If you’re here, you probably want to know how to make the best butter infused with cannabis, usually called cannabutter, possible. Good on you, because in this post, we’re going to show you the best ways to make it, step-by-step, with whatever tools you have.
You don’t have to be an ancient stoner or an Iron Chef to make amazing cannabutter. You just need to be prepared, watchful, and organized. We’ll show you exactly how to make cannabis in your home.
Cannabutter is among the most common and easiest ways to make your own cannabis edibles. That said, it isn’t a no-brainer to make cannabutter, especially the first time.
Cannabis only achieves its psychoactive effects with the help of heat. The right application of heat is called decarboxylation, and this produces the THC we’re looking for—but it only happens when the flower is heated at a low temperature, slowly.
But allow us to take this space to convince you: you should always have cannabutter in your fridge. There is so much you can do with this stuff.
Disclaimer: Remember, it can be very difficult to dose homemade edibles accurately. If you need precision, you may be better off buying edibles from a dispensary. We will offer tips on microdosing, using edibles safely, and more precise dosing, but anytime you DIY as a cannabis cook, remember that you cannot truly guarantee the homogeneity or potency of what you’re creating.
That said, you have a lot of control over what you’re producing—especially if you’re also growing your product! It’s an exciting way to consume cannabis. We think you’ll love it.
Why You Should Always Have Cannabutter On Hand
Consuming cannabis via butter is inconspicuous, efficient, versatile, and easy to get into, even if you’re very new to the herb. It helps it feel less “druggy,” even to my retired mom, when she’s got a nasty migraine or sciatica. And if you’re like me, with horrible GI symptoms, it makes eating a lot less painful.
Also, eating your cannabis produces effects that feels very different compared to when you smoke or vape. They last longer and really sit in the body, which can help relieve serious pain or insomnia.
By the time 2021 is over, you’re going to be a believer, I promise, because we’re going to show you how easy it is to add cannabis to your diet every day with basics like cannabutter.
There is about a stick’s worth in this writer’s fridge right now—as usual. Because whether you’re a medical marijuana patient or just a cannabis fan, secondhand smoke is out, and delicious food is always in.
Let’s face it: butter makes just about every meal better. And if you’ve got cannabutter on hand, it can also make every meal a higher experience.
Cannabutter can elevate anything from creamy, savory mashed potatoes and gravy to pancakes or Belgian waffles. Making a grilled cheese sandwich? Some pasta that is crying out for some buttery garlic bread?
In the mood for one of those quick and easy mug cakes or something—plus a little more? Or maybe you made some sugar cookies and want to frost them up just right.
We all love cannabutter because of its versatility. You can add cannabis to any meal, anytime with this staple, and you don’t need special recipes—although you might need some guidance and experience.
Bonus: once you learn to infuse butter, your skills are transferrable! You can use them to infuse coconut oil, olive oil, chili oil, you name it.
[Note: if you are a vegan like me, you might want to infuse vegan cannabutter. You can either infuse coconut oil or a vegan butter substitute, but I prefer the coconut oil, and here’s why. Vegan butter substitutes are usually either a blend of vegetable oils (like Earth Balance) or a blend of coconut oil, other oils, and cashews (similar to Miyoko’s, which is delicious to eat). I love eating Miyoko’s actually and I use EB to bake sometimes, but in either case, I’ll get a more intense, purer infusion if I just use coconut oil.]
Once you’ve made your cannabutter, you can use it in place of regular butter in just about any recipe.
From sweet recipes like chocolate chip cookies and classic brownies to savory favorites like mac and cheese, there is always a use for cannabutter.
Making cannabutter at home doesn’t require any real specialty tools, although automatic butter makers are convenient. In fact, there are multiple ways to get your cannabutter made, but in general there are a few basic steps to follow:
- Select the right cannabis;
- Select the right butter;
- Avoid overheating the butter.
The Right Cannabis
Any kind of cannabis will work, from trim and shake to high-quality medical-grade cannabis from a legal dispensary. Except for the seeds and stems, the entire cannabis plant contains some level of cannabinoids you can infuse. It’s just that the buds or kief, for example, contain a lot more than, say, trim leaves.
