Better Ways to Make Pot Brownies (According to Our Readers)

April 20, 2017

Last year, we posted a recipe for Mario Batali’s Double-Chocolate Pot Brownies—and got a reaction we never anticipated. Many of you commented on the post and the recipe that we had done it wrong, all wrong. The heart of the matter? Not that we'd suggested putting pot in these brownies, but that the technique was flawed: The recipe never calls for the pot to be strained from the butter.

To be honest, and as you may have already guessed, we tested and photographed the non-pot version of the recipe (you know, since FreshDirect doesn’t carry marijuana, legal concerns, and the low productivity that would come with serving pot brownies to the editors).

Mario jumped into the conversation to point out that his process—of not straining the weed—is the old-school way to make brownies: “Imagine the 70s,” he wrote, “That’s where all my technique was born and lives while Jimmy Page was in charge…”

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Raquel Pelzel, who's co-authored eighteen books, including one she wrote herself, recently developed cannabis recipes for Cedella Marley's (Bob Marley's daughter) upcoming cookbook. She explained to us the differences between the old-school and new-school approaches to cooking with cannabis. She said that when cooking with marijuana became popular in the mainstream, in the 1960s and 70s, it was "used like oregano—you just threw it in." But Raquel equates this with "throwing fifty-dollar bills into a coffee grinder." As she puts it, "You're using a lot of material and not really extracting the T.H.C., the compound responsible for the psycho effects."

Nowadays, people heat-activate the T.H.C. by cooking marijuana in a water and butter solution for 8 to 10 hours, then straining the butter to remove the buds—or by heating the marijuana then adding it to an oil or alcohol tincture. This, Raquel explains, leads to a better flavor (no munching down on marijuana buds) and saves marijuana. She did the math for us:

Mario's recipe calls for 4 grams of marijuana. If the marijuana used contains about 20% T.H.C. (which is around average), then using all four grams for nine brownies (the yield of the recipe) as he proposes comes down to a serving of 88 milligrams per brownie. Most edibles contain 10 to 15 milligrams of T.H.C. per serving, so 88 milligrams would lead to an intense high that would last several hours, and may not be enjoyable to most.

Instead, Raquel proposes infusing—that is, heating together and then straining out the solids—that same amount of marijuana in 2 cups of butter to make a large batch of cannabutter, as it's called. Just a 1/4 cup of it would go into Mario's brownie recipe, yielding a more palatable 10 to 15 milligrams of T.H.C. per serving of—and leaving you with 1 3/4 cups cannabutter for other marijuana-laced creations. (It will keep in the freezer for months.)

To go this route and use strained cannabutter in Mario's recipe (rather than folding the pot right in as he recommends), sub in 1/4 cup cannabutter mixed with 1/4 cup regular butter, since the recipe calls for 1/2 cup total butter. Raquel recommends this lower dosage to err on the side of caution—you can always eat more if necessary, and with a such low dose, the brownies will actually taste like brownies.

Here are some of our favorite comments from the recipe so you can decide whether to go old-school or new-school (or to skip school entirely):

Alicia wrote, "You should NEVER leave the weed in the butter. That's just nasty! You gotta strain the butter."

"Is pot the reason Mario is stuck in a wardrobe coma?," wondered jk.

Jocelyn McAuley arrived at the same math Raquel did, adding "For the truly pot-brownie-curious, this dosage is NOT FOR YOU[...] shaking her head in legalized Oregon."

To leave the pot in the butter? Or not leave the pot in the butter? Photo by James Ransom

"Naive me thought this was a recipe for brownies that required you to mix the batter IN a pot and right now I'm just enjoying all the comments," said Liz Deutermann. (Others agreed.)

Some, like Chef Carlos, had other plans for game day, "Apparently we've learned a lot since the 70's about making buzzy brownies, not going down this road even if it's the Broncos. Going for margaritas instead!"

