Cooking

How to Make Cannabutter – 5 Simple Steps for this Recipe

June 30, 2021 03:41 pm ET

Have you ever wondered what it would take to make your own edibles at home? Have you ever been wowed by a friend’s or professional baker’s creations in a 420-friendly kitchen? Cannabis-infused butter, or cannabutter, is a staple ingredient for any edible chef, home-based or professional. Learning how to make this simple infusion will allow you to medicate with your favorite recipes just the way you like or need. With this guide, you’ll learn the best practices for turning just about any recipe into an infused, medicated delight.    

  1. Why are fats the best for cooking edibles?
  2. How to Make Cannabutter
    1. Ingredients
    2. Tools
    3. A Note on Decarboxylation
  3. Option 1: Making cannabutter on the stovetop 
  4. Option 2: Making cannabutter in a slow cooker 
  5. Calculating the Proper Dose for Edibles
    1. Does cannabutter lose potency? 
    2. Why is my cannabutter weak?
  6. Properly Storing Cannabutter 
    1. How long does cannabutter last? 
  7. In conclusion

Why are Fats the Best for Cooking Edibles?

You’ve surely heard, and likely seen, that oil and water don’t mix. The same is true of THC and other cannabinoids in cannabis. This cannabinoid is lipophilic, or more plainly: it is fat-soluble. That means THC molecules want to bind themselves to fat. This is also why it can take weeks to leave your body; it naturally wants to stay stored in your fat cells, and it is best extracted into a high-fat substance. 

Butter is an excellent choice for infusion because it is high in saturated fat (about 63%). Many edible chefs have noted anecdotally that saturated fat attracts THC the best. This is also why coconut oil is a commonly used infusion base and sometimes olive oil, but makes other vegetable and seed oils less ideal as infusion mediums. 

cannabutter jar

How to Make Cannabutter

Making cannabutter is as easy as brewing a cup of tea! Well…that might be oversimplifying the process. But it doesn’t take much more skill than making a late-night mug of sleepy time. 

The number one question new edible cooks ask is, “How much cannabis do I need to get started?” Seemingly fearful that it requires a lot of raw plant material. There is good news! Making marijuana-infused butter requires a lot less flower than new edible chefs might think. With as little as an eighth, you can make potent cannabis butter. 

A good rule of thumb is to use about 1 gram of flower per 1 ounce of infusion base (whether that is butter, coconut oil, or grain alcohol). It is possible to use more, but more than a 2:1 ratio (flower:infusion base) and you run the risk of wasting flower. 

It is important to remember when you’re learning how to make cannabutter that you must use unsalted butter. Salted butter will draw more water out into your infusion, and with that water, you’ll get a lot more of that “green” flavor that most prefer not to taste.  

Ingredients 

  • 3.5 grams of cannabis flower (or one eighth)
  • 1 stick or 4 ounces of unsalted butter

How much lecithin do I need to make cannabutter? 

If your final product is something water-based (like gummies), you will likely want to add a teaspoon of sunflower lecithin granules. However, for most baked goods this is not necessary, especially if the recipe has a natural source of lecithin, like eggs. 

Tools

  • Mason jar
  • Mesh strainer
  • Cheesecloth
  • Saucepot or Slow cooker
  • Baking sheet
  • Tinfoil
  • Candy thermometer

A Note on Decarboxylation

The secret to any great infused edible treat is starting with the right base. And that means decarboxylating, or decarbing, the marijuana flower. Decarbing is an essential step that activates those tasty and tantalizing THC molecules, so you get whatever therapeutic effects you are after. And like most things in life, there is more than one way to decarb your flower. 

When cannabis is smoked in a joint or a pipe, it is decarbed by the flame of your lighter or match. Instantly, the THC is activated before passing through your lungs and bloodstream. You must do the same for infusions. 

The standard recommendation for decarboxylation is to bake the cannabis in an oven for 40 minutes at 240 degrees Fahrenheit. However, there is a matrix of temperature and time that will get you to the same place. It all comes down to your own preferences and oven capabilities. 