If you’re starting with leaves, trim, and shake, you might use more than you would if you were working with buds. In contrast, if you’re using kief, the fine powder you find in your grinder, you can use less—or count on a stronger cannabutter. Kief, though you still need to decarb it, contains the most cannabinoids from the trichomes of the plant.
So, if anything will work, why bother using decent cannabis for cannabutter? Because that’s among the only factors you can really control, for starters.
The end potency of your cannabutter is directly related to complex chemical reactions in both your decarb and cooking processes—and the potency of the starting cannabis. It’s much easier to control the potency than the finer points of those other processes.
For more potent cannabutter, you can double up on how much cannabis you add (or halve the butter you use); boost your starting cannabis’s power with kief or concentrates; or just opt for higher-quality cannabis in the first place.
You must decarboxylate, or “decarb”, your cannabis flower before making your cannabutter. Skipping this step produces an inactive or weak result, and this is why.
Raw cannabis flower naturally contains the full-spectrum of cannabinoids, but not high amounts of THC or CBD. It does contain high levels of the cannabinoid acids THCA and CBDA, the precursors to THC and CBD, however. Heat converts those acids when you smoke or vaporize cannabis into the molecules that produce euphoric effects and other benefits.
Although it is possible to decarb cannabis directly in the hot butter, for the sake of the final product’s taste and because it’s faster, it’s better to minimize the time the flower spends soaking. Therefore, we always decarb first, either in a dedicated device or the oven.
If you have a device, things are easy: you dump your cannabis in there, hit the button, and wait for it to decarb.
To decarboxylate your cannabis without a dedicated device: preheat your oven to 245ºF. Take an over-safe, rimmed tray and cover it with parchment paper. Place cannabis buds on the tray, and distribute evenly.
Place the tray in the oven. Remove the tray every 10 minutes to gently shake it to mix the buds; this will ideally ensure that the surface area of the buds get equal exposure to the heat during the process. You can expect to bake the cannabis for 30 to 40 minutes, but it’s ideal to check on it every 10 minutes, and you should definitely check after 30. Drier, older cannabis often takes less time.
As you check on your cannabis, you will see it change color from a more vivid green to a darker, more brownish green. That’s a sign of decarboxylation.
Some people decarboxylate for only 10 to 20 minutes at 300ºF, but the slow and steady approach is always the better and less risky approach that maximizes your cannabinoids.
After this step, you can grind the decarbed flower and then combine it with the butter and infuse them as directed by the recipe.
Decarbing while cooking may eliminate an extra step, but it also adds more cooking time to your butter and produces a greener flavor in the butter as more chlorophyll releases into the infusion.
Use a hand grinder after your decarbed cannabis flowers have cooled to get them ready for infusing. They should be coarsely ground, sort of like dried parsley.
The Right Butter
If you eat regular dairy butter, here is our best advice:
- Use good quality butter. We recommend higher end butter such as President or Kerrygold. Why? It has higher butterfat content, which is what the THC clings to, and fewer impurities.
- Use unsalted butter. This is fresher and less processed. Also, whether you’re cooking or baking, the level of salt in salted butter varies, so it’s more reliable to add it yourself, to taste.
- Clarify your butter. This isn’t necessary, but you can either use ghee and follow our coconut oil infusion steps, or clarify your butter yourself. We recommend clarifying it first, though, because otherwise you’ll lose up to 20 percent of your final product volume as you strain milk solids away along with cannabis plant matter.
- Avoid butter substitutes. If you eat butter anyway, infuse it. It’s the gold standard.
If you’re a vegan:
- Use coconut oil. This is definitely the next best option, and you don’t lose any volume from milk solids later when you strain, either.
- About vegan butters. Read the labels. Remember that different oils infuse differently, and the purer the starting the material, the better. You’re almost always better off with coconut oil.
Avoid Overheating the Butter
This is where the choices come in—and where it gets a little more complicated! But stick with us, this is do-able.
There are a few ways to infuse the butter slowly and steadily so it won’t overheat and will maximize your cannabinoid levels: crock pot infusion, stove top infusion, sous vide infusion, and of course in a device made to infuse. Here’s how those options work.
