Perfectly-textured, gently sweet Gluten Free Digestive Biscuits. Simple to make. Delicious to eat. Wonderfully dunkable. Optional dairy free and vegan.
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Introducing my simple, no fuss Gluten Free Digestive Biscuits
These Gluten Free Digestive Biscuits are INCREDIBLE. They are exactly what I need in my baking repertoire. I’d honestly forgotten just how much I missed a great digestive. After being gluten free for well over 10 years, I’d (sort of) got used to the various gluten free options available in the shops. And although they never truly hit the mark in the same way as my brain remembered, they have always been ‘good enough’ to suffice.
Not any more… I’ve tasted the light and shop-bought gluten free digestives will no longer ‘cut it’ (other than (perhaps) for the base of a cheesecake). These babies are perfectly textured and (importantly) wonderfully dunkable. Even better, they’re super simple to make and can be created dairy free and vegan as well.
So if you miss a GREAT digestive biscuit, read on… But be warned… Once tried, there might be no turning back.
What are Digestive Biscuits?
Digestive Biscuits are a British staple… A semi-sweet, fairly plain but lightly crisp, wholemeal ‘cookie’ that was first created in Scotland way back in 1839. They are perfect with a cup of tea and are often ‘dunked’ for a very British eating experience. Equally, they are loved alongside cheese or just scoffed as they are.
Although in the UK, plain Digestive Biscuits are up there at Number 11 in the nation’s favourites list, it seems they are less well understood elsewhere. Indeed, I often get asked what Digestives are, particularly by my readers in the States. So hopefully, sharing this recipe will shed a little light on the subject…
Why do we need a Gluten Free Digestive Biscuits recipe?
There are at least two key reasons why we need a recipe for homemade Gluten Free Digestive Biscuits…
- As I discovered… They are WAY better than the shop-bought gluten free alternatives. Say no more!
- Because they are the ideal biscuits to crush and use in the base for traditional cheesecakes and other crumb-based tarts. And they can’t always be easily sourced outside of the UK.
On that second point… When asked about alternatives in the US, I usually suggest something like Graham Crackers (which I think are similar?). However, a Digestive is what I’m used to… So maybe if any of you lovely people in North America (or elsewhere) try this recipe, you’ll be able to let me know how they compare.
How to make Gluten Free Digestive Biscuits
I alluded above to the simplicity of making Gluten Free Digestive Biscuits. And I maintain this is the case. It’s not often I suggest a biscuit dough is made in a food processor, but for this recipe, it’s the best shortcut ever! So what do you need to know about the ingredients and the process?
Gluten free digestives use a blend of gluten free flours and oats… This is combined with a little soft light brown sugar (for gentle caramel sweetness); a touch of baking powder and xanthan gum (for structure and lightness); a pinch of salt (for balance); some butter; and a drop of milk.
As I know it will be the element that creates the most questions, let me focus for a moment on the gluten free flours…
These are wholemeal biscuits… and that means they need a good balance of whole grain and protein-rich (non-starch) flours in the mix. The recipe has been tested using…
- A combination of plain white gluten free flour blend (My ‘A’ Blend) + buckwheat flour + gluten free oats.
- My gluten free, rice free flour blend B (found at the bottom of my ‘What is Gluten Free Flour?’ page) + gluten free oats.
All the options tested have produced gluten free Digestives that were excellent in both texture and flavour.
Given the results, I suspect the ‘cookies’ will be flexible to using other wholegrain and protein-rich flours as preferred.
A note on oats…
My gluten free Digestive Biscuits have equally been tested using whole rolled oats (that became partially ground in the food processor during dough-making) and oat flour (pre-ground fine flour). Which you choose will be a matter of personal choice… The whole oats produced a Digestive that was coarser and more ‘oaty’ in texture. The oat flour version was finer and more refined both in look and bite.
Nonetheless, they both worked equally well in terms of biscuit structure and flavour.
If you can’t eat oats, for example, try subbing the total recipe weight of buckwheat + oat for a 50:50 balance of sorghum + buckwheat. OR… try a mix-and-match approach with alternatives such as amaranth, millet, buckwheat, sorghum and possibly even hemp or tiger nut flours.
Digestives are made using a process of rubbing the fat into the flour. Thus, the quickest (and least messy) way to make the dough is in a food processor…
Simply weigh all the dry ingredients directly into the processor along with the Cold butter and whizz until you have coarse crumbs! Then add the milk and pulse again to make a dough.
Once you have the dough… Roll and cut the biscuits, briefly chill them… then bake and scoff!
Without a food processor…
Don’t worry if you don’t have a food processor… Simply make your gluten free Digestives ‘by hand’… That is: Rub the fat into the dry ingredients using fingertips, add the milk and then work the whole lot into a dough, ready for rolling.
