Butter

How to Make Cannabutter, According to an Expert on Edibles

A beginner-friendly guide to making weed butter at home.

April 20, 2020
Photo by Rocky Luten

Over the past decade, I’ve become an expert on cannabis-infused food products, aka edibles. Years ago, I taught myself how to infuse my own confections and since then, I’ve cooked with top chefs on VICE’s stony cooking show Bong Appétit.

I’ve picked up many techniques and tips along the way, but one of the first things I discovered on my magical, edible journey: The effect feels entirely different from smoking a joint. I realized this pretty quickly after baking my first infused apple pie, emptying an entire jar of cannabutter into my homemade crust. Roughly one hour post-devouring a massive slice—and scrounging for the best caramelized, gooey bits stuck to the pan—it hit me all at once (and not in a good way).

Naturally, this is something you want to avoid when making and enjoying edibles at home. The key to this starts with cannabutter, which is butter that’s been melted and steeped with activated weed. Just about any fat (olive oil, coconut oil, etc.) can be infused with weed, but cannabutter is the most iconic. You can bake and cook with cannabutter (also called weed butter) to infuse all sorts of recipes—from fudgy brownies (a classic choice) to the best spaghetti sauce ever.

While the concept is simple, the process is—by necessity—a methodical one, meaning you’ll want to pay close attention to the steps and quantities at every turn, as well as the dosing. You'll also want to make sure you have access to quality weed from a trusted source (living in a state where it's legally distributed helps).

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I love the show and was happy to find this arctic me written by you when I was doing my search on how to make cannabutter! I just harvested 3g of kief from my grinder, how should I adjust the recipe? I was thinking I would just make a big batch of butter to use accordingly. Luckily my BF and I both have a high tolerance so while I know I need to be careful with the dosage, I’m so exited to create our own edibles! ”
— Ms_Meagan
Comment

I recently had the opportunity to get my cannabutter recipe down to an exact science via CW Analytical, a California-based quality assurance testing lab for cannabis products. I worked with their team to run a series of cannabutter experiments (we collected data on four different variables, including butter infusion) and found the most efficient method.

So whether you’re an edible newbie or a seasoned canna-sseur, here’s a step-by-step guide to making weed butter at home, with tips along the way on improving its flavor, using it once it’s ready, and making sure you’re dosing carefully.

Step 1: Gather a few tools & ingredients

In order to make cannabutter at home, you’ll need a few tools and ingredients—some are probably already lying around your kitchen, others you may need to specially stock up on.

For the decarboxylation (more on what that means in a minute):

  • 1 gram of quality cannabis flower
  • Parchment-lined baking sheet
  • Scissors (optional)
  • Wooden spoon
  • Grinder

For making the cannabutter:

  • Unsalted butter (use the amount of butter your infused recipe calls for)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Small saucepan
  • Candy thermometer
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Food-safe storage container

Step 2: Use High-Quality Weed

As any chef will tell you, ingredients matter. Whether you’re using a stash rediscovered during your 10-year high school reunion (which imparts a soporific effect) or high-quality weed straight from a dispensary, it will have an impact on the potency and flavor of the final cannabutter.

Most edibles traditionally use cannabutter made with trim or shake, which are the leaves trimmed from the cannabis flowers after harvesting. However, trim and shake have more plant matter, which means they have more chlorophyll; more chlorophyll equals more bitterness in the final product.

Personally, I prefer to cook with hash (also called hashish) or grinder kief, a concentration of the crystal-laden resin in weed. But for simplicity’s sake, start with one gram of quality cannabis flower—this refers to the part of the cannabis plant that has been cultivated, harvested, dried, and cured for smoking.

While a lot of pre-packaged edibles, like the kinds you can buy premade at a dispensary, use the terms "indica" (which refers to a body high) or "sativa" (an active high), that’s more or less a marketing ploy. Why? The terpenes (essential oils of plants) that steer the effects that different strains of weed have on you (body high versus active high) don’t have the same chemical interaction in edible form.

So, when purchasing at the dispensary, focus on the THC and CBD ratios. Below is more information about what both of these do chemically, but here's a general rule of thumb: For a balanced high, I recommend looking for a 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD—this means that for every one milligram of THC there is one milligram of CBD.

