Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe (2024)

Why It Works

  • Egg yolks make a rich and golden cookie dough that tastes like yellow cake.
  • Honey helps with browning and moisture retention.
  • Dried fig purée doesn't require additional sugar like a traditional jam and provides the filling with a concentrated fig flavor.
  • Boxing the cookies while warm helps trap steam, giving them a moist and cakey crumb.

As Nabisco likes to remind us, Fig Newtons aren't just cookies: They're fruit and cake. True to that legacy, my homemade version pairs an easy, no-cook fig preserve with a soft dough inspired by yellow cake. Since everything hinges on the concentrated jammy flavor of dried figs, it's vital that you love their taste straight from the bag, so look for brands that are plump, moist, and naturally sweet. I dig Trader Joe's, having found other national brands disappointingly bland.

Along with homemade Oreos, DIY Fig Newtons were among the first recipes I ever tackled on Serious Eats. But that was some years ago, and I've learned a lot about recipe development since then. Namely, how to make a dough that's a lot easier to handle outside of a professional kitchen. NowI'm back with the recipe for homemade Fig Newtons from my cookbook, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts at Amazon.

Making the "Cake" for DIY Fig Newtons

Like the original, these homemade Newtons aren't cookies—they're fruit and cake. To capture Fig Newtons’ unique texture, the batter is made with butter, sugar, orange zest, cinnamon, and honey, creamed until light and fluffy, then blended with a squeeze of orange juice and a few egg yolks. It's a curious combination of ingredients, but one that makes for a cookie that's soft and cakey, with a warm yellow hue.

Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe (1)

The yolks help it taste like "yellow cake," while the subtle use of honey, cinnamon, and orange make for a freakishly accurate match in the flavor department (even if those aren't necessarily the flavors that come to mind when thinking about Fig Newtons; have faith).

Those ingredients also make the dough very soft, so after adding the flour it should be gathered up in a ball, wrapped in plastic, and refrigerated until firm and cool.

The exact amount of time will vary depending on the thickness of the dough, but expect about an hour. It can also be refrigerated up to a week in advance if you'd like to split the project up into a few bite-sized chunks.

Making DIY Fig Newton Filling

Whether the dough is refrigerated for an hour or a day, that leaves plenty of downtime to make the dried fig filling. That's right, dried figs. Since the bulk of their water content has already been removed, dried figs have a flavor and sweetness that is much more concentrated than fresh figs, yet they taste surprisingly fresh in the filling because they haven't been cooked before. To achieve a similar intensity with fresh figs, you'd need to cook the fruit into a jam with sugar, a process that changes their flavor and consistency and makes the filling more inclined to ooze or bubble out of the cake.

Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe (2)

With dried figs, however, you don't need any additional sugar or cooking. Just trim off their stems, cut them in half, and purée with a touch of orange juice and applesauce to give the "jam" a smooth, pipe-able consistency. (In the fall, you can replace the applesauce with an equal weight of fresh figs to achieve the same thing, but I wanted my basic recipe to be feasible year-round.)

For the most Fig Newton-y flavor, grab dried Mission figs; other types of figs won't have the right flavor profile or sweetness. Also make sure the dried Mission figs are flavorful and plump; bland or withered up fruit won't do these cookies any favors. Your mileage may vary, but I've been really happy with the packaged figs at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.

If your dried Mission figs are flavorful but a little too crusty or dry, the consistency of the "jam" may need to be adjusted by processing it with an extra quarter-ounce of water or so. In the end, the mixture should be much thicker than a traditional jam, with an almost dough-like consistency. Like the cookie dough itself, the fig filling can be made and refrigerated several days in advance, then brought back to about 70°F (21°C) for use.

How to Put the Cookies Together

When you're ready to assemble the cookies, transfer the fig jam to a large pastry bag fitted with a half-inch round tip.

Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe (3)

Place the chilled dough on an unfloured surface and knead briefly until it feels cold and firm but pliable, then generously dust the workspace and dough with additional flour.

