Ask Cheri: How to Improve the Flavor of Marijuana Edibles

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how to improve the flavor of marijuana ediblesDear Cheri,

HELP! I just don’t like the taste of my homemade edibles!  Why are the ones I buy at the dispensary so much better tasting and how can I improve the flavor of what I make at home?

Hungry Hannah

The second the most common question I get (after how to properly dose edibles) is how to improve their flavor.  While there are a few rare individuals who enjoy the acrid green flavor of cannabis in their food, most do not, so you’re not alone.

In answer to your first question, store-bought edibles often taste better because they are usually made with a specially produced distillate — a pure cannabis concentrate, created specifically for edibles manufacturers.  When making distillate for vape cartridges, the maker will usually add terpenes and flavors, elements that were removed in the process of creating the distillate, back in.  When creating distillate for cooking, the terpenes are usually left out, making for a more neutral flavor.

Home cooks, on the other hand, don’t always have the luxury of specially created distillate.  More often than not, they will cook with trimmings or flowers from the whole plant, or with solventless concentrates like dry ice kief or water hash.  These have more flavors as the terpenes remain intact.  However, that’s a good thing as many of the plant’s medicinal effects are carried in the terpenes, so in my mind, it’s a worthwhile trade-off for a little less than ideal flavor.

That said, here are some things you can do to improve the flavor of marijuana edibles, even when cooking with whole plant cannabis.

  • Make your infusions (cannabis butter or oil, etc) as strong as possible in order to use less of them in your