Why is marijuana butter such a popular way to make cannabis edibles? THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana is fat soluble, making butter an ideal way to bond it to food. Likewise cannabis infused butter or margarine (for vegans) are the backbone of many medicated foods. With these staples stored in your refrigerator or freezer you’re always ready to cook with cannabis. (Prefer to make Marijuana Oil? Check out our How to Make Marijuana Oil tutorial here.)
You can cook with any kind of marijuana from trimmings to flowers when making weed butter. You will need to adjust the amount used depending on the potency of the plant and what parts of it you are using. Check out the Understanding Cannabis Dosages page for additional information and dose ranges.
I’ve listed the amounts I use to test the recipes for this blog as well as those in The Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook. You can and should alter the suggested amounts to meet your needs, but these will give you a starting guideline.
To Make About 1 Cup Marijuana Butter or Margarine:
- 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter or margarine
- 1 ounce average to high quality trim or low quality dried bud;
- 1/2 ounce average quality dried bud
- About 4 cups water
You might be wondering why I include water as an ingredient. Including water, especially when cooking on the stovetop, insures the cannabis will never reach a higher temperature than the boiling point or 212 degrees F. More importantly, the chlorophyll and terpenes – the parts of the plant that give it its flavor and color — are water soluble and most will likewise bind to water during the cooking process instead of infusing themselves into the fats along with the THC. In practical terms this means less herbal flavor and green color in the finished marijuana butter or oil.
That said, the marijuana butter might still appear mighty green, even when cooked with water. The amount will vary from strain to strain with some coming out pale green or almost yellow, while others take on a deep forest green color. You can see the differences in the photo above where I used a different strain to make the 2 different weed butters and oils pictured. The visual difference is especially apparent in the butter, but keep in mind that color has nothing to do with potency.
Without water in the mix, the plant material tends absorbs too much of the butter and oil. This means usable product is going into the trash, a problem that’s reduced when adding water. The increased liquid volume also gives cooks the option to add more plant material in order to make more concentrated infusions if they wish.
How to Make Marijuana Butter or Margarine
- Slow Cooker Method (best choice): Add butter or margarine, plant material, and water to the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. I know some cooks who cook their butter for as much as 2 or 3 days in the slow cooker. Feel free to do so if you choose. It seems like overkill to me and after having tested longer cooking times, I found no improvement in quality or potency. In fact, I noticed a stronger herbal flavor and not much else. You can actually cook for less time, just make sure your mixture has time to come to a full simmer.
- Stovetop Method: Place butter or margarine, cannabis plant material, and water in a large lidded Dutch oven on the stove top. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low and simmer for about 2 hours. Take care and monitor the liquid level often, adding water as necessary to always keep at least 3 cups in the pot. Simmering marijuana on the stovetop is very aromatic. If you’re worried about nosy neighbors, cook other strong smelling foods such as roasting garlic at the same time in order to help camouflage the smell. Better still, use a slow cooker.
Making Marijuana Butter: Drain, Rinse, and Strain
The method of draining is the same for stovetop and slow cooker methods. Place a cheesecloth line strainer over a large pot or bowl and strain the liquid through this. Before discarding plant material, pour a large kettle full of boiling water over the full strainer in order to wash through any extra butter clinging to the plant material. Allow to cool then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Discard the plant material. Now chill the rest, water and liquid butter. The fats will rise to the top. Butter will harden into a solid when chilled making it easy for you to simply lift the piece off of the water below and discard the water. Rinse the butter chunk with cold, fresh water to wash off any of the canna-water or plant material left on the butter.
Now it’s time to strain one more time to remove as much sediment as possible. Place a double layer of cheesecloth over a strainer and pour the oil mixture through. To strain butter, melt it, strain, then chill again until solid. Dry the solid cannabutter thoroughly to remove all traces of excess water.
Refrigerate infused butter or margarine until ready to use or freeze for even longer storage. Fats can still go rancid in the freezer so try to use within 3 months.
You’re now ready to start cooking with canna-butter!
Odor Reducing Tip When Making Marijuana Oil
Hamilton Beach makes a line of slow cookers (pictured in this article) that are great for reducing cooking odors when making marijuana oil. I am sure the fine folks at Hamilton Beach did not design the Stay and Go Slow Cooker for this specific purpose, but nonetheless they work great. That’s because it has a rubber gasket on the lid and a clamp you can use to keep the slow cooker tightly closed. People going to pot luck suppers (no, not the kinds with cannabis) love this feature as you can transport food in the slow cooker without it sloshing over. But for cannabis cooks its beauty is in the fact that you will hardly smell the odor of simmering marijuana when infusing butter or oil. At least not until you open the lid. I discovered this quite by accident, but it works. The Stay and Go Slow Cooker is also a quality product to use when making non-cannabis infused meals. Check it out!