Crock Pot Infusion
What you’ll need:
- Crock Pot or other slow cooker
- new 16 ounce, wide-mouth mason jars for canning (that can stand heat)
- two sticks of butter per jar
- digital thermometer
- cannabis, about 1 cup or 7 to 10 grams for every cup (2 standard sticks) of butter
- paper filter or cheesecloth
Of all of the DIY methods, we like this one best. You don’t need to mess with a ton of water mixed into your butter and waiting for it to cool down and separate out, and you just get a nice, clean result. You can even use a stick mold! This allows you to slice off cannabutter in 1 tablespoon bits. Love it.
The downside to using this method is the (very) occasional broken mason jar. But with some care and by using new mason jars made for canning, this is a rare thing.
How to do it:
1. Cover the bottom of a large crockpot with a clean towel to cushion your mason jars.
2. Fill your crockpot with just enough water so the mason jars will be covered, but there won’t be an issue with overflow. You’re creating a water bath.
3. Turn the crockpot on high and place the digital thermometer in the water. When the water reaches 185°F, reduce the heat to low.
4. Place two sticks of butter and about 1 cup or 7 to 10 grams of decarbed, ground cannabis in each jar. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean towel, and attach the lids—not too tightly.
5. Cook in water bath for 4 hours, maintaining the 185°F temperature throughout that time.
6. After 4 hours, carefully remove jars. Allow them to cool enough to handle safely. Discard water.
Can you use a crockpot and skip the water bath? Yes. Here’s how that works.
1. Place the even amounts of butter and cannabis into the crockpot. Add a small amount of water if you want. This is optional but can prevent scorching—or just watch it closely until you have more experience.
2. Turn the heat on low. You’re still aiming for about 185°F, but anything between 160 and 200 is okay. Just don’t go any higher.
3. Heat for 4 hours, and carefully remove jars. Allow them to cool enough to handle safely.
1. Whichever crockpot method you use, you’ll notice the butter is much darker, which is normal. You may see white specks of milk fats, which is also normal. These will be removed later.
2. Set up a series of clean mason jars. You need as many as were in the water bath for the first method; if you used the second method, one jar should hold about two sticks of butter. This is your straining station.
3. Place funnel in a clean jar. Strain the first jar of infused cannabutter into the clear jar through either the filter or the cheesecloth. Do not squeeze the cheesecloth or filter, or you risk forcing plant matter back into your cannabutter.
4. Now, pour the strained cannabutter into the place you’ll be storing and chilling it for now—either a butter mold or a storage jar. Ideally, you will spoon the strained cannabutter into your first few molds or jars, and pour it into the last one only. This will trap all of the milk solids in just one portion of cannabutter, and leave you the task of separating those out of just that portion.
5. Chill the infused cannabutter, which will solidify and harden into its shape. Underneath that you’ll find any remaining liquids and milk solids which you can scrape or drain away.
Remember: you can freeze your cannabutter, but never microwave it to reheat! That can reduce its efficacy.
Sous Vide Infusion
We know: no one cooks sous vide. (Spoiler alert: we LOVE sous vide cooking!)
If you do have an immersion circulator for cooking sous vide, you really do the exact same thing, but in whatever you typically use for a water bath. You will heat for 4 hours at a temperature of 185° F, and use the same amount of butter and decarbed flower. It’s basically just like a smart version of the crockpot and thermometer.
Stove Top Infusion
Okay, okay, but for most of us, it’s stove top infusion. It’s tried and true.
What you’ll need:
- wide-mouth mason jars
- two sticks of butter for every 1 cup or 7 to 10 grams of cannabis (and, of course, the cannabis)
- digital thermometer
- paper filter or cheesecloth
Yes—almost everything for crockpot infusion, except the crockpot.
That’s because instead of creating a water bath and immersing jars, you’re basically just treating your pot on the stovetop like one big cooking jar.
(Can you create a water bath in a big dutch oven on the stove top using this method and the crockpot techniques above? Yes. Just follow the crockpot directions using the dutch oven on the stove, and watch the heat carefully. You may never be able to keep the heat as precise, so aim for the stovetop range.)