Making Gluten Free Digestive Biscuits that are dairy free and vegan
It’s just as easy to make Gluten Free Digestives that are dairy free and vegan as well. Simply switch the dairy butter and milk for dairy free like-for-like alternatives. That is… use a nice creamy block dairy free butter alternative. In the UK I recommend using either Flora Baking Block or Stork Baking Block. And any alternative dairy free milk of choice.
Tips for making the BEST Gluten Free Digestive Biscuits
There’s honestly not much extra advice to offer for making gluten free Digestive Biscuits. They are that straightforward. However, I’ve dug around in the depths of my brain to try and predict what emails I might encounter if I haven’t covered everything I can think of. So in addition to the above…
- Weigh everything accurately (as always).
- If you can’t eat xanthan gum, use psyllium husk instead (at twice the amount of the xanthan gum stated).
- Make sure you use BLOCK butter and that it is super-cold before ‘rubbing in’ or food processing.
- When rolling, use the lightest additional sprinkling of flour to avoid sticking. The more flour you add, the drier and crumblier the biscuits will become.
- Chill the dough ‘cookies’ before baking (although this probably isn’t essential, I chill all my ‘shaped’ biscuits to reduce the risk of spreading).
- Allow the biscuits to cool initially on the baking tray so that they harden before moving them. If in doubt about whether they are ‘crisp’ enough, pop them back in the cooling oven (turned off) and allow them to ‘dry’ for a further 10 minutes in a more gentle heat.
Ways to use digestive biscuits
Other than eating digestive biscuits (dunked or not), they are particularly versatile as an ingredient in other sweet recipes. They are the perfect biscuit to use in a cheesecake base, like our:
They also work well used for a Biscuit Cake, or in a Rocky Road, fridge cake or tiffin. And can be used to make a biscuit crust for a tart. Digestive Biscuits are exactly what you need for the tastiest Banoffee Pie. They are also perfect for sprinkling onto Banoffee Cake, or Chocolate Mousse for extra crunch!
Ready to make Gluten Free Digestive Biscuits?
The recipe for my Gluten Free Digestive Biscuits is just below (scroll an inch or two further). Enjoy! Let me know what you think with a comment, an email or through a message on social media (Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest).
We also now have a recipe for gluten free Chocolate Digestive Biscuits too!
For all my other biscuit recipes, head over to the Gluten Free Cookies and Biscuits Index and browse from there. Or for everything else, the main Gluten Free Recipe Index is the best place to start your kitchen journey.
All shared for free with my love
Gluten Free Digestive Biscuits
- food processor or large mixing bowl
- 80 g plain gluten free flour blend Or Gluten Free Alchemist wholegrain Flour Blend B (See NOTES)
- 60 g buckwheat flour Or Gluten Free Alchemist wholegrain Flour Blend B (See NOTES)
- 110 g gluten free rolled oats OR oat flour oat flour creates a finer textured biscuit
- 75 g soft light brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder gluten free
- ¼ tsp xanthan gum
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt (increase to ½ teaspoon for a slightly saltier biscuit)
- 135 g block butter or dairy free block alternative (cold and cubed)
- 40 g milk dairy free as required
- Weigh the flours, oats, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt into a food processor along with the cold cubed butter. (See NOTES if you do not have a food processor).
- Turn the machine on and grind all the ingredients together until they resemble crumbly coarse breadcrumbs.
- Add the milk and pulse to combine until the mixture comes together as a dough.
- Tip the mixture out and bring together into a ball with lightly floured hands, pressing it to form an even dough.
- Prepare a couple of large baking sheets by lining with baking paper.
- On a very lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a thickness of 4 to 6 mm (depending on the preferred depth of the final Digestives).
- Use a round cookie cutter (about 5 cm in diameter) to cut out the biscuits, transferring them to the lined baking sheets with a small gap between them (they should not spread much).
- Bring together any remaining dough, re-roll and cut until all the dough has been used.
- Prick the top of the dough biscuits a few times with a fork and then place in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes while the oven preheats. Although it’s not entirely necessary to chill the dough, the additional time allows it to firm to ensure there is no spreading.
- Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F and then bake the Digestives for 15 to 18 minutes until golden and just starting to darken at the very edges.
- Remove from the oven and leave on the trays to cool for 10 to 15 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Feel free to dunk and enjoy.
The butter should then be rubbed into the dry ingredients using fingertips (or a pastry blender) before adding the milk and combining it into a dough by hand.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist
Gluten Free Digestive Biscuits shared with
- Full Plate Thursday with Miz Helens’ Country Cottage
- What’s for Dinner #444 with The Lazy Gastronome
- Fiesta Friday #509 with Angie and Beautiful Voyager