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A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Cannabutter

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With the continued progressive legalization of medical and recreational cannabis across much of the United States, cannabis users are almost experiencing an embarrassment of riches. Stop into any cannabis dispensary, and you’ll undoubtedly find cannabis in what often seems like an unlimited variety of forms, from the traditional flower, pre-rolls, and vapes to tinctures, concentrates, inhalers, topicals, and a huge assortment of soft chew edibles, lozenges, and chocolates. However, among the products still slowly making their way to area dispensaries are the array of sweet and savory goods most people think of when they hear the term “cannabis edibles.”

Fortunately, you can make your own baked goods and edibles at home, suited exactly to your tastes. Better yet, you can use your favorite strain of cannabis, which was selected and cultivated to potentially provide the pain-relieving or stress-relieving benefits you seek. Before you can get cooking, however, you’ll need to find a way to infuse cannabis into your favorite recipe—and for that, you’ll need a cannabis cooking oil or cannabis-infused butter.

Why Do I Need Cannabutter?

To understand the importance of an excellent cannabutter recipe, it’s crucial to learn why you need to create cannabutter in the first place. The primary active ingredients responsible for giving cannabis its potentially excellent stress-relief, relaxation, and pain-relief benefits are known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids, including THC, CBD and more, and terpenes, or the essential oils naturally produced by plants including cannabis that provide therapeutic benefits, are fat-soluble compounds. This means they can only dissolve in liquids based in fats, commonly butter or oil.

As a result, to create baked goods infused with cannabis, you must first infuse the cannabinoids and terpenes into an oil. While you can use practically any edible oil to create your cannabis-infused cooking fat, butter is an excellent choice because it is a spreadable solid at room temperature, easily accessible, simple to work with—and it adds that great butter taste to your recipe.

If you’re not a butter fan or are looking for alternative health benefits, there are recipes to infuse coconut oil, olive oil, and more. You’ll find that the basic principles are the same, the key is to ensure it’s a fat-based carrier to best infuse. Once you learn how to make cannabutter for edibles, you can experiment with making flavored spreads and oils to accompany all your favorite recipes.

A Beginner’s Guide to Making Cannabutter

A Beginner's Guide to Making Cannabutter
While seemingly an arduous process, making cannabutter, like anything, becomes easier with practice.

While you’ve likely been cooking, baking, or both since you were old enough to lick the spoon, cannabis-infused edibles are a little more involved than grandma’s chocolate chip cookie recipe—if only because the process to make cannabutter introduces a few extra steps. But if you follow our step-by-step instructions, you’ll be adding your newly infused cannabutter to your favorite recipes in no time.

To help make getting started a little easier, we’ve broken the process down into three distinct stages, each with its own set of ingredients and easy-to-follow steps. Determine whether the optional steps are important to you, gather what you need, and you’re on your way.

Final tip: While we specify unsalted butter for this recipe, there’s no scientific reason to choose it over salted butter except that you can add salt to your tastes later as your recipe requires. If you’re accustomed to using salted butter, go ahead and use that to start your cannabutter-making experience.

Optional Stage One: Clarifying the Butter

Why It’s Important:

Most cannabutter recipes you’ll see online call for clarified butter, which is just a fancy way of saying “butter with all water and milk solids removed.” We should note using or not using clarified butter will not alter the desired effects of the cannabinoids in your cannabutter; it does allow you to use recipes that require temperatures over 325 degrees Fahrenheit—although temperatures that high can cause the cannabinoids to begin to vaporize while baking. While you don’t have to make cannabutter with clarified butter, we’ve noticed that it provides a smoother, creamier texture and a little less moisture than regular butter because the water has been removed.

Supplies You’ll Need:

  • 8 oz. (two sticks) of butter
  • Saucepan or slow cooker
  • Straining device—either a reusable milk straining bag, cheesecloth, or a fine-mesh strainer

How to Do It:

  1. Melt your butter in a saucepan or slow cooker on low heat, observing carefully.  
  2. When the butter is nearly melted and has begun to bubble a bit, remove it from heat.
  3. Let your butter cool for about 15 minutes until it has separated into three distinct layers, according to density.
  4. Remove the topmost layer of milk foam using a small spatula.
  5. Pour the second layer, the clarified butter, into another container, taking care not to tip the bottom layer of butter and milk solids into the container. Alternatively, pour the mixture through a milk bag to remove the solids, wait for it to settle again, and finish by pouring off the butter.

Optional Stage Two: Decarboxylation

Decarboxylation
Decarboxylation is a key step in the edible-making process because it converts the compound THC-A to the more psychoactive THC.

Why It’s Important:

Raw cannabis flower on its own is not psychoactive—it does not produce the traditional “high” feelings in the absence of a chemical reaction. In raw flower, THC and CBD are in what’s referred to as their acidic forms, or THC-A and CBD-A. When you smoke or vape cannabis, the heat activates THC-A and CBD-A by forcing its carboxyl group (COOH, or carbon-oxygen-oxygen-hydrogen) into water vapor. What’s left is THC and CBD, both capable of producing benefits without the carboxyl group. In the cannabis space, we say that the flower and its cannabinoids are decarboxylated.

If you want your cannabutter to have the traditional psychoactive effects you get while smoking or vaping flower, you’ll need to perform this step. Otherwise, if you want the pain-relieving, mood-boosting, and anti-inflammatory benefits of your medicinal cannabis potentially without the high, skip this step and leave your cannabis carboxyl-intact.

Supplies You’ll Need:

  • ½ oz. of your favorite cannabis strain
  • Coarse grinder or a pair of scissors
  • Small, oven-safe baking dish or sheet pan, no more than an inch or two deep
  • Foil
  • Oven

How to Do It:

  1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grind, crumble, or chop your cannabis until it is the ideal consistency for rolling into a joint. Too fine a grind will result in bits that escape the strainer, cheesecloth, or bag, something that should be avoided if possible to create a tasty medicating option.
  3. Spread the cannabis evenly across the baking dish or pan, and cover with foil.
  4. Bake on the center rack for:
    -     20 minutes if you’re using older cannabis or lower-quality cannabis
    -     40 minutes for high-quality cannabis
    -     60 minutes + for recently harvested or non-cured cannabis
  5. Stir gently and redistribute every 10 minutes.
  6. Watch carefully—when the cannabis turns from green to brown, the decarboxylation process is complete. Be careful not to burn it and risk vaporizing the cannabinoids.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool, covered, for 20 minutes.

Making Cannabutter With Flower

Making Cannabutter with Flower
Adding flower to the butter is a magical step in the process of infusion. Pro tip: the more coarsely ground the flower, the easier it will be to strain.

Why It’s Important:

Here’s where, after all those optional preparatory steps, you will finally make your cannabutter. Some methods skip the step of adding water at this stage, but adding water helps you strictly regulate the temperature of your cannabutter so you avoid overheating and scorching. In addition, the water helps absorb some of the chlorophyll and other byproducts of the process without removing the cannabinoids (remember, cannabinoids are not water-soluble). You can use either a slow cooker or a saucepan and stove for this step, but the slow cooker will contain the scent of the cannabutter a bit.

Supplies You’ll Need:

  • Your ½ oz of decarboxylated or carboxyl-intact cannabis
  • 8 oz. (2 sticks) clarified or regular butter
  • 1½ cups water
  • Medium saucepan or slow cooker
  • Large spoon, preferably wooden
  • Candy thermometer
  • Straining device—either a reusable milk straining bag, cheesecloth, or a fine-mesh strainer

How to Do It:

  1. Set your burner or slow cooker to the lowest heat.
  2. Add water and butter.
  3. When butter is fully melted, stir in cannabis.
  4. Cover with a lid and let simmer for 4 hours, stirring every half hour.
  5. Check with a thermometer to ensure the temperature doesn’t exceed 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Cook for another four hours, stirring every two hours.
  7. Strain through a milk bag, cheesecloth, or fine metal strainer into a storage container, and cool for at least an hour in the refrigerator. The butter should solidify.
  8. Once the cannabutter has solidified and cooled, remove the butter from the water and blot with paper towels if needed.
  9. Discard water and store butter in the refrigerator or freeze for up to six months.

Making Cannabutter With Distillate or RSO

If you’d rather not fuss with decarboxylating your cannabis or want to avoid the smell and taste of cannabis, distillate or RSO oil is an excellent option. Already activated, odorless, and tasteless, cannabis distillate or RSO can help you save a few steps and produces the same relief you’d expect from your favorite flower - in a shorter amount of time. Melt the butter as directed above, including clarifying if desired, and add your desired amount of syringe. Note: Distillate and RSO oils vary in potency but are generally much more potent than flower—the desired dosage can vary between ½ to 1g of distillate per 8 oz. of butter depending on preference and cannabis experience level.

Using Your Cannabutter

If you’ve followed the steps above, you now have about 8 ounces of premium cannabutter to use in your favorite recipes. Try substituting a couple of tablespoons of cannabutter for regular butter in cookies, brownies, and other baked goods—just remember not to heat above 325 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid vaporizing the cannabinoids. Or use in place of butter or oil in your favorite garlic breads, soups, and stews, or simply on a piece of buttered toast.

If you’re uncertain about the taste of flower, switch to distillates or consider using alongside strong flavors like coffee, dark chocolate, garlic, and more. Your palate and your creativity are the only limits!

Discover Quality Cannabis for Making Cannabutter at MÜV

Quality Cannabis for Making Cannabutter
Whether you choose flower, RSO or Distillate oil to create your edibles, always remember the adage - start low and go slow with your dosing!

At MÜV Dispensaries, you’ll find a wide variety of high-quality cannabis strains and distillates ideal for crafting your own cannabis edibles. If you’re new to making edibles, or even if you’re a seasoned pro, check out The Best Marijuana Brownie Recipe our team has ever tried! And, be sure to use the tips above to make your own cannabutter. Before you know it, you’ll be an edible-making pro!

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Danyal Swan

Danyal Swan

Danyal Swan is a Content Editor and Writer for MÜV Florida. Swan is a true believer in the healing power of cannabis, so much so that she moved across the country to join the MÜV Florida team. She quickly grew from her roles as Receptionist and Medtender due to her continuous dedication to self-education on the cannabis plant. Swan holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Iowa.

Danyal Swan

Danyal Swan

Danyal Swan is a Content Editor and Writer for MÜV Florida. Swan is a true believer in the healing power of cannabis, so much so that she moved across the country to join the MÜV Florida team. She quickly grew from her roles as Receptionist and Medtender due to her continuous dedication to self-education on the cannabis plant. Swan holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Iowa.

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