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How to Make Digestive Biscuits

4.64 from 290 votes
From a tea time snack to entire pie crust, my Digestive Biscuits recipe is as versatile as it is delicious and can be made in no time.
A Digestive Biscuits Recipe

Hi Bold Bakers!

I’ve wanted to make Homemade Digestive Biscuits for you for a long time now because they are a very popular biscuit in Ireland and are used in many recipes. We utilize them for the base of Cheesecakes like my No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake or in biscuit cake like my Chocolate Salami. They are also can also be appreciated simply with a cup of tea.

With the ubiquitous popularity of McVitie’s digestive biscuits, a lot of people understandably wonder where to buy digestive biscuits. Well, I’m here to tell you how to assemble them yourself.

What Are Digestive Biscuits?

Digestive biscuits are used in an interchangeable way as graham crackers in the U.S. They are best described as whole wheat shortbread, and are crisp like shortbread and equally as buttery. Biscuits in Ireland are not equivalent to soft American biscuits, they are a type of cookie. However, cookies can be soft and chewy whereas biscuits are mostly semi-sweet, crisp, and crunchy, with no softness.

Why Are They Called Digestive Biscuits?

The term “digestive” comes from the 19th century and means that it aided digestion. In 1839, a pair of Scottish doctors invented the digestive. Digestive biscuits were thought to have the same fundamental properties and health benefits you might find in an antacid due to the usage of sodium bicarbonate in the digestive biscuit recipe.

Sodium bicarbonate is the sole ingredient for baking soda. We’ll be using baking powder, which in addition to sodium bicarbonate, also contains monocalcium phosphate and either sodium acid pyrophosphate or sodium aluminum sulfate.

In 1892, Alexander Grant developed and patented the original, prototypical recipe for McVitie’s digestive biscuits.

Homemade Digestive Biscuits baked and on the pan.

What You’ll Need To Make Digestive Biscuits

  • Cookie sheet and parchment paper
  • Mixing bowl
  • Floured surface
  • Rolling pin
  • Measuring cups

How To Make Digestive Biscuits

It’s so easy to make these that you’ll never wonder why you ever bought them in the first place! Here’s how you make them (and get the full, printable recipe with measurements below):

  1. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine and mix dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  3. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips.
  4. Add milk and work through to form a dough.
  5. On a floured surface, turn out the dough.
  6. Roll out the dough using a floured rolling pin and cut into rounds.
  7. Transfer to the cookie sheet and bake until pale gold.

When To Eat Digestive Biscuits

Biscuits are made to be enjoyed with a cup of tea. Dunking them in your tea is what softens them. The Irish are a nation of tea drinkers. Tea is customarily consumed morning, noon, and night in my house.

Even living in the States now I still carry on the tradition and have tea time every day around 3 o’clock. I sit down, watch my stories, and have a cup of Irish tea.

What Can I Make With Digestive Biscuits?

These can be ground up into crumbs and used in place of Graham cracker crumbs to make no-bake pie crusts for a whole variety of pies and cheesecakes.

They can also be crushed into larger chunks and added into ice cream or trifles for unbelievable texture and flavor.

Are Digestive Biscuits Good For Weight Loss?

As far as cookies and biscuits go, these are a dessert with benefits. The whole wheat flour that is the base of these cookies makes for a nutty rich flavor but also contributes fiber and nutrients.

Fundamentally a dessert, digestive biscuits won’t magically help accelerate weight loss but are a more nutritious alternative to a standard cookie.

How to Store Them

These biscuits will last for 3-4 days. To keep them fresh, just cover and store them in an airtight container at room temperature.

Try These Other Recipes!

And don’t forget to buy my Bigger Bolder Baking Cookbook!

Full (and printable) recipe below!

Digestive Biscuits Recipe

4.64 from 290 votes
From a tea-time snack to an entire pie crust, my Digestive Biscuits recipe is as versatile as it is delicious and can be made in no time.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 45 mins
From a tea-time snack to an entire pie crust, my Digestive Biscuits recipe is as versatile as it is delicious and can be made in no time.
Author: Gemma Stafford

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups ( 8 1/3oz/236g) whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (3oz/85g) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4oz/115g) butter (cubed)
  • 1/4 cup (2floz/57ml) milk

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix to combine the ingredients.
  • Quickly, working with your fingertips or a blender, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the milk and work through to form a dough.
  • Turn out on a floured surface and roll to form a smooth dough. (IF your dough seems dry add a little more milk.)
  • Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to a bit more than 1/8 inch thick and cut into rounds, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. You can keep rolling the scraps together to make additional biscuits.
  • Transfer the biscuits to your baking pan and, if desired, prick the biscuits with a fork to create holes. Bake for 20 minutes until biscuits are pale gold.
  • Cover and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Freeze the raw dough for up to 1 month. 

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Hazel
1 year ago

Omg, this recipe is the best. I could not stop eating them. I made them for my grandfather’s birthday, he died a few months ago.👍🏻

Antony
Antony
1 year ago

Recipe works great, quick to make and tastes just as expected.
My only complaint is the reference to butter on the biscuits!
Everyone knows digestives are custom designed as a delivery vehicle for Nutella 😉
Thanks for posting this!

Tanya
Tanya
1 year ago

Great recipe – super easy and delicious, and I’ll definitely make these again! I loved that the dough was so easy to work with and barely needed refrigeration. I did make some substitutions: I didn’t want to use powdered sugar, so I used 109g of honey instead and reduced the milk by half. In the future, I think I’ll reduce the milk by 75%. I also reduced the baking time by a few minutes. The honey flavor goes really well with black tea, and honey has a lower glycemic index than sugar for those who might be concerned about that.… Read more »

Sally
Sally
1 year ago

Thank you, fantastic recipe. I have a real sweet tooth so add 120g icing sugar. These are a real winner. My family love them 🙂

Stella
Stella
1 year ago

Hi Gemma, Like everyone else we’re currently on lockdown. Love to try this recipient but only have plain flour and self raising flour in the house. I have fine porridge oats available- can I substitute any of the above or do you have any alternative suggestions?

Tamika W
Tamika W
1 year ago

Great recipe this tasted just like the digestive I buy at the store 👍🏼

Nicole
Nicole
1 year ago

Delicious biscuits! Next time I’m going to add lemon zest. What do you think?

Ursh
1 year ago

Great recipe! I melted some semi-sweet chocolate and coated these in that. Rather ashamed to say my family ate the entire batch in one day!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
1 year ago

Best digestive biscuit recipe I have tried. I felt no need to make any changes. Just the right amount of sweetness, not too much at all. I will use this recipe all the time now instead of searching around for a better one. Thank you!

sony
sony
1 year ago

Hi Gemma, is it possible to cut the sugar in half and still have good results?

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for my FREE weekly emails and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!