I’ve personally tried and tested a range of different fig substitutes to find the best one.
Whatever your reason for avoiding figs is and whatever dish you’re cooking.
Here’s the quick answer.
The best substitutes for dried figs are fig jam, dried apricots, prunes, or dates. Quince paste would be good on a cheese board. To replace fresh figs, go for fresh apricots, plums, or pears. Add a touch of honey to your dish as well to replicate they honey notes of fig.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I did a simple taste test to find the best fig substitute.
Did you know figs are technically flowers encased in an edible shell? When ripe, they have an earthy, honey-like flavor and a soft, squishy texture. You can also eat them dried, when they have a concentrated sweetness and a chewy texture.
They’re a tasty and useful ingredient, but their short season makes them tricky to work with, so I was looking for another fruity alternative.
Here’s what I tested and the verdicts:
|Fig jam||replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Apricots||replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Plums/prunes||replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Dates||replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Sultanas||replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Peaches/nectarines||replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Pears||replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Quince||replace in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
|Cranberries||replace in a 1:1 ratio||5/10|
Pro tip: for all of the substitutes you can consider adding a splash of honey into the meal too to help replicate the honey notes of fig.
Common uses for figs and the best substitutes
Here are some common use cases for figs and the best substitutes for those situations:
- Snacking – apricots, plums, dates
- Pie fillings and jams – fig jam, peaches, apricots
- Braising and roasting – fig jam, apricots
- For salads – dates, sultanas
- For charcuterie boards – dates, quince
Can you use dried figs to replace fresh figs?
You can use dried figs and fresh figs to replace each other in most applications.
To use dried figs instead of fresh figs, rehydrate them in warm water to give them a softer texture. Or be more adventurous and use wine or juice! The texture will be more mushy than with fresh figs, and the flavour a little deeper.
When it comes to baking, All Recipes recommends soaking eight ounces of softened figs and pureeing them with ¼-⅓ cup of water as a substitute for fresh figs.
If you’re swapping fresh figs for dried figs, you’ll need to use slightly more than the recipe calls for because the flavor isn’t as intense. And be aware that you’ll be adding more moisture to the recipe.
As with anytime you use a substitute, the final results will be a little different, but no less delicious!
The best fig substitutes
These substitutes will work for fresh and dried figs.
Fig jam is a no-brainer substitute for figs.
Whether you’re using a popular brand like Mrs. Millers or a more gourmet option, the jam is guaranteed to have that rich, honeyed flavor down to a tee.
And fig jam is available all year round – even in the middle of the freezing winter!
Fig jam is packed with sugar, so you may need to adjust the amount of sweetener you use in your recipe with this substitute.
The texture also means it’s not the most practical replacement for figs in a salad. But you can always mix a couple tablespoons of fig jam into your vinaigrette instead!
Pssst… want some more bite? Use fig preserves instead which has whole figs.
How to substitute: replace fresh figs in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with fig jam or preserves.
Up next on our list of fig substitutes are apricots.
Dried apricots are a fantastic replacement for dried figs. They have the same chewy texture, and are just as sweet with a similar subtle tartness running through them.
You can also swap fresh figs for fresh apricots.
Apricots are more juicy, and they’re absolutely delicious baked in pies and crumbles. I also love them with a mildly-flavored protein like pork or chicken.
How to substitute: replace fresh figs in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with fresh apricots or use dried apricots as needed, depending on the recipe.
Plums or prunes
Plums are another juicy fruit you can use in place of figs.
They share a similar flavor profile with figs, but they have an added citrusy kick from their skins, which brings a delightful complexity to both sweet and savory dishes.
One of the advantages of plums is their long season, which typically lasts from the end of May through October (depending on your location) making them a readily available option for most of the year.
European plum varieties can also be dried and turned into prunes, which are GREAT for replacing dried figs.
How to substitute: replace fresh figs in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with plums, and dried figs in a 1:1 ratio with prunes.
Dates are my go-to substitute for dried figs.
They don’t have that slight crunch figs have, but their abundant natural sugars make them super sweet (even sweeter than dried figs!).
