What is Cannabutter and How to Make Amazing Edibles

avatar WeedWeek / May 20, 2020

Cannabutter, a simple and easy-to-make ingredient, is your gateway to creating marijuana edibles at home. The sky’s the limit when it comes to the different foods and snacks that can be made using cannabutter. Essentially, any recipe that calls for butter or oil can be created using cannabutter, a fun and tasty way to get high. 

What Is Cannabutter?

As the name suggests, cannabutter is a combination of cannabis, the plant from which  marijuana and hash are derived, and butter. Cannabutter can contain cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or any combination thereof, and is the cornerstone of cooking with weed.

The great thing about cannabutter is that, like regular butter, it is a highly versatile product. Baked goods are a common way to cook with cannabutter; pot brownies are the classic go-to recipe. However you can get very creative, replacing the butter or oil from many of your favorite recipes, including pastas, pies, popcorn, and much more. 

How To Make Cannabutter (Cannabis-infused Butter)

Cannabutter is an infusion of butter and cannabis, where botanical matter from the cannabis plant is combined with butter in order to extract the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, which remain in the fats of the butter. After you’ve mastered the art of infusion, you will be able to enjoy the ease of simply adding cannabutter to any of your favorite recipes. 

Ingredients

While the steps and equipment you need to make cannabutter can seem complex, the list of ingredients is pretty short: typically you just need dried cannabis, preferably flowers, and the butter of your choice. Although dairy-based butter is commonly used, alternatives using coconut oil are also common. You will also need water, generally a 1-1 ratio of butter to water, but this varies depending on what recipe you choose. Finally, be sure to have cheesecloth on hand, as this is required for straining. 

1. Grind 

The first step is the same one you’d take if you were rolling a regular ol’ joint. Break apart your buds using a hand grinder. Make sure not to grind it too fine – all pieces should be able to be strained through a cheesecloth.

2. Decarboxylating The Cannabis

Decarboxylation, or “decarb” for those of you who can’t with all the syllables, is the process of heating up plant material in order to activate tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or THCA, which is the inactive form of THC. Activating THCA to become THC is accomplished by heating dried cannabis. This activation occurs when smoking a joint or vaping, and is necessary in order to produce the feeling of being high. Decarbing can be done by placing ground weed onto a baking sheet and placing in an oven heated to 220 or 245 degrees fahrenheit for anywhere between 20-40 minutes. Check frequently to ensure your buds don’t brown. 

3. Melt The Butter

Melt the butter, along with water, in a saucepan over low heat. 

4. Add The Cannabis

The cannabis should be added to the pot with the melted butter as soon as it has entirely liquefied. 

5. Simmer

The mixture should be gently simmered on low heat, ideally between 160-180 degrees fahrenheit, for between two to four hours. Make sure it never comes to a boil. 

6. Strain The Cannabutter

Place a cheesecloth or a fine-meshed metal strainer over a clean jar and pour the contents of the saucepan into the jar. The goal is to have a clear finished product, with as little sediment as possible.  

7. Refrigerate

Refrigerate or freeze the cannabutter in an air-tight container. If stored correctly, cannabutter can last for many months before going rancid. 

Tips For Dosing Cannabutter

Dosing cannabutter can be more difficult than actually making it. When baking, sometimes mixing cannabutter with regular butter in recipes can reduce total potency. But because of differences in cannabis specimens, and cannabinoids lost during the extraction process, the actual potency of your cannabutter can be nearly impossible to gauge.

However, if your cannabis comes with THC percentages listed, you can use this handy Cannabutter Cooking Calculator to get approximate estimates. 

Regardless, it’s best to err on the side of caution, especially at first. Keep in mind that a typical dose of THC is between five to ten milligrams, As with all marijuana consumption, effects will vary on an individual basis according to factors such as your body weight and metabolic rate, the total amount consumed and within what time period, and the potency of what is being consumed. 

The weed to butter ratio is the largest factor affecting the potency of cannabutter. Because it is an infusion rendered from the strongest parts of the plant, smaller amounts can have greater effects since THC concentration is higher. The effects of cannabutter are far longer lasting than when consumed via smoking, lasting anywhere between four to twelve hours

Another of the major differences between smoking weed and eating it is that when you eat it, the effects are not instantaneous. Word to the wise: make note of the time you consume your butter-laced product, and wait a minimum of an hour before eating more – even if you aren’t feeling the effects. Gradual dosing will ultimately enable more control over your high, and an overall more enjoyable experience. 

