Cannabutter can be used in any recipe that calls for butter, meaning you can have your cake and weed it, too. But start asking questions — how to make cannabutter, how to control the potency of your weed butter, what the heck is decarboxylation — and things get very complicated very quickly.
If you're looking for a quick cannabis butter recipe, this is not the how-to for you. If, however, you're looking for a comprehensive guide to making and consuming cannabutter safely, you've come to the right place.
Tips for getting the potency right
Plan ahead. Before you begin to make your first batch of cannabutter, plan ahead and think about your intentions. Are you hoping for an intoxicating, head-body high that'll rival the potency of the strongest store-bought products? Or are you more interested in a mild, relaxing vibe that'll edge out your nightly glass of wine? The possibilities for homemade edibles are practically infinite, but it does take some effort to tailor the potency to your tolerance and needs.
Shop legal. The most important thing you can do is shop from a licensed dispensary. This way you can get the laboratory certificate of analysis for the flower of your choosing and be confident the percentages of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids are accurate. If you're not sure where to find this information, don't be afraid to ask your budtender.
If you have a high tolerance, look for 20% THC or higher. When shopping for weed for cannabutter, high-tolerance cannabis consumers have a simple task: buy the most potent cannabis available. This flower need not be top-shelf since a lot of the qualities that define top-shelf — glistening trichomes, colorful hues, perfect bud structure — will be irrelevant once it's in a vat of butter. But the flavors and effects of the strain will shine through, so don't buy an energizing strain if you're not looking to be energized or a lemon-scented strain if you're not a fan of citrus.
Try high-CBD or hemp strains if you have a low tolerance. Low-tolerance or new cannabis consumers will want to avoid THC-dominant cannabis. Look for strains with a balanced ratio of THC and CBD instead. New consumers could also opt for hemp flower, which has negligible amounts of THC and high levels of CBD for a non-intoxicating, calming experience. There's the added benefit that you can buy hemp flower online.
Learn stoner math. There's a simple yet highly effective formula for approximating the maximum amount of THC in a batch of cannabutter:
(grams of flower) x 1000 x (percentage of THC) = total milligrams
Example: If you have 3.5 g of flower containing 20% THC, that would leave you with a maximum of 700 mg of THC (3.5 x 1000 x 0.2 = 700).
Be aware this is not an exact science and half of the THC could be lost in the infusion process. The point of this formula is to give you an idea of the maximum possible amount so you know how the best serving size to experiment with for your first dose.
The decarboxylation debate
Read any cannabutter or edible how-to on the internet and it'll tell you to decarboxylate your weed or don't even bother. But it's a little more nuanced than that. Decarboxylating, or decarbing, simply means heating cannabis flower in order to convert non-intoxicating cannabinoid acids into the cannabinoids most of us are familiar with. So, with a little heat and time, the THCA in raw flower turns into THC, CBDA turns into CBD, and so on. This happens automatically whenever you smoke or vape cannabis, thanks to your lighter flame or vape heating element.
Toasting your flower in the oven before simmering it in butter ensures your infusion will be chock full of THC, but that's not necessarily the goal of every cannabis consumer. High-tolerance consumers who want to get every last bit of THC out of their flower should absolutely decarb. Brand new cannabis consumers would be wise to skip this step. And low-tolerance consumers might be happy going either route but should pay close attention to the math if they choose to decarb.
Potent cannabutter recipe
With an eighth of 20% THC weed and this potent cannabutter recipe, you can expect to get a maximum of 700 mg THC per cup of butter or oil. Even with the added decarboxylation step, this cannabutter recipe isn't terribly complicated. You'll need about three hours, but most of that time won't require active participation.
What you'll need
- 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter or coconut oil
- 3.5 grams (or more) ground cannabis
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Small saucepan or double boiler
- Metal mesh strainer
- Spatula/other utensils
- Clean Mason jar and lid
- Prep to Decarboxylate the weed
First, we're going to decarboxylate the weed. Use a hand grinder to break apart the flower. Put parchment paper on a baking sheet and spread the herb evenly across the surface.
- Decarboxylate the weed
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Fahrenheit (105 degrees Celsius), place the sheet in the oven, and leave it for 30 minutes.
- Melt the butter
While the weed is decarboxylating, set up the double boiler or saucepan on your stove and melt the butter.
- Combine and stir
Once the weed comes out of the oven, lift the parchment by the long edges, pour the weed into the melted butter, and stir well.
- Simmer on low
Keep the butter at a very low simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Filter the butter
Remove the butter from the stove. Filter it through a metal mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth and into your Mason jar.
- Gently squeeze the cheesecloth
Gently squeeze the plant matter to get the majority of the butter out. Do not squeeze to excess, as you don't want plant matter or unnecessary compounds entering the mix.
Your cannabis butter is ready to cook with or eat. It will keep up to two months in the fridge and six months in the freezer.
Mild cannabutter recipe
If you want to know how to make cannabutter milder, there are a few different ways you could go about it.
Use lower-potency weed. For example, if you use an eighth of 10% THC flower in the cannabutter recipe above, you can expect to get a maximum of 350 mg THC per cup of butter or roughly 7 mg per teaspoon.
Use hemp flower. Organic hemp flower purchased from a licensed retailer will have 0.3% THC or less. Follow the instructions listed above to make cannabutter with high CBD content and negligible levels of THC.
Mix in non-medicated butter. You can reduce the potency of your cannabutter and extend the reach of your stash by simply adding regular butter to the mix. Whether you go with a 1:1. 1:2, or 1:3 ratio of cannabutter to regular butter, make sure to do the math to ensure you know how much THC you're getting per serving.
Skip the decarbing step. By skipping decarbing, much less THCA will convert into THC — if any. The resulting effects will range from non-intoxicating to significantly milder than a cannabis butter recipe that incorporates decarbing. For a foolproof cannabutter recipe that'll take half the time, skip the decarboxylation step.
Other cannabutter recipes
Of course, the above recipes aren't the only way to go about making weed butter. You can make cannabis butter in a slow cooker or with the simple sous vide method below.
How to make sous vide cannabutter
It's also simple to make cannabis-infused butter using the sous vide method. To begin, assemble the following tools and ingredients:
- Sous vide cooking device
- Large pot
- Large sealable plastic bag
- 16 ounces (4 sticks) of butter, melted
- 7 grams of cannabis flower, decarbed and ground
- Metal strainer
- Clean bowl or jar to store the cannabutter
Decarb the cannabis as described above to convert the THCA to THC and add the flower to the resealable bag. Pour the melted butter into the plastic bag, making sure it's cooled enough so that it doesn't melt the bag.
Set your sous vide cooking device to 185 degrees Fahrenheit and carefully add the bag to the water. Leave a small opening at the top of the bag so the pressure can force the air out of the bag as you lower it into the water. Once the water level reaches just below the opening, seal the bag and fully submerge it. Allow the bag to soak for four hours.
When it's done, remove the bag from the water bath. Dry the bag so water doesn't drip into the weed butter, then pour the mixture through the cheesecloth and metal strainer into a bowl or jar. Use immediately or cover and store for later use.
How to use cannabutter
The possibilities are endless when it comes to eating cannabutter. If you're short on time, simply spread a serving of cannabutter on a piece of toast and top with jam. For home cooks, there are a number of cannabis cookbooks and fun recipes exploring how to make edibles.
To test the strength of your cannabutter without risking a paranoid meltdown, use the formula above and start with a dose you know you'll be comfortable with. That way, even if every bit of THCA magically converted into THC during the infusion process, you can rest assured you aren't pushing your limits. Once you've established that baseline, you can adjust the serving size appropriately.