Heather Christine got to the root of the matter and tested them for herself, "This was a great brownie recipe! I did choose to add the optional ingredient and they were an excellent, dark and chewy brownie. I chose to add icing to mine and they were amazing~~!"

To strain or not to strain? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

EDITOR'S NOTE: We originally published this story in February of last year. We're republishing it in observance of today's holiday. Happy 4/20.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • cPage11
  • Bevi
  • Trong
  • msmely
  • Sarah Cohan
    Sarah Cohan
I eat everything.


cPage11 March 16, 2018
I would really like to try making some cannabis infused with brownies but it's very common so I started reading recipes online and came a cross this website https://www.bonzaseeds.com/blogs/strain-reviews/pink-kush. It would be perfect with wine on the sides. Feel free to share your own cannabis recipes.
Bevi April 21, 2017
Just FYI all sorts of articles on cannabis cooking and culture on merryjane.com
Trong April 21, 2017
So pretty ... As she puts it, "You're using a lot of material and not really extracting the T.H.C., http://www.fordgiatot.org/ the compound responsible for the psycho effects."
msmely April 21, 2017
I'm a fan of simmering in a water/butter mix which is a classic organic chemistry purification step. You pour off the water and water soluble compounds (undesirable) and keep the butter and fat soluble compounds. It's easy in a slow cooker because you end up not boiling the mixture. You can simmer it on the stove too and it doesn't take 8 hours, but the big trick is to not let the plant matter boil in the water butter mixture. If you let it boil it will extract undesirable amphipathic compounds from the flower that will solvate the water and butter together and ruin your extraction.
Sarah C. April 21, 2017
I'm pretty confused about your math. You say...
4 grams of pot at 20% THC in 9 brownies = 88 milligrams THC per brownie, and that 10-15 is more reasonable.
It's actually 80mg (20% of 4 is .80), and that's for the whole batch. So if the batch makes 9 brownies, there's actually 8.88mg THC per brownie.
Am I missing something?
hardlikearmour April 21, 2017
Yes, there are 1000 mg per gram 😉. 4000 × .2 ÷ 9 = 89 (88.8 repeating).
Sarah C. April 21, 2017
Ok so my late night math failed me - yes, it's 88 and not 80.
BUT - that doesn't solve the bigger issue. In the article they're saying that there's 88mg of THC per 1/9 brownie. That's incorrect. There's actually 9.7mg of THC per 1/9 brownie, because there's 4000mg of pot aka 88mg of THC for the whole batch...again, what am I missing?
Becca April 25, 2017
There's 800mg in 4g. 4g=4000mg 800/9= 88.8
Sarah C. April 25, 2017
AAAAH THANK YOU. Was totally just missing a 0 :)
Mar P. April 20, 2017
A few weeks ago you said that all food is political.
Now I get it.
Cristina April 20, 2017
It's actually even better when you infuse the sugar with the green goodness. You can find out how to in the cookbook called "Sweet Mary Jane" It doesn't make your edibles taste like the green, nor does it change the color. I like this book because it allows for proper dosing and eliminates the guessing game.
Aliwaks April 20, 2017
you know I was wondering about that, so happy the find that its possible , gonna look up that book ( legal here in Maine)
Cristina April 20, 2017
Oh yea, the pastry chef that wrote the book is amazing, and all of the recipes can be made pot free too! She teaches you how to infuse coconut oil, butter and sugar.
Christina April 20, 2017
Now that Massachusetts has legalized marijuana I have gotten really into making my own edibles, and I believe the best way to decarboxylate your weed is to seal it in a food saver, boil that bag in water for a few hours (the weed look brown in the bag) then do a double boiler with butter, a cup or two of water and the weed. Cook THAT for 4ish hours on medium/low and then strain, cool in fridge, and the fat naturally separates from the water, leaving the chlorophyll/bad flavors in the water! Also, adding water to the butter will prevent it from going above 230 degrees F, which would burn off all the active THC.

