried form without spoiling, they are a great kitchen staple to keep on hand that you can use in many ways. Fig recipes are the perfect thing to start experimenting with to spruce up your breakfast, lunch or dinner rotation.
Keep in mind that any recipe calling for peaches, pears, prunes or dates can be substituted successfully with figs. So don’t hesitate to switch up some of your favorite salad or meat dishes by adding in figs where you normally wouldn’t think to. If you are still unsure of what to do with figs that you’ve recently purchased, take inspiration from the array of fig recipes below.
FIG RECIPES: Breakfast
1. Baked Oatmeal with Figs and Dates
Oatmeal is a breakfast staple for many reasons: it keeps you full, contains no gluten and is a great vehicle for any topping you like, including figs! Add extra nuts or even organic yogurt to bring some healthy protein and fat to this easy recipe.
This is not your average overly-sugary granola. Quinoa and oats make this breakfast gluten-free and high in protein, especially with the addition of organic Greek yogurt and some nuts.
Photo: Happy Healthy Mama
Oatmeal on the go is just what you get with these oatmeal fig bars. They’re sweet and hearty, which makes them a great option for breakfast … or even as a filling dessert. Don’t worry! There’s no gluten in this crust. These fig bars are completely vegan and gluten-free.
All the nutrition benefits of chia seeds plus potassium-rich figs make this a powerful yet yummy breakfast. Add some sautéed plums or drizzle with Manuka honey for an added boost for your immune system.
Photo: Savory Lotus
If you’re looking for a way to reduce your sugar intake and up the number of veggies you’re eating in a day, this creamy cashew cardamom fig smoothie offers up a fun and unique way to thicken your sweet drink without using the traditional banana. Aside from the unique thickening agent, this creamy cashew cardamom fig smoothie is sure to be a hit if you’re craving something thick and creamy.
FIG RECIPES: Salads/Sides
Traditional olive tapenade is absolutely delicious, but the addition of fig? It really takes this recipe up a notch and gives it a unique edge. You can serve this spread with crackers or bread for the perfect appetizer — or just eat it as a snack.
Photo: Nirvana Cakery
If you didn’t get enough fig from the fig and olive tapenade mentioned above, you can spread the mixture on these homemade fig walnut rosemary crackers. Otherwise, I enjoy these crackers with goat cheese on top — and even by themselves. Since they last up to a week, you can grab these any time you’re craving a healthy crunch.
Talk about a flavor explosion … This fig and watermelon salad has the distinct flavors of figs, watermelon, feta, mint, basil, balsamic and more. Your taste buds won’t be bored with this recipe — and it’s oh so refreshing.
These goat cheese figs would make a perfect savory appetizer when you’re having guests over. They appear to be very impressive, yet come together quickly and require only a few basic ingredients. Look for high-quality organic cheese to get the most out of this simple recipe.
If you’re sick of almond butter and are avoiding peanut butter like many people are, this may be the perfect answer to your “butter” question. Making fig apple butter in a slow cooker is a super time saver and allows the recipe to cook itself while you’re out. Use it on top of ancient grain sprouted toast, in a salad dressing or to drizzle on top of plain, organic yogurt.
Photo: The Roasted Root
This seasonal salad would be a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving, or with any home-cooked meal on a fall night. The deep colors of both the beets and figs make this salad pretty in presentation, while the earthy taste of the beets balances the sweetness of the figs.
Arugula’s sharp, peppery taste makes a great base for salad dressed with a classic combo of cheese (use goat or sheep’s milk), figs and walnuts. You can even make your own fig vinaigrette from scratch by blending figs after they’ve been soaked overnight, which softens them up so they don’t get stuck in your food processor or blender.
13. Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Balsamic Fig Reduction
It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t love roasted Brussels sprouts, even those who say they won’t like them. Figs balance the unique taste of Brussels sprouts in this healthy side dish and give them a pop of sweetness in place of commonly used cranberries.
You know you should be eating your kale, but maybe you haven’t found a way to make a kale salad yet that you really enjoy? Figs come together with avocado and sesame dressing to create a strong-flavored salad that helps to balance the taste of kale if you aren’t the biggest fan of its slightly bitter flavor.
FIG RECIPES: Main Dishes
The combination of figs, olives and thyme in this recipe give regular roasted chicken an incredible sweet, salty and savory flavor. Using bone broth in this Paleo meal also gives an extra boost to the nutrient profile.
Making this stuffed turkey entree would be one clever way to use up some Thanksgiving or holiday turkey leftovers. It’s also a good recipe to put into your weeknight dinner rotation because it could easily be doubled in size and the leftovers saved to make great lunch sandwiches the next day.
No one likes to clean up a bunch of dishes after cooking dinner. Luckily, this meal only requires one pan and takes under 30 minutes to cook. What more could you ask for? Just because this dinner option is incredibly easy does not mean it skimps on flavor (because it definitely doesn’t).
Photo: Cotter Crunch
Raw, this nourishing bowl fuels your body with the purest nutrients these fruits and vegetables have to offer. Consuming the maximum amount of nutrients from uncooked foods is one of the biggest reasons people turn to the raw food diet. Tossed in a delicious “green goddess” dressing, this is a tasty way to get your fill of vegetables.
Photo: The Healthy Foodie
Everyone loves pizza, but not everyone likes to have all that wheat, cheese and grease. Change up your usual pizza and try something much more upscale, like this fruity pizza, which balances creamy, slightly-sour goat cheese with tasty figs, berries and pears. Just substitute sprouted grain flour and goat or cow kefir for the buttermilk (unless you have raw or grass-fed buttermilk).
Photo: Panning the Globe
The next time you fire up your grill, give these grilled lamb and fig skewers a try. They’re brushed with a mint pepper glaze that gives the meat a unique and refreshing flavor. Paired with the figs, you’re in for a sweet and refreshing meal.
FIG RECIPES: Desserts
You’ll first be drawn to this fig cheesecake because of how beautiful it looks. Then, you’ll be impressed with the flavor. The best part: If you avoid dairy, you can still indulge in this decadent cheesecake because it’s dairy-free. Skip the honey drizzle on top if you want this recipe to be completely vegan.
22. Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt
This easy dessert recipe is the perfect way to get a double-dose of antioxidants in each tasty bite. Use a high percentage cocoa (75 percent and up is great) to get the most from this recipe.
23. Fig Fudge Balls
If you’ve got kids that love “munchkin” donuts, then this is the dessert for you! These little “energy balls” are filled with much healthier ingredients than the processed, overly sugary kinds you’ll find in coffee shops, so you can feel a lot better about giving them to your children (and having some yourself, too). These would make a great snack to pack with school lunch, or to bring along on car rides when you need some healthy snacks.
Photo: Jay’s Baking Me Crazy
Craving a sweet treat? You can’t get much healthier than this recipe. These Paleo fig bars are sweetened exclusively by figs and unsweetened applesauce. These bars are delicious fresh out of the oven or after cooling. I bet they’re even kid-approved.
While cake is generally something you want to save for special occasions, why not make the best kind of cake that you can when it’s time to celebrate? Chocolate and figs make a great combination, and the figs allow you to use less sugar overall, making this a great alternative to any processed, boxed cake mix.