Small Batch

How to Make Digestive Biscuits

by • March 11, 2014 49 Comments

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It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Kathryn from London Bakes is teaching us how to make a classic English cookie like a real live Londoner.

It's no secret that we Brits like a cup of tea and a biscuit -- a proper British biscuit, that is. When it comes to dunking, a recent survey revealed that we consider the chocolate digestive as the very best option. But even without the tea, there's something supremely satisfying about the combination of a hearty oat-filled dough, toffee overtones of brown sugar, and smooth chocolate in a digestive biscuit.

The name “digestive” is said to derive from the belief that the baking soda included in the original recipe helped with digestion. Sadly, modern doctors are no longer in the habit of prescribing a couple of biscuits after meals. But because these cookies are packed with whole grains and oats, I don't feel too bad about indulging in one or two (or three or four).

A good digestive biscuit should be on the savory side of sweet, equally at home topped with a wedge of cheese or smothered in chocolate. I love using whole wheat spelt flour in this recipe for a subtle sweetness with an added dimension of flavor. Feel free to use all purpose flour if you'd prefer.

Digestive Biscuits

Makes 12 cookies

1 cup whole wheat spelt flour
1 1/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup dark muscovado sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
4 ounces dark or milk chocolate, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Put all of the ingredients except the milk in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the milk, little by little, and pulse again until the dough starts to clump together. (You may not need all of the milk.)

Gather the dough together with your hands and knead once or twice to bring it together, being careful not to over-handle it.

Place the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll it out until it's about 1/4 inch thick. If the dough becomes too warm and sticky, pop it in the fridge to firm up. 

Using a round cookie cutter, cut out your biscuits, and place them on the baking tray. Chill for 10 minutes, or until firm.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until just golden brown at the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire rack.

To coat your digestives in chocolate, wait until the biscuits have cooled completely. Then, melt the chopped chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Either dip the cookies in the chocolate or drizzle it over top.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Kathryn of London Bakes

Tags: how-to & DIY, small batch, english, british, cookies, desserts, chocolate, digestives, biscuits, tea

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Comments (49)


2 months ago Sarah t

Incredibly easy to make and TASTY! More like a hobnob than a digestive, but tasty all the same!


3 months ago Tess

I didn't have muskovado sugar, so I used light brown sugar with 1/2 tsp of molasses. These biscuits are lovely with tea. They have a nice texture and the Aren't overly sweet, so the chocolate Lends a nice finish.


6 months ago Amy S.

i forgot how delicious these were! i made this recipe a couple months ago, froze a few in rounds, and just made the ones i had frozen. they definitely hit that digestive sweet spot that i've been missing since leaving europe. i like chopping a small amount of chocolate into fine pieces and putting it on top of the cookies while they're still warm, then spreading it when melted.


10 months ago schizo12901

Mine are in the oven. I had a problem after rolling the dough I couldn't get it off the parchment in anything that looked like a cookie shape :( However, I decided to take off the excess dough around my cut cookies and then put the parchment I rolled on in the refidgerator then the oven... We will see how that works, next time I will leave more space between cookies I cut out as I think they will rise and run into one another. Other than that the recipe was very easy. I will update with how they turn out :)


about 1 year ago Kate

i was thinking of making these with a honey/maple syrup instead of the sugar. Do you think it will work out well or should I try omitting the milk?


over 1 year ago angela

can't WAIT to try these, i love these type of cookies but don't like buying store bought cookies full of icky ingredients.


over 1 year ago Michael

I made the digestive biscuits but added salted carmelized white chocolate on top instead.... Very good with sherry.


over 1 year ago aunty mags

Being from the UK I can't wait to try this recipe! I adore chocolate digestive biscuits and I'm sure they are just as healthy (or not) as any regular biscuit (sorry - cookie) as anything available in US supermarkets!


