Roasted Figs

roasted figs

For some reason, fresh fig season seemed to have slipped right past me this year. Either that, or I wasn’t looking very hard because normally when I see fresh figs, I can’t help bringing home a big sack of them and snacking on them all week. Figs have two seasons; the first is usually late summer and the second begins mid-fall. The second crop is better-tasting and toward the end of the season, the prices drop as the bounty increases.

fresh figs

Last weekend at the market I saw some very nice looking figs and even though I thought the season had passed me by, I sneaked a squeeze when the vendor wasn’t looking and I could feel through their skin the juiciness of a ripe ‘n ready fig, so I took a gamble and bought a very big bag. And when I got home, I was happy to find that when sliced open, they were a bright ruby-red inside and indeed, just perfect. So to make them last a wee bit longer, I decided to oven-roast a portion of them to conserve my late season windfall.

sliced figs

The best advice about buying fresh figs is to purchase them when they’re ripe. Unlike other fruits, figs don’t really ripen after they’re picked. So look for ones that are already soft and feel like water-balloons. If you can’t touch them, another tip is if they’re splitting or look as if they’re just about to split, or if a small droplet of sap is oozing from the hole in the bottom, the fig will be sweet and syrupy.

figs to roast

That said, oven-roasting figs will bring out the flavor of less-than-perfect figs. Figs that are hard, chalky and totally unripe will never be good, so avoid those. I store roasted figs in the refrigerator and eat them with my mid-morning bowl of yogurt and granola to stave off those pesky hunger pangs during that long interlude between breakfast and lunch. Although you could serve these at room temperature with a baked goat cheese or goat cheese custard for dessert, or warm alongside roast pork or poultry.

roasting figs

Feel free to alter the flavoring and sweeteners to your liking. And even if you’re planning on mixing these into your morning bowl of yogurt, adding a splash of liquor really augments and highlights the flavor of figs. But you can leave it out if you wish or grab something interesting from your liquor shelf and give that a pour.

Roasted Figs
Print Recipe
Six to eight servings
Use a baking dish or pan that will allow you to bake the figs in a single layer. One that is 2 quarts (2l) should do it. Depending on where you live, fresh fig season is near the end of summer and mid-autumn and the best place to find fresh figs is at a farmers market.
1 pound (450g) fresh figs
4-6 branches fresh thyme
2 tablespoons red wine or liquor, such as Chartreuse, Pernod, Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1 tablespoon dark or light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
three 1-inch (3cm) strips of fresh lemon zest
1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
2. Slice the touch stem end off the figs and slice each in half lengthwise.
3. Toss the figs in a large baking dish with the thyme, red wine or liquor, brown sugar, honey, and lemon zest. Turn the figs so that they are all cut side down in the baking dish, in a single layer.
4. For figs that are softer and juicier, cover the baking dish snugly with foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the figs are softened and cooked through.
For figs that are firmer, with less liquid, roast them in the oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until cooked through.
5. When done, remove the baking dish from oven, lift off the foil, and let the figs cool completely.

Variation: For more savory figs, replace the liquor with one or two tablespoons balsamic or sherry vinegar.

Storage: Roasted figs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Related Links and Recipes

Apricot Bars

How to Poached Pears

Rosy Poached Quince

Poached Prunes and Kumquats

Fig and Olive Tapenade


  • Mrs Redboots
    November 22, 2010 12:11pm

    Ooh – I don’t know whether my parents’ fig trees will have any more on them, but we are going to visit them tomorrow, and if they do, I’ll have to try your recipe. I love figs, but can’t eat more than one or two a day for obvious reasons, and when I made fig jam, it was a bit sweet nothing….

  • November 22, 2010 12:27pm

    Oh yum. Figs are so gorgeous this time of year. This has all the flavors that make the holidays feel like holidays. I’m thinking about testing the recipe with vin santo.

  • November 22, 2010 1:22pm

    Oh no! I’ve missed fig season three years in a row because of travelling, and you have no idea how hard I’ve been craving them for all those years. Every now and again I’ve found off-season specimens, but they’ve tasted like nothing. These pictures are killing me…

  • November 22, 2010 1:43pm

    Those figs look to die for. We don’t get many around here.

  • November 22, 2010 1:54pm

    Wow! I love figs – my regular snack of choice.
    Lucky you that you got to visit!

  • November 22, 2010 2:32pm

    I must admit, I have a bit of fig envy: yours look gorgegous. I think figs are pretty much gone for the season for me, but I may try to plump some dried ones with some of the booze that you suggest.

