Vegan homemade fig newtons (aka fig cookies or fig rolls) are delicious and easy to make! The thick and sweet fig spread filling is flavored with a touch of orange juice, wrapped with a healthy whole grain and oatmeal cookie crust and soft-baked into the most scrumptious chewy fig cookies.
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Healthy Homemade Fig Newtons
Fig Newtons were a quintessential snack of my childhood as a kid growing up in the 80’s/90’s. The soft and chewy cookies were sweet but not overly so, and my siblings and I would have them for snacks and packed into our lunches on the regular. This homemade version is made with wholesome ingredients with only a touch of maple syrup to sweeten the cookie dough. The filling contains no added sugars and is made with just 2 ingredients: dried figs and orange juice. Dried figs are sweet enough on their own so no adding sugar is not necessary. The outer cookie is made with whole wheat and whole oat flours for added nutrition and a wholesome flavor. I think they are better than the original and using simple ingredients really lets the flavor of the figs shine though.
Fig Rolls vs. Cuccidati
Cuccidati, also known as buccellati, are sweet Sicilian fig cookies that have a similar shape as fig rolls and have a filling made with dried figs but are more of a dessert type of cookie. Traditionally made at Christmas time, these tender Italian fig cookies are made with a sweet dried fruit filling consisting of figs, dates, golden raisins, nuts, honey, spices and orange or apricot jam. The thick fruit filling is encased with sweet pastry dough or pasta frolla with a texture like that of shortbread or shortcrust pastry. These traditional Italian Christmas cookies are glazed with a sweet icing and decorated with rainbow sprinkles.
Fig rolls on the other hand have a soft chewy outer cookie layer made with whole grains and a simple filling made of dried figs and orange juice. Homemade fig newtons are not as sweet as cuccidati and make the perfect snack cookie for packed lunches or anytime of day.
Dried Figs – Use any variety of dried sweet figs to make the vegan fig newton filling. I used a mix of dried Turkish figs (aka Calimyrna figs) and black mission figs. Substitutions: You can try swapping the fig mixture ingredients with thick fig jam or fig spread mixed with a bit of orange zest or spoonful of orange marmalade.
Aquafaba – Aquafaba acts as an egg replacer in the cookie dough. It translates to “bean water” and is the cooking liquid leftover from boiling dried garbanzo beans or the brine from canned chickpeas. Substitutions: I haven’t tested this recipe with any other egg-replacers but you could try flax-eggs.
Non-Dairy Milk – Use an unsweetened dairy-free milk of your choice such as soy milk, almond milk or oat milk. I don’t suggest using thick and creamy rich-tasting plant milks like coconut milk or cashew milk in this recipe because they may additional fat and make the cookies greasy.
Oil – Use a combination of olive oil and coconut oil for the best results. Extra virgin-olive oil and virgin coconut oil will give the cookie dough a fruity taste, whereas lite olive oil and refined coconut oil will not affect the taste of the cookies that much since they are both mild in flavor.
Maple Syrup – A touch of maple syrup adds sweetness to the cookie dough. You only need a small amount since the fig filling is naturally quite sweet on its own. Substitutions: Swap maple syrup with another liquid sweetener such as agave nectar, golden syrup or honey or light or dark brown sugar.
Orange – The bright citrus flavor of orange is the perfect addition to compliment sweet and rich-tasting dried figs. Both orange zest and fresh orange juice are used in the cookie dough and the fig filling to give the final cookies a delicious sweet citrus taste. Substitutions: Swap oranges with other sweet citrus such as mandarins, tangerines, clementines, etc. Lemon zest and lemon juice will add tartness.
Vanilla – A dash of vanilla rounds out the flavors of these delicious cookies. Use vanilla extract or vanilla paste. Substitutions: Feel free to leave it out or try swapping it with almond extract or orange blossom water.
Flour – This recipe uses whole grain flours for a delicious wholesome tasting fig cookie. Use spelt flour or whole wheat pastry flour in combination with oat flour. Substitutions: Whole wheat flour can be swapped with all-purpose flour for a lighter tasting cookie. To make gluten free fig newtons, replace the wheat flour with a 1-1 gluten free flour blend such as Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour and make sure to use certified gluten-free oat flour.
Baking Powder – Baking powder is the leavening agent that gives these fig cookies a soft lofty texture.
Cinnamon – A dash of ground cinnamon adds a warm spice flavor that pairs wonderfully with the oatmeal cookie crust and delicious filling ingredients.
Salt – Salt brings out the flavors of the fig rolls. I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt in all my cooking and baking recipes.
How to Make The Best Vegan Fig Bars
Step 1: Make the fig cookie dough
First, preheat the oven with the rack in the center and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
To make the cookie dough, start by whisking the aquafaba until it’s frothy in a large bowl. Whisk the remaining wet ingredients into the aquafaba.
In a separate bowl whisk the dry ingredients together.
Dump the flour mixture in the wet mixture in the large mixing bowl and stir them together with a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms and comes together into a ball.
Cover the fig cookie dough with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set it aside while you make the filling.
Step 2: Make the dried fig filling
Cut away any stems on the dried figs and add them to the bowl off a food processor. Add the orange zest and fresh orange juice to the bowl and puree the filling ingredients to form a sticky and thick paste.
The fig filling should be thick with a spreadable consistency. Add more orange juice if need to get the right consistency.
Step 3: Form the fig cookies
Divide dough in half and roll one portion of dough out into a long thin rectangle between two pieces of parchment paper or wax paper to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin or roll it on a lightly floured surface.
Spread half of the fig mixture in one long strip down the center of the dough. Use the paper to help roll the dough around the filling so that it forms a log with the seam side down. Tuck ends of the log under and pinch to seal in filling. Carefully transfer the fig cookie log to the prepared baking sheet.
Repeat with the remaining half of dough and filling to form a second log.
Step 4: Bake the fig rolls
Bake the filled logs for 20 minutes until the cookie crust turns slightly golden brown and is cooked through.
Cool the fig cookie logs for 10 minutes on the baking sheet. Slice the cookie logs into 2-inch long fig bars with a sharp knife and transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
How to Store Plant Based Fig Bars
Once the baked cookies have cooled completely, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
For longer storage, place the delicious fig cookies in an airtight freezer bag and freeze them for up to 3 months. Thaw the frozen fig rolls to room temperature before serving them.
Fig Bar Recipe Variations
Blueberry Fig Bars – Replace 100 g (3.5 oz) of the dried figs with fresh or frozen blueberries and reduce the amount of orange juice to 1-2 tablespoons.
Raspberry Fig Bars – Replace 100 g (3.5 oz) of the dried figs with fresh or frozen raspberries and reduce the amount of orange juice to 1-2 tablespoons.
How to Make Fig Newtons with Fresh Figs
To make homemade fig bars with fresh figs, first make fig jam with the figs. Fresh figs are not as sweet as dried figs so you will need to add sugar or another sweetener to sweeten and help thicken the fig jam filling. Remove the stems of the fresh figs and quarter them. Then cook them down to a thick jammy consistency with sugar and orange juice.
Use about 340g (12 oz) of fresh figs, 50-67g (1/4 to 1/3 cup) of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of orange juice to make fresh fig jam to replace the dried fig filling in this recipe.
Swap the wheat flour in this recipe with with a 1-to-1 gluten free flour blend such as Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour and use certified gluten-free oat flour.
These homemade fig bars are made with healthy whole food ingredients. See the nutritional value for 1 serving of fig cookies in the recipe card.
Yes, see how to make homemade fig cookies with fresh figs in this post under the heading: How to Make Fig Newtons with Fresh Figs.
More Delicious Cookie Recipes
- Mushroom Cookies Recipe
- Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cranberry Walnut Cookies
- Sourdough Jam Sandwich Cookies
- Easy Vegan Slice and Bake Shortbread Cookies
- Italian Baci di Dama Cookies (Lady’s Kisses)
Homemade Fig Cookies (Fig Newtons) Recipe – Vegan
- 2 tablespoons aquafaba chickpea brine/cooking liquid-see notes
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk such as soy milk, almond milk, or oat milk
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest from 1 orange
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 130 g spelt flour 1 cup, or whole wheat pastry flour
- 115 g oat flour 1 cup
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 226 g dried figs 8 oz., stems removed
- 62 g fresh orange juice 1/4 cup
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F/190˚C with the rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchmnet paper.
- Whisk the aquafaba until it's frothy in a medium mixing bowl. Add milk, oils, maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla to the aquafaba and whisk to incorporate.
- Stir together flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Dump the dry mixture into wet mixture and stir together with a rubber spatula until the dough comes together in a ball and is soft to the touch. Set the dough aside.
- Remove the stems from the dried figs and process them with orange juice in a food processor until they form a thick sticky paste. Add more juice if needed to get the right thick and spreadable consistency. Set the filling aside.
- Divide the dough in half and starting with one half, roll it out into a long rectangle about 1/4" thick. Roll dough between two pieces of parchment or wax paper to keep the dough from sticking to your rolling pin.
- Spread half of the fig filling onto the dough in one long strip down the center. Use the paper to help you roll the dough around the filling so that it forms a log, seam side down. Tuck ends of the log under and pinch to seal in filling. Carefully transfer the cookie log onto the prepared sheet pan.
- Repeat with the remaining half of dough and filling to form a second log.
- Bake the fig rolls for 20 minutes until crust turns slightly golden and is cooked through.
- Cool the fig cookie logs for 10 minutes before cutting them into 2-inch long bars with a serrated knife.
- Store fig bars in an airtight container at room temp for up to 1 week.
- Aquafaba is the brine of canned chickpeas or the reduced cooking water of cooked chickpeas. Save the brine next time you open a can or the cooking water if you cook your own.
- To make oat flour simply grind rolled oats into a fine meal/flour in a blender.
- Melt coconut oil by setting in a dish, then setting the dish in hot water.
- Use any type of dried figs. I used a mixture of dried Turkish figs and black mission figs.
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