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How to Make Cannabutter The Easy Way

How to Make Cannabutter The Easy Way

melted butter in pot
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A hallmark of stoner culture, cannabutter is a combination of butter + weed that has lead to untold amounts of pot brownies, weed cookies, and cannabis cake batters alike. This classic combo is one of the most common-place ways to make THC-enhanced food, and an excellent starting point for anyone looking to delve into making their own edibles from scratch.

Making weed butter isn’t a difficult process, but requires a bit of know-how and setup, and can involve some differing methodology depending on what you’re infusing and how. Still, crafting your own cannabutter at home shouldn’t be a scary prospect, and with today’s guide we hope we can give you the confidence you need to start making your own buttery-rich cannabis edibles at home. Let’s get started.

What is Cannabutter?

As stated in the intro, cannabutter is essentially a combination of cannabis and butter that has been allowed to steep & mingle (preferably at warm temperatures) until the various cannabinoids, terpenes, and other assorted molecules have all been leeched out into the butter.

Actually creating this weed butter infusion is fairly simple, often relying on nothing more than placing decarboxylated cannabis flower into a pot of melted butter and letting them both sit over a mild heating source for a set length of time. The major pressure points in creating any infusion will always be:

  • Proper decarbing of your cannabis flowers
  • Ensuring even, steady, low heat that won’t burn your weed/butter
  • Steeping for the right length of time
  • Proper straining of the end infusion

Thankfully, for most of these bullet points, there’s both a variety of ways to tackle the issue and a lot of very forgiving wiggle room in case something isn’t going entirely according to plan. The first, possibly most difficult (and certainly easiest to mess up), step in the process is decarbing your ground cannabis, which is where we’ll start delving into our recipe.

ground cannabis

How to Decarb Weed for Cannabutter

Decarbing cannabis flower/trim doesn’t have to be a complicated process, but it is one that comes with many potential pitfalls. We talk about the process of decarbing more in-depth in our article “How to Properly Decarb Your Weed” but we’ll go over some of the finer points here.

First, to understand why decarbing is such an important step in the infusing process, let’s discuss the chemical makeup of cannabis. When we smoke/vaporize/consume marijuana, the majority of us are looking to take in THC or “tetrahydrocannabinol”. What isn’t as commonly known is that the raw, unheated/uncooked cannabis plant does not contain a significant amount of THC; instead, cannabis contains THC-A, or “tetrahydrocannabinolic acid”.

The Difference Between THCA and THC

THC-A is an example of what are known as “precursors”, IE: a chemical compound that transforms into another, more desired chemical. THC-A, on it’s own, has no psychoactive properties – If you were to eat raw, freshly-picked cannabis flower directly, it would not get you high. As the THC-A inside the plant is exposed to air, heat and light, the THC-A begins to “decarboxylate”, or more plainly, lose it’s carbolyic acid chain. This act removes the “-A” from the end of THC-A and turns it into THC, which very much does have psychoactive properties.

This transformation can occur naturally over time, particularly with harvested cannabis exposed to the elements, but in doing so many cannabinoids are lost to evaporation and general degradation. The more immediate, efficient way to convert THC-A to THC is through the application of heat, and lots of it; at it’s most basic level, this usually means lighting weed on fire and smoking it to gain it’s effects. You can learn more about THC vs THCA in this article.

Heat Activates Cannabis

Smoking weed may be the most classic method of consumption but that doesn’t make it without it’s issues. Smoke inhalation can be unpleasant for some and down-right harmful for others, such as those suffering medical conditions. There’s also the issue of waste, as burned cannabis loses a much larger percentage of it’s active cannabinoids than weed consumed in other fashions. Enter “decarbing”, wherein the cannabis plant is exposed to high – but not too high – temperatures, as to transform the THC-A within to THC.

Easier solutions are available (for a price) but the most classic method of decarbing cannabis is to place it inside an oven set at a relatively low temperature. Discussing exactly what temperature and how long is a… somewhat tricky subject that doesn’t really fit inside this article, so we recommend checking out our above-linked “How to Decarb Your Weed” article for a better breakdown on time & temp. Also note: If using cannabis concentrates/tinctures/hashish/etc. decarbing may not be needed; we’ll talk about this more in our “Cannabis Choice” section below.

