When it comes to popular snacks, it is safe to say that biscuits easily make it into the top ten on the list. Biscuits are a beloved treat around the world, enjoyed by people of all ages.
Whether you like them plain or with toppings like chocolate or icing, biscuits offer a wide range of delicious options. They can be served with tea, coffee or as a meal of its own.
Biscuits are not only enjoyed as snacks but are also used as key ingredients in many popular desserts. For instance, certain types of biscuits are crushed and used as a base for cheesecakes, pies, or cakes. Moreover, biscuits are quite popular for dunking in beverages like tea and coffee.
Among the most widely enjoyed varieties of biscuits, digestive biscuits and graham crackers are two that find their way into countless homes. Both graham crackers and digestive biscuits are a staple snack in numerous households across the United States and United Kingdom.
Although they may taste similar, there are quite a few differences between the two in terms of appearance, flavor, ingredients, preparation method, and uses.
Digestive Biscuits vs. Graham Crackers
The differences between digestive biscuits and graham crackers are listed below.
Digestive biscuits have their origins in the United Kingdom. They were first created in the early 19th century by a Scottish doctor named Dr. Alexander Graham. In 1839, Dr. Graham developed these biscuits as part of his dietary regimen, known as the Graham Diet, which he believed would promote good health and aid digestion.
Originally, digestive biscuits were called “Graham Bread”. Later, they were commercialized as “digestive biscuits” and gained popularity in the United Kingdom and eventually spread to other parts of the world. These biscuits were actually intended to be a dietary aid for digestion due to their high fiber content. Hence, digestive biscuits earned their name from their original purpose.
On the other hand, graham crackers are named after Sylvester Graham, an American Presbyterian minister and dietary reformer from the early 19th century. The crackers were created as part of the Graham Diet, a dietary regimen that Dr. Graham developed as a means to promote what he believed to be a healthier and more virtuous lifestyle.
The Graham Diet emphasized whole grains, plant-based foods, and a strict avoidance of processed and refined ingredients, including white flour and meat. Graham believed that such a diet would help people avoid the sins of gluttony and lust, as he associated rich and spicy foods with moral corruption.
Graham crackers were among the foods that Sylvester Graham created as part of his unique diet plan. In the early days, graham crackers were crafted from roughly ground whole wheat flour and water, lacking any sugar or spices. This made the crackers quite simple, dry, and not particularly sweet. Over time, graham crackers have evolved, and modern versions often include sugar, honey, cinnamon, and other flavorings, making them sweeter and more palatable.
Although graham crackers have moved away from their original purpose as a strict dietary staple, they have become a beloved and versatile part of American cuisine. Today, graham crackers are commonly used as a snack on their own and in desserts like pie crusts and s'mores.
Digestive biscuits are typically round and flat, resembling a standard cookie or biscuit whereas graham crackers are typically rectangular in shape, with straight edges. Both have holes all over, which leads to even cooking. Without these holes, the biscuits would have been denser and slower to cook, leading to unevenly cooked or undercooked sections.
In terms of size, digestive biscuits are usually about 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter while graham crackers typically have a length of 5 inches and a width of around 2 to 2.5 inches. Digestive biscuits are usually thicker than graham crackers. Digestive biscuits usually have a thickness of 0.25 inches whereas graham crackers are usually around 0.08 inches thick.
In terms of color, digestive biscuits are usually a light to medium brown color, reflecting the whole wheat flour used in their preparation. On the other hand, graham crackers tend to be lighter in color, often a pale beige or light tan.
The ingredients used to make digestive biscuits and graham crackers are pretty much the same.
Digestive biscuits are primarily made with whole wheat flour, baking powder, milk, sugar, and vegetable oil or butter. They may also contain malted barley extract for a distinctive flavor. Store-bought digestive biscuits usually contain raising agents like sodium bicarbonate, tartaric acid, and malic acid.
Graham crackers are typically made with graham flour or whole wheat flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, sugar, whole milk, vanilla extract, and butter. In addition to using sugar, graham crackers often include honey or molasses for sweetness. Molasses is a thick, dark, syrupy byproduct that is obtained during the process of refining sugar from sugarcane or sugar beets. You can easily find molasses in grocery stores - they are usually in the baking aisle.
One thing to note about digestive biscuits and graham crackers is that they are not very sweet biscuits. The flavor of digestive biscuits can be described as somewhat nutty, slightly sweet, and buttery. They may also have a subtle hint of saltiness.
Compared to digestive biscuits, graham crackers are definitely much sweeter. This sweetness is not overly sugary but rather a gentle, honey-like sweetness that adds to their overall flavor profile. Graham crackers, too, have a nutty flavor. You may also get hints of vanilla, and cinnamon in each bite.
Digestive biscuits have a crumbly texture, which means that when you take a bite or break them apart, they tend to easily crumble into smaller pieces. This crumbliness is one of the defining characteristics of digestive biscuits.
Moreover, digestive biscuits are quite tender. They are also slightly dry, which makes them perfect for dunking in tea or coffee without immediately falling apart.
On the other hand, graham crackers are known for their crisp and crunchy texture. When you first bite into a graham cracker, you will experience a satisfying snap as it breaks apart. Graham crackers are certainly crispier and crunchier than digestive biscuits.
