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 figs were even mentioned in the Bible and in some other ancient writings too, with many people referring to them as a “holy” foods. Fig recipes became more popular across ancient Greece and Rome around the 9th Century BC 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 to easy and smart to make!
Nutrition Facts of Figs
One large fig contains (1):
- About 47 calories
- 2 grams of fiber
- 8 grams of sugar
- .5 grams of protein
- A good source of vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and pantothenic acid.
- Very low levels of fat, cholesterol, and sodium
Figs contain antioxidants, which can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body and prevent various diseases. They also contain a good source of dietary fiber, especially when you consume several at once, which can help to relieve constipation and to make you feel full after eating. Finally, figs contain easily-absorbed fructose which the body can use efficiently for energy when exercising. This makes fig recipes a great snack to have before or after a long workout.
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
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.
Instead of relying on a prepackaged sugar laden cereal bar, try making your own. Lemon and figs make a great flavor combo that is not overly sweet, but just enough to balance each other out. Just use sprouted grain instead of wheat flour and tapioca flour as a swap for the cornstarch to keep these a healthy sweet treat!
This might be the perfect way to get some healthy protein into your morning. Look for a plain organic Greek yogurt variety and add chopped up figs and a bit of raw honey. This is a great way to make one seriously delicious and healthy breakfast parfait that you can even take-on-the-go
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!
FIG RECIPES: Salads/Sides
Keep this recipe in mind come the holiday season when you want a healthier alternative to canned or jarred overly-sugary sauces. Figs bring a surprising pop to this sauce that can be used on pork, spread on top of a muffin, or added to grains with nuts for breakfast.
Warm, soothing and tangy, these crispy potatoes with the sweet creamy sauce really hit the spot. Serve as a snack or alongside your favorite protein for a delicious satisfying dinner!
For those looking to steer clear of any dairy, this is the appetizer for you. Cashew cream, made from soaked and blended cashews, makes a great substitute for goat cheese and pairs perfectly with figs for a simple appetizer. You can use raw honey or pure maple syrup in place of the agave to get the most out of this recipe.
What a perfect way to use up some of the dried figs and nuts you may be storing. Switch out the whole wheat and bread flour with a sprouted grain flour. And substitute coconut sugar for the brown sugar and the buttermilk, use goat kefir or grass fed buttermilk. This is an easy way to add tons of flavor and a little bit of crispiness to a lunch salad. There are endless possibilities for what to do with these healthy homemade crackers.
These goat cheese figs would make a perfect savory app 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 good 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 crockpot is super time saving 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.
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.
It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t love roasted Brussel sprouts, even those who say they won’t like them. Figs balance the unique taste of Brussel sprouts in this healthy side dish and give them a pop of sweetness in place of commonly used cranberries.
Not sure what to bring to the next BBQ you’re invited to? Mix it up and take along this potato salad that has a surprise, sweet ingredient, plus loads of fresh herbs for extra flavor. You can even play around with trying to same type of recipe with vitamin-packed sweet potatoes too.
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
Pork served along with caramelized fruit is a classic combination- think how many times you’ve seen apples, pears, and cranberries in various pork dishes (often with bacon). This is a healthier take on the sweet and salty combination, using a leaner pork loin and plenty of bold, warm spices.
Making this stuffed turkey entree would be one clever way to use up some Thanksgiving or holiday 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.
This is a great plant-based entree option that includes fig butter, either store-bought or homemade. Add all your favorite vegetables and big-impact spices like cumin or curry to bring all the tastes together
Moroccan dishes commonly use figs and have some of the best flavor profiles when it comes to bringing out their taste. Try this recipe in aslow cooker or crock pot to really save time and still deliver an impressive dinner
Everyone loves pizza, but not everyone like 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).
FIG RECIPES: Desserts
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% and up is great) to get the most from this recipe and try subbing in good quality honey or maple syrup for any other sugar to boost the nutrient value even more.
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: Fig Fudge Balls / PaleOMG
An addition of Greek yogurt brings richness and a moist texture to this cake while still letting the figs shine. Use sprouted grain flour or quinoa flour and substitute coconut sugar for regular sugar to enjoy this as a healthy traditional recipe.
While cake is generally something that 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.
When and Where to Buy Figs
Today figs can be purchased year-round at most major grocery stores in dried form. They tend to only be available in fresh form during a
very short period in the summer months, running from June through September.
If you are making a fig recipe and are able to find fresh figs during the summer, many people would say you are “lucky” and in for a real treat, because they are not commonly sold in most stores. The reason that figs are found dried is due to their short growing season and also their delicate skin, which does not make for easy transporting. If you do purchase fresh figs, look for ones that appear firm, free of major bruising, and not “oozing” any seeds out which indicates they are already started to go bad. Figs are most commonly grown today in California (these types have an earlier season) and in regions in Europe (these types can be found through September).
Health food stores commonly sell organic figs- with no added sulfur or sugar- in bulk bins at very fair prices. If these are available to you, this is your best bet for purchasing good-quality figs. Sulfur dioxide gas is often added to commercial dried figs in order to extend their shelf life, however organic figs cannot contain sulfur. While not a serious threat for most people, sulfur-containing dried fruit sparks a negative reaction in about 1 of every 100 people, so to be safe, when making fig recipes look for organic figs (and other dried fruit too).
Preparing and Storing Figs
When preparing a fig recipe, you will likely buy figs in dried form rather than fresh, so there is hardly any preparation needed at all. Dried or fresh figs can be enjoyed straight out of the bag, no fuss needed. If you do buy fresh figs, keep in mind that they will only last for 2-3 days and tend to spoil quickly, so use them up fast! Dried figs can be stored for up to a year with no problem. To have some on hand for future fig recipes, keep dried figs in an airtight container somewhere dry. (1)