What Is Fig Syrup?

Angie Bates

Fig syrup is a type of sweet syrup made from fresh or dried figs. While it is often made with relatively few ingredients, some gourmet versions are more complex. It can be used as a topping for pancakes or waffles, ice cream, or other sweet desserts, as well as flavoring for homemade ice cream. Some versions can be used as a sauce for meats.


Simple versions of fig syrup include figs, lemon juice, lemon zest or rinds, and sugar or honey. Fresh figs are most commonly used, but dried can be substituted. More complex versions may also include spices, such as cinnamon, white pepper, and cumin, as well as sherry vinegar, orange juice, and shallots. Water is also necessary for any version of this syrup.

Figs growing on the tree.
Figs growing on the tree.

To make fig syrup, the figs are normally chopped and then simmered in water for two or three hours. Some versions will add the lemon components with the figs, but others may add them only after the figs have been boiled into a soft pulp. Once the pulp is created, it must be strained. Straining may be achieved through a fine sieve, colander, or food mill, or alternatively, by using a jelly bag or cheesecloth. Some versions suggest straining first through the sieve then again through the jelly bag to ensure a clear, seed-free syrup.

Once sieving is finished, the sugar or honey can be added. Although honey often has a set quantity, sugar is usually added in a ratio to the fig juice, so the juice must be measured before the quantity of sugar needed can be determined. The sugar-juice mixture is then heated and reduced to a syrupy consistency.

More complex versions may cook shallots in oil before adding the figs. After the figs cook briefly, spices are added and cooked until fragrant. Honey and vinegar are then included and the mixture is allowed to simmer for approximately an hour while it reduces. The syrup is then strained before it can be served. Complex versions are more often used as accompaniments to gamey meat like duck or venison.

Once complete, the fig syrup can be allowed to cool to room temperature and served or jarred for later used. If jarred and sealed in a pressure canner, the syrup can keep for up to a year without refrigeration. Syrup that is not canned, however, or canned syrup that has been opened, may keep for up to a month when refrigerated.

Dried figs.
Dried figs.

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