This author’s preference is to decarboxylate in an oven that has been preheated to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the flower for 15 minutes. Preference for this method has everything to do with saving time. Baking at 300 degrees for 15 minutes is certainly a time saver but not for the folks who are of the “set it and forget it” variety. Even just 5 minutes too long, at this temperature, and you may unintentionally turn the psychoactive THC into its sleepy cousin THCA.

There’s no right way to break up the flower before decarboxylation. Some prefer their flower to be finely ground. Others prefer to break up by hand. Both work well, but you do risk leaving behind some of your flower material in a grinder (especially the delicate trichomes that are the key to potency).

Tried and true method for decarboxylation

  1. Preheat the oven to 240 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Loosely break up cannabis flower on a baking sheet (optionally lined with parchment paper), and cover with tinfoil. 
  3. Bake the cannabis flower in the oven for 40 minutes.
  4. Allow the flower to come to room temperature before removing the tinfoil to preserve the terpenes. Letting it come to room temperature in the oven will also help reduce the scent of the cooked flower in your home.

Author’s quick method for decarboxylation 

Do everything the same as the previous method except:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Bake for 15 minutes.

Now that your flower is decarbed, you can choose to make your infused butter using the stovetop method or using a slow cooker or crockpot. 

Option 1: Making cannabutter on the stovetop 

A quick way to make infused butter is to make it on the stovetop, in a saucepot, directly over the heat. Let’s break it down step-by-step. 

Steps: 

  1. Add 1 stick of butter to a small saucepot. Allow it to fully melt over low heat. (You must keep the heat low to avoid browning the butter or frying the cannabis buds.) 
  2. Optional step: skim the foam off the top to make the butter clarified. 
  3. Once the butter is melted, add the decarboxylated cannabis.
  4. Keep the heat low. Using a candy thermometer, aim for a temperature around 190-210 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t fry the flower. Don’t let it brown. Don’t let it get smoky.
  5. Simmer the flower and butter together for a minimum of 30 minutes, up to 90 minutes. 
  6. Line a mesh strainer with cheesecloth and pour butter through; straining out the raffinate. Don’t forget to give the cloth and plant matter a hefty squeeze to get all the last bits of THC goodness out. 
  7. Store in a shallow and wide airtight container. 

Option 2: Making cannabutter in a slow cooker

Have you been wondering what is the best way to make infused butter while reducing the smell in your home? Or maybe you’d like a more hands-off method? Something you can “set and forget”? Using your slow cooker and a mason jar will give you both a reduced smell and a slightly more hands-off method. Not only is the cannabis edible scent contained by the tight lid of the cooker, but also the lid of a mason jar.

infusing butter

It’s not completely scent-free, but it is considerably more palatable than the open air, stovetop method. And also far less likely to encroach into a neighbor’s space if that is a concern. 

Since the slow cooker method relies so heavily on water—and water can only get so hot before it evaporates—whether you use the “low” or “high” temperature setting, the infusion will never reach over 212 degrees Fahrenheit (and even less the further away from sea level you are). 

Steps: 

  1. Once the cannabis flower has been decarbed and cooled down, place the flower in a mason jar with softened or melted unsalted butter. Place the lid on the jar and tighten it, but not too tight. You will want to leave a little wiggle room so that you’re able to remove it at the end. 
  2. Place the jar in a slow cooker with room temperature water. Cover and set it to high for 2-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. If you’re the “set it and forget it” type, make sure the “keep warm” setting is set to on. This will help keep the butter melted for when you’re ready to strain. 
  3. At the end of the cook cycle, line a mesh strainer with cheesecloth and pour the butter through it into an airtight container. For best results, store in something wide and shallow for ease. Make sure to squeeze the cheesecloth before tossing.
  4. Store in the fridge for up to two months or in the freezer for up to six months. 
  5. Alternative: if you don’t have a slow cooker, you can implement this same method on a stovetop with a pot of water and a mason jar. However, you should add a tea towel to rest the mason jar on in the pot, start with cold water, and make sure to keep an eye on the pot in case you need to refill the evaporated water with more HOT water. Remember, start with cold water, and only add HOT as it evaporates. 

