Most everyone loves a sweet gummy treat, and when it’s filled up with THC goodness it’s even harder to turn down. These delicious bits of cannabis candy can be a pricey purchase at the local dispensary, so why not try making your own at home? There are a lot of recipes online that say they show you how to make cannabis gummy bears in the home kitchen but results can often be disappointing – Soft, jelly-like edibles that end up turning runny at room temperature or even melting out-right.
So what if you want to make cannabis gummies that have real store-bought quality? Turns out there’s a secret ingredient used by the pros in their weed gummy recipes that makes the difference between a snappy, chewy gummy and a soggy, weepy mess. It’s time to break out your chefs hat and arm yourself with your favorite whisk – We’re going to talk about the science of how to make cannabis infused gummies in your very own home.
What Are Weed Gummies?
On the surface weed gummies look a lot like regular, non-THC gummy snacks, and the temptation can be to look up a regular gummy candy recipe and follow that, simply adding in a bit of concentrate as you go. To understand why that won’t work let’s discuss candy making for a moment.
Candy making is, at it’s most basic level, the act of taking sugar and cooking it until it melts; add nothing (or a bit of water) and the sugar turns into a brittle hard candy when it cools. Add gelatin and the sugar will set into a gelatinous or spongy form, resulting in gummies or marshmallows. Add an oil or fat, such as butter, and you get a chewy, soft caramel. And it’s right there where the problem comes in.
THC concentrate of any fashion is always an oil; even THCA diamonds and shatter, both of which are set and hardened, turn into an oil on applying heat. Once you add enough oil to your candy it will not set properly – Oil does not want to combine with the hard, crystalline candy structure, a process referred to as “emulsification”. Without proper emulsification you’ll get candy that’s runny, tacky to the touch, or weeps liquid.
So how do they make the kind of stretchy, room temperature-safe THC gummies sold at the dispensary? Emulsification is the key element. To get the proper gummy-like texture the cannabis concentrate must be combined with another ingredient added to the candy mixture while it’s being cooked – In our case, lecithin (either soy lecithin or sunflower lecithin).
Without this emulsification agent added in the gummy snacks you’re going to make will likely be closer to a jello snack and require from refrigeration; great if you’re looking for the marijuana version of a jello shot, not so much if you want a portable gummy snack.
By the way: We’ll be using the generic term “gummy bears” a lot through-out this article but whatever molds you have and want to use will work just fine – Gummy worms, gummy gems, gummy whatevers. There’s a wide world of gummies outside the bear and we encourage you to explore it!
Now, to make any THC edible you need to start with the basics, meaning a good concentrate. We’re going to outline a classic solution: Steeping your marijuana to make cannabis infused coconut oil.
Making Cannabis Infused Coconut Oil
If you already have a hash oil or other form of decarbed concentrate you can skip this step and we’ll meet you again in the next section (if it isn’t decarbed, check out our “How to Decarb Your Weed” article and then meet us back here after). If you’re wanting to start 100% from scratch, though, and have nothing but some marijuana buds hanging around, you’ll need to know how to make an extract.
Most common for weed gummy recipes found on the internet is infusing your cannabis into coconut oil – Infused coconut oil works well because it maintains a solid form at room temperature, lending to the solidity of your gummy candy. If you’re not a fan of the flavor of coconut oil other oils can and will work, but for the purposes of our article we’ll be focusing on the cannabis infused coconut oil that is most common and popular.
Making infused coconut oil is a fairly simple process, but starts off with the proper decarboxylation of your marijuana. Without being decarbed first your cannabis will not be activated and ready for making edibles, ultimately wasting the weed you’ll be using in your cannabis infused coconut oil. We talk about this at length in our decarbing article mentioned above so if you’re unfamiliar with the term or just need a refresher, head there first before moving on to the next step.
Once your cannabis has been decarbed it’s time to begin the infusion. You’ll need the following:
- A double boiler
- Cheese cloth & butcher’s twine
- 1 cup ground, decarbed marijuana
- 1 cup coconut oil
For those unfamiliar, a double boiler is a method of cooking that allows for indirect heat – Water is placed into one pot, which is then placed on the stove, and a second pot is placed on top of the now-hot water. Dedicated double boilers can be bought but the function is easily replicated at home using a regular pot and a heat-proof bowl (such as Pyrex).
Fill the bottom of your double boiler with water and set it onto your stove at medium-low heat. Make a sachet by placing your cannabis into the cheesecloth and tie securely with twine, placing both the coconut oil and sachet in the top section of your double boiler. Alternatively, you can just put the cannabis straight into the oil and then strain it with cheesecloth (visualized below). We recommend letting your cannabis sachet steep in the oil for a good six to eight hours to extract as much of the THC and cannabinoids as possible.
After your steep, remove the sachet and voilà, you are done. At this point you can squeeze your sachet out if you’d like to wring away as much oil as possible but be aware that doing so will leech out additional chlorophyll and flavonoids into your infusion, giving the end gummy mixture a green color and taste you may not want.
Now that you have your infused coconut oil it’s time to turn it into your cannabis infused gummy bears, and for that we have a couple of different recipes. Let’s take one last detour first, though, and talk about our emulsification agent, what it is, and a bit more on why it’s so important.
Do I Need to Add Lecithin to My Weed Gummies?
In short, yes. Lecithin (an extract product itself, made from oils and other fatty substances) is what helps bind your cannabis infused coconut oil and gelatin mixture together when making gummies, and is the most integral part in making sure your gummies won’t weep out any THC concentrate.
Sold in either a powder or a liquid form lecithin can be made from a variety of ingredients – Most common are soy lecithin and sunflower lecithin, made from soy and sunflower oils respectively. For candy making liquid lecithins are often preferred as they’re easier to distribute through-out your liquid mixture.
Soy lecithin and its relatives are easy to find these days, either online or at your local big box retailer (check in the cooking oil section), but know that lecithin can be made from many different sources, including animal byproducts; while this recipe isn’t designed to be vegan (we’ll talk more about that later) it’s always good to know where your ingredients are coming from.
Now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way let’s go over some recipe details. We’re going to do this in two parts: First we have a simple, easy, no frills recipe, and then we’ll go over some additional steps & ingredients that can help you tweak these cannabis gummy bears to the taste and texture you prefer.
Simple Weed Gummies Recipe
This recipe is fairly standard and includes a pre-flavored packaged gelatin (again, think Jell-O) along with additional unflavored gelatin to help the gummy bears set. Here’s the tools and ingredients you’ll need to get started:
- Candy Molds: Flexible silicone molds are needed for easy removal of the gummies
- Pouring Device: A kitchen syringe, measuring cup with spout, or sturdy zip-top sandwich bag
- Non-Stick Cooking Spray
- Pre-Packaged Gelatin Dessert (IE: Jell-O): One 3oz package, flavor of your choice
- Unflavored Gelatin: Either 2.5 tablespoons of gelatin powder or 7.5 gelatin sheets; we recommend buying high-quality gelatin for extra firmness
- Water: 1/2 cup, cold
- Corn Syrup: 1/4th cup
- Cannabis Infused Coconut Oil: 1/4th cup
- Sunflower/Soy Lecithin: 2 teaspoons
- First prepare your gelatin. If using powdered gelatin sprinkle this and the jello on top of your water, letting it bloom for a minimum of five minutes; if using sheets, soak these in the water for about 10 minutes.
- Once your gelatin is ready combine it (including the water) and your corn syrup in a sauce pan, letting this mixture reach a bare simmer over medium-low heat. Whisk gently but constantly as it heats up, making sure to NOT let your gelatin boil – Boiling can prevent it from setting. If you notice a white foam forming at the top skim this off and reduce your heat slightly.
- After your mixture has completely melted and combined remove from the heat and let cool. Now add in both your cannabis infused oil and lecithin before stirring to combine.
- Prepare the molds for your gummy bears by spraying them thoroughly with cooking spray; we recommend additionally setting the molds onto parchment-paper lined baking trays, to make them easier to move later.
- After your molds have been sprayed transfer the cannabis gummy mixture to either your spouted container or your kitchen syringe – In a pinch you can use a plastic sandwich bag, pouring in your mixture and cutting off one of the edges to create a makeshift piping bag.
- Now begin filling your molds. If things like messy edges bother you a bench scraper or other flat object can be used to go over the surface of the mold and scrape away excess that spilled over. Once filled, transfer your gummy molds to the refrigerator for a minimum of one hour; do not use the freezer, as the extreme cold can also keep your gelatin from setting.
- After spending time in the refrigerator remove your cannabis gummies and de-mold – Your gummy bears should be firm to the touch but still slightly tacky. Lay the gummies out onto a piece of parchment paper and let them air dry, preferably somewhere with good air circulation such as in front of a fan. How long this will take depends entirely on your location, humidity, ambient temperature, and a lot of other factors.
Note: Mold can be an issue with this recipe so make sure they’re thoroughly dried before storage. You can expect these gummy bears to last maybe a week or so outside of the refrigerator; if kept cold estimate about a month. And while this recipe will get you some perfectly serviceable weed gummies, what if you want to try getting a little fancier? Here’s a few ways to tweak our recipe above to make it a bit more professional and personalized.
Professional Weed Gummy Secrets & Hacks
Again, what we provide above is a basic recipe but lacks some finesse, and can be hard to flavor thanks to the inclusion of the pre-flavored Jell-O. Here’s a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your weed gummies.
Forego the Jell-O
Jell-O comes with various flavoring and preservative agents included which can help increase your gummy bear shelf life but can make it difficult to flavor like you want. Replacing the jello is simple and can be done by simply increasing your gelatin; up your recipe to 4.5 tablespoons of gelatin or add an additional 6 sheets. Remember, Jell-O comes packaged with sugar – About 5.5 tablespoons should do, added into the corn syrup before simmering. Jell-O also contains flavoring agents and citric acids, bringing us to…
Make Your Own Flavor
If not using the pre-packaged gelatin mix you’ll want to add in some flavorings of your own. Any flavoring oil used for making hard candy (such as LorAnn’s brand) will work just fine here, though the amount will depend entirely on how large a batch of gummy bears you’re planning on making and just how much flavor you want to shine through. We recommend starting with half a dram for our recipe above and adding more to taste; just remember, the gummies are competing for flavor space against the cannabis infused coconut oil, so a heavy hand might serve you well.
Sweet or Sour?
If you’d prefer your cannabis infused gummy bears to have a little kick you’ll want to add some acid (no, not the “flashbacks to Burning Man” kind). Citric and malic acid are chemicals naturally found in fruits that give them their tart zest – Citric acid for, unsurprisingly, citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges, and malic acid for fruits such as strawberries, peaches or cherries.
A teaspoon of malic or citric acid to your gummies can definitely zest them up; just be careful, as too much citric acid can lead to weeping. We recommend adding your acid in after the mixture has cooled, just before piping/pouring into your molds.
Up the Shelf Life
Potassium sorbate, a common preservative, can go a long way toward preventing mold increasing the lifespan of your gummy bears – Just add in 1/4th of a teaspoon when combining everything in your cooking vessel. We also recommend giving your dried gummies a dusting in either powdered sugar or corn starch, both of which will help prevent clumping and sticking together.
Can I Make Vegan Weed Gummies?
Making vegan weed gummy bears isn’t particularly easy, but can be accomplished by replacing your gelatin with agar agar at a 1:1 ratio (you may need to play around with this blend depending on the strength of your agar powder). Agar agar (or “kanten”) is an algae-based product that is available either online or at any health store; much like gelatin it must be bloomed before use and boiled with your other ingredients.
Also consider replacing at least part of your water with a non-citrus fruit juice, such as apple, or mashed/pureed fruit such as strawberries or blueberries – The additional pectin will help ensure your end gummies set firm (and taste good to boot). This is similar to traditional recipes for pâte de fruit, which also works very well for making cannabis gummies.
Making cannabis infused gummy bears and other gummy snacks at home isn’t that difficult at all, and we hope our guide has given you a good starting point on making tasty gummy treats right in your own kitchen. Bon appétit!