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:
“Hello, I'm very new to making cannabutter. I made my first batch today and I'm not sure it turned out okay. As I'm reading above, it's not necessary to cook it for hours, if I'm reading it correctly. Looks like it can be done 45 minutes to one hour. Some sites say 2 to 3 hours. I've seen 4-8 with a crockpot. I'm liking the 45 minutes better. So am I reading that right? Thanks for your help. ”
— mscanna
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. Preheat 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. Spread the broken-up flowers on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  4. 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.
  5. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and let the flowers cool at room temperature.
  6. 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, 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.

  • Bandit
    Bandit
  • Michael Goodwin
    Michael Goodwin
  • Billnelson
    Billnelson
  • mscanna
    mscanna
  • Eileen Mahoney
    Eileen Mahoney
Vanessa Lavorato

Written by: Vanessa Lavorato

45 Comments

Bandit January 13, 2021
You say one gram of weed, to how much butter?? What's the ratio?
 
Michael G. February 10, 2021
I do 1g for every stick of butter, and it's perfect. I made brownies with a stick and a half of butter, and I cut them into 16 pieces, and each piece is juuuust right.
 
Michael G. January 1, 2021
This is a fantastic method. I found the measurements a little confusing because I wanted to to make butter for any recipe as opposed to the specific amount of butter for a specific recipe. That said, I ended up with a ratio of 1 gram per stick of butter. Absolutely the perfect ratio. And I made some brownies that are to-die-for they are so good.
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. February 10, 2021
Thank you! A gram in a stick of butter sounds ideal. Then you can eat more since they taste so delicious.
 
Billnelson October 6, 2020
How much shake = 1g of flower
Thanks
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. October 7, 2020
It depends on the potency. Very roughly shake can be 10-15% THC but this is a guesstimate. I wouldn’t cook with shake, maybe try your hand at cold water hash.
 
mscanna September 24, 2020
Hello, I'm very new to making cannabutter. I made my first batch today and I'm not sure it turned out okay. As I'm reading above, it's not necessary to cook it for hours, if I'm reading it correctly. Looks like it can be done 45 minutes to one hour. Some sites say 2 to 3 hours. I've seen 4-8 with a crockpot. I'm liking the 45 minutes better. So am I reading that right? Thanks for your help.
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. October 7, 2020
Hi! 2-8 hours is way too long. It becomes a debate about flavor over potency. Butter is not the most efficient fat to infuse (the water in butter requires a low temperature unless you want to make brown butter which is delicious and efficient). Our lab testing shows 90% infusion after an hour, if you want the last ten percent, you’ll need to go another 7 hours but your butter will be green. I prioritize flavor over potency. You can always make a batch of brown butter with the leftover flower to get the last cannabinoids, which takes about ten minutes and infuses in that time (I’ve tested it twice). Butter takes so long because of the water content. Hope that helps! Maybe consider joining my Edible Club on Patreon 😘
 
Eileen M. September 7, 2020
Hi
Thank you for this great article. How would you modify this for coconut oil infusion?
Thanks!!!
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. October 7, 2020
Hi! That’s a different article ;) the infusion is much more efficient. I have an Edible Club on Patreon where we lab tested infusion rates for different oils. Hope you’ll join!
 
Purityvayne July 19, 2020
Wow, sounds like I have a lot to learn and will need to broaden my thinking of usages. I think I messed it up though after testing this morning. During the infusion i couldn't keep it on my flame because it kept hitting 200. You warned us not to go over 190° but I think around 25 of my 60 minutes was above the limit. What effect does that have on the product.
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. October 7, 2020
It’ll be fine. We decarb at 245F. The low temperature is more so to not brown your butter.
 
Purityvayne July 19, 2020
Thank you so much for all the knowledge and advice to help us have a better and less painful life and experience.
My question is after I make my butter, 1cup× 1.5 grams of 19% equals to roughly 5.5 mg per teaspoon, can I just use it like regular butter and dollop 4 grams (1 teaspoon) of butter on my toast or in my oatmeal and I will still get effect as would using it as an ingredient? Type 1 here so I cant do all the fun sweets.
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. July 19, 2020
Hi! My pleasure, this is what I love to do. Yes, 1.5g comes to ~ 5mg per teaspoon. You can use that in any way you want. It's fully activated (as long as you decarb beforehand) and infused into the butter.

Other oils and fats are far more efficient to infuse than butter. I have an Edible Club — I don't want to promote it here — but we found the infusion rates for oils and made stuffed mushrooms today.
 
mscanna September 24, 2020
Can I get info on the Edible Club?
Thanks!
 