If you have a few options to choose from, follow your nose for citrus (limonene), herbal (myrcene), and peppery (caryophyllene) terpenes, then consider whether those flavors pair with the recipe you’re planning to make with the cannabutter.

Step 3: Preheat Your Weed

In its raw form, weed is non-psychoactive. Raw or live cannabis contains the cannabinoids THCA and CBDA. Sound familiar? Remove the A and you have THC (the chemical that gets you high) and CBD (which isn’t psychoactive).

To convert the THCA to THC (and CBDA to CBD), just add heat and time. This process is called decarboxylation. When you light a joint or burn a bowl, you’re decarboxylating the weed, which kickstarts its effects. The higher the heat, the faster the reaction. But when making cannabutter for edibles, using too much heat can produce a taste like burnt popcorn.

There is more than one way to decarboxylate weed, but an oven is the most efficient. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Heat the oven to 245°F.
  2. Break up the flower into smaller pieces using your hands to expose more surface area to the heat; the pieces should break off like florets of broccoli.
  3. Bundle the broken-up flowers in parchment. Wrap this parchment pouch in foil or place it in an airtight, oven-safe silicone bag (I use Stasher). Place in a small baking dish. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. (After 20 minutes, roughly 70 percent of the THCA will be converted to THC; after 30 minutes, 80 percent. If this is your first time making cannabutter, I’d recommend a cook time that’s on the lower end of the range.)
  4. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and let the flowers cool at room temperature.
  5. Grind the decarboxylated, cooled flowers using a grinder before moving on to making the cannabutter. They should be ground to medium course—like coffee, not espresso. Use the decarbed, ground cannabis right away.

Step 4: Infuse the Butter

Just like choosing high-quality weed is important, so is choosing your butter. I like to use good butter, unsalted. There’s no need for a fancy-schmancy beurre de baratte, but a high-fat, European-style unsalted butter does the trick.

On to the infusion process: Many cannabutter recipes out there tend to go a bit overboard in this department. Most require a long steep of the already-decarboxylated weed in the butter, anywhere from two to four hours. This certainly infuses the fat with cannabinoids, but it also pulls the chlorophyll and other “green” flavors from the weed, which negatively impact the taste.

Our experiment in the CW Analytical lab found that 80 to 90 percent of cannabinoids (that’s THC and CBD) infused in the butter after 45 minutes to one hour. And brown butter, which makes everything taste better, had an infusion rate of just six minutes due to the higher heat (without any degradation of the cannabinoids).

If you’re making brown cannabutter, you can go from decarb to infused butter in about 30 minutes—that breaks down to 20 or 25 minutes to decarboxylate the weed, plus 6 minutes or so to brown the butter (then it’s ready to strain and set in the fridge). Infused brown butter and bourbon banana bread, here you come.

Ready to make cannabutter? Here the best method for infusing standard butter on the stovetop:

  1. To a small saucepan (or a DIY double boiler—a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water), add your decarboxylated, ground weed, the amount of butter in your recipe, plus 1/4 cup of water (this helps replace the water that will evaporate).
  2. Heat at a low simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, using your candy thermometer to make sure the temperature does not exceed 190°F.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a food-safe container. (Cheesecloth works too, but it soaks up a lot of precious butter.)
  4. Cover and let the butter set in the fridge, then pour off any remaining water.

Step 5: Cook With Your Cannabutter

Now that your cannabutter is activated and infused, the shelf life is shorter than regular butter—about one to two weeks if it’s tightly wrapped. So bake or cook with it (using the same amount of butter the recipe calls for) as soon as possible. You can also freeze it for up to six months. I keep a log of infused butter cookie dough in the freezer, and slice off one cookie’s worth of dough to bake before bedtime every night.

Most edible recipes skip an important note: A significant amount of decarboxylation occurs in the oven during baking. We tested my Aunty Yo’s approach—which is to take store-bought cookie dough and simply mix in raw, ground weed—at the CW Analytical lab. We found that the THC activated up to 35 percent. That’s why we only decarboxylate the weed for 20 to 30 minutes, because the cannabutter’s potency will also increase as it bakes or cooks in the recipe.

