Cooking with cannabis is a fun and healthy way to introduce cannabinoids into your diet. Contrary to the popular opinion, cannabis edibles aren’t just baked goods and calorie-monsters.
Actually, eating healthy while experiencing the effects of marijuana is a much wiser option than munching on junk food. Why stuff yourself with artificially processed food while you can infuse nutritious ingredients with that good from your jar?
However, nobody’s born an expert, and if this is your first time cooking with cannabis, it’s crucial that you understand the basic principles behind making weed edibles.
And the best way to do it is to learn by mistakes.
Not your own mistakes, of course.
In this guide, we’ll show you 8 common cannabis cooking mistakes and how to avoid them — along with the best recipe for cannabutter.
Is Cooking With Cannabis Difficult?
Frankly, cooking cannabis is pretty easy as it follows similar principles to regular cooking. The lion’s share of mistakes is made during the process of making a cannabis infusion, i.e. cooking oil or cannabutter.
Preparing cannabutter can be a hard nut to crack for beginners. Many people don’t know where to start, how to infuse the butter in the first place, or how to dose their weed so you don’t end up with a THC powerhouse.
Remember that most of the time, you’ll be working with a psychoactive substance — unless you cook with CBD butter from hemp flowers.
You may also stumble upon other roadblocks when trying to make your first batch of edibles, but worry not — we’ve all made them at some point.
8 Common Cannabis Cooking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
In this section, we’ll cover the most common cooking mistakes made by aspiring cannachefs. Some of them may simply compromise your experience on the sensory notes. Others, however, may lead to unpleasant side effects resulting from ingesting too much THC at once.
Let’s devote them some attention.
1. Not Decarboxylating Your Cannabis Beforehand
The mistake: Cooking raw cannabis is pointless if you want to benefit from the effects of THC and CBD. That’s because raw flowers contain THCA and CBDA — the acidic and inactive forms of these cannabinoids.
This means that THCA won’t get you high because its chemical structure locks its psychoactive properties away until you decarboxylate it.
Decarboxylation is a fancy term for heating and activating the cannabis — to some extent. The point of decarboxylation is to maximize the potency of your weed through efficient extraction but without burning the plant.
How to avoid it: To decarboxylate weed, simply grind it prior to cooking. For best results, we recommend spreading the ground weed over a baking sheet and roast it in the oven for one hour at 230 degrees.
2. Grinding the Weed Too Finely
The mistake: It’s easy to break down your bud before cooking with a quality hand grinder. This is a very important part of cooking with cannabis, but some people take the grinding too seriously.
Unlike many people believe, grinding your weed into a fine powder will not give you more THC in your edibles. Insted, the heating surface will be too thin, making it very easy to burn your weed and destroy the precious cannabinoids and terpenes.
How to avoid it: Work your grinder to the point where your cannabis is ground to tiny buds. Once your finished product looks like oregano rather than powder — you’re done.
2. Foregoing Water When Infusing Cannabutter or Marijuana Oil
The Mistake: Some people don’t like adding water to the mix, but we always do. Especially on the stovetop, the lack of water may lead to scorching and thus destroy much THC in the final product.
How to avoid it: Not only does water prevent scorching, but it also improves the appearance and flavor of your butter by washing away some of the chlorophyll and strong botanical flavor. Just make sure to add it to the mix when making your infusion. The amount of water isn’t important, but we always pour in at least as much water as butter — even when working with a slow cooker.
3. Using Too High Temperatures
The mistake: You may get tempted to turn up the heat and speed up the cooking process, but that lack of patience will backfire at you. Cooking cannabis at too high a temperature causes cannabinoids to degrade, not to mention the terpenes, which are much more volatile. This, in turn, results in low-potency cannabutter that will also taste like crap.
How to avoid it: The rule of thumb is that the lower the temperature, the better. THC gets completely degraded at temperatures over 392 degrees Fahrenheit, although it starts to activate long before that. Aside from adding water when making cannabis infusions, you’ll need to pay attention to the level of heat. Also, when cooking with marijuana oils or butter, don’t use them for direct sauteing or frying. Instead, you can add them shortly after the process to avoid burning. As for baking in the oven, you can cook at temperatures up to 375 degrees F.
4. Adding Too Little / Too Much Cannabis
The mistake: Adding too little cannabis to your butter will result in a weak infusion. This means that you’ll need to use lots of butter to meet the desired dose, compromising the flavor of your dish. On the other hand, going overboard with weed will create a THC monster that will be easy to misuse. If you don’t suffer from severe chronic ailments and don’t need that much THC in your system, eating a super strong edible may leave you couch-locked, confused, lethargic, or paranoid.
How to avoid it: Dosing cannabis isn’t easy and takes practice. We suggest that you err on the side of caution when cooking with cannabis for the first time. For cannabutter, start by incorporating ¼ oz of ground bud into a pound of butter. Use a strain with about 15% THC for moderate psychoactive effects. Before adding the butter into any other recipes, test it for potency — you can eat one teaspoon of butter and wait for about 40 minutes until the effects take hold. Once you know how strong your infusion is, you’ll have a better idea of how much to add it in your meal.