Elena J. July 17, 2020
Do You have to mix the butter in the pan while it’s cooking?
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. July 18, 2020
stir occasionally and add more water as needed. butter is really the least efficient fat to infuse because of the water content.
 
Bridget G. May 1, 2020
I've had terrific luck using toasted vape grounds (so already decarboxylated) combined with either butter or coconut oil with the sous vide. No smell and consistent results if you keep track of each "recipe" as you tweak batches. Would it be possible to use kief this way? How would you decarb it? Thanks, great article!
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. May 1, 2020
Hi Bridget! AVB is a very popular way to infuse. For kief it would be the same process - I make a little pouch out of parchment to protect it, I’ve also read about sous-vide decarb but I would want to do more lab testing. Great thing about kief is you can skip the infusion step! There’s nothing to strain out. But keep in mind it is far more potent than flower.
 
Jjny55 April 26, 2020
Hello! I’m wondering if either part of the cooking process would smell? In other words, do you think I could cook this is my apartment without it smelling?
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. May 1, 2020
there is definitely a smell! I have a few tricks for containing the smell. you can put it in a pyrex baking dish and cover with foil. I have read about sous-vide decarb but would need to lab test and it would take much longer.
 
mscanna September 24, 2020
It's going to smell a bit but not too bad.
 
Kate Z. November 8, 2020
My trick every time that I make butter, is I make a batch of chocolate brownies. The smell of the chocolate overwhelms the smell of the cannibus every time.
Happy cooking and baking!
 
Prissy January 13, 2021
Use a silicon box with a lid and decarb, put that inside of a dutch oven, also with a lid. Really cuts the smell.
 
tbanks April 24, 2020
Great tips cant wait to try the preheat process. Should make my cookies better!
 
Bones1955 April 21, 2020
Do you “mash” the herbs with a spatula to squeeze out any remaining butter?
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. April 21, 2020
Or the back of a spoon will work. Get all of the precious butter!
 
Bones1955 April 21, 2020
Thanks!
 
Prissy April 21, 2020
It's nice to read a recipe like this since cannabis cooking techniques are new to many of us! Please make it a regular feature.
In these times, it's especially useful. Take care and happy cooking.
 
MsPai April 21, 2020
Thank you for the article and the yummy suggestion of infused brown butter - never even crossed my mind for some reason!
Quick question - If I wanted to use kief in the recipe instead of flower, do I adjust the amount or use 1 gram?
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. April 21, 2020
Brown butter is a quick and easy way to infuse. If you’re using kief, and don’t know the potency, definitely use less. It is more potent than flower (closer to 50%), so start with a quarter gram. You may need to buy a milligram scale (jewelry scale) to measure accurately.
 
Bigchef April 21, 2020
Hi! How would you make this using hash?
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. April 21, 2020
Hi! I would decarb the hash - you may want to try 220F for 20 minutes since the cannabinoids are more exposed. Then add to melted and butter or coconut oil or make brown butter. No need for the long infusion or to strain, the hash simply dissolves into the fat.
 
Bigchef June 2, 2020
How much thc in 1 g hash?
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. June 2, 2020
The percentage of THC in Hash varies anywhere from 50% to 80% which would be 500mg THCA to 800mg THCA. There is no way to know the potency unless the hash is lab tested. Hope this helps!
 
Bigchef June 2, 2020
Does that go up once I bake it?
Really appreciate all the answers! This is great
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. February 10, 2021
Sorry for the delay. No, the decarb process will decrease the potency. There is always loss in every step, I calculate 20%.
 
Pdiddy April 20, 2020
Has anyone made canna butter in the ardent fx?
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. April 20, 2020
The Ardent FX is just to decarb. The oven or even toasting weed on the stove is easy enough!
 
Fran M. April 20, 2020
Thank you. I wondered how it was done. Someone told me to throw the weed in a crock pot with the butter & let it cook on low for 6 hours. Well it burned to a crisp. Good pot down the drain.
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. April 20, 2020
Sorry to hear about your bad butter experience, that’s the worst. The water will help keep the temperature low and steady.
 
Licole P. April 20, 2020
Why not decrease the dose by half so that you start with a whole cookie? Is there a minimum concentration you need to make the cannabutter?
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. April 20, 2020
Hi! Yes, you can decrease the dose. There is no minimum amount, a gram is the smallest amount sold in shops.
 
MagnusLiber April 20, 2020
Great article Vanessa!!
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. April 20, 2020
Thank you 💚