Note: you might be curious about whether you should infuse for more time or less, and frankly, you may get a slightly more potent result at 8 hours vs 2 hours, but it won’t be a significant difference. What will be noticeable is the greenness in both color and flavor. So if you’re not into the “green” flavor, especially in baked goods and pastries, aim for a shorter infusion time. You can always compensate for the slight decrease in potency by adding a little extra flower (maybe an extra gram per stick of butter). 

Calculating the Proper Dose for Edibles

Without a lab or home testing device, it may seem impossible to figure out just how potent your freshly made marijuana butter is. Thankfully, there’s a pretty simple way to calculate the dose if you already know what percent of THC is in the flower. If you purchased it from a dispensary, it is most likely labeled on the container or on the dispensary’s website. Most marijuana is in a range of 15-25%. 

For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that the flower used in the infusion was 20% THC. That means for each gram of marijuana flower, at maximum, there is 200 mg of THC. 

And since this cannabutter recipe called for 3.5 grams of flower (or more commonly known as an eighth), we can multiply 200 by 3.5 and get: 700mg of THC. Now that sounds pretty potent in 4 ounces of butter, about 87.5mg per tablespoon. However,  to play it safe, we can assume that only about 75% of that 700 ended up in the butter. That brings it down to about 66 mg per tablespoon. 

To figure out the dose, you’ll need to know three basic equations: 

(THC% x 100) x Grams = Maximum THC

Maximum THC x .75 = Approximate Total Infused THC

Approximate Total Infused THC/Number of Servings = Dose Per Serving 

Using the numbers from the example above, let’s say you want to make a half dozen chocolate chip cookies that are 10 mg each. Your recipe calls for ½ stick, or ¼ cup, of butter. You know that your butter contains approximately 66 mg of THC per tablespoon. And 66 mg of THC divided by 6 cookies is 11 mg each. Which means you need just 1 tablespoon of the infused cannabis butter, and can use regular old butter to make up the rest (which would be just 3 more tablespoons to fill out the quarter cup). You can use Veriheal’s Edible Dosage Calculator to calculate the dosing and potency of THC and CBD in your infusions. 

With this recipe and the example butter, you could go all the way up to 44 mg of THC per cookie by using only the cannabis butter. If you’re unsure of what dose works for your body, you should start on the lower end, and work your way up. The best way to find out is to safely test it out yourself. It’s recommended that you speak with a doctor to help you figure out dosages as well as address any concerns you may have about medical marijuana and whether it’s right for you. 

Does cannabutter lose potency? 

If stored incorrectly, or if it is exposed to any kind of light, you do run the risk of degrading the potency of your infused butter or recipe that uses the infused butter. That’s why it’s important to make only what you will use within a couple of weeks. Freezer storage can help prolong the shelf life of the infusions, but it’s always best to work with fresh ingredients in the kitchen, infused or not. For the most part, if stored correctly, your infused recipes or cannabutter will not lose potency before the base ingredients start to turn. 

Why is my cannabutter weak? 

Every new edible chef has had that moment of defeat. Their infusion did not come out as potent as they expected. No one wants to have bad results from their infusing experiments. 

Through experience, you will learn that more often than not it comes down to one of a couple of things. It could be that you didn’t use enough raw cannabis material. Or maybe your decarboxylation method wasn’t effective enough. Or maybe you’re just one of those folks whose body chemistry doesn’t feel THC the same way everyone else does (welcome to the club, take a seat, friend). 

Did I get the temperature right? 

Generally, it comes down to the temperature. Either in your oven during the decarb cycle, or in your stovetop or slow cooker. It could be too high, or it could be too low. If the temperature is too high, you’ll most likely notice this because your edibles will make you feel incredibly sleepy (this might be a little harder to tell if you take edibles at night when you’re already predisposed to be tired). As mentioned previously, when exposed to prolonged or excessive heat, THC turns into THCA and that’s what gives you that sleepy feeling. 

If you feel no effect at all, there’s a chance that your infusion didn’t get enough heat at some point in the infusion process. To figure out if your oven or slow cooker’s actual temperature, get an oven thermometer and a candy thermometer. 

It’s also important to test different methods, temperatures, time, and base infusion ingredients. Maybe sublingual edibles like alcohol tinctures, drinks, or hard candies work better for you than edibles that are absorbed through your digestive system, like butter-based recipes and baked goods, including caramel cookies and brownies. 