5. Neglecting Serving Size
The mistake: Not knowing how many portions come from your recipe can make it difficult to determine how much weed you should add to the other ingredients. This is where dosing THC turns into Russian roulette.
How to avoid it: To gauge a proper dose, divide the total amount of weed or butter in the recipe to get to the amount that usually works for you.
6. Working With Wrong Concentrates
The mistake: Using the wrong type of cannabis concentrate, or incorporating it the wrong way into your recipe can make the prep work clumsy and result in a poor end product.
How to avoid it: Cooking with kief, tinctures, or concentrates can elevate your experience to a whole new level. Kief and liquid extracts easily dissolve in warm liquids and other ingredients like sour cream, mayonnaise, yogurt, and more. Hash and solid concentrates are trickier because you need to grind them into a finer consistency. Using a mortar and pestle should do the trick, but if you want to speed things up, we recommend choosing a small food processor or coffee grinder. Not a fan of adding more work to cooking with cannabis? Forget what we’ve just said and stick to kief, tinctures, and liquids.
7. Being too Shy With Seasonings
The mistake: Adding too few spices or being shy when it comes to their ratios is one of the most common mistakes when cooking with cannabis. Weed is known for its pungent aroma and distinct flavor that many people don’t find appealing. When using too delicate a hand with seasonings, you allow these features to overwhelm the other ingredients.
How to avoid it: use spices and flavors that tend to mask the cannabis flavor. Using a little more seasoning and flavor-adding ingredients when cooking with cannabis is paramount for achieving a balanced taste.
8. Forgetting About Savory Marijuana Edibles
The mistake: When you mention cannabis edibles, most people will probably think of brownies or gummies. These are amazing and super easy products to make, but there’s a myriad of other edible opportunities beyond baked goods and sweets. In fact, the herbal notes coming from cannabis plants makes for a great addition to more savory and spicy meals, including roasted meat, chilli, potatoes, dressings, dipping sauces, and much, much more.
How to avoid it: Browse different food blogs for cannabis recipes online. There’s a growing body of cannabis cookbooks on the market, each covering plenty of creative recipes to get inspired by. If you’re already making your cannabis infusion, look for opportunities to incorporate it to the recipes you’re familiar with.
The Best Cannabutter Recipe
Cannabutter — short for cannabis butter — is the most popular cannabis infusion you can use for making edibles. If you use it as a base for your baked goods and other meals, there’s a whole sea of recipes you can mix it into.
Below we share our foolproof cannabis recipe, with instructions made after taking the above cooking mistakes into consideration.
Follow these steps, and you’ll have a perfect infusion for your next dish.
- ¼ oz of cannabis buds (15% THC)
- 1 lb of unsalted butter
- Grind your weed with a hand grinder. Remember not to grind it into fine powder; your buds should be slightly leafy.
- Decarboxylate your plant material by placing the flowers on a baking sheet and transferring them into the oven at a temperature of 230 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the ground cannabis for 1 hour.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and stir the mixture together.
- Add the decarboxylated weed to the butter as soon as it starts to melt. Reduce heat to low and mix the ingredients until well combined.
- Cook your cannabutter for 2-3 hours over minimum heat, stirring occasionally. The point is to maintain a temperature between 200–250 degrees Fahrenheit. If the butter reaches the maximum temperature, pour in more water to prevent the mixture from scorching. Once the butter appears thick and glossy, you can remove it from heat.
- Line a sieve and cheesecloth over a large glass bowl. Pour the butter through the sieve and wait for it to drip into the bowl. This should take up to 10 minutes.
- Seal the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
- Get rid of any remaining liquid and pat the hardened butter dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.
- Refrigerate your cannabutter in an airtight container.
How to Mix Your Cannabutter Into Other Recipes
Still trying to figure out the right dosage? Follow the instructions below to avoid one of the biggest cannabis cooking mistakes:
- Taste one teaspoon of your butter and assess the effect it has on you. Wait for about 40 minutes for the effects to take hold — you’re not going to feel anything right away.
- If you don’t feel satisfying effects, wait a few hours and elevate the dosage to 1,5 teaspoons. Repeat until you find the ratio that provides the best effects in one serving.
- Mix the butter into your recipes according to the instructions. If you decide that 1 teaspoon is enough for a batch of brownies with 12 servings, multiply that amount by 12 and you’ll be good to go.
Summing Up Common Cannabis Cooking Mistakes
If you’ve never cooked with cannabis before, preparing your first meal may feel intimidating. But with practice, you’ll discover the best uses for your butter and figure out your ratios to achieve the best experience. Remember that consistency is the key, so don’t be discouraged if your first few recipes are far from perfect.
As with anything in life, practice makes perfect. The good news about cooking with cannabis is that you only need to perfect one recipe — if you like cooking and don’t mind going through a little trial and error, you’ll love infusing your favorite foods with weed.
What other common cannabis cooking mistakes can you think of? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!