Anyway, the ratios of butter and cannabis are the same, and here’s how a basic stovetop technique works:
1. This time, you’ll first melt your butter directly in a pot or saucepan in 1 cup of water on low heat.
2. Once your butter has melted, add your cannabis. Now is where the babysitting starts.
3. For 3 to 4 hours, stir occasionally and watch the cannabutter as it simmers. It should always be above 160ºF but never over 200ºF. 185°F is ideal. The cannabutter should never boil.
4. After 3 to 4 hours, strain the cannabutter as described above. Using this method, there may be more water to separate out later, once the cannabutter has cooled. This is nothing to worry about.
Cannabutter Maker or Infusion Device
Yes, many cannabis fans feel these are lazy. Trust us, as we pop our cannabis and butter in them and forget they exist until our perfect product is complete: we don’t care.
These are amazing if you can invest in them. They are truly set and forget devices that make life many times easier if you love eating cannabis.
Benefits of Cannabis
The two primary compounds in cannabis, called cannabinoids, are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the psychoactive substance that produces a high feeling, but although CBD produces physical and mental benefits, it is not intoxicating.
Cannabis delivered in food is a smoke-free option that offers many health benefits for various issues. It is especially useful in treating nausea, pain, and vomiting, and so it is particularly useful for cancer patients, and those with serious gastric issues.
Cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates various bodily processes, including memory, mood, and appetite. It is also often used to treat insomnia, especially that caused by pain.
Why Use Butter?
If you have to ask, we can’t be friends, because butter is delicious.
Just kidding! There are lots of great reasons to infuse butter beyond it’s apparent deliciousness. Here are some of them.
From a cook’s or baker’s perspective, butter can be used in just about anything, making it extremely versatile. Whether you want a savory dinner or a sweet dessert, cannabutter works.
To take a scientist’s view, cannabinoids dissolve in fats and bind with them because they are lipophilic. This means that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are more bioavailable and easily absorbed when they are extracted with fat.
Most basic grocery store butter averages at 80 percent milk fat or higher, with only 1 or 2 percent milk fats and the rest water. You get rid of water and milk solids during your processing, and what remains is a pure, concentrated cannabis infusion.
Which Butter Is Best?
For those who eat dairy, we like unsalted Kerrygold, unsalted President, or unsalted Finlandia. If you can’t find those or they’re too pricey, try springing for unsalted Challenge or Organic Valley, which are still good brands.
Unsalted means fewer impurities to get rid of later. It also tends to mean a fresher starting product and more control over flavor, ultimately.
Finally, these higher quality butters tend to have higher butterfat content. Some “European-style” butters have boosted butterfat levels.
Should I Clarify the Butter First?
This is controversial in the culinary cannabis community. We feel like the better answer is yes, if you care about a stronger, purer product—or if the milk solids or their appearance bother you.
We like to clarify first, because we feel like we do less straining, skimming, and scraping later. Really, it’s a matter of choice.
Or better yet, start with high-end clarified butter, and just infuse as if it was coconut oil.
Why Do I Have Less Butter Than When I Started?
Because at least some of your butter is water and milk solids, and that part evaporates during the heating process or otherwise gets removed. Expect to lose about 15 to 25 percent of your starting butter volume, and remember that infusing one stick of butter does not result in one stick of infused butter.
Can I Make My Cannabutter More Potent?
Yes. You can use only high-quality cannabis with high THC levels. You can work with cannabis concentrates instead, in part or in whole, if you prefer, or kief. Or you can change the proportion of cannabis to butter.
Does Cannabutter That Is Bright Green Produce Stronger Effects?
No, color correlates only with the amount of chlorophyll that was in the starting cannabis, not with its potency. Expect more green hue and chlorophyll if you are working with fresher bud or trim.
Final Thoughts on Cannabutter
When we started this post, we had a couple of goals. One was easy: show you how to make cannabutter.
The other one was a lot harder, and we’re not sure we succeeded, but that was to convince you to keep cannabutter in your fridge all the time. If you love cannabis, cannabutter is just as much a staple as flower or a vape!
You can add it to almost anything you cook or bake—in a tiny amount or more. You can change the way you experience your cannabis and your food! What’s your favorite use for cannabutter?