Also, I don't cause a fuss when alcoholic drinks are posted so I'm not sure why one or two posts on a substance that doesn't actively poison your body harms anyone. scroll on if you don't care!
msmely April 21, 2017
You can also use already been vaped flower, it comes pre decarboxylated and you end up extracting what would otherwise be wasted. Down side is dosing is difficult and unpredictable but if you math it based on un-vaped flower you know you're starting from somewhere lower on the dosage curve, so you can hopefully avoid getting into trouble there.
Peony April 20, 2017
I'm weighing in on this as the voice of readers who don't care for this kind of post. I know, I know, why should this bother me when cocktail articles don't ruffle my feathers? It just does. I also whether authors you've linked below feel comfortable with that. I can see they are mostly part of the Food52 crew but I wouldn't like it. Not saying anyone needs to care but this non-drinking/non-smoking member wanted to speak up so I did.
jadejangmyeon April 21, 2017
... then why did you click on it? It clearly said "pot brownies" in the title, so if you knew it would offend your sensibilities, why did you bother reading it? The baking article and Shop articles are of 0 interest to me, so I don't bother reading them. Do you know why no one else posted this type of comment except you? Because no one else who would be offended by marijuana didn't click on the article!
jadejangmyeon April 21, 2017
Dk November 10, 2017
Actually the title did not make the subject of the article obvious. I thought this was going to be a recipe for cooking brownies in a pot on the stovetop.
Mike February 13, 2016
You dont add weed you dumb motha.... You make cannabutter strain that ish out. Were not idiots in the 70s we now know a better way. And imo 88mg isnt much the low dose shit i have is 5 mg and i eat two for medication and if wanna be high i have to take 180mg chocolate bar. Kiva ot bang bars all day the truffles kick ass
tamater S. February 14, 2016
If you have points to make, you should make them in an intelligent way.
We have come to expect better from the readers comment forum.
Please, moderators, delete this post.
tamater S. April 20, 2017
And all the best to you, too!
Lindsay-Jean H. April 21, 2017
Hi all—we're jumping in here to remind everyone that we encourage thoughtful discussion in the comments, but will take action to remove anything that is outright abusive. Claire, your comment will be removed. Food52 is a welcoming community and we don't speak to one another in that manner.
Smaug April 21, 2017
So we're okay with "..you dumb motha"?
Lindsay-Jean H. April 21, 2017
Hi Smaug, we’re taking a more hands-on approach now to comment moderation than we have in the past. We won’t be going through everything ever posted, though if we came across something inappropriate we certainly would still remove it. In this case, the comment reads to us in a playful (though admittedly crass) tone, rather than one that’s meant to be aggressive and hurtful. Rather than trying to police particular words, we’re working to maintain the civility of conversation and foster a welcoming community.
tamater S. April 21, 2017
Like I always say, nothing more playful or welcoming than being called a "dumb motha."
Smaug April 21, 2017
Well, it don't hurt me none- I sometimes hang out on sports comments sections, after all- but I do recall being rather broadly excoriated on this site for saying that sticking your hand in a plugged in blender was an act of stupidity. Which, for the record, it is.
Cliht February 13, 2016
Best if you don't use the but itself at all, use the Crystal coated Kola trimmings cut before you dry it. Put trimmings in a large crock pot to the top then put in a cup and a half of water and one pound unsalted butter. Cook on low till the leaves wilt. High for 4 hours then back to low for ten. Strain. Cool. Then use. This method assumes that you have access to the harvested plant before drying but it is the best mothod seen to produce butter based edibles.
Christina April 20, 2017
this is great to know! I had wondered if you could use uncured weed in edibles.
SarahZiker February 12, 2016
I appreciate this recipe post!
sexyLAMBCHOPx February 12, 2016
If you ingest too much THC, drink a glass of orange juice and/or sniff whole black pepper corns. Its chemistry composition lessens the effect.