  • November 22, 2010 4:01pm

    I’m completely jealous of your figs – I haven’t seen any around where I live. Figs always make me think of my mother who usually hand selects them at her market and then eats them with yogurt as you do, but fresh, without the roasting. Lovely. I would love to try roasting them, if only I could find them. I’m going to file your recipe away though, maybe figs will arrive in Missouri sometime …

  • November 22, 2010 4:16pm

    I adore figs, but good ones are very hard to find in New England. This would be an excellent way to use those less-than-perfect figs that I am still compelled to buy (always hopeful) and a refreshing reprieve from the pies for post-holiday meals. Thanks.

  • November 22, 2010 4:19pm

    I love figs in every way, yours look amazing!

  • Susan
    November 22, 2010 4:53pm

    Those are the most gorgeous figs. My daughter called me from Whole Foods Friday to tell me they still had some fresh figs available. Mostly they had Calimyrna but only 1 basket of the Mission. I had her grab that last Mission so I could slice them into some caramelized onions as a garnish for a holiday side dish. (recipe from Elise Bauer site) This roasting method is turning my head! I’ve not tried the Calamyrna, can they be roasted like this as well?

  • lucy
    November 22, 2010 4:54pm

    adoro i fichi per cui credo che arrostiti così naturalmente siano molto più gustosi e interessanti,il liquore e il timo fanno la differenza!

  • November 22, 2010 5:22pm

    Is it possible to find fresh figs in southern Pennsylvania this time of year, or ever?! This is the dish I am missing for Thanksgiving.

  • November 22, 2010 5:35pm

    Roasted figs and almonds would be my dream breakfast every single morning of every single day for the rest of my life…not even kidding! With a side of fromage blanc…mmm. You’ve just made me very hungry! I haven’t been finding figs much for the past month in the 6th, but who knows?

  • Lynn
    November 22, 2010 6:28pm

    David – do you know of any recipes for unripe figs? I have a tree that went crazy this year putting out over 100 figs but none of them ever ripened. I hate to waste them all!

  • November 22, 2010 8:06pm

    Those figs are beautiful! I have a fig tree in my back yard and I am always looking for new ways to use them, since I can only make so much fig jam! Lovely post as always David.

  • November 22, 2010 8:08pm

    I need to make some…I had some roast figs (still hot from the oven) at craftsteak in Las Vegas, which we paired with tres leches ice cream. Delicious.

  • November 22, 2010 8:12pm
    David Lebovitz

    Lynn: The best thing to do is likely make jam out of them. But as mentioned, it’s not always possible to get any flavor out of underripe figs. I would cook a few with some sugar in a saucepan and puree them and see how it tastes. Sometimes a little lemon juice perks them up, as does a pour of red wine to deepen the flavor.

    Jon & Jessica: When I lived in California, fresh figs were pretty common during the season and I remember when I moved there how excited I was to see so many of them available. Luckily in France we get them in season as well. But somehow I missed most of it this year, but am glad I got one final chance with some.

  • Georgia
    November 22, 2010 8:37pm

    David, you inspire me! I will be thinking about you when I am in Paris tomorrow…
    My father-in-law roasts his figs in a slow oven until soft and caramelized. They are lovely. He also takes his labor intensive sun-dried figs, splits them and slips a walnut half and then bakes them in a slow oven until golden. Excellent stuff! True Italian cooking…

  • melinda
    November 22, 2010 8:52pm

    i thought figs wouldn’t ripen after picking either, but after someone gave me a huge carton of unripe figs that i couldn’t bear to pitch, I spread them out & left em in the sun for a few hrs & they did ripen to my surprise….but i guess in paris you’d have trouble with the sun part of this equation…..

  • November 22, 2010 9:28pm

    OK, that’s it–if you cook as good as you photograph, I’m camping out on your doorstep!

  • November 22, 2010 9:37pm

    Oh my my my, these are absolutely beautiful!

  • Janice
    November 22, 2010 10:12pm

    You are so lucky to find such amazing figs! The fig season in the Bay Area this summer was not great. I recently got some wonderful fig-chocolate & balsamic jam from a new SF preserve & patisserie company. Your figs would also be great in a fall salad with persimmons, arugula, and a pomegranates vinaigrette.

  • November 22, 2010 10:55pm

    Divine! The figs are so beautiful. Thank you…

  • November 22, 2010 10:59pm

    Gorgeous. I might try this as a side dish for Thanksgiving.

    Here in Arizona, we mostly get lovely, ripe Mission figs, which I love to serve with some light California olive oil and cotija cheese.

    But I like your preparation much better. Thank you for the ideas!

  • November 23, 2010 2:57am

    Fresh Figs are an abundance here, although I do pine toward dried figs for their sweetness, having said that, thanks for this post, I’m always looking for various ways to enjoy them, I like how light and not-so-sweet then can be Fresh, yet the opposite when dried. I think this is why I like Okonomiyaki sauce so much. I noticed though, the bunch you have is more rich and has more depth, in terms of color, the figs here, seem to lean toward a pinkish hue of red?