If you want to guarantee the amount of THC you’re infusing into your recipe without having to think about it too much, ask your budtender or caregiver about distillate. The distillate is ready to use, no decarbing needed. Just add a little heat to your infusion medium and melt the sticky, goopy distillate and stir to incorporate. The wonderful thing about using distillate is that you’re guaranteed to know the dose. Even more importantly, it takes minimal effort and time. 

Properly Storing Cannabutter

Cannabutter should be stored in an airtight container, and it is best stored in the refrigerator. Uninfused butter is generally safe on the countertop, but once you introduce marijuana flower, heat, and maybe, even if unintentionally, water, you are at risk of mold. Unless you know you’ll use it within 48 hours, it’s best stored in the safe and cool temperatures of your fridge. For longer-term storage, it’s recommended to wrap the butter in parchment paper before storing it in a separate airtight container, especially if it’s heading into your freezer. Read more about how to properly store cannabis here

How long does cannabutter last? 

Stored in an airtight container in your fridge, cannabutter should last about three weeks. You should be able to tell by smell and sight if the butter has gone bad or spoiled. If stored in your freezer, you can hold onto it for about 6 months. 

In conclusion… 

Learning how to make cannabis-infused butter is an easy process. It is an incredibly versatile ingredient that is sure to become a staple in your kitchen. Other than the introduction of cannabinoids, cannabutter is just like regular butter and can be incorporated into any butter-based recipe. 

That’s why making weed butter at home is such a wonderful skill to add to your repertoire. The possibilities are endless when it comes to homemade edibles. Whether you spread a little cannabutter on your morning toast, melt a pad on top of a steak, or use infused butter as the star of buttercream frosting on a cupcake, you can make any recipe a medicated, delicious edible. Brownies are great, but wait until you try some infused better on a couple of over-easy eggs. Now that’s a Sunday brunch dish. 

The key thing to keep in mind, especially if you’re new to eating medicated dishes, is to take it easy with your taste tests.  Start with a low dose and give it some time when you’re testing the results of your newly learned butter-infusing skills. And if you do overdo it, go ahead and indulge in a little nap, water, and your favorite snacks. 

Overall recipe rating: 5 out of 5 based on 5 reviews

Post Your Comments

Cheryl says:

November 10, 2019 at 10:55 pm

Hi Lauren! Your recipe instructions seem very easy thank you. I have a question. The other recipes that don’t use lecithin have a lot of liquid under the butter. Is the lecithin the reason why your recipe doesn’t?

Reply
Lauren says:

November 12, 2019 at 2:23 pm

Hello Cheryl,
Great question! Unfortunately, I’m not able to answer. I’ve only ever made cannabutter this particular way and never had any issues with extra liquid or separation. Water might actually be the culprit. I know many other cannabutter recipes out there often call for water to clarify the butter a bit and I don’t use water in mine. I hope that helps!

Reply
Somebody Somewhere says:

October 7, 2020 at 12:37 pm

Lecithin is absolutely the reason why this recipe leaves less water as a byproduct; it’s an emulsifier, which means it creates a colloidal suspension for the water and liquefied butter (oil) to form a solution. It also facilitates the binding of THC molecules to fat cells, helping with the potency. It’s possible to make infused butter or oil without it, but generally it’s better with it.

Reply
Lauren says:

October 7, 2020 at 1:55 pm

Thank you for this wonderful explanation!

Reply
Zach says:

March 2, 2021 at 5:07 pm

No, it is because you did not use clarified butter, the junk on the bottom is water and milk solids/whey, clarify your butter first so it’s only butter fat which is what is absorbing ur THC. You could also just buy Ghee instead of clarifying youself

Reply
Cece says:

April 9, 2021 at 8:49 pm

Thx 4 that awesome tip

Reply
Shanon says:

December 16, 2019 at 9:54 am

I’ve made canna butter with and without water. I’ve never made it with Lecithin before. The liquid you are speaking of is the water that was added during the cooking process. Oil rises to the top of water, since water and oil do not mix. After the cooking process the butter is cooled, I put it into the refrigerator until the butter hardens. Then I pull it out and make a large enough hole on the side to quickly drain the water and muck from the cannabis that got through the straining process. I like this method because my butter comes out cleaner. Just be careful, I’ve had my butter crack and splash the water out. It can make a mess. I then whip my butter and put into a sealable glass container (mason jar) and refrigerate it until I use it for baking.