Another potential ‘pitfall’ is the creation of delicious, snackable edibles. As the saying (or corporate tagline?) goes, ‘betcha can’t eat just one’ – if you continue to consume your cannabutter-laced edibles, you may end up consuming more cannabinoids than you bargained for. 

How To Use Weed Butter

Anywhere you use butter or oil, you can likely use cannabutter. Infusing the butter itself with roasted garlic and herbs can make nice salad dressings. Using cannabutter in baked goods goes without saying, but the choices are truly limitless. Put a pad of butter atop your morning pancakes, or use it to whip up some homemade mayo. You can also use cannabutter for frying vegetables or roasting potatoes. 

Common Mistakes When Making Cannabutter

There are a few mistakes to watch out for when making cannabutter. Here are some of the most common that you should avoid on your adventures in the kitchen: 

Not Decarboxylating The Cannabis

Tossing “raw”, or unheated, weed into the pot along with the butter and water will result in a less-potent final product. Weed needs to be gently heated in order to kick-start the chemical reaction that activates THC. Even though the weed will be simmered along with the butter for many hours, decarbing it beforehand will greatly improve the overall potency. 

Over-grinding

The trichomes of the marijuana plant, the sugar-dusting on dried buds and leaves, are what contain the sought-after cannabinoids. The plant material itself is not the target for cannabutter. This is why fairly large pieces of marijuana should be used for cannabutter. The idea is to prevent any plant matter from passing through the cheesecloth during straining. Ideally, cannabutter should be as pure and clean-looking as possible, with as little sediment in the final product as possible. Otherwise, both the flavor and color of the butter will be affected.

Using Too Much Cannabis

Many who have eaten edibles have had the experience of eating too much – and this is generally not an experience they wish to repeat. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent overdoing it with your cannabutter. One way of ensuring you understand the potency of your butter is to take a strand test: take a small dose of the oil on its own, and see how you feel. You can either increase or decrease what you use in cooking based on your experience. This should help you gauge the potency and how much (or little) to add to your recipe, accounting for the number of servings. 

Infusing Cannabutter Without Water

The question of whether or not to add water to cannabutter is a matter of debate. There are undeniable benefits to using a little H2O. It prevents burning the butter and weed, which can turn things rancid, affecting taste and shelf-life. Water also helps preserve the integrity of the cannabinoids – and since these chemicals are truly the all-stars of cannabutter, anything that helps these stay as intact as possible is a good thing. 

Limiting Your Marijuana Cooking To Baked Goods

Given the endless possibilities in weed cooking, limiting yourself to brownies and cookies would be a shame. Get creative and experiment with your favorite recipes, or even adventure into unknown culinary territory. 

How Much Cannabutter Will I Get From An Ounce Of Weed?

There is no set answer to this question, because it comes down to personal preference. Generally, though, an ounce of cannabis can be added to around two pounds of butter. 

Even one pound of butter to an ounce can work – however, attempting to add too much weed to butter will end up being wasteful, since cannabinoids need fat molecules to adhere to – so if there isn’t enough fat, you can kiss any extra THC goodbye. 

How Long To Cook Cannabutter In Crockpot

Dump and go – this is the key advantage to cooking in a crockpot, where you add the ingredients and the pot does the rest. Generally cannabutter can be cooked anywhere between three to eighteen hours. The longer it cooks, the deeper the infusion will be. 

What Color Should Cannabutter Be?

The ideal cannabutter color should be akin to the butter you began with – a creamy off-white, or light yellow color. A greenish tint is sometimes present as well. 

How To Fix Weak Cannabutter

Weak cannabutter can happen when decarboxylation is skipped,  meaning that the THC hasn’t been fully activated and therefore won’t be as potent. Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done at this point except enjoy what potency is there, having learned a valuable lesson.

Weak cannabutter that is the result of insufficient amounts of cannabis being added is also not a problem that can easily be fixed in the final product. 

Conclusion

Cannabutter can be an excellent way to spice up your cooking routine and achieve long-lasting highs of a range of potencies. The process of making cannabutter doesn’t take a lot of time or equipment, and the learning curve isn’t steep. 

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