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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  • Ms_Meagan
    Ms_Meagan
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Vanessa Lavorato

Written by: Vanessa Lavorato

91 Comments

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?
 
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!
 
Author Comment
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 😏
 
dantheman October 6, 2021
after you have made the cookies, can you freeze them
 
Rajacanna August 27, 2021
I typically decarb 1 gram, and then eat 1/10 gram per dose without infusing. I find the THC yield to be more accurate due to less loss in the infusing and baking. I eat with spoonful of peanut butter, and typically feel the effects with 60 minutes.
 
JaniG August 10, 2021
Can you tell me more about how to infuse to browned butter? Do you brown the already made cannabis butter or can you actually heat the cannabis and butter together over a higher heat?
I make brown butter all the time, but I'd also like to know how to do it to infuse my butter with cannabis.
 
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Rixi July 13, 2021
Hi can you maybe make a video on YouTube, on how you make this PLEASE
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. July 13, 2021
I would love to make a video for Food52! I have a Patreon called The Edible Club where I demo weekly infused recipes.
 
ThornyLittleFlower June 22, 2021
I have a Question? An elderly relative has asked me to bake her a brownie to help with her shaking. She has many weeks before she sees a consultant about her condition. This is making her very anxious and anxiety is making the condition worse. As a long time smoker myself I'm worried ill put in too much. Do you have any advice for quantity for a 70yr old trying for the 1st time?
 
Bridget G. July 13, 2021
I've been doing this for some time and it is really hard to have an accurate idea of dose - I can't recommend giving it to an elderly person, anyone with a medical condition/anxiety, or someone unfamiliar with their own reaction to THC.
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. July 13, 2021
Hi there, my advice is always to start with a very low amount until you figure out her tolerance. If you're in a legal state, there are lab tested edibles and pre-activated products (distillate) to cook with. Start at 5mg THC. Unfortunately unless you have access to lab testing there is no way to be sure of the dose on homemade edibles.
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. July 13, 2021
Hi Bridget,

You're 100% correct. Homemade edibles are difficult to accurately dose unless using distillate or lab tested. For people who are new to edibles, I always recommend starting with a very low amount until they know their tolerance.
 
Rajacanna August 27, 2021
I’m 70 and although I’ve been using weed since mid 60’s. My recommendation would be to micro dose 2.5mg max for first time.
 
Scrap May 26, 2021
If I take 15g of Cannabis and use 2 Butters, can the amount of fat save all the THC or do I loose some in the process?
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. July 13, 2021
You will always lose some potency in the process, but as long as the weed is fully saturated in butter it will absorb the THC.
 
John A. April 27, 2021
I'm too toasted to comment. LOL
 
sunshine19 April 17, 2021
I am new to the cannabutter making. Is adding water to your butter necessary?? I Decarb at 200* for 45 min and then I add the hand ground decarbed bud directly to a big Mason jar that already has my melted unsalted butter. Then I low simmer for abt 2.5 -3hrs. (I'm reading that this its not necessary to low simmer that long). I've never added water directly to my butter. I just drop my uncovered Mason jar with butter in a pot of water I stir it ever 20 minutes. My first batch of brownies were bomb and I got great feedback from my friends. Just wondering if my cooking method is correct. I used a total of about 14g to 4 sticks. My last batch was abt 16grams to 5 sticks. I'm still unsure about the dosing part and would LOVE to join your blog/group etc....
 
John A. April 27, 2021
Thanks for the tip on this Mason Jar. I didn't know that
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. July 13, 2021
Hi Sunshine,

Sounds like you have a great recipe! There are many variables that impact the dose of edibles. First and foremost the potency of your weed. Have you ever cooked with hash or kief? It's much more efficient. My Patreon is called The Edible Club, I hope you'll check it out.
 
sunshine19 August 25, 2021
Thank You for replying! :)
I have not ever cooked with hash or kief although was wondering about that. I believe I did join Edible Club too I look forward to learning more about edibles, tips n tricks, and quality advice from experts :)
 
Egon623 April 16, 2021
I’m confused. You say it’s just quicker and better to do a brown butter in like 20 min yet in the recipe it says to never exceed 190°. I’m pretty sure to brown butter you’ll need to go over 200°?
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. April 17, 2021
Hi! Yes, the point is to not make brown butter. It has nothing to do with the cannabis. Keep the butter under 190F so it doesn’t brown.
 
suzi April 4, 2021
for curiosity's sake, does this method apply with hemp flower/butter the same way? (zero THC) from creating to dosing?
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. April 5, 2021
Yes, the CBDA in hemp flower needs to be decarboxylated and infused into a fat or alcohol in the same way. I would have to run lab testing to see if it occurs at the same rate.
 
learning March 31, 2021
I'm new at this, I have 7 grams of quality week. If I read correctly I need 7 sticks of butter?
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. March 31, 2021
Hi there,

Use as much or little weed as you like. It depends on the potency of the flower and how strong you like your butter. I would start with one gram into one stick of butter. If it's not strong enough, add more weed into a stick of butter. Hope that helps!
 
learning April 1, 2021
Have been purchasing wafers @ 120 mg and cookies @ 250 mg eating half of the wafer and 1/4 of the cookie, so I need around 60 mg for the benefit I need. Without having the ability to see the potency of what I make, I will use the 7 g to a pound of butter, make my cookies and then experiment to find the amount of each cookie.
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. April 1, 2021
Since your tolerance is so high, maybe try 7g into half pound of butter. You can always add regular butter to a recipe if the infused butter is too strong.
 
JaniG August 10, 2021
I use an ounce to make a lb of butter. I then make T-biscuits using a rounded 1/4 of butter. I make 6 biscuits and 1/2 gets me pretty high, the whole biscuit gets me supper high. haha I usually wait an hour to eat the second half of the biscuit. I'm 60 and have been smoking weed my entire adult life, so I have a high tolerance, but have made the mistake of over indulging in edibles a couple of times. It's easy to do because.... deliciousness. haha
 
Smaug March 22, 2021
I'm curious about what sort of grinder you mean- a gram of weed is a tiny amount and the glands that hold most of the THCA are pretty sticky- seems like you could lose an awful lot in any sort of grinder I can think of.
 
Author Comment
Vanessa L. March 22, 2021
A weed grinder. It’s not required, I usually break the buds into pieces with my hands before infusing. There is some loss in the grinder (I discuss the overall loss during the process) but weed grinders have been around for a while. You could also use a knife.
 
Smaug March 22, 2021
Those little plastic hockey puck things with the teeth inside? I have one, but does someone make one that actually does a decent job?
 
Bandit March 22, 2021
Kozo makes a pretty good one