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Seriously, don't be shy here. The dough is soft and a little sticky, so using plenty of flour will make the rolling a lot easier. Excess flour can be brushed away in the end, but you can’t undo a sticky mess*.

*With this or any other recipe for a rolled dough, it will always be necessary to take special precautions if it's above 75°F (24°C) in your kitchen; for more information, check out these tips for keeping dough cool.

Roll the dough as evenly as you can to create a square-ish shape; once it's about eight inches across, dust it with a bit more flour then flip it over, dust again, and keep rolling until it's about 15 inches square. I find this easiest to do with a French pin, but as with any pastry project, the most important thing is to work with equipment that feels comfortable in your hands.

It's important to use a ruler for this step. The dough doesn't have to be a truly perfect square, but it does need to be approximately 15 inches square; an extra quarter inch one way or the other isn't a big deal, but if the whole thing's a full inch too big or too small, the cookies will turn out too thick or too thin.

Not only will that throw off the ratio of "fruit and cake," but significant deviation from the proper size will change how the cookies bake, potentially leading to cookies that are either doughy or dry. So do take the time to check the dimensions of the dough as you roll, and don't try to wing it! As long as you use a ruler to keep yourself in line, you won't have any trouble.

Once you've established a roughly 15-inch square, slide an offset spatula under the dough to ensure it hasn't stuck somewhere along the way. Dust off the excess flour with a pastry brush, and trim the dough into four three-and-a-quarter-inch strips.

Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe (6)

To fill the cookies, position the pastry tip just above the dough, about one-eighth-inch from its surface, then apply firm pressure to begin piping, and move slowly down the length of a prepared strip. The placement and speed will force the filling to spread and flatten; if the piping tip is held too high or moved too fast, the filling will come out as a narrow cylinder, instead.

Pipe the filling down the middle of each strip of dough. If needed, you can redistribute some filling if you happen to misjudge the piping speed or the amount of pressure needed to apply it evenly and run out before the end. With damp fingertips, the filling can be molded and portioned with relative ease, then flattened back into shape.

Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe (7)

Next, fold the dough over the filling on one side. If needed, dust off any excess flour, then roll the whole thing over like a log, so that the seam runs along the bottom. Brush off the floury tops, then use your hands to smooth the fig bars into a flat, even shape. With both hands, carefully transfer the fig bars to a parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe (8)

Baking and Cutting the Cookies

When I say parchment, I really mean it; the slippery surface of a silicone baking mat will allow the cookies to spread more than they should (as a general rule, I don't recommend baking cookies on silicone, but that's a rant for another day).

Bake the fig bars at 350°F (180°C) until they're puffed, firm, and very pale gold, without any significant browning around the edges. Immediately cut the warm bars into 1-inch pieces with a bench knife.

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Technically you can cut the bars with whatever you like, but it can be hard to maneuver a chef's knife in a sheet pan, and the bench knife is great for scooping up several homemade Fig Newtons at once.

Transfer the warm cookies to an airtight container with a paper towel placed along the bottom and between each layer.

Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe (10)

Once the container's all filled up, top it with another paper towel (to catch condensation from the lid), and close it up. This unusual set-up lets the warm cookies steam themselves to soften and retain moisture, while improving their cakiness as well. Freshly baked, the homemade Fig Newtons may seem a little dry, but after cooling in a steamy environment they taste absolutely perfect.

In the end, these cookies come together with a flavor remarkably like the original, with a freshness that can't be beat. They're tender, soft, and cakey, with a gentle hint of cinnamon and orange to play up the concentrated fruitiness of dried Mission figs.

You can find variations on this recipe (including Apricot Strawberry, Blueberry Lime, Cherry Banana, and even "Pig" Newtons made with bacon) in my cookbook, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts at Amazon.

Reprinted from BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts with permission from W. W. Norton.