The Decarbing Process

Generally, decarbing weed is going to be the same process no matter what you’re going to use it for – Grind your plant matter finely, spread evenly on a tinfoil-lined baking sheet or sheet pan, leave in the oven for X-amount of time at Y-temperature. Baking, eating, infusions or concentrates, so long as your source material for decarbing is the same, you shouldn’t need to modify the method much for each eventual outcome. Note the key words in that sentence, though: “source material”.

Not all cannabis buds are created equal, and some will have more moisture, denser groupings of flower, etc. etc. This means that while you may not need to modify your process to make different things out of your decarbed weed, you may need to modify the process to accommodate for each batch of raw cannabis you plan on decarbing.

Once removed from the oven your cannabis is now “activated” and chock full of THC, CBD, and/or other cannabinoids. It can be eaten outright (keep your toothpicks handy) or added directly into recipes for uncooked foods like salads or smoothies, but most typically decarbed weed is used for making infusions, such as today’s titular cannabutter.

weed butter

How to Infuse Cannabutter

Again, infusing something with THC is essentially taking decarbed cannabis and letting it steep – not unlike tea – in a (preferably fatty) liquid medium for a length of time; olive oil and coconut oil are both common choices, but weed butter is a classic for it’s versatility and flavor.

For most oil-based infusion recipes your procedure and steeping time can remain the same; so long as you’re working with a “low and slow” mindset, avoiding direct heat, it can be hard to truly mess up a basic infusion.

First and foremost is determining your ratio of cannabis to butter. So long as you have enough butter to completely saturate your plant material there’s really no “wrong” amount of butter & weed to steep together; the less butter you use the more concentrated potency it will have, and vice versa, but your ratio is really just up to your personal discretion. As a good starting infused butter recipe, we recommend two cups of butter (or 4 sticks) to one cup of ground cannabis, 4 grams of kief, or 2 grams of THC concentrate.

Now, on to the infusion itself. We have three methods listed below, in descending order of overall difficulty.

1. Infusing Weed Butter Using a Double Boiler

For those not as well-versed in the kitchen, a double boiler is when a pot filled with water is placed on a heating source (IE: your stovetop), with a second pot (or metal bowl) set on top of the first pot. The aim is to loosely seal the first pot with the second, as to let the steam and escaping heat of the hot water below gently cook whatever is in the top; this is a common setup for delicate work such as making sauces, puddings, or working with chocolate, and while dedicated double boilers can be purchased the aforementioned “bowl in a pot” method is just as valid (and a lot cheaper).

For this infusion method assemble your double boiler; again, water in the bottom, filled to about half-way, and your second pot/metal bowl fit into the top. Into the top half place your butter and decarbed cannabis, stirring to combine if needed. Turn your stovetop’s heat on to low and, stirring occasionally, let this steep for a minimum of four hours, with six or even eight being preferable.

Due to the low heat involved the steeping process will take time, and removing it from the heat before it’s had enough time to mingle will result in a weaker product. This might be desirable, for those who want smaller doses of THC or prefer a lighter “green” flavor to their butter; the longer the steep the stronger the butter, but also the stronger the taste it’ll impart to other recipes (and color as well).

2. Slow Cooker / Crock Pot Butter Infusion

On the surface this cannabutter recipe may look more simplistic than the double boiler mentioned above, but there are a few small sticking points that keep it from being our preferred method. For this method you’ll need a slow cooker, a mason jar, your butter & cannabis, aluminum foil, and access to water.

Place your empty jar into the slow cooker and add water around the jar to where it is covered at roughly the half-way mark. Take your jar out of the slow cooker and place your cannabis & butter inside. Wrap the opening tightly with aluminum foil – This helps prevent condensation from leaking in, while not being so tight as to create a pressurized environment inside the jar (which could potentially be explosive).

