Cannabis-infused butter (cannabutter) is one of the simplest and most common ways to make infused cannabis edibles. However, making infused butter can be a little bit tricky. In order to activate its psychoactive potential, the flower must be heated slowly at a low temperature.
Note: Homemade edibles are very difficult to accurately dose. This guide will give you some tips for more precise dosing, but all DIY cannabis cooks should be aware that there’s no way to guarantee the potency or homogeneity of their batch.
How to make cannabis-infused butter (or ‘cannabutter’)
Listen, you don’t have to be a master chef or cannabis connoisseur to make legit weed butter. You just need to be well-informed, patient, and organized. At the end of the day, making cannabis butter is just a very efficient way of consuming weed. It’s inconspicuous, versatile, and approachable. And I really enjoy how cannabutter helps to minimize the stigma of weed—especially in the black community. It means everything to me when middle-aged black women, like my 80-year-old great Auntie Mildred, can be provided with options like cannabis edibles to help find relief from pain symptoms.
With the same principles as making weed butter, you can create infused sesame chili oil to drizzle on rice dishes, or elevated coconut oil to use for your next face oil mask.
The following recipe loosely translates into 30 mg of THC per tablespoon of oil or butter. Your perfect dose will vary, but 10 mg is standard. Start by testing ¼ teaspoon of the weed butter you make and wait for about an hour. Take note of how you feel and let your body tell you whether this is a good amount, if you need more, or if you need less. Erring on the side of caution will ensure that you actually enjoy yourself and have a positive experience.
Step 1: Decarboxylation
The first thing you’ll have to do is decarboxylate your cannabis. Also known as “decarbing,” this requires you to bake your weed, allowing the THC, CBD and other cannabinoids to activate. Also, it allows for lipids in butter and oil to easily bind to your weed for the ultimate cannabis infusion.What you’ll need:
- ½ ounce of weed
- Hand grinder or scissors
- Glass baking dish or sheet pan
What to do:
- Preheat the oven to 220° F.
- Gently break apart the desired amount of weed using a hand-grinder, scissors, or with hands until it’s the perfect consistency for rolling a joint— fine, but not too fine. Anything too fine will slip through cheesecloth (or a joint, for that matter). You want your cannabutter and oil to be clean and as clear as possible.
- Evenly spread your plant material onto the glass baking dish or sheet pan. Pop in the oven on the center rack for 20 minutes if using old or lower quality weed; 45 minutes for cured, high-grade weed; or 1 hour or more for anything that has been recently harvested and is still wet.
- Check on the weed frequently while it’s in the oven, gently mixing it every 10 minutes so as to not burn it. You will notice that the color of your herb will change from bright green to a deep brownish green. That’s when you know it has decarboxylated.
Step 2: Cannabutter Stovetop Infusion
If you have weed, fat, time, and a kitchen, you can make weed butter with this method.What You’ll Need:
- 1½ cup water
- 8 ounces clarified butter, melted butter, or oil
- ½ ounce decarboxylated cannabis
- Medium saucepan
- Wooden spoon
- Thermometer, optional cheesecloth and/or metal strainer
What to do:
- In a medium saucepan on very low heat, add water and butter.
- When the butter is melted, add the decarboxylated cannabis. Mix well with a wooden spoon and cover with lid.
- Let mixture gently simmer for 4 hours. Stir every half hour to make sure your butter isn’t burning. If you have a thermometer, check to make sure the temperature doesn’t reach above 180°.
- After 4 hours, strain with cheesecloth or metal strainer into a container. Let the butter cool to room temperature. Use immediately or keep in refrigerator or freezer in a well-sealed mason jar for up to six months.
How to use weed butter:
I’ve been slipping a little weed into a lot of recipes that aren’t in my cookbook. Most recently, I combined one tablespoon of canna-infused olive oil with 3 tablespoons of non-weed virgin olive oil to dress this juicy Charred Raw Corn salad. (It came out to 30 mg for the entire dish, and 7.5 mg per serving). It blew my mind. And not because I was stoned. I also have this thing for eating hot soup all year long, and my most recent soup fix was Chicken and Rice Soup with Garlicky Chile Oil. I spiked the garlic chile oil with weed, swapping in two tablespoons of canna-infused sesame oil for two tablespoons of vegetable oil. You can also sub a few teaspoons of infused oil into baked goods, like breakfast blondies or chocolate tahini brownies
Before making your cannabutter, you’ll need to decarboxylate, or “decarb”, the cannabis flower you’re working with. Skipping this step will result in a weak or inactive finished product. Here’s why: Cannabis buds produce a non-intoxicating acidic cannabinoid called THCA. When we smoke or vaporize cannabis, the heat converts THCA into THC, the molecule that delivers euphoric effects. If preparing CBD edibles, this same process should be applied.RelatedHow to make edibles: Leafly’s guide to cooking with cannabis
Some recipes may instruct you to decarb cannabis in the hot butter directly, but the less time you spend soaking the buds, the better your infused butter is going to taste. For this reason, we recommend decarbing in the oven first.
Basic cannabutter recipe
- Decarb the cannabis. Preheat your oven to 245ºF. Place cannabis buds on a non-stick, oven-safe tray. Cover the tray with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Insert the tray into the oven and set a timer for 30-40 minutes. Older, drier cannabis may require less time. (Tip: you can also set your oven to 300ºF and heat for 10 to 18 minutes, although low-and-slow is the recommended approach when decarbing to better preserve the cannabinoids.) Every 10 minutes, gently mix the buds with a light shake of the tray to expose the surface area of the buds equally.
- Grind. Grind the decarboxylated cannabis coarsely with a hand grinder.
- Melt the butter. Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of butter into a stock pot or saucepan. Simmer on low and let the butter melt. Adding water helps to regulate the temperature and prevents the butter from scorching.
- Add the cannabis. As the butter begins to melt, add in your coarsely ground cannabis product.
- Simmer. Maintain low heat (ideally above 160ºF but never exceeding 200ºF) and let the mixture simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. The mixture should never come to a full boil.
- Strain the cannabutter. Set a funnel on top of a jar and line it with cheesecloth. Once the butter has cooled off, pour it over the cheesecloth funnel and allow it to strain freely. (Tip: Squeezing the cheesecloth may push more bad-tasting plant material through).
- Refrigerate the jar of butter. If excess water forms at the bottom of the jar, you can remove the solid butter with a knife and drain the water out. (The butter will need to refrigerate for about an hour before removing the water.)
- Dose carefully. Refer to dosing information below before adding your butter to any snacks, dishes, or desserts.
Directions for slow cooker
- Grind your cannabis coarsely with a hand grinder. (Tip: A coffee grinder will finely pulverize the flower and prevent effective straining of bad-tasting plant material.)
- Set your slow cooker to low, or somewhere around 160ºF. (Tip: Avoid exceeding 200ºF to prevent burning or wasting cannabinoids. You can also add a little water to help prevent scorching.)
- Add the butter and ground cannabis. Stir occasionally.
- After about 3 hours, turn off the crockpot and wait for the butter to cool.
- Strain as above.
Tips for dosing cannabutter
Your butter’s potency depends on many factors, from how long and hot it was cooked to the potency of your starting material. Even the type of cannabis used (indica vs. sativa strains) can be a factor. To test the potency of your finished product, try spreading ¼ or ½ teaspoon on a snack and see how that dose affects you after an hour. Decrease or increase dose as desired. You can then use this personalized “standard” dose as a baseline for your recipes. For more information on why potency is so difficult to measure in homemade cannabis edibles, check out part four of this series.