Like digestive biscuits, graham crackers are also dry and crumbly. The cracker tends to break down into smaller pieces as you continue to chew. Despite their crunchiness and crumbliness, graham crackers have a relatively light and delicate feel in the mouth. They are not overly dense or heavy, which makes them pleasant to eat as a snack or in various dessert recipes.
Digestive biscuits are often enjoyed as a simple and satisfying snack on their own. They work best for dunking in tea, coffee, or milk due to their slightly dry and crumbly texture. You can also crush digestive biscuits and use the crumbs as a base for cheesecake crusts, tart crusts, or pie crusts. They add a pleasant sweetness and a bit of texture to these desserts. You can also sprinkle the crumbs on top of ice cream, yogurt, or fruit salads to add a crunchy texture.
While digestive biscuits are more commonly used as a snack for tea time, graham crackers are often paired with desserts. For instance, graham crackers are a key ingredient in the classic campfire treat called s'mores. The toasted or melted marshmallow and chocolate are sandwiched between two pieces of graham crackers.
Moreover, graham crackers are usually crushed and used as a base for pie crusts, particularly for pies such as key lime pie and cheesecake. The crumbs can be used as a base for various dessert bars, including lemon bars and chocolate peanut butter bars. You can layer cream cheese and berries on top of graham crackers for a quick snack.
You can make both digestive biscuits and graham crackers from scratch. The ingredients and preparation methods are quite similar for both types of biscuits. Both recipes are simple and very easy to follow.
In order to make digestive biscuits, you will first need to mix the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. You will add 240g or 1½ cups of whole wheat flour, 75g or ½ cup of icing sugar, a tablespoon of baking powder, and a pinch of salt.
Then, you will add 130g or ½ cup of cold butter. It might be easier to mix the butter with the dry ingredients using your hands than with a spatula. Once you have given it a good mix, add about 5 tablespoons of milk and mix again. A dough-like texture will form, which you will need to roll out using a rolling pin.
After the dough is rolled out evenly, cut into the dough using a round cookie cutter, place the cut-out dough circles on your baking tray, and use a toothpick to poke a few holes in them. Then, put the tray in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes at 350°F. That’s how simple the recipe is!
Graham crackers, too, are made in a similar way. This recipe makes about 25 crackers. You will start by adding the dry ingredients in a bowl. You will pour 250g or 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 125g or a cup of all-purpose flour, 3g or 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 2g or ½ teaspoon of ground cloves, 6g or 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and a pinch of salt. Use a whisk to combine the dry ingredients together.
In another bowl, take 220g or 1 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature, 100g or ½ cup of brown sugar, and 30g or 2 tablespoons of honey. Use an electric beater to mix these ingredients together. You should mix until it forms a creamy texture. While mixing, add the flour mixture gradually. Then, use your hands to make the biscuit dough.
Roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter to make rectangular shapes, each measuring 2 x 5 inches. Then, use a fork or toothpick to make a few holes. Before putting the tray in the oven, refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes so that the graham crackers turn out firm. Bake at 350°F for about 10-12 minutes or until the graham crackers turn dark golden brown.
Here’s a video for better understanding:
Digestive biscuits come in different flavors and variations. The most popular one is chocolate. Digestive biscuits are coated with a layer of chocolate on one side, adding a sweet and chocolaty flavor to the traditional biscuit. Similarly, people may also use milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, or even caramel instead of plain chocolate.
While traditional graham crackers have a mildly sweet, honey-like flavor, you can find a variety of flavored graham crackers. Common flavors include cinnamon, honey, maple, pumpkin spice, and vanilla. Some people also add chocolate chips or cocoa powder to make chocolate-flavored graham crackers.
Although digestive biscuits and graham crackers are not typically considered highly nutritious foods, they do contain essential nutrients such as fiber, protein, and carbohydrates.
According to Times Food, a pair of digestive biscuits provides roughly 150 calories, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 4.6 grams of fat, 5 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, a gram of dietary fiber, and 160 milligrams of sodium.
According to Healthline, a pair of graham crackers provides roughly 122 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fat, 7 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, and 146 grams of sodium.
Although the nutritional profiles are quite similar, graham crackers may be slightly more nutritious than digestive biscuits.
Do digestive biscuits actually help with digestion?
Digestive biscuits were originally created in the 19th century with the belief that they could aid in digestion. However, there is no solid proof that digestive biscuits actually help with digestion. Although these biscuits contain baking soda or sodium bicarbonate, which helps to neutralize stomach acids, you can’t really rely on them to improve your digestion instantly.
What is the shelf life of digestive biscuits and graham crackers?
Store-bought digestive biscuits and graham crackers may have a shelf life of 6 to 12 months or more, given that you have stored them in an airtight container that is kept in a cool, dry place. However, homemade ones may not last that long. They may stay fresh at room temperature for about 1 to 2 weeks. If you keep them in the refrigerator, they may last longer.
Digestive biscuits and graham crackers actually have several differences. The most obvious difference is their physical appearance - digestive biscuits are round and thick whereas graham crackers are flat and thin.
If you look closely at the ingredient list, you will notice that digestive biscuits typically contain whole wheat flour and malt extract whereas graham crackers often include graham flour and honey. Digestive biscuits tend to have more fiber and less sugar compared to graham crackers.
Moreover, digestive biscuits and graham crackers are served in different ways. Digestive biscuits are often enjoyed with tea or coffee while graham crackers are commonly used as a base for cheesecakes and other desserts. There are differences in texture as well.