Step 6: Easy Dose It

Properly dosing can be tricky for homemade, and even commercially manufactured, edibles. There are a lot of variables to consider, like the potency of your weed, the inevitable loss of weed during the process, and the exact yield of a recipe. My advice? Always eat less of an edible than you think you need. If it’s your first time making them, start with half of a serving to figure out whether the dose is right for you.

Never eat more of an edible without knowing the relative potency and your tolerance—this will ensure you have a positive experience, which is why you’re here in the first place, right?

No matter what, wait at least one to two hours to start feeling the effects of the edible. Two hours might seem like a long time, but because everyone's body chemistry is different, it can take that long. Whatever you do, don’t take more of the edible after just 30 or 45 minutes if you’re not feeling something yet.

If you live in a legal state, you can find out the exact percentage of the THC and CBD in the weed you’re buying to help gauge the potency, but according to Leafly, an average potency is hard to pinpoint.

It takes a little bit of math to figure out the exact dosing/serving size you should start with, but it’s important to do it, no matter what type of edible you’re making. Here’s an example:

  • 1 gram of weed that is 15 percent THCA will have 150 milligrams of THCA.
  • I recommend a starting dose of 2.5 to 5 milligrams THC.
  • 1 gram of weed in 2 dozen cookies breaks down like this: 150 milligrams THC in the total batch divided by 24 cookies = 6.25 milligrams of THC per cookie.
  • Start with 1/2 of a cookie, wait 1 to 2 hours to feel the effects, then decide if you want to try a bit more (I'd recommend adding no more than 1/4 of the cookie at a time).

Keep in mind that 100 percent conversion to THC is impossible, since there is always loss during the decarboxylation, infusion, and cooking processes. Just remember to plan ahead with non-infused snacks to munch on once you’ve enjoyed your edible, and don’t forget to set a timer to know how long it’s been since you took it.

Do you have any questions about the infusion process? Let us know in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Vanessa Lavorato

Written by: Vanessa Lavorato

127 Comments

Warchicken January 21, 2023
Can you put fine ground straight weed in like a brownie recipe? Do you have to make it into butter to cook with it?
 
Vanessa L. January 21, 2023
Yes! That’s what my Aunty Yo does. I usually do that for things like meatballs that have a lot of herbs. But yes, grind it fine, throw it in, have a good time xo
 
Mike January 8, 2023
Hello , i utilise the methode sousvide for my butter . End its great .
 
Babydro27 November 19, 2022
Somewhat random question. Can you use the leftover flower for anything? This is what's left after straining the butter.
 
Vanessa L. January 21, 2023
Throw it into meatballs!
 
gregg M. November 7, 2022
I've been using cannabis since '73 & have a high tolerance.
Cannabutter works great but the taste is HORRENDOUS!!!
Using cinnamon to mask the taste but its not doing too good.
Would anyone have any suggestions on what to use to mask the awful taste?

And yes, I wash the cannabutter anywhere from 3 to 4 times.
 
Smaug November 7, 2022
A combination of peanut butter and chocolate works fairly well.
 
gregg M. November 7, 2022
THANK You I appreciate that....will try it tomorrow.
 
[email protected] November 21, 2022
When you make your cannabutter, make it very strong. Don’t forget you only have to cook it at 190* for 45 mins. Using more weed and making it stronger allows you to use less in your recipes. Allowing you to just use regular butter, thus enhancing the flavor because there isn’t as much chlorophyll in it.
 
gregg M. November 29, 2022
Thank You drewalles.
Right now I'm experimenting with maybe 14g to 3 sticks or 3/4lb of unsalted butter.
I water-cured it for 3 days and most of the bad taste is gone. Changed water once daily....you can water-cure for longer, I just wanted to get it done.
 
gregg M. November 29, 2022
EDIT: 11-29-22

Am having success with WATER-CURING before the decarb step as I put 14g in a 12oz jar, filled with water, changing it once a day for 3 days but it should be done a few days longer maybe, I just wanted to get it done.
I won't taste it until tonight
but I KNOW most of that horrible smell is gone so things are looking good.
 
Vanessa L. January 21, 2023
Make canna-oil it takes 15 minutes to infuse or better yet use kief or hash. No need to infuse, decarb and homogenize into any fat or cook directly into food.
 