Reply
Justin says:

February 26, 2020 at 5:00 am

The water helps control to temp and not burn the butter you never want it to reach boiling from everything I’ve read

Reply
Bree says:

February 7, 2020 at 12:30 pm

Great article with simple instructions Lauren, but I do have a question. What is the best way to store the leftover plant matter for future use? What kind of a container is best? I’d like to keep adding leftover plant matter to this as I make more infusions, until I decide what I want to do with it all. Thank you!

Reply
Lauren says:

February 10, 2020 at 9:17 am

Hi Bree! Thanks for reaching out. I would not recommend holding on to the leftover plant matter after it’s been run through the butter. It’ll basically be tapped dry of its cannabinoid/terpene profiles and will go rancid over time. Take care!

Reply
Kelly Davis says:

April 1, 2021 at 1:10 am

What about freezing the leftover vegetation like spinach and using in cooking elsewhere?

Reply
Mia says:

April 29, 2021 at 1:50 am

I freeze mine all the time. When I make a batch in my levo infuser, I usually do 14 grams so I’ll strain it out. I end up with 2 or 3 balls of flower wrapped in cheesecloth, then I make tea with the balls lol Eating it doesn’t taste very good. I’ve tried making sauces and cookies with the leftovers before and I wouldn’t suggest it… but tea is great!!

Reply
Jaesman says:

June 19, 2021 at 12:10 pm

I find about a cup of spent green Makes for good flavoring in rustic bread loaf. Often even get mild effects.

Reply
Gina says:

February 28, 2020 at 1:43 pm

Will this recipe work with vegan butter?

Reply
Lauren says:

March 3, 2020 at 4:24 pm

Yes, this recipe should work for vegan butter as well. Cheers!

Reply
Corey says:

March 5, 2020 at 3:21 pm

You dont have to break open the lecithin gel caps do you?

Reply
Lauren says:

March 5, 2020 at 4:09 pm

I’ve never done it without breaking the gel caps, so I can’t say. However, if I were to, I’d probably be a little concerned with the additional outer capsule ingredients messing up the butter somehow. If it helps, lecithin does also come in a powder or liquid form that’s sold in the vitamin section at most grocery or health food stores.

Reply
Sybil says:

April 3, 2020 at 8:40 pm

What is the exact amount of lecithin that you’re using? Mine is powered form.

Reply
CD says:

April 10, 2020 at 10:12 pm

How do you calculate the mg of THC per unit of volume so you can calculate portions of 10 mg?

Reply
Lauren says:

April 13, 2020 at 8:58 am

Hi! Please check out our dosing calculator https://www.veriheal.com/edible-dosage-calculator/

Reply
CD says:

April 16, 2020 at 9:22 pm

Thanks- just the info I needed

Reply
Candis says:

November 8, 2020 at 1:57 pm

Just out of curiosity, as some places have different definitions of “stick of butter” how much is in your “stick of butter” lol sorry probs a weird question!!

Reply
Sondra Newhouse says:

March 30, 2021 at 7:20 pm

I use unsalted land of lakes butter…1 stick is 8 tablespoons.

It takes 16 tablespoons for 2 stick of butter.
2 sticks= 1 cup.
Hope this helps

Reply
drew says:

July 12, 2021 at 3:56 pm

Great recipe thank you for sharing this. I came across this article and was surprised by how good it turned out. Highly recommended!

Reply
Lisa says:

July 15, 2021 at 7:35 pm

Thanks for this! I found it incredible hard to keep the temp between 190 and 200 but managed after it flared up to 220🥺 (yes i had a thermometer too) it looks very brown at the moment and has been simmering for 40 min, Does simmering it for the full 90 increase the intensity? Also forgot to let the weed cool before adding it to the butter , I did the recommended 240 for 40 min method, will that effect it much? I loved not having to use the water, but wondering if thats why it turned brown, coudl you up load some pics of your process? that would be most helpful!

Reply
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