    Why is that, I wonder?

  • November 23, 2010 3:26am

    I have never seen such beautiful red figs. They are wonderful! But figs have been gone from the market here for a couple weeks now… so sad!

  • Adrianne
    November 23, 2010 3:29am

    Especially beautiful and luscious photos this time! Thank you!

  • November 23, 2010 3:42am

    How wonderful they look and must taste! If you’ve got lots of figs left, do try this recipe which I fell in love with in London:

  • November 23, 2010 3:46am

    Gorgeous, gorgeous looking figs!
    As far as I know, we only have the one fig season here in Australia – summer – and we are heading right into it. This recipe will most certainly be in my repertoire this year as I seek ways to use up the figs from our trees – thanks so much!

  • November 23, 2010 3:53am

    The same happened to me with rhubarb this year. Their season was over before I had a chance to make anything with them. Back to the figs, they look amazing roasted. Whenever I grilled figs in the past Inoticed that they became bland as they cooked but with all the added ingredients in this roasted recipe it shouldn’t be a problem.

  • November 23, 2010 3:54am

    Luscious gorgeous and oh so delicious!!! I LOVE that red hue. We did not even get the fresh figs here this year. I could have these roasted figs all day long.

  • November 23, 2010 3:55am

    Amazed to find they still had figs at Whole Foods this last weekend! So I was able to make my fave Provencal dessert for a dinner party – fig galette with lavender honey ice cream. Those that weren’t perfectly ripe will now be roasted – thanks!

  • November 23, 2010 5:45am

    Roasting them with a bit of honey is something special.

  • November 23, 2010 6:09am

    Yes, please. Maybe in a ravioli.

  • jill appenzeller
    November 23, 2010 8:01am

    Another tip-off for unripe figs is milky sap from the stem – and it will give you a nasty rash when it’s fresh,, like a mild case of poison oak. I have two fig trees (brown turkey and black mission) and a rash for most of the late summer and fall…

  • Lynn
    November 23, 2010 9:19am

    Thanks David – I will try that. I found one recipe that calls for unripe figs preserved in a sugar syrup and I tried one batch. It falls sort of within the quince paste catagory of flavor which is not bad but not fig-a-licious. I may try to roast the recalitrant figs and then jam them. I may just have to be patient – the tree is only 3 years and is planted in Seattle.

  • November 23, 2010 9:45am

    Figs, glorious, yummy figs…. I’m thinking I must of missed them this year too David, I haven’t used them in any of my specials/recipes, hmmmm…. thanks for pointing that one out. I adore proscuitto wrapped figs baked to a caramely goodness, or using as a stuffing in your turkey or pork for a Christmas feast…. Argh…. drool…. craving some figs now. :)

  • November 23, 2010 12:19pm

    :) – you made my morning once more, dear David – I love figs and those pixies are to eat… (not to die for!)…. And me too, I seemed to have missed the fig season this year; they were too early and small, hard when I looked first and gone when I looked again…. I have bought one really nice, sweet lot on the market in Paris on a Sunday but apart from that, I might not even had another buy…. And I LOVE LOVE them, with cheese, with nothing, with a Porto… (thinking of my visit to Lisbon!)
    Merci, thank you – delicious yummy post!

  • November 23, 2010 12:29pm

    @ tiina: YEP, gorgeous with vin santo! Makes me salivate just to think I had exactly THAT under a fig tree in Northern Italy many years ago!
    @ lucy: benvenuto – me fa piaccere leggere un po d’italiano!
    @ paris paul: is there some room left for me hovering on David’s doorstep?! :)
    @ nisrine: me too…. and I WAS looking everywhere! all I saw was rubbish (not rhubarb) – luckily I have ONE plant, saved me from insanity!
    @ anna johnston: yessssss, wrapped in proscuitto, a DELICE! mmmmmh
    @ david: how large is your doorstep???? Can I bring Hero Husband too (weekends only!) – You have become a staple in my blog household – unmissable!!!!!

  • November 23, 2010 1:34pm

    It is a really easy, amazing and great recipe. Wonderful yummy figs and their photos are also beautiful. I have a nice fig tree, but this year in Budapest (Hungary, Europe) the fig not enough ripe, so I will prepare a green fig jelly.

  • Mary Bess
    November 23, 2010 2:04pm

    Your posts are enjoyable.

    Could you put the subject of the post (like “Roasted Figs” or “Figs”) in the subject line so that when I search the posts I’ve saved, it isn’t necessary to open each one to find the subject I’m looking for?


    Mary Bess

  • November 23, 2010 4:07pm

    I cannot stop salivating. Is it the photos or just the figs themselves? I think I will have to have figs and cheese for dinner tonight!

