Gluten-Free Fig Bars Recipe

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Photographs: Elizabeth Barbone

It took several test batches to get them just right, but these gluten-free fig bars inspired by classic Fig Newtons are a dream come true: Lightly orange-scented, tender cookie surrounds a sweet and flavorful dried-fig filling.

Why this recipe works:

  • Using vegetable shortening instead of butter creates a more authentic Newton cookie texture that's light, not flaky.
  • A mixture of granulated and brown sugars guarantees a cookie texture that's moist and flavorful.

Note: To ensure the correct consistency for the filling, use dried figs that are soft; if your figs are firm, soak them for five minutes in warm water before making the filling. These cookies are best after an overnight rest, which helps ensure the outer cookie softens and becomes cakey. If you don't want to wait a day, the cookie will be more crunchy, but still delicious.

Recipe Facts

Active: 90 mins
Total: 3 hrs 30 mins
Serves: 24 servings

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For the Cookie:

  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) brown rice flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) cornstarch

  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) sweet rice flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt

  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) vegetable shortening

  • 1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup (2 1/2 ounces) dark brown sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/4 teaspoon orange oil or 1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest from 1 orange

For the Filling:

  • 14 ounces dried mission figs (see note)

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon

  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt


  1. For the Cookie: In medium mixing bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, cornstarch, sweet rice flour, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat together vegetable shortening, granulated sugar, and brown sugar at medium-high speed until well combined, about 30 seconds. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix at medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl, then mix for an additional 15 seconds. With mixer off, add dry ingredients and orange oil, then mix at medium-low speed until a dough forms.

  2. Generously dust work surface with brown rice flour. Turn dough out onto counter and pat into a round. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.

  3. Meanwhile, For the Filling: In bowl of food processor, combine figs, water, corn syrup, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse until a thick paste forms. Filling should be thick but yield when pressed with the back of a spoon. If filling is too firm, blend in an additional teaspoon or two of water until it is soft enough to pipe. Transfer filling to a large pastry big fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip.

  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove dough from the refrigerator and cut into six equal pieces. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set a 12- by 18-inch piece of parchment paper on your work surface. Dust the parchment generously with brown rice flour. Center one of the dough pieces on the parchment and dust generously with brown rice flour. Roll dough into a 10- by 4 1/2-inch strip, using a pizza wheel to trim edges.

  5. Pipe fig filling evenly down the center of the dough strip. Run a thin metal spatula between the dough and parchment to loosen the dough. Fold the dough edges over the filling, pressing down lightly to seal. Lift the dough log off the parchment and transfer, seam side down, to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

  6. Bake fig bars in center of the oven until set and just starting to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and cut cookies, using a sharp knife, into 2-inch pieces. Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a container with a lid, separating layers with pieces of parchment paper. Store for 24 hours before serving.

Special Equipment

1/2-inch round pasty-bag tip, large pastry bag, pizza wheel

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
110 Calories
3g Fat
19g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 110
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 4%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 17mg 6%
Sodium 150mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 7mg 1%
Iron 0mg 3%
Potassium 40mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)