Figs have been around us since 3000 BC, with their cultivation noted in the Mediterranean region. With its honey-like flavor, figs are used in several types of dishes like puddings, cakes, jams, chutneys, etc.
But what if your supermarket runs out of figs? What should you get instead that would replicate its taste? In such scenarios, we suggest trying dried figs, dates, fig jam, etc. In the following article, we have also explained other substitutes to make it as comprehensive as possible.
So without further ado, let us get started on this delicious journey.
What are the Best Fig Substitutes?
To make the following list more comprehensive, we have included all the possible substitutes for figs, varying from fruits to jams. This will make it easier for you to come to a conclusion without fretting about the missing ingredient.
1. Dried Figs
No questions asked; dried figs should be your go-to choice if you run out of figs. Since they are just the dehydrated version of fresh figs, you should be able to get the same taste, if not the same consistency.
Dried figs look different than fresh figs. While fresh figs have soft and juicy flesh, dry figs are void of any sort of liquid since their skin absorbs the juice.
Nonetheless, you might not notice any difference in the taste.
However, it must be noted that dry figs have more calories. Every 100gms of fresh figs contains 74 kcal. At the same time, dry figs contain 249 kcal. Similarly, they also contain more sugar, vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, etc.
Due to such a nutritional composition, dry figs must be consumed in moderation, especially by people with blood sugar issues.
You can also rejuvenate dried figs by steeping them in boiling water for 15 minutes. This will make the fruit juicer softer. If you are up for some extra punch of flavor, you can use rum or fruit juice instead of water.
Either you can consume them directly or add them to ice cream or cakes. You can also use the rehydrated figs as a flavorful addition to pies and pastries.
Considered to be a sacred fruit by Muslims around the globe, dates are nothing less than a sacred fruit to them. They are mostly consumed in Egypt, followed by Saudi Arabia and China. However, due to their rich taste and high nutritional value, people across the world consume them.
Dates come from date palm trees, native to the Middle East, but are also found in Asia, the Mediterranean, Mexico, and the United States of America.
Despite their wrinkled appearance, dates contain moisture and sweet juiciness. Either you can buy pitted dates or remove the stone from the middle while consuming them.
Since dates are available year-round, you shouldn’t have difficulty finding them in your nearest supermarket.
Just like figs, dates are sweet with high sugar content. Hence, you must consume them in moderation as well.
You can either try dry dates or fresh Medjool dates. The latter one has a buttery and caramel-y taste that can work as a beautiful addition to several dessert recipes.
Like figs, you can rehydrate dates by steeping them in boiling water for 10 minutes. This will make it juicy and plump.
While you can eat them raw, you can also add dates to smoothies, cakes, pies, and salads. They also work well with cream cheese and pecans. If you do not have a sweet tooth, you can add them to savory dishes like pork tenderloin and stuffed chicken.
3. Fig Jam
If your motive is to ace your dessert game, fig jam will effectively substitute for figs. Surely, this alternative might not work in salads or any savory dishes, but you can embellish your cakes and pastries with a dollop of fig jam.
Just like any other jam, fig jam has a smoother consistency. This gives you the liberty to serve it with hot biscuits and toast. Due to its texture, fig jam will also go well with yogurt or ice cream.
Apart from that, fig jam can also be served with cheddar cheese or a grilled cheese sandwich. But this might not appeal to everybody, so try it if you are up for experimentation.
Prunes are dehydrated plums that have the same taste and sweetness as that of a plum, if not more. They have a chewy and sticky texture with either a round, heart or oval shape.
You shall find different types of prunes like Improved French, Moyer, Italian, Tulare Giant, Imperial, etc. They differ on the basis of the color, texture, and sweetness quotient.
Do not get confused between plums and prunes. While plums are round or flat, prunes are mostly oval-shaped. Moreover, plums are juicy and fresh, while prunes are their dehydrated versions.
You can add prunes to dishes like bruschetta or casseroles. Basically, in something which would otherwise require a squashed fig.
If not, you can also eat them as a snack or add them to your oatmeal or baked goods. Blending them with smoothies can make up a refreshing and nutritious drink.
Think of a smaller version of peach with a little fuzz on the flesh and a golden-orange skin. Do you have a mental picture of it? Well, that’s nothing but an apricot.
While apricots were originally only domesticated and cultivated in China, they are grown everywhere in the present times.
Apricots have succulent flesh with a seed that is enclosed in a hard shell. While they might look like peaches, they are nowhere closely related to them.
As far as taste is concerned, you shall experience a blend of sweetness and tanginess. Such a flavor will help you substitute figs with apricots in sweet as well as savory dishes.
You can either use fresh or dried apricots. While the taste might remain the same, the calorie quotient differs due to the varying content of water. For example, fresh apricots contain 74 kcal, while dried apricots contain 212 kcal. This must be considered while choosing apricots for your sweet recipes.
You can add apricots to cookies, bread, cakes, parfait, salads, smoothies, etc. You can also create a fun and refreshing treat for a hot summer day by blending apricots with orange juice and freezing it.