Place your jar back into the slow cooker and set your temperature to low. You’ll need to keep an eye on the water level in the slow cooker as it goes, adding in more if it starts getting low; if your water runs out, your butter and cannabis is now being exposed to direct, harsh heat, and your batch of cannabutter may be lost. Also, when checking on the water, use a pair of tongs or a heavy kitchen glove to give the jar a good (but gentle; remember the tinfoil) shake, to make sure the cannabis inside is getting the maximum amount of exposure to oil that it can.

Here you’ll want to let the cannabis steep for a good twelve hours, if not longer – This method applies much less heat than the double boiler method, and usually involves less agitation, so letting it sit for as long as you can is our recommended advice.

3. Infusing Butter via Sous Vide Machine

On the surface this cannabutter recipe may look more simplistic than the double boiler mentioned above, but there are a few small sticking points that keep it from being our preferred method. For this method you’ll need a slow cooker, a mason jar, your butter & cannabis, aluminum foil, and access to water.

Place your empty jar into the slow cooker and add water around the jar to where it is covered at roughly the half-way mark. Take your jar out of the slow cooker and place your cannabis & butter inside. Wrap the opening tightly with aluminum foil – This helps prevent condensation from leaking in, while not being so tight as to create a pressurized environment inside the jar (which could potentially be explosive).

Place your jar back into the slow cooker and set your temperature to low. You’ll need to keep an eye on the water level in the slow cooker as it goes, adding in more if it starts getting low; if your water runs out, your butter and cannabis is now being exposed to direct, harsh heat, and your batch of cannabutter may be lost. Also, when checking on the water, use a pair of tongs or a heavy kitchen glove to give the jar a good (but gentle; remember the tinfoil) shake, to make sure the cannabis inside is getting the maximum amount of exposure to oil that it can.

Here you’ll want to let the cannabis steep for a good twelve hours, if not longer – This method applies much less heat than the double boiler method, and usually involves less agitation, so letting it sit for as long as you can is our recommended advice.

How to Strain Your Cannabutter

Straining is going to be the messiest part of the process, though there are ways to mitigate this while steeping.

Most common is setting a coffee filter or piece of cheese cloth over a wide-mouthed jar and letting your cannabis/oil mixture strain through. Using a blunt object (a wooden spoon, spatula, etc) gently stir the mixture as it strains every ten or fifteen minutes; this will help keep things flowing, but be careful as this can damage thinner straining materials (like the coffee filter). Even with routine stirring this can take quite a bit of time, so be as patient as you can.

Another option is to use an herb satchet or cheesecloth bag to place your cannabis in prior to steeping. Much like tea leaves in a tea bag your cannabis will steep just as fine inside of a small cloth satchel, while being easy to remove and strain afterwards. These can be found online or at any cooking supply store, usually for very cheap, and can be used for infusing with other mediums (such as coconut oil or olive oil).

Either way, once your cannabis has been removed it’s worth considering giving it a final squeeze, wrapped up in your cheesecloth or satchet. This will definitely add more oil into your final container but bear in mind that squeezing can add a deeper coloration and flavor to your end product.

How to Store Your Cannabutter

We recommend keeping your cannabis infused butter in a cool, dark location, well sealed and away from constant sources of light. The plant matter added to your butter will lead to rancidity over time, and keeping it both tightly sealed and cold are your best defenses. A glass jar tucked away in the back of your refrigerator should work just fine, but don’t be afraid to freeze your cannabutter either; just make sure it’s as air-tight as it can be, to prevent flavors from seeping in and cannabinoids from leeching out. We’ve got a great article discussing all the ways to store edibles so be sure to check that out if you want more info. 

Butter Choice: Salted? Unsalted? Cultured? Vegan?

Your choice in butter doesn’t matter outside of personal preference, but when deciding what type of butter to use for cannabutter it’s important to think about your end goal. Are you going to be baking? Using it for salad dressings? Basting roast chickens? If you wouldn’t use salted regular butter in your brownie recipe then you don’t want to use salted cannabutter either.

Our recommendation is to always use an unsalted, cultured butter for cannabutter making purposes; any salt you want can be added in during the cooking process, and the rich flavor notes of the cultured butter make for a much tastier end product. Salt also prevents microbial contamination and spoiling so if you’ve been keeping unsalted butter on your countertop in a butter dish, here’s your PSA to stop doing that!

For the vegan stoners out there – vegan butter will work just fine with everything we’re talking about in this article. 

Clarified Cannabutter / Cannaghee

Butter, alongside fat, also contains what are known as “milk solids”. If you’ve ever browned butter for a recipe the bits that are getting brown are actually milk, crisping up in the pan. Ghee, or clarified butter, is butter with those milk solids removed; this makes the clarified butter more versatile, and able to withstand higher heats.

The recipe for cannaghee is as easy as making cannabutter, the only difference being the clarification of the butter itself. To clarify butter, slowly bring butter up to the melting point over low heat; do not boil, as this mixes the milk solids with the butter fat.

As the butter heats, you should begin to see a white foam gathering on the top – These are your milk solids. Simply skim these away and what remains is your clarified butter. From here your clarified butter can be used in our above instructions, same as regular butter would be.

Cannabis Choice; Trim, Bud, Leaves, Concentrates...?

You can make your cannabutter from a wide variety of sources, including parts of the cannabis plant that would otherwise be undesirable, such as stems or leaves. No matter what part of the plant you’re using, remember that it must be decarbed first, and that chopping/grinding it into smaller pieces helps with both the decarbing and the infusion process.

Cannabis concentrates such as isolates, tinctures, or even hashish can also be used in place of cannabis plants in most cannabutter recipes, with the added benefit of typically bypassing the need for decarbing – The vast majority of concentrates are already decarbed and activated, meaning they can be added directly to your butter without spending time in the oven first.

Kief can also be used to make cannabutter, very similarly to our instructions above – Make sure to check out our “How to Make Kief Butter” article for a full write up and recipe.

Calculating Your Cannabis Potency

The potency of cannabutter can be hard to measure without dedicated lab equipment and/or an in-depth knowledge of your source cannabis. Potency is defined as the amount of THC contained in a specific amount of your end product – As an example, a cannabis chocolate bar that has “15mg of THC per 2 gram square”.

Using concentrates, however, makes determining potency fairly easy. As an example, if adding 1 gram of pure THC concentrate to 1 cup of butter (227 grams), that means your end butter infusion will have just shy of 4.5mg per part – We say “just shy” because few THC concentrates are above 99% purity, and many may be anywhere upward from 95%, so there might be a bit of drift in your math here but nothing that should make a huge difference in end potency.

The more important thing to know is how that effects your end baked good. If making a batch of two dozen muffins using a half cup of butter/cannabis in the above ratio, your end recipe will contain roughly 20.5mg of THC per serving size of one muffin – Not a bad start to the day, to say the least.

Using dried & decarbed cannabis plant material, though, can be trickier, if not outright impossible. Actual THC content of any given marijuana plant varies from bud to bud, and some cannabinoids will be naturally lost in the drying & decarbing process. All of these factors mean determining a precise potency and dosage amount for your home made cannabutter is unlikely, and any attempts at figuring it out will ultimately rely on a lot of guess work. 

If you want to try and do this with dried bud, weigh your decarbed product before you make your cannabutter, and assume an average 18% THC content (see how we’re already involving guesswork) to calculate the grams of THC. Then, you can convert to milligrams and estimate the amount based on how much butter you use. So for example, if you use 14 grams of decarbed cannabis with 18% THC in one cup of butter, that means you’ve got 2.52g of THC or 2520mg in the entire cup of butter. Divide that by how much you use and how many goodies you’ve made for an estimate. 

butter with baked goods

Cannabutter Uses

Anything you can imagine! Your infused butter can be substituted for regular butter in nearly any recipe you have, so long as direct, high temperatures are avoided; baking is good, but sautéing? Maybe not so much.

But while weed brownies are maybe the most stereotypical example of cannabis edibles, thinking outside the oven for unique cannabutter recipes can lead to tasty discoveries. Cannabis-infused hollandaise sauce? A canna butter & sour cream baked potato? Roasted garlic & cannabutter spread on a freshly baked baguette? Oh yes, and those are just the tips of the iceberg. Make sure to check out our “How to Make Edibles” article for more ideas and inspiration.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our recipe and detailed guide on making cannabutter. Happy munching!

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