Infused oils and butter can be added to baked goods and more—here's how to prepare them and get the dosage right.

Vidya Rao
June 04, 2021
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Talk to people about cannabis edibles and most will recall at least one horror story about how they got way too high after eating a brownie. But edibles have come a long way, thanks to pioneering chefs and the growing number of states that have legalized cannabis.

The key is finding the right dosage, which is different for everybody. You can control the dosage and the flavor of edibles by making them yourself at home. It just takes patience and precision to get the best results. You can add cannabis to almost any dish, from dips and pastas to pie and, frankly, almost any dessert you can imagine. (It's a good idea to check with your doctor before adding cannabis to your diet, and always be sure to keep any cannabis-containing foods out of reach of children, pets and unknowing snackers.)

Slices of butter on a designed background of cannabis leaves
Credit: Getty Images / Ruta Lipskija / EyeEm / Olena Ruban

Infusing cannabis is, unfortunately, a process. You can't just sprinkle some bud over your food and expect rainbows and unicorns. In order to make cannabis edibles, you need to make an infused butter or oil with which you can cook. But once you've made the butter or oil, you can store it in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer and use it to bake or cook at any time.

Different chefs will have different methods for preparing cannabutter or cannaoil. I prefer to start with a half ounce to an ounce of cannabis and make a more concentrated butter or oil. This way, I can add only a small amount of the cannabutter or oil to the recipe, and supplement the rest with regular butter or oil. This allows for me to play around with the dosage and add it to any recipe-it doesn't have to be one that specifically calls for cannabutter-without drastically impacting the flavor profile.

How to Make Cannabutter or Cannaoil

Before you start, a couple of tips:

  1. Invest in a digital kitchen scale, which will help ensure you're being exact with your measurements, as this matters when it comes to dosage and potency.
  2. Make your cannabis infusion at least a day in advance of cooking with it, giving yourself time to test out how much you want to use per serving.

Step 1: Bake the cannabis flower

In order to activate the psychoactive compounds in cannabis, it needs to be heated up. This process is called decarboxylation. Essentially, you'll be baking the cannabis in the oven low and slow. While it can be tempting to skip this step, don't! You won't get the warm and fizzies without it, and you would have essentially just wasted good cannabis.

Note: The decarboxylation process will fill your house with the aroma of cannabis. Keep that in mind if you live in an apartment building with neighbors who may complain. That's one reason why I suggest covering the pan tightly with foil. Opening windows and running fans during the process can also help.

What you need:

  • 1/2 ounce (14 grams) high-quality cannabis flower
  • Small baking pan or foil pan
  • Foil lid or enough foil to tightly seal the pan
  • Grinder

Directions:

1. Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 220℉.

2. Break up cannabis flower into coarse pieces by hand, so the pieces are the size of large grains of rice. You don't want to grind them at this point as that may lead to burning the cannabis, which will affect the flavor. Add the flower pieces to the baking pan and cover with foil lid or foil, sealing the edges.

3. Bake on the center rack for 45 minutes.

4. Let cool, still covered, for 60 minutes.

5. Once cooled, use a grinder to grind the flower down.You want to end up with a medium grind. You'll want to use this decarboxylated flower to make your butter or oil right away.

Step 2: Infuse butter or oil

It's time for the infusion process! Like the cannabis itself, you also want the butter or oil you use to be high quality: for butter, a European-style butter with high fat content works best to help you absorb the THC in the cannabis. You can also use ghee or coconut oil, since both of these fats perform similarly to butter in recipes, but they will impart slightly different flavors. Ghee will add a bit of nuttiness, and coconut oil will, of course, add some coconut flavor. Note that both of these options are quite a bit more expensive than even good-quality butter.

If you're serious about making edibles and think you'll be doing it regularly, consider investing in a MagicalButter machine, which comes with everything you need to make infused butter, oils and tinctures. It controls odors, regulates the temperature of the fat and automatically stirs it, so you can legitimately set it and forget it (and even leave the house!).

Buy It: MagicalButter Botanical Extractor ($200 from Bed Bath & Beyond)

What you need:

  • 2 cups (4 sticks) butter or 2 cups ghee or 2 cups coconut oil
  • ½ ounce decarboxylated cannabis
  • Heatproof bowl and pot or double boiler
  • Cheesecloth or nut-milk bag (Buy a nut-milk bag: $3 from Bed Bath & Beyond)
  • Jar for storing
  • Time!

Directions:

1. Fill a pot with about 2 inches of water and bring to a very gentle simmer. Put your heatproof bowl on top. Add butter (or ghee or oil) and decarboxylated cannabis to the bowl.

2. Stir the mixture about every 10 to 15 minutes and make sure the fat never gets hot enough to bubble. Add more water to the pot as it evaporates, and let the infusion go for a total of about 2 hours.

3. Remove from heat and let cool enough that you can comfortably touch it, without it cooling so much that it solidifies. You want it to remain liquid so you can strain out the flower.

4. Pour the fat through a cheesecloth or nut-milk bag into a jar. You can give it a gentle squeeze but don't get too aggressive with it, as you may get more of the bitter flavor components from the plant material.

One you've strained it, you'll have an infused butter or oil that's ready to be used. You can store it in the fridge for two weeks, or, after it's solidified, put it in a freezer-safe container or roll in parchment and store in the freezer for three months.

Step 3: Use cannabutter or cannaoil in recipes

Before you bake or cook with your infusion, test out the dosage. This varies person to person and is also highly dependent on the freshness, quality and THC levels in the cannabis you use. Try spreading ¼ teaspoon of the cannabutter or cannaoil on a cracker or bread and see how you feel about 1 hour later. You can then decide whether you like the dosage or want to up the serving dosage to ½ teaspoon or more.

Do the math when you want to use the fat in a recipe. For example, if you're making a recipe for 12 cookies that calls for 1 stick (8 tablespoons) of butter and your preferred dosage is ½ teaspoon, you can replace 2 tablespoons of butter with your infusion. For precision, convert the butter measurements to grams and use your kitchen scale to measure out both the infused and non-infused fat that you're using, which is helpful particularly when you're making larger batches of baked goods.

Now it's time to experiment and enjoy!