6. Golden Raisins
If you are situated in Australia, you must have heard of sultanas. They are referred to as sultana raisins or golden raisins in the United States of America.
They are nothing but Thompson seedless grapes treated with sulfur dioxide. Post that, they are dried with hot hair to retain their color.
Golden raisins are not the same as regular brown raisins. Not only is the former juicier and sweeter, but they are also softer and plumper.
Since they have soluble fiber with a controlled amount of calories, i.e., 85 calories per ounce, you can add them to your desserts without worrying about your health.
If you find them to be less plump, you can soak them in vinegar. This will give them a flavorful sweet-tart flavor, something that will effortlessly work with salads, dips, and other savory dishes.
If not, you can add them to cookies, almond biscotti, smoothies, etc.
With over 3000 different types of pears, you can only imagine the sweetness and taste that can be derived from each one of them.
Generally, a pear is a sweet and mild fruit with a fibrous center. It can be added as a substitute for figs because of its nutritious factor. Not only is it free from fat and cholesterol, but this fruit has less than 100kcal.
The taste can vary from sweet to tangy to spicy. Similarly, it can either have a buttery or crispy texture. Even the shapes can differ along with the color.
Its white flesh is firm and textured. This can make it easier for you to add this fruit to salads, cheese platters, sandwiches, etc. While they look nothing like figs, you can derive the same level of sweetness by drizzling them with honey or caramel.
Pluots originated from a scientific experiment with nature. It is a hybrid of apricots and plums that was developed by a plant breeder named Luther Burbank.
Pluots have varying sweetness levels, depending on the color of the fruit. For example, pluots with a dark pink color have a sugary sweet taste, while the yellowish ones are naturally sweet.
It can be challenging to find pluot since they are available all year round. Nevertheless, if you get your hands on this fruit, you can substitute figs with them in several ways.
For starters, start off by tossing them into your salad or cheese platter. They work well with light brie, feta, aged Gouda, and clothbound cheddar cheese.
In addition to that, you can add them to jams, baked goods, chutney, and sauces.
You might be wondering the reason as to why and how cranberries have made it to this list? This superfood has a tart flavor owing to its low sugar content. Then how can one possibly use this as a fig substitute?
Well, if you do not have figs laying around to add to sauces, lamb, chicken, or pork dishes, you can use cranberries.
Also, cranberries can also work for sweet dishes like cookies and biscuits. However, you shall not get your desired sweetness.
Out of all the fruits, bananas are probably one of those readily-available options if you are looking for a quick fig substitute.
While you might not get the same texture, consistency, or even color, you can add them to mousse, muffins, oatmeal, cakes, or pastries to replicate a similar sweetness.
However, bananas must be kept away from savory meat dishes. But you can make fritters with them since its mild sweetness will balance well with spiciness and tanginess.
Most people have never heard of Quince since it isn’t available everywhere. But if you are lucky enough to find it, you can use a fig substitute.
It is a round and small pome fruit that resembles the sweetness of a pear or apple. When consumed raw, it has a sour and tannic taste. But once you cook it, you shall be able to relish its sweetness.
You can use it to make jam, pies, muffins, tarts, puddings, etc.
It also blends well with the texture of beef, giving you the liberty to make it into a stew.
Just like cranberries, strawberries are not our number one choice when it comes to fig substitutes. However, they can get the work done due to similarities in texture.
A ripe strawberry will have a juicy and sweet taste with a hint of tartiness. But you can add these to sweet dishes by adding more honey to resemble the taste of figs.
If you do not have strawberries, a strawberry jam will also work in sweetening muffins, cakes, pancakes, etc.
Tips for Storing Figs
In case you want to avoid going with a fig substitute in the future, it is necessary to store them properly. The following tips will help you in doing so:
- Only keep the ripe figs and discard the moldy or overripe ones
- Do not let any contact between two figs. Instead, keep a paper towel between them to retain the freshness.
- Place the figs in a tray and wrap them with plastic wrap. This will keep your figs fresh for one week or so.
- Place the figs on a baking sheet and pop them in the freezer. Once they are frozen, transfer them into a bag and store them in the freezer. Such a storing method will allow you to use them for a year.
Q. Are plums similar to figs?
Plums and figs are from different botanical lineages. However, they have a similar level of sweetness. Both of them can be eaten cooked or raw. They are heavily used in several sweet as well as savory dishes.
Q. Do figs make you gain weight?
Figs have a high nutritional value with high fiber content and low calories. Consuming figs will prevent you from snacking between meals, facilitating weight loss.
Q. Should I refrigerate figs?
Fresh figs must be refrigerated to preserve their quality. You can place them in a shallow dish and cover it with paper towels or plastic wrap to retain the freshness for a day or two.
As we mentioned earlier, the taste and texture of figs are challenging to replicate. But you can take it up as a challenge to prove your cooking skills by working with their substitutes.
Our favorites are dried figs, dates, and fig jam. Which ones are yours? Let us know in the comments below!
Milburn Adler is a food enthusiast and connoisseur of wine. His area of expertise is food fusions and gourmet foods. He lives to experiment with new recipes every day and spends most of his day looking for fresh and exotic fruits and vegetables.