I hope you really enjoy this savory fig jam recipe, you guys. Technically a fig chutney, no matter what you call it, it will be the star condiment on a cheese plate!
The sweet/savory goodness is hard to resist, and if you’re new to savory jams, I’ll give you lots of ideas for using it.
Don’t miss my recipe for “regular” fig jam either. It’s spiked with some vanilla and black pepper which makes it a bit more complex than other fruit jams.
For ease of browsing, check out all of my jam and condiment recipes in one place here. Thanks so much for visiting!
What is Fig Chutney (and Why You Should Make This Recipe)
Chutney is an Indian condiment made of fruit and/or vegetables with sugar, spices, and vinegar
In no way am I calling this chutney a traditional Indian condiment, because it is not.
But, I do take cues from the definition of an Indian chutney and use the same flavor elements with figs as the star.
This fig chutney, or savory fig jam, is sweet, tangy, spicy, caramelized, and lip-smacking.
You’ll want to make this recipe because the flavors are nuanced and balanced.
All the elements work together with no one dominating.
It is just sweet enough, just spicy enough, just tangy enough, and just lip-smacking enough.
For me, so adjust according to your taste. I’ll tell you how and where to make substitutions and adjustments so you can sally forth without fear.
Here’s how to make it.
How to Make Savory Fig Jam
Based on the general definition of chutney, here are my fruits/veggies, sugar, spices, and vinegar.
I’m also giving you substitutes for most ingredients.
I really want you to make this jam your own and use what you have. Keep in mind the “rules” of fruit and/or vegetables, sugar, spices, and vinegar, and go for it.
Fruits and Vegetables
- Figs: I used fresh figs a friend gave me. You could use dried figs if you would like. Other likely fruity candidates are plums, cherries, peaches, green tomatoes, or apples
- Shallots: I used 2 whole pretty big shallots, sliced really thinly, but you can cut back to one if you’d rather. Also consider using sweet onions rather than shallot, especially if that’s what you have on hand
- Golden raisins: I used a large handful. Any dried fruit would work well: snipped dried apricots, dates, dried cherries, dried cranberries, or “regular” dark raisins all would work fine. Of course, dried figs would work as well
- Thai palm sugar: Any sugar will work. I love using Thai palm sugar (which I get at our local Asian grocery store or from Amazon) because I really like the flavor of it and that it truly is minimally processed. But any conventional sweetener will do here including white sugar, brown sugar, honey, agave, etc. If you want to use a sugar substitute, do NOT use monkfruit/erythritol blend because it will crystallize once it cools.
- Balsamic vinegar: When I was developing this recipe, I was just going to use balsamic alone, but its bite gets a little lost in the sweetness. I kept it in the final recipe because I still think it brings its own wonderful sweet tang. Substitute blush vinegar, white balsamic, rice wine vinegar, or red wine vinegar
- Mustard Seed: I love the heat and textural pop that mustard seed brings to this recipe. The whole mustard seeds along with the seeds from the fig make for a delightful texture as well as some mustardy heat. Use 1/2 teaspoon for milder flavor and up to 2 teaspoons for a big punch of mustardy goodness. You may also omit if you are not a fan of mustard
- Salt: Brings all the flavors into focus. Don’t leave it out
- Pepper: Several grinds. If you have Tellicherry peppercorns, they bring a nice pungency to the mix, but any freshly ground black pepper will do
- Sweet Hot Sauce: I used a peach and onion hot sauce that I purchased locally. Use your favorite hot sauce, but I do recommend a fruit-based hot sauce if you can find one. This peach and Vidalia onion hot sauce has great reviews.
- Balsamic Vinegar (doing double duty as both a sweetener and a tangy element): See above under “sugar”
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Since the balsamic didn’t bring quite the zing I wanted all by itself, I backed it up with a nice, “bitey” apple cider vinegar. Since you’re cooking it anyway, no need to get fancy with the kind with “the mother” in it, unless that’s what you already have
I also add one other ingredient that is unexpected but brings additional depth to the jam.