Tash74 September 30, 2022
Hi
I have 200g of leaf and want to make butter with it.
Do I just use all of it and follow the recipe as though it's bud?
Thanks
 
Vanessa L. January 21, 2023
Do you mean fan leaves or sugar leaf? Fan leaves have little to no thc. I would make cold water hash with sugar leaf and cook with that. The more plant matter the more green bitter flavor.
 
Tash74 January 21, 2023
A mix of both but mostly fan leaves.
I used the whole lot in a 500g butter mix then used 125g of that butter in brownies, I couldn't move off the lounge for hours, it was so damn strong hahaha
 
Joaquim August 19, 2022
Hello!
Vanessa, could you please clarify the browned butter process?
We should start browning the butter already together with the decarb weed?
 
Vanessa L. January 21, 2023
I have The Edibles Club coming back soon on Patreon. Please consider joining.
 
Weeeeeeeeedy August 16, 2022
Couldn’t find the actual ratio here of flower to butter..?
 
Vanessa L. January 21, 2023
there is no set ratio. it depends on the servings in a recipe and the potency of the flower used. This is how to make canna butter.
 
justpeggy May 24, 2022
I have a question I made can abutter and it is made from mostly shake I. I have a large bunch of buds and do not want to buy a lot of butter . can I defrost it and add it to my infused butter and mix it and use it with more kick thank you justpeggy
 
[email protected] November 21, 2022
Yes you can do that, you’d have to decarb the buds. You also would just have to make sure the butter at least covers the bud, you can save some butter by pushing down on the decarbed buds with a rubber spatula or even a metal serving spoon.
 
Mark April 17, 2022
Hello, i did the hashis following this article and i can say that i had a very good results.

https://www.weedjam.org/homemade-hashis/
 
GCatFukU April 13, 2022
Am I the only person that doesn't do the decarb step? It seems completely unnecessary to me. Decarb'ing just requires heat, right? When you have it at a low simmer on the stove with the water and butter, that alone decarbs. And then when you cook with it, it heats again. What am I missing?

On another note, a couple tips I've learned through my trial and errors:

Don't bake things at the temperature the directions say. Bake no higher than 275°F and just cook longer. My cookies got much stronger when I started doing it that way.

Also, if you use a crockpot method or simmer for more than a couple hours, you get a lot of chlorophyll in the butter (briefly mentioned above). To fix that, I separate the butter from the water (I personally use quite a bit of water), then take my canna-butter and throw it back in a pot with fresh water, let it simmer again for an hour or so and then let it separate again. It's amazing how much more impurities you pull out. (I've done a 3rd separation a few times, ya know, for science, but the 3rd separation comes out pretty clean).

Anyway, I'd really like feedback on the first paragraph I wrote. I just don't see why that step is necessary.
 
Smaug April 13, 2022
The article explains that the process continues over time, so I suppose there's some sort of ideal where the combination of cooking times/temperatures would maximize the potency of the final product, but there are a lot of variables in play.
 
Vanessa L. April 13, 2022
Hi!

I ran a lot of lab testing on pre-decarbing in the oven, no pre-decarb before butter infusion, and adding raw weed directly into the cookie dough. The pre-decarb is necessary for most baked goods to convert a majority of the THCA to THC. While weed cooks in butter the temperature isn’t high enough (not over 212F unless you’re making brown butter) or for long enough to sufficiently convert the THCA. While cookies bake in the oven there is about 30% conversion. A bit wasteful.

Hope this helps.
 
Ajrodge April 6, 2022
Can I freeze canna butter if I make too much?
 
Smaug April 13, 2022
According to the article, up to 6 months.
 
HaziiDazii March 9, 2022
I want to make a lot of cannabutter so I can use it whenever I want because I’m gonna stop smoking. I always heard ppl using an oz of weed to make their butter so I got 16 grams to use haha what would you suggest I do? I could triple your recipe but I’m not sure if it works like that.
 
Vanessa L. April 13, 2022
You can increase the weed in the recipe or better yet use hash or kief. Decarb and homogenize into the butter. More potent, less green flavor and skip the infusion step.
 
BeginnaNinna April 28, 2022
Hi Vanessa, If using hash or kief, would you use the same quantity?
Also, would the conversions to THC be reflective to percentages you mentioned in this article?
 
