As cannabis has grown in popularity in the U.S.—and laws have loosened restrictions in many areas—people have become more curious about consumables.
Maybe the idea of cannabis brownies, cookies, or cakes appeals to you. You’d like to try making these at home. In that case, you’ll probably need one very important ingredient: cannabutter.
What Is Cannabutter?
As the name implies, cannabutter is butter with cannabis in it. It’s typically used to make cannabis consumables like brownies, chocolate, pasta, pies, sauces, and more. In fact, if you’re going to make a cannabis recipe, you’ll likely want to use cannabutter.
Of course, you can also use cannabutter as you would regular butter. Spread it on a piece of toast, a roll, or a piece of warm banana bread and enjoy. Suitable for both therapeutic and recreational purposes, cannabutter offers an alternative way to consume cannabis.
What Do You Put in Butter Canabis Flower and/or Trim?
Cannabutter ingredients are typically very simple:
- Cannabis Flower or Trim
- Butter or Clarified Butter or Coconut Oil
There may be variations within these ingredients. The cannabis, for instance, may contain only tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), only cannabidiol (CBD), a combination of the two (THC and CBD), or it may contain a full-spectrum extract with several cannabinoids from the cannabis plant.
You can also “dress up” your cannabutter with other ingredients that add fun flavors. Warming spices like ginger and cinnamon, for instance, can help balance any cannabis taste that may be in the butter. Another option is to add some honey and lavender for a sweeter, honey-cannabutter. Additional flavors include garlic and chives, jalapeno and cilantro-lime, and even raspberry jam cannabutter.
What’s the Difference Between Cannabis Oil and Cannabutter?
If you consider how you usually make your baked goods, you will realize that sometimes you use oil and sometimes you use butter. So which works best when you’re baking or cooking with cannabis?
Cannabis oil can be made in one of two ways:
- Infusing cannabis into another oil, such as olive, coconut, vegetable, or canola. This type of cannabis oil is usually preferred for cooking.
- Extracting cannabis oil from the cannabis plant. This can be ingested on its own, but the taste and consistency are not always desirable.
It is important to note that CBD oil is not the same as cannabis oil. CBD oil contains only CBD (meaning there is less than 0.3 percent THC in the oil), whereas cannabis oil is likely to contain THC and other cannabinoids as well.
There are pros and cons to using both cannabutter and cannabis-infused oil.
- Provides a rich, buttery texture that is great for baked goods
- Versatile—use it in sweet and savory dishes
- Easy to make yourself
- Relatively inexpensive
- Great for those just starting to cook with cannabis
- The high fat in butter can be used to make more potent consumables
- Has a low smoke point, meaning that it’s best not to use it when cooking at high temperatures (frying, stir-frying, etc.)
- Often has a bitter taste, as it retains the cannabis flavors
- Tends to be high in fat (not good for heart health over time)
Cannabis Oil Pros
- Nutritious—cannabis-infused coconut oil is a good option, and you can also use olive, though it may not taste as good in sweet items
- Versatile—works in sweet and savory dishes
Cannabis Oil Cons
- Doesn’t have the buttery texture
- Often more expensive than butter
- Lower levels of fat (depending on the oil) can reduce the potency of the consumable
- Smoke point (coconut oil has a high smoke point, but olive oil has a lower one)
You can use other oils to make cannabis, including avocado, walnut, rapeseed, etc. They will all have different flavors, nutrition characteristics, and smoke points.
How to Make Cannabutter from Scratch
To make cannabutter yourself, the most important thing is to bake the cannabis before you start. Raw cannabis has no active cannabinoids in it. You have to activate them through heat. When you bake the cannabis, it undergoes decarboxylation—also known as decarbing—a process that activates the cannabinoids (such as CBD).
You will indeed use heat when making the butter (in the next steps), but heating the cannabis first helps you get the highest potency out of it. In most cannabutter recipes, you’ll start by roasting the cannabis on a baking sheet for about 5 minutes at 270 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, allow the baked cannabis to cool.
Next, melt your butter and set aside. Fill the stock pot (to no more than 3/4 full) with the baked (and cooled) cannabis, then slowly pour the melted butter into the stock pot. The cannabis should be lightly coated with melted butter and continue to stir. Slowly bring the temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and stir every 6 minutes for at least an hour to ensure full decarboxylation. Then, reduce the temperature down between 230 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Continue to hold and stir every 12 minutes for a total cook time of 6 to 8 hours (more material means a longer cook time).
Finally, strain the mixture by cutting a cheesecloth over a container by pouring slowly. Once the mixture has slowed to a slow drip, grab the cheesecloth (with gloves because the mix is still hot) and squeeze the material. Complete the straining process one more time and store in a glass container (if possible).
Whatever recipe you use to make your butter, do be careful of the dosage. Start by using a small amount of cannabis-related the amount of butter until you know how it’s going to affect you. Then eat only a small amount of the consumable and wait at least 30 minutes for the effects to take hold. (It’s safer to wait for 1-2 hours.)
What to Do with Your Cannabutter?
Once you’ve got your cannabutter, you can use it just as you would regular butter. Follow your recipes as they are, but do be aware of the potency of your butter when enjoying consumables.
Keep in mind that cannabutter has a shorter shelf life than regular butter, so it’s best to use it up within a week or two.