Vegan Chocolate-Covered Digestive Biscuits (Vegan McVities)

The crunchy texture and grainy flavor of these vegan McVities copycats are perfectly offset by a thick layer of your favorite vegan chocolate.

A vegan chocolate-covered digestive biscuit resting on parchment paper. There are two other biscuits on the right periphery of the image.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • A mix of whole wheat and all-purpose flour creates the perfect blend of flavor, crunch, and tenderness.
  • Using coconut oil instead of a liquid oil makes the dough easier to handle.
  • Toasted sugar helps deepen the biscuit's flavor in place of lactose.
  • Baking powder helps the biscuits rise without the excess browning and alkaline flavor of baking soda alone.

For the uninitiated, McVities are a type of digestive biscuit, a pseudo-healthy cookie/cracker hybrid made with a portion of whole grains, which makes them a close cousin to the American graham cracker. As I noted in my recipe for McVitie's-style chocolate covered digestive biscuits, though they're sold plain, the arguably more delicious type comes coated in chocolate. While I've long thought the milk chocolate variety tastes like Kit Kats in cookie form, dark chocolate McVities will always be my OTP.

In this vegan variation, which uses coconut oil instead of butter, a boost of flavor comes from Toasted Sugar, which helps evoke some of the toasted notes that lactose (a milk sugar) can develop through browning. For my non-vegan variation, I knew I could go straight to the source, via fresh or powdered milk.

Since few home cooks have access to malic acid, which reacts with baking soda to produce the carbon dioxide that leavens the original biscuits, my vegan recipe uses cream of tartar instead, with a splash of water to moisten the eggless dough. (This is what real McVities use as well, but it isn't listed on the box because it bakes out in the end.) For the non-vegan recipe, buttermilk provides both acidity and lactose in one fell swoop.

These vegan biscuits won't brown very much at all, while the buttery ones will take on a golden hue. Thanks to the already brownish color of the dough, that subtle change may be difficult to gauge through an oven window, so be sure to open the door to get a better look. It may also help to rotate the pan about halfway through to ensure the biscuits bake evenly.

March 2017

Recipe Facts

Active: 60 mins
Total: 90 mins
Serves: 16 cookies

Rate & Comment


  • 4 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup, spooned; 125g)

  • 2 ounces whole wheat flour (about 1/3 cup; 55g), plus more for dusting

  • 2 1/4 ounces quick-toasted sugar (about 1/3 cup; 60g)

  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/8 teaspoon (0.5g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or use the same weight

  • 4 ounces refined coconut oil (about 2/3 cup; 113g), solid and cool

  • 3/4 ounce water (about 5 1/4 teaspoons; 20g)

  • 9 ounces roughly chopped vegan chocolate (about 1 1/2 cups; 285g) (see note)


  1. Make the Dough: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350°F (177°C). Combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, toasted sugar, cream of tartar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and solid coconut oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process until oil virtually disappears into a fine, floury meal. Add water and pulse to form a damp and crumbly dough. Turn onto an unfloured surface and knead into a ball.

  2. Roll and Bake the Biscuits: On a generously floured surface, roll dough until just shy of 1/4 inch (4.7mm), using as much flour as needed along the way to prevent sticking. Dust away excess flour with a pastry brush and decorate with a docking tool if you like. Cut into 2 3/4–inch rounds and transfer to a parchment-lined half sheet pan. Gather up scraps, knead, roll, and cut as before.

    A three-image collage showing the dough being rolled out and then docked.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  3. Bake until firm and dry to the touch but quite pale, about 22 minutes. Cool directly on sheet pan and continue with next step, or store in an airtight container up to 3 days at room temperature.

  4. Temper the Chocolate: Temper chocolate according to one of the methods described here.

  5. Coat the Biscuits: Working with just 2 or 3 biscuits at a time, dollop a generous 1/2 tablespoon, or just over 1/4 ounce, chocolate over each. Spread into an even layer over biscuit and, as chocolate starts to thicken, bounce the tines of a fork across the surface to create a wavy pattern. Repeat with remaining biscuits and chocolate. (Before it hardens, store excess chocolate according to the directions here.) Serve biscuits immediately, preferably with hot tea, and transfer to an airtight container for up to 3 weeks at room temperature.

Special Equipment

Food processor fitted with a metal blade, half sheet pan, rolling pin, pastry brush, docking tool (optional), 2 3/4–inch round cutter or wine glass


If you want dark chocolate, Theo 70% is a solid vegan offering. Or, try the coconut milk chocolate from Charm School Chocolate for something mellower.

Read More

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
166 Calories
9g Fat
20g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 166
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 11%
Saturated Fat 5g 27%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 43mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 20g 7%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 18mg 1%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 150mg 3%
*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.)