  • TGirlZA
    November 23, 2010 5:45pm

    I haven’t had the gumption to try making them myself, but in South Africa candied green figs in a (sometimes gingery) syrup are often served with cheeses. It’s a great way to use up a glut of unripe figs (in fact the figs must be unripe for the recipe to work). Not sure if this link will work, but here’s one recipe I found online:

  • Shari
    November 23, 2010 9:54pm

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never eaten a fresh fig! I’ve had a fig newton cookie, but I’m sure the flavors don’t even resemble each other. The fresh figs in your photos look so, -dare I say it, -lascivious. : )

  • November 24, 2010 12:05am

    This makes me a bit sad: I blinked (or maybe I yawned) and fig season slipped by. And I have trees! We picked, cooked a bit, then rains came, and it was all over. All or nothing with this fruit. And that one fig of yours, just bitten into…sumptuous.

  • Catherineap
    November 24, 2010 1:49am

    Wow, those figs are so red! Here’s what I do: Rinse whole figs but don’t dry them. Roll them in granulated sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it) and arrange in a baking dish, stems up and closely packed. Bake in a hot oven until the figs are soft and juicy (depends o0n how ripe they are but start to check after 15 minutes). Good hot or cold, especially with creme fraiche.

  • November 24, 2010 2:18am

    Those figs look wonderful. I always seem to miss out on the fig season! Luckily there are lots of dried varieties though which satisfies my fig craving!

  • November 24, 2010 4:03am

    mmm they are beautiful. i love figs, they are just so sweet and delicious, and they feel special because you can only find them in season (at least where i live). thanks for the yummy recipe and photos!

  • Gavrielle
    November 24, 2010 6:21am

    Not apropos of this, but I just had to say how excited I am that my copy of Ready For Dessert has just arrived! I haven’t got very far with it yet, but in the opening stuff alone it’s packed with wisdom. Springform tins leak? Yes, they do – and I always feel like it’s my fault since no other cookbook writer ever bothers to mention this. And thanks, David, for the excellent tip on storing a candy thermometer – I never know what to do with it to keep it safe. Can’t wait to read the rest! I’m especially thrilled at how many fruit-inclusive recipes made the cut as I love to bake with fruit above all else.

  • Marilou
    November 24, 2010 5:53pm

    Completely unrelated, but how about doing a Paris food tour with Dorie Greenspan. I’d be there in a heatbeat.

  • November 25, 2010 3:53am

    I wolfed down buckets full of figs this year. None, though, were nearly as beautiful as yours. I live next to the delta in the Sacramento valley and the roadside is loaded with fig trees. No one seems to want the figs, but me. Maybe it’s the danger of being killed by a lunatic driver, I don’t know, but I found it worth the risk. Figs have been gone for a month and a half around here.
    I look forward to trying your recipe next year.

  • November 25, 2010 10:51am

    I have not seen figs like that since I was living in San Francisco. Can you please say what type these are?


  • November 26, 2010 10:58pm

    These figs look amazing! Our family is a Fig loving family, so when I saw these, so red + delicious I was totally hooked. I’ve eaten figs in Italy, France, Greece and the USA but have also never seen this color before. Any idea what variety these were?

  • Kruzon
    November 27, 2010 4:09am

    Baked figs, never thought of that except as in cookies or such.

  • November 28, 2010 4:46am

    Ohh I love figs.

  • November 30, 2010 3:42am

    no way, I think I was starring for a minute in a picture :)) seriously this is probably very delicious! I can make it for anniversary for a girls, they gonna love it, I always surprise them with something nice…

  • November 30, 2010 7:27pm

    I looooove the idea!! I think I’ve never tried roasted figs, but I always use fresh ones to make my favourite salad: figs, feta cheese, rocket, walnuts and lime salsa all over it-it’s perfect!

  • December 5, 2010 7:33pm

    Wow those figs are gorgeous. My fig tree produced a lot this year and once again I had no idea what to do with them besides make preserves, eat them fresh and give them away. Roasting them sounds wonderful with thyme and wine. Thank you for the recipe, too bad I’ll have to wait until next year!

  • December 6, 2010 6:57am

    Good advice on the figs. Thanks. I love them whenever and wherever I can find them. Kind of glad they have such a short growing season as I would probably get sick of them….. nah!! I will definitely try your recipes as soon as the next season starts. I usually roast them with blue cheese and maybe a little prosciutto, but the sweet side looks as tantalizing as the savoury side.

  • December 8, 2010 7:10pm

    David, I grow figs,and none of mine look this good — these are gorgeous. Should you make a repeat trip to that market vendor, would you be so kind as to ask if he or she knows the variety? Merci.

  • December 10, 2010 7:30pm

    These look divine!


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