Christina April 20, 2017
or take an advil if you're feeling anxious! it'll lower your BP (obviously be aware of your own medical issues before doing this :)
Brian W. February 10, 2016
Um, original recipe is a little older courtesy of Alice Toklas, Gertrude Stein's partner and cookbook author --> https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Alice_B._Toklas_Cookbook
Aliwaks April 20, 2017
that's Hassich Fudge not a brownie and very similar to an ancient way of eating hash in the Middle East-- with honey, spices, dried fruit and nuts,
Marie M. February 10, 2016
I would look forward to seeing a Mario Batali version of instant brownie mix on the shelves next to his Guatemalan Insanity Pepper Trip Arrabbiata pasta sauce.
tamater S. February 10, 2016
Although I'm allergic to pot myself, I support the right for all over 19, to enjoy a no-frownie brownie!
jblock February 10, 2016
Love the "vigorous" discussion that the original recipe incited, but now, with these fine tuned adjustments, I MUST MAKE THESE!!!
AS February 10, 2016
The best tool for making cannabutter is a sous vide machine. Grind up the pot, throw in a mason jar with a stick of butter (the ratio I like is about 5 g of good quality weed to 30 brownies) and circulate at 185* overnight. It'll really extract a ton of the THC into the butter without any risk of burning!
Hazy C. February 10, 2016
Well great, now I need to buy a sous vide machine :/
Aliwaks February 11, 2016
you can also use a crock pot
Lynne B. February 13, 2016
actually the best way to do it is to decarbonize your pot in the oven first...then melt your butter in the microwave till very hot...add your decarbonized pot to the hot butter...the heat from hot butter will then be enough to melt (dissolve) the THC
Smaug February 9, 2016
It's not that hard to lower the dosage without all this rigamarole; you just put less in. I don't know why you need to "extract" the THC, which becomes both active and more unstable after heating- or being exposed to air, as happens when the plant material is broken down; the active chemicals are not running through the plant like sap, they are almost entirely contained in glands on the surface of the plant, largely on the flowering portions. These glands, if intact, protect them from oxidation. Extraction is acheived in the digestive system. It's conceivable that adding it as cannabis butter somehow makes the digestion more efficient, but I haven't seen anyone give any evidence, or even offer it as a possibility.
Christina April 20, 2017
I know this is an old comment but I wanted to respond just to answer your question as to why you'd heat the marijuana first. what is in green marijuana buds themselves is THC-A, and is non-psychoactive. Combustion (called decarboxylating) and then extracting through fat is the best way to get pure THC in your baked good :)
Smaug April 20, 2017
Precisely; and once the material is heated and becomes active, it breaks down rapidly, particularly if the glands that contain it have broken down, as they will with this sort of treatment. The brownies (or whatever) are baked (or otherwise cooked) before consumption- all the heating that is either required or advisable.
Smaug April 20, 2017
Looking back, this was covered in my original post, but I suppose redundancy won't hurt.
Hazy C. February 9, 2016
I would definitely recommend going with the canna-butter route. Both to more precisely control the per-brownie dosage, and to be economical with your cannabis.

Another option I'm a big fan of, is to grind cannabis using a multi-chambered grinder with a "pollen" screen. This allows you to collect the keif(cannabis tricombs, which contain most of the THC), which can be thrown directly into almost any variety of baked goods. Because the keif contains very little plant material, and has a high THC percentage, you can use it in large batches and gives you almost no "weedy" flavor in your brownies, cookies, cakes, etc...

Smaug February 10, 2016
Why would it more precisely control the dosage or be more economical? With the direct method, you get exactly what you put in, without trying to calculate the potency of a derivative, and you use 100%, without the risk of spoilage due to long heating, oxidation etc. I've never tried the homemade kief method; it sounds a bit wasteful, but certainly hash brownies have a long history. The problem is finding decent hash, or hash oil.