I add a teaspoon or two of umami-packed fish sauce.
Feel free to leave it out to keep the recipe vegetarian, but it really does add a little something extra, and I recommend using it if you have it.
Don’t buy it especially to use in this recipe, but if you already have a pretty well-stocked Asian pantry, go ahead and pull that bottle down!
How to Make This Fig Chutney
This recipe is really easy to make, y’all.
In a nutshell:
- Slowly bring figs, shallots, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and Thai palm sugar to a boil.
- Add raisins, mustard seed, hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, and fish sauce.
- Reduce heat to keep at a simmer.
- Reduce the jam, stirring frequently, until thick and deep, caramel-brown color.
It’s important to taste your jam towards the end of cooking. That way, you can adjust the seasonings so it tastes just the way you want it to.
Adjust salt, heat, tang, etc, all according to your taste.
Here are a few video clips that will give you visual clues about what your jam should look like at a few key stages.
I hope you find them helpful!
1)This is the jam at “stage one,” with the figs, Thai palm sugar balsamic, shallots, salt, and pepper at the beginning of the cooking process.
You can see me trying to “smush” one of the wee pucks of palm sugar. It goes much more smoothly once the mixture begins to heat up, and the smush and melt into the mix very easily.
2)After just a couple of minutes of cooking, you can see how much wetter the mixture is as the shallots and figs release their liquid.
At this point, the palm sugar will mix in much more smoothly.
3)Once everything comes to a boil and all the sugar has melted, add the rest of the ingredients: raisins, hot sauce, mustard seed, apple cider vinegar, and fish sauce.
Here’s what the mixture will look like about halfway through simmering.
Note how much darker it is as the flavors concentrate.
4)Notice how I “fold” the mixture over towards the end of cooking.
This is so I can expose as much of it to the direct heat on the bottom of the pan, ensuring controlled caramelization and deepening of the flavor.
You can make slight variations on this basic recipe by adjusting the amounts of any of the ingredients.
Use the same basic recipe but switch out the main fruit. Try apples, peaches, cherries, or green tomatoes.
To make a smoky version, add minced chipotles in adobo and add some hot smoked paprika when you add the mustard seed.
Make a more traditional spiced fig jam (or any fruit) by leaving out the shallots (or onions) entirely and increasing the sugar by about 1/2.
Turn this into a figgy pepper relish by decreasing the shallots to 1/2 or one and adding diced red, yellow, or green bell peppers. Spice it up a little by using a poblano. Or make it super spicy by adding some minced habanero.
I really do hope you play with this recipe and the elements of a classic chutney to make your own personal favorite!
Aside from a sturdy saucepan and a wooden spoon, my favorite tool for making this jam is a meat masher. Pampered Chef pioneered this handy tool as the “Mix ‘N Chop.”
It allows me to smash up the chutney as it cooks while still allowing for a nice, rustic texture. I also use mine for cooking ground beef and sausage.
I thought it was a gimmicky product until I got one and began using it. It is really useful, and I use mine at least once or twice a week.
Tips for Success
Cooking over high heat will buy you burnt chutney that won’t have a deep flavor. Keep the heat on low to medium-low after the initial boil. This allows the flavors time to mingle, concentrate and deepen and also keeps your chutney from scorching.
Adjust the texture of the jam by pulsing in a food processor after cooking. Or leave it alone for a more rustic texture. Puree it smooth, and you’ll basically have fig and raisin ketchup!
Recipe Q & A
If you leave out the fish sauce or replace it with soy sauce or coconut aminos, the recipe is both vegetarian and vegan.
As written, all ingredients are gluten-free. If you want to make a vegetarian version and you decide to opt for soy sauce instead of fish sauce, that ingredient is not gluten-free. Use coconut aminos instead, or just omit that ingredient altogether. Your chutney will still be delicious!
