Avoid making mistakes when you cook with cannabis

The spread of cannabis legalization in the U.S. has created a boom for the edible marijuana business and dispensaries all over the country are selling wildly creative new edible choices. While the process of making cannabis infused edibles may seem daunting to beginners, it’s really not that difficult. This list will help you avoid some of the most common cooking mistakes and put you well on the road to making great tasting potent cannabis edibles!

1. Decarboxylate the cannabis first

While too much heat will kill your THC, some heat is necessary. Most people do not realize the raw cannabis plant contains no THC at all. It does contain THC-A (or THC-acid). It takes the process of adding heat or decarboxylation to make the chemical reaction that converts THC-A to THC. If you are infusing butter or oil, decarboxylation is taken care of in the process of infusion. If you are cooking with kief you will need to decarboxylate first. I recommend this step when cooking with hash too, as it can help maximize THC potency.   Simply put your concentrates in an ovenproof dish and heat for about 20 minutes at 250 degrees F. Once decarboxylated the kief or hash is ready to cook with.

2. Over grinding the plant material when making butter or oil

For some reason the majority of internet sites tell people to finely grind the marijuana being used to infuse butter or oil. There is even a commercially made electronic gadget for making marijuana butter that includes a built in electric grinder. I have never understood this advice. If you want better tasting edibles, DO NOT GRIND THE MARIJUANA INTO DUST! What you are trying to extract, the plant’s resinous trichomes, are ON the buds and leaves not IN them! All grinding accomplishes is to put more plant material into the finished product which in turn increases green color and unwanted herbal flavors.

3. Cooking marijuana at too high a temperature

Generally speaking, lower cooking temperatures are better. THC is completely degraded at temperatures in excess of 392 degrees F although it starts to break down long before that. Since water boiling never gets above 212 degrees F, I always recommend adding water when making cannabis infusions (see point 2 above).  You will also need to pay attention to cooking temperatures when using the infused butter and oils, or when cooking with marijuana concentrates. Do not use infused marijuana oils for direct sautéing for frying. If you are making something battered, make sure the medicated part is inside the batter. You can cook at oven temperatures up to 375 degrees F, as the food itself will not get that hot.


4. Not adding water when infusing cannabutter or cannabis oil

Whether you infuse butter and oil or in a slow cooker (the latter is my highly preferred method), always add water to the mix along with the plant material or butter or oil. Especially on the stovetops the water will help things infuse at a lower temperature and avoid things burning and scorching which will result in unappetizing taste and THC that’s rendered useless by being cooked at too high a temperature. The water also helps with appearance and flavor by washing away some of the green color and strong herbal flavor. The amount of water is not important, but I always add at least as much water as butter or oil. Click to find instructions for how to make marijuana butter and cannabis oil.

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5. Adding too much cannabis/over medicating

There is no easier way to ingest too much marijuana than by eating it. Sometimes people are impatient and think “it’s not working” and eat more. By the time it all kicks in they have overdone it. While “overdoses” are not dangerous in that they are never fatal, they won’t shut down your organs, they can make you feel anxious, paranoid, and/or disoriented. Dosing edibles is somewhat of an art, a lot of factors need to be taken into consideration and people’s tolerances run a wide range. An amount that one person does not even physically feel might be enough to make someone else experience couch-lock for hours. When cooking with marijuana, especially new plant material you are not familiar with, it’s a good idea to vape or smoke a little to get general idea of its potency.  Keep in mind that cooking can intensify potency somewhat. If you do find a batch of your edibles is more potent than you intended the remedy is easy – eat less!

6. Adding too little marijuana/undermedicating

Likewise, if you ever find yourself with a weak batch of food, eat more! If you make a batch of infused butter or oil that is less potent than you’d like, you can always augment it later by heating gently to dissolve some decarboxylated kief or hash into it before using in recipes.

7. Adding Weed Directly to your Recipe

Marijuana or weed cannot be added directly to your recipe. The reason being that, the human digestive system is not equipped to digest THC in complex form. It will throw it out of the system immediately. Therefore, you need to perform an extraction procedure with an oil based solvent like butter or oil. This is because THC is fat soluble. You need to crush the weed to bind it in the chosen medium. Finally, the mix has to be strained well to eliminate residues.

8. Using too delicate a hand with seasonings

Most people do not like the green herbal flavor of marijuana shining through their foods. Likewise recipes with lots of spices and flavors going on tend to mask this better than delicate and subtle fare. Use as much or a little more seasoning and flavor adding ingredients (such as onion and garlic) when cooking with cannabis than you would if you were cooking without marijuana.

9. Clean your cannabis

It may sound silly, but that is exactly where many people fail. Imagine that you have taken a few blended buds and put them into your crock pot with some oil, butter, and water, and let it boil. But if you had not cleaned your weed from impurities before cooking, your cookies will be the most disgusting food you have ever eaten. Marijuana may contain mold and heavy-duty pesticides or even chlorophyl that is equally powerful and horrible. So, to avoid the bad taste, you have to extract as many impurities as possible. The easiest way to clean your weed is to soak the buds in distilled water for a couple of days. Then you need to blanch it, remove it from the water, and dry carefully. By blanching, you can get a much purer flower to infuse into the butter. It will still smell like cannabis, but the color could change. So, do not be scared to see that your cannabutter is yellow, not green or black like in most photos on the Internet.


10. Do not do the following:

  • Use a paper coffee filter for any straining process. Cheese cloth works great, is cheap, and can be found at almost any grocery store in the baking aisle.
  • Use a mircowave. Some people may have had success, but many fail miserably. Microwaves vary in power over a large spectrum and are unreliable. Unless you have already had repeated success using your own microwave, it is probably best not to experiment with one.
  • Make a weed tincture or “Green Dragon” extraction using the stove-top method if you are inexperienced, clumsy or accident-prone. Especially if the oven has an open-flame.

*Bonus tip:

Cannabis Material         Recommended Dosage Range Per Individual Dose

Marijuana Leaf/Trim:       1/4 to 1 1/2 grams

Average Bud              1/8  to 3/4 gram

High Quality Bud          1/16 to 1/2 gram

Kief or Hash              1/16 to 1/2 gram

  • [Updated, originally published 7.11. 2017]
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