over 1 year ago clem ashley

for metric go to your search engine. easy to find as this recipe


over 1 year ago Patricia Bransford

Fell in love with these biscuits when we were stationed at Upavon in 1996-1999. We here in the States don't have a biscuit like this. Thanks for the recipe!


over 1 year ago Irene Sayegh

Can whole grain wheat flour be used instead of spelt flour?


over 1 year ago londonbakes

Apologies for the delay in replying but yes, definitely!


over 1 year ago Kitty Hetheriton

these look like just what i love, i made something close with dates and honey and such, took them to work and they said that they were "Too" healthy, i said, great more for me, and they are great with a cup of coffee in the morning to get you going or to keep you going, love the afternoon tea, i may do without the chocolate though, will have to try it first


over 1 year ago Colleen Russell

Can buckwheat be substituted for the spelt?


over 1 year ago londonbakes

I was thinking about this at the weekend but didn't get a chance to play. My gut is that it would probably be okay but I can't say for sure. One of the commenters below tried it with a mix of buckwheat, nut flour and garbanzo bean flour which sounds great!


over 1 year ago Kitty Hetheriton

how do you print this without printing the whole page??


over 1 year ago Judith A West

So tickled to find this recipe... I fell in love with Digestive Biscuits with chocolate bottoms while living in England in 1970-73... what a joy to find this recipe! Can't wait to bake a batch! Thanks so much!


over 1 year ago Gary Sage

Now now Helen, lighten up ;-), these are treats. They are also scrumptious - not too thick, not too much chocolate - just perfect! Love from England.


over 1 year ago Helen FitzGerald

I used to live in England and lived quite a lot on digestive biscuits - chocolate coated or not. These biscuits are much too thick; they should be more like a very thin ginger snap. The amount of chocolate coating is excessive. There was a reason why these cookies were considered healthy.


over 1 year ago londonbakes

Sadly, I don't think anyone thinks digestive biscuits are healthy these days whether they're covered in chocolate or not! Personally, I don't think less than 10g of chocolate per biscuit is excessive but you may be more abstemious than I am. If so, more power to you! They are a tiny bit thicker than a shop bought digestive because they cook up a little better that way but you are, of course, free to roll them however thick or thin you like!


over 1 year ago Helen FitzGerald

Thank you for the thoughts. I'm certainly going to give the recipe a try; homemade is always better, and in this case I'll find for myself. I'm sure there will always be the crisp versus soft cookie debate. Best regards.


over 1 year ago Em Hassan

You can never have too much chocolate !


over 1 year ago Carly Robins

I made these gluten free by keeping the oats (GF of course) and instead of flours I used 1/3 cup almond meal, 1/3 cup cashew meal (thank you trader joe's!), and for the last third I used a combo of buckwheat and garbanzo/chickpea flour). I felt like the nut meals would give the digestives the same nutty complexity of flavor. And the result? DELICIOUS. In fact, I think because the nut meals are so naturally sweet I will use less sugar next time. And I would've used coconut milk, but the dough was actually perfect so I didn't need any.


over 1 year ago londonbakes

Oh, that's a great suggestion! Thanks for the comment and for letting me know how you made them. I was thinking hazelnut meal/buckwheat might work nicely but I'm definitely going to try your way!


about 1 year ago Carly Robins

Did you try with hazelnut flour? I am sure it would be delicious!


over 1 year ago alexandra.cook

It never occurred to me that these are hard to find back home. They are a staple at every s/m in Greece where we live in lots of varieties (lo-fat, lo-sugar, w/ omega3, w/ chocolate). Now, to have a recipe to make them at home (and with choice ingredients) that's two thumbs up from me!


over 1 year ago jane learn

out of the blue, i discovered this site (and this recipe)and what a treat! these digestive biscuits are delicious and so easy to had never occurred to me to make them as Marks and Spencer's are my go-to digestive favourite. thank you, thank you, thank you!


over 1 year ago londonbakes

I'm so glad you liked them Jane!