Caramelizing fresh figs up in a bit of honey and butter highlights their sweet flavor and makes them seem extra-fancy. (Hot tip: this can also really improve underripe figs!)
These figs are delicious simply browned in the honey-butter mixture, but you can really kick them up a notch if you use what's left in the pan to make a sauce using tawny port, Madeira, or other another fortified wine.
Ways to Use These Luscious Figs
Serve the figs in small bowls or—even better—spoon them over ice cream for a luxurious dessert that comes together in about 15 minutes.
They're also wonderful on a cheese plate, over yogurt, or with a dollop of whipped cream. The recipe calls for 12 figs (about the number of smaller figs in a pint container), but it's easily doubled if you'd like to make more.
Do You Eat Fig Skin?
Indeed, you can—and should!—eat the skin of all types of figs, so all you have to do for this recipe is rinse and stem the figs and cut them in half before cooking.
The Simple Ingredients You Need to Make Honeyed Figs
This recipe requires just three ingredients. Here's the rundown:
- Figs: You can use any fig variety in this recipe. Since fresh figs can be hard to come by, snap up whatever kind you see that looks good when they’re in season—in the U.S., figs have a short early summer season followed by a longer season later in the summer and through the fall. Figs should be plump and should give slightly to pressure. Figs may soften once they are picked, but they won’t truly ripen, so you are better off getting figs that are slightly overripe than underripe. Some splitting and blemishes are ok, as long as the figs aren’t shrunken, oozing, moldy, or smell fermented.
- Butter: Though this recipe calls for unsalted butter, a little salt plays nicely with the sweetness of the figs and honey, so feel free to use salted if that’s all you have on hand.
- Honey: As with the figs, you can use any type of honey, though a milder honey like clover, alfalfa, or orange blossom will let the flavor of the figs shine through.
Not required, but these ingredients make for an extra-EXTRA tasty treat:
- Fortified Wine (optional): Though it’s optional, adding a couple of tablespoons of tawny port or Madeira to the mixture makes a wonderful sticky, sweet sauce for spooning over ice cream.
- Ice Cream or Whipped Cream: For an even more special dessert, serve the figs over sweet cream or vanilla ice cream—or fig ice cream, if you’re lucky enough to find it or you make your own! Or dollop whipped cream, mascarpone, or crème fraîche over them. They’re also lovely on yogurt for a special breakfast.
“These figs with honey were absolutely delicious and couldn’t have been easier to make. I’ll definitely be memorizing this recipe. I tried the simple version as well as the version with tawny port—both were delicious, but if you have port or Madeira around, the alcohol adds a nice caramel-like flavor and creates a sauce that tastes amazing spooned over ice cream.” — Megan O. Steintrager
A Note From Our Recipe Tester
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons tawny port, Madeira, or other sweet, fortified wine, optional
Ice cream, yogurt, or whipped cream, optional
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
Rinse the figs clean and pat them dry. Trim off and discard stems and cut the figs in half lengthwise. Set them aside.
In a medium frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the honey and gently stir it into the butter.
When the mixture is fully combined, set the figs cut-side-down in the honey-butter mixture and cook. Shake the pan now and again to keep the figs from sticking and spoon the honey-butter mixture over the tops of the figs until everything is bubbling and the figs are starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
If using port, Madeira, or another fortified wine, remove the figs from the pan, and whisk in the wine.
Once the wine is whisked in and a smooth sauce forms, let it simmer and bubble until thickened, about 2 minutes.
Add the figs back to the pan and spoon the sauce over them, heating everything together.
Serve the figs hot or warm, along with ice cream or topped with a dollop of yogurt or whipped cream, if you like.
Don't remove the figs from the pan. Instead of port or Madeira, use brandy.
Take the pan off the heat and pour the brandy over the figs. Return the pan to the heat. If you have a gas stove, simply tip the pan a bit and the brandy should catch the cooking flame. On other stove-tops, use a long match or lighter to set the brandy on fire. As ever when working with a live flame, exercise extreme caution.
Cook, shaking the pan a bit until the fire dies down (it will when the brandy has cooked off). Serve.
How to Store
Store figs in their sauce in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.