September 2017

Recipe Details

Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe

Prep30 mins

Cook20 mins

Active60 mins

Resting Time7 hrs

Total7 hrs 50 mins


Makes32 pieces


For the Cakey Cookie Dough:

  • 10 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal, plus more for dusting (2 1/4 cups, spooned; 295g)

  • 5 ounces unsalted butter, soft but cool, about 65°F/18°C (1 1/4 sticks; 140g)

  • 4 ounces light brown sugar, gently packed (1/2 cup; 110g)

  • 1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon (3.6g) baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon (1g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 ounce honey (about 2 tablespoons, ungreased; 30g)

  • 1 teaspoon (2g) orange zest

  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 tablespoon; 15g)

  • 3 large egg yolks, straight from the fridge (approximately 1 1/2 ounces; 40g)

For the No-Cook Fig Preserves:

  • 12 ounces plump, sticky dried Mission figs, stems trimmed (about 2 1/2 cups; 340g)

  • 3 1/2 ounces sweetened or unsweetened applesauce (about 1/3 cup; 100g)

  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 tablespoons; 30g)


  1. Prepare the Dough: Combine butter, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, honey, and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to moisten, then increase to medium and cream until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add orange juice, then add the egg yolks one at a time and continue beating until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and sprinkle in the flour, mixing until well combined.

    Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe (11)

  2. Knead the dough against the sides of the bowl to form a smooth ball. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until cool and firm but not hard, about 1 hour. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 week; soften for 30 minutes at room temperature.)

    Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe (12)

  3. Prepare the Preserves: Cut the figs in half. Pulse with applesauce and orange juice in a food processor until roughly chopped, then process to a thick, smooth paste. Scrape the bowl and blade with a flexible spatula, then process a minute more to ensure absolutely no chunks remain. Transfer to a sturdy piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip and set aside until needed, up to 24 hours. (The preserves can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks; bring to room temperature before using.)

    Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe (13)

  4. To Assemble the Cookies: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350°F (180°C). Knead the cool dough on a bare work surface until pliable and smooth, then dust with flour and roll into an 8-inch square. Sprinkle both sides with flour and roll into a 15-inch square. Slide an offset spatula under the dough to loosen it, brush off excess flour, and cut into four 3 1/4-inch strips.

    Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe (14)

  5. Holding the bag at a 90-degree angle just above the surface of the dough (this will force the preserves to flatten as they leave the bag), pipe a 1-inch-wide strip down the center of each portion. Fold a long flap of dough over each strip, brush away excess flour, and roll each bar over, seam side down. Gently flatten each bar with your fingertips, then transfer to a parchment-lined half sheet pan (all 4 bars will fit on a single sheet).

    Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe (15)

  6. Bake until the bars are puffed and firm, without any significant browning, about 18 minutes. Immediately cut into 1-inch pieces with a bench scraper, then transfer to an airtight container, with a paper towel between each layer and on top. This will steam the cookies and retain moisture for them to reabsorb, creating a uniquely soft and cakey texture. Cover and “mature” for at least 6 hours before serving; prior to that, the cookies will taste dry. Store for up to 1 week at room temperature or up to a month in the fridge.

    Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe (16)

Special Equipment

Stand mixer, flexible spatula, food processor, rolling pin, offset spatula, half-sheet pan, large pastry bag, 1/2-inch round tip


This recipe works best with an all-purpose flour made from a blend of hard red and soft white wheat, such as bleached Gold Medal.

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Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe (2024)


What are the ingredients in Fig Newtons? ›


Are Fig Newtons actually healthy? ›

Pros: Fiber Content: Fig Newtons are made with fig paste, which is a good source of dietary fiber. Fiber is important for digestive health and can help regulate blood sugar levels and promote satiety. Low in Saturated Fat: These cookies typically contain lower amounts of saturated fat compared to some other cookies and.

Are Fig Newtons made with real figs? ›

The label lists flour, figs, sugar, corn syrup, vegetable oil, salt, corn fiber, oat fiber, baking soda, calcium lactate, malic acid, soy lecithin, sodium Benzoate, and sulfur dioxide. There is no dairy in there or any animal based products, so, yes, Fig Newtons are vegan. However, Fig Newtons are not gluten-free.

What is in the middle of Fig Newtons? ›

Newtons are a Nabisco-trademarked version of a cookie filled with sweet fruit paste. "Fig Newtons" are the most popular variety (fig rolls filled with fig paste). They are produced by an extrusion process.

Are fig newtons good for bowels? ›

Try high fiber snack foods such as sesame bread sticks, date-nut or prune bread, oatmeal cookies, fig newtons, date or raisin bars, granola and corn chips. Try natural “laxative-type” foods- bran, whole grain cereals, and prune juice. 3.

What kind of figs are used in fig newtons? ›

Mission figs, as opposed to any other variety of dried fig, will deliver the most accurate flavor to resemble the store-bought variety of Fig Newtons. You can use another type of dried fig, but know that you might have to add more or less water to the filling to make it smooth, and that the flavor may vary.

Can diabetics eat fig newtons? ›

Fresh, dried or cooked, the fig contains very few carbohydrates and, therefore, has little impact on blood sugar levels in most any form.

Can too many fig newtons cause diarrhea? ›

Since figs have a high fiber content, eating too many figs — especially dried figs — can cause diarrhea.

What is the crunch in fig newtons? ›

The female fig produces an enzyme that completely digests the exoskeleton before hungry humans can take a bite. To be clear: “The crunchy bits are seeds, not wasp parts,” she adds.

Why put baking soda on figs? ›

Alkalinity breaks down the structure of plant cell walls. I assume the purpose of this baking soda bath is to soften the structure of the fig. That's why yours softened so much. If you want to maintain the structure of the fig, try using an acidic bath, as acidity helps to maintain plant cell structure.

Are fig newtons the same as fig rolls? ›

The main difference between the two is that Fig Newtons are softer and squishier than the biscuity shell of fig rolls. I would almost say that they are slightly damp. That said, sometimes fig rolls can be a bit dry – I usually have mine with a mug of tea or coffee.

Can you eat too many fig Newtons? ›

Fig Newton cookies are a healthier way to satisfy your sweet tooth than other types of cookies. But they contain a significant amount of sugar, so try not to eat too many.

Can dogs eat fig Newtons? ›

Do not feed your dog Fig Newtons. These sugary cookies contain additional ingredients (especially sugar and spices) that are not healthy for dogs and, in large amounts, could be toxic. The figs used in these cookies also aren't fresh—so when it comes to sharing your treats, just say no to your dog's begging eyes.

Can dogs eat figs? ›

If you were wondering if dogs can eat figs, the answer is yes. Fresh figs are safe for most dogs and can have health benefits for your pet, but there are some considerations to make before you add the treat to your pet's diet.

Why do fig Newtons have so much sugar? ›

The dehydration process of drying this fruit results in a higher concentration of sugar relative to weight, so dried figs have a higher concentration of carbohydrates—mostly in the form of sugar—than fresh figs. For instance, a 60 gram serving of dried, uncooked figs has 6 grams of fiber and 29 grams of sugar.

Do Fig Newtons have nuts in them? ›

While nut-free granola bars are tough to find, Fig Newtons are another nut-free treat that's similar. It's quick and easy to toss a few in your child's lunchbox to enjoy for an afternoon snack.

What is the nutritional content of a fig Newton? ›

Per 2 Cookies: 100 calories; 0 g sat fat (0% DV); 95 mg sodium (4% DV); 12 g total sugars. 100% whole grain wheat. 9 g whole grain per 29 g serving. Contains a bioengineered food ingredient.

What is fig paste made of? ›

Textured fig pastes are made with 100% fig products and are available in the following forms: A) Soft fig paste that is softer in texture than traditional paste and may be easier to use in some applications. It is a scoopable product somewhat like creamy peanut butter.

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