Medjool dates are among the most popular varieties, thanks to their syrupy flavor. They’re great for baking and are often used as a vegan sweetener.
You can also try deglet noor dates if you prefer a more subtle sweetness, especially with salads, braised dishes, and roasts.
Pssst… both varieties work great for charcuterie boards
A big downside for this substitute is that dates can be expensive, but the next substitute can help if you’re on a budget.
How to substitute: replace dried figs in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with dried dates. Reduce the amount slightly if you don’t want too much sweetness.
Sultanas (golden raisins)
Sultanas, also known as golden raisins, are another solid substitute for dried figs.
They’re made from seedless grapes, and have a similar sweet but slightly tart flavor to dried figs, although they’re not quite as sweet and I think they don’t have as much depth to them.
Their flavor combo makes them fantastic for cooking and baking. I’ve used them for oatmeal cookies and in savory dishes like tagines before.
Plus, they’re cheaper than dried figs and dates since seedless grapes are more common and inexpensive.
You can also use regular raisins, but their flavor is simpler and slightly tarter.
How to substitute: replace dried figs in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with sultanas or golden raisins.
Peaches or nectarines are a great option for replacing fresh figs.
They don’t have that earthy undertone figs have, but they’ll add a bright, summery note to your dishes.
Plus, they have a similar soft, juicy texture that can withstand cooking, so you can poach, grill, or roast them like you would with figs.
Psst… peaches are VERY juicy, so be prepared for this if you use them.
How to substitute: replace fresh figs in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with nectarines or peaches, adjusting for size as necessary.
Looking for fresh fruit that can replace figs during the late fall to early winter months? Don’t worry – pears have your back!
They may not be as soft and fleshy as figs and the previous substitutes, but make no mistakes – pears are oh-so-juicy and offer a delightfully sweet flavor.
Go with Bartlett pears (the most common variety) if you want to enjoy them fresh or in a salad.
But for cooking and baking, I recommend using Bosc pears.
They hold their shape better and won’t turn to mush. They also have a delicious spiced flavor that makes them perfect for cozy dishes.
Pro-tip: pair your pears with warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg or a splash of port wine.
How to substitute: replace fresh figs in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with pears, choosing the appropriate variety based on the desired texture and flavor.
Quinces are pear-like fruits with a tough flesh and an extra sour flavor, so it’s not advisable to eat them raw – I had to learn this the hard way!
But once you cook them, they develop a delicious honey-like flavor reminiscent of figs.
I’ve used quince in baked desserts, but it’s most well-known for being cooked into a vibrant red paste that can easily replace fresh or dried figs in your charcuterie board.
You can easily buy a jar of this quince paste, but why not try making your own when California-grown quinces are in season (around mid-August to January)?
Check out The Daring Gourmet for an easy recipe.
Pro-tip: brie, camembert, and Manchego are great cheese pairings for your quince paste.
How to substitute: replace fresh figs in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with cooked quince or quince paste.
Cranberries came up a lot when I was looking for fig substitutes to try, so I had to include them in my test.
Fresh cranberries are extremely tart, so won’t work well as a fresh fig substitute.
When it comes to the dried version, most brands have added sugar to counteract the sourness. So they can work in a pinch to replace dried figs, but I’d go with one of the other substitutes if you can.
How to substitute: replace in a 1:1 ratio, keeping in mind the differences.
Other fig substitute options
The list of substitutes above are my top picks for replacing figs. But that doesn’t mean they’re the only options. Here are some more ideas:
- Pluots: these are a hybrid of plums and apricots. They’re soft and juicy, with an intensely sweet flavor. Great for replacing figs if you can get your hands on them (which isn’t the easiest task).
- Strawberries: strawberries aren’t an exact flavor match for figs, but they have a light, fruity sweetness with a slight tart twist that makes them an okay substitute for fresh figs. Add a drop of honey and they’ll be even better.
Best Substitutes For Figs [Tried And Tested]
- 1 cup fig jam
- 1 cup peaches/nectarines
- 1 cup apricots
- 1 cup plums
- 1 cup pears
- 1 cup dates
- 1 cup sultanas
- 1 cup quinces
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen fig substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.