Kristik February 28, 2022
I made my first batch by browning the butter and using 2 grams. We cut the tray into 16 pieces and 1/2 or 1/4 of one piece was plenty. I mixed in keto brownies and everyone loved it.

Working on the hour long batch 2.
 
Vanessa L. March 1, 2022
Hi Kristi!

I love the brown butter technique. It’s fast and tastes delicious. Glad everyone loved it! 2 grams is a lot. Let’s say it was 20% THCA with a 20% loss, that’s 320mg THC divided by 16 pieces. 20mg per piece or 5mg for 1/4 piece. Perfect dose if you ask me! Great job xo
 
Maybelle August 27, 2022
Did you brown the butter first and then infuse, or did you cold start the butter and flower together so infusion is happening alongside the browning of the butter process??
 
lorendaunoy January 12, 2022
Excellent article! And credibility is everything. Sounds like you’ve done the research. I’m interested in using olive oil or coconut oil. I’m wondering if the cook time is similar. I was surprised that the maximum potency was after such a short time for the canna butter. I might be able to do this before I leave for work. My flowers are Already broken down shake. Will the de-cl process be shorter? I’m thinking my nose will tell me when it’s time to take it out. If you’ll excuse me I’m gonna go read this article one more time.
 
Mike January 9, 2022
I was under the impression you have to add lecithin to your cannibutter is that true?
 
Vanessa L. March 1, 2022
Lecithin helps to homogenize the cannabutter so the dose is evenly distributed. You can definitely add it but it’s not required. Some anecdotal info says lecithin increases absorption but more research is needed.
 
[email protected] November 21, 2022
Thank you for that lecithin comment, a lot of people think it helps but I’ve never found a variance in my recipes. Even did a blind test with a 5 people with the same butter. One with lecithin and one without. The results were 3-2 with the winner being WITHOUT lecithin. But all I proved was it doesn’t matter.
 
james_edward_anderson January 8, 2022
Thank you so much for this extremely well-written article! 🙌🏿 I've used it to make cannabutter about 10 times now for brownies and cakes, and I reread it everytime just for enjoyment. 🥰 Fyi, I've never used parchment paper or a candy thermometer because I'm cheap. 😅 Can't wait to try all the recipes mentioned in the article! 👌🏿🤤👏🏿
 
Ms_Meagan January 4, 2022
Wow, this is great, thank you! I love the show and was happy to find this arctic me written by you when I was doing my search on how to make cannabutter! I just harvested 3g of kief from my grinder, how should I adjust the recipe? I was thinking I would just make a big batch of butter to use accordingly. Luckily my BF and I both have a high tolerance so while I know I need to be careful with the dosage, I’m so exited to create our own edibles!
 
Vanessa L. January 5, 2022
Hi Meagan! Glad you like the show and this recipe :) I would calculate grinder kief at 30-40% THCA - this is a guesstimate. So 3g = 900 - 1200 mg THCA with a 20% loss (loss is inevitable) 720 - 960 mg THC. You'll need to decarb the kief, but the nice thing is no infusion! Just melt *some* of your butter, add the kief then homogenize. I would take that butter and blend it into the rest of your butter at room temp. The reason I wouldn't melt all of the butter is because butter is an emulsion and when it's melted, the layers separate. This way you'll still have a creamy butter. Hope it works well! Dose accordingly xov
 
allgreenherbs November 23, 2021
nice post https://allgreenherbs.com
 
Ceri1980 November 13, 2021
Hi I have collected some weed crystals. Would this need to be decarboxylated like the weed does? If yes is the process the same?
 
daviedidgood November 5, 2021
Hi from the land down under, looking forward to making my first batch of canna butter with your technique. I made butter ‘freestyle’ method once using 8 grams of leafy kiff, l assumed would be flat, and slowly simmered with a stick of butter for an hour. Then made a basic chocolate cake and cut into 8 slices which I consumed 2 and my sister 1, as she was going to a life drawing class. An hour or so passed and a slow surge of euphoric waves started to envelop me. My sister had a giggly class and it was a great introduction for edibles.
Looking forward to decarbonisation and your recipe. Will be mindful and cautious 😏