Since it is cooked down and is relatively low-moisture and high-sugar, it should be just fine for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Most likely, it will be fine for longer than that, but I always err on the side of caution when it comes to food safety.
I am not a canner, so I don’t optimize my recipes for the correct pH for canning. If you want to make a chutney for long-term storage, please use a recipe that is made to be canned.
Some of the ingredients, like the hot sauce and balsamic vinegar, have added sugars. And other ingredients contain naturally occurring sugars. So, to make it truly added-sugars-free, you’ll need to lose the balsamic, replacing it with something like red wine vinegar, and use a hot sauce that doesn’t contain sugar. Then use a sugar sub for the Thai palm sugar. BochaSweet is one that I know will not crystallize once it cools. Note it is pretty expensive, though.
The sweet-savory combination can go places that a regular jam cannot.
This chutney makes a great alternative to the balsamic/onion/fig jam I call for in this grilled pizza recipe. I topped mine with goat cheese, purple potatoes, and roasted red peppers, but you can top yours however you like.
Here are some other ideas for you:
- as a condiment for meats or burgers. Try it on my onion burgers.
- as a sandwich spread. I can see a grilled cheese with this savory fig chutney, brie, and ham being pretty amazing.
- Serve it right alongside your sweet jams for a breakfast/brunch toast bar. (Label it so you don’t take folks by surprise, unless you like doing that!)
- Try it spread on freshly made asiago bagels
- present your savory jam as a condiment option on your cheese board or charcuterie board
- Stir a bit into a pan sauce or gravy Simply swap out the figs and balsamic in the linked recipe with some of your savory jam. Huzzah!
- Use it as a topping for baked brie.
More Savory Jams and Chutneys
If you have questions about this post or recipe, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can leave a comment on the post and I will get back to you within about 24 hours.
If your question is more urgent, please shoot me an email, and I will respond within 4 hours, unless I’m asleep.
A Note About Measurements
NOTE: Most of my recipes are written by weight and not volume, even the liquids.
Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.
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- 2-3 cups fresh figs, rinsed and stems removed
- 2 medium shallots, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
- 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- several grindings fresh black pepper
- 2 1/2-3 oz Thai palm sugar
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1/2-1 teaspoon whole mustard seed
- 2 Tablespoons sweet hot sauce, more or less, to taste
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 teaspoons fish sauce, optional (See Notes)
- In a cold, medium saucepan, add figs, shallots, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and Thai palm sugar.
- Turn heat to medium and bring to a boil, smashing the Thai sugar against the sides of the pan to help it melt into the figs.
- Add the raisins, mustard seed, hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, and fish sauce (if using).
- Bring back to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low-to-medium-low, and simmer for 30-45 minutes until the juices are nicely thickened and jammy.
- As the juices concentrate and the mixture gets thicker, stir occasionally to keep it from sticking too much.
- I actually like mine to stick and caramelize a little as it deepens the flavor. Just watch it carefully so caramelized doesn't turn into burnt!
- Taste and adjust the seasonings.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
To keep this jam, vegetarian, leave out the fish sauce. You can substitute soy sauce or coconut aminos for the fish sauce or leave it out entirely.
If you decide you want to caramelize the jam, let it "fry" for a minute or so without stirring. Then fold the jam over with a spatula, allowing a different portion to come into contact with the bottom of the pan. Do this a few times until your jam is as caramelized as you like.
As written, this jam contains no added fat. If you'd like an even more caramelized flavor, start with a little oil and then caramelize the shallots over low heat until golden brown all the way through. Then continue with the recipe.
Note that this is just a template, honestly. Use the fruit you have: plums, figs, peaches, etc. Use your favorite sweetener instead of the Thai sugar: sugar, brown sugar, honey, etc.
Add supporting flavors that are tangy, hot, lip-smacking, and you're all set.
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Nutrition InformationYield 16 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 134Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 102mgCarbohydrates 34gFiber 3gSugar 30gProtein 1g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
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