Cooking with cannabis can be fun, rewarding, healthy and tasty but it takes practice to perfect the technique and get potency levels just right. RoyalQueenSeeds.com and Leafly.com have mastered the art of cooking with cannabis and have some helpful recommendations below to help you prepare and properly cook your own edibles while avoiding some of the common mistakes.

Step 1: Pick a Cannabis Friendly Recipe

The very first step to cooking with cannabis is to pick which recipe or fatty oil you want to cook with. Cannabutter is a delicious and versatile carrier of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabinoids. Executing cannabutter recipes to contain just the right amount of potency may be a bit tricky and clean up of cannabutter can be a messy nightmare too. ArdentCannabis.com discusses five alternatives to making cannabutter for your infusions and include kief butter/oil, cannabis coconut oil, canna-oil, cannaghee and tinctures.

There are many cannabis friendly recipes that can be found online by doing a quick Google search. There are also cannabis-cooking classes in most legalized states, fun television shows with professional cannabis chefs, books and magazines and the list goes on.

Step 2: Buying Bud

The next step in cooking with cannabis is buying the cooking bud. The key is that a little goes a long way and you do not have to always use the highest quality, most expensive cannabis (also listed as “Premium”) found in the dispensaries. This is because the cooking ratio is 1 cup of oil to 1 cup of ground cannabis or 7-10 grams. Lipids in the oil can only bind with so many cannabinoids in the cooking bud so exceeding this ratio is wasteful.

The most economical and inexpensive cannabis to use for cooking is the leftover shake, stems, leaves or trim found at the bottom of your weed bags. You can even use any old bags of weed lying around as long as it has not lost its scent. Pot is a plant so it does degrade over time but it does not spoil. Old edibles, however, are a different story and should be tossed in the trash if not consumed within 5 – 7 days if properly stored.

Step 3: Grinding The Cannabis

Next, use a hand grinder to coarsely grind up the cannabis so that the buds have at least the consistency of table salt. Be careful to not over-grind the cannabis into a powder. A coffee grinder or food processor will finely pulverize the flower and prevent effective straining of bad-tasting plant material. Edibles will give off a strong grassy flavor if the cannabis is ground too fine and the butter or oil will turn green in color. Cannabinoids readily bind to the oil’s fats so a coarse grind will allow it to effectively absorb without pulling in unwanted plant material.

Step 4: Decarbing the Cannabis and Cooking the Canna-oil/Cannabutter

The most important step when cooking with cannabis is to activate the THC and CBD using heat. This process is called decarboxylation and is how edibles infused with cannabis provide the buzz effect. You cannot cook with raw cannabis because placing raw cannabis directly into recipes will not allow the range of cannabinoids found in the plant to activate and bind to fat.

You can add the raw, ground cannabis to a slow cooker to decarb in any butter or fatty oil of your choice. Be aware that this longer oil soak in a slow cooker may worsen the taste of the cannabis-infused butter or oil. Using a slow cooker to decarb the cannabis can also be more difficult to control the temperature and you risk burning off essential cannabinoids. For best results with a slow cooker, keep on a low setting and use a thermometer to maintain a temperature ideally above 160ºF but never exceeding 200ºF. Then let it cook for about three hours with the lid removed, stirring occasionally. Turn to the “off” position after three hours of cooking and let cool.

The most effective way to decarb the cooking bud is in an oven because you can set the temperature low and keep it steady. Place a layer of baking parchment or baking paper directly onto a baking tray, and pour your raw, ground cooking bud onto the baking paper. Use clean hands or gloves to distribute the raw, coarsely ground cannabis so there is an even lining of marijuana.

Place the baking tray in a pre-heated oven of 245ºF, leaving it to cook for 30 – 40 minutes while mixing the buds every 10 minutes. If you are tight on time though, you can set the oven to 300°F and cook for 10 to 18 minutes while mixing the buds every five minutes. Cooking the raw cannabis at a lower temperature for a longer period of time is generally considered the best way to increase the potency without burning off any of the good parts.

After decarbing the bud in the oven, prepare the butter or oil mixture by adding one cup of water and one cup of butter, or any fatty oil, into a large pot or saucepan. Adding water helps to regulate the temperature and prevents the butter from scorching. Simmer on low until the butter is melted. Then add in the coarsely ground, decarbed cannabis to the mixture. Maintain at a very low heat and simmer for two to three hours while stirring frequently. Stirring the mixture and maintaining a low heat will help reduce the mixture from boiling. Butter burns easily so keep a close eye on your cannabutter at all times as it cooks.

Step 5: Straining the Canna-oil/Cannabutter

Set up your straining station by placing a funnel on top of a glass jar and line the funnel with cheesecloth. Once the cannabutter or canna-oil has cooled off, pour it over the cheesecloth funnel and allow gravity to do the work to strain it freely down into the jar. Try to refrain from squeezing the cheesecloth to push out every drop of oil. Milking it like this will push out a little more oil but may push out a lot more bad-tasting plant material. Refrigerate the jar of canna-oil or cannabutter. Refer to dosing information below before adding your butter to any snacks, dishes, drinks or desserts.

Step 6: Time to Get Baking and Baked!

You can test the oil or butter’s potency before incorporating it into a dish or recipe to gauge how much infused oil you will actually need. You can do this by taking 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon of the oil or butter as a personal dose and add it to your food or a beverage. Wait an hour and see how you feel. This will help to determine what an appropriate single dose would be. Once you have determined how much oil or butter yields your desired effects, multiply that dose per serving if making a shareable batch, or simply scoop that perfect dose onto each individual dish. If making a batch of infused food, stir like your life depended on it. This will ensure that the oil or butter is distributed evenly across the batch and that your perfect dose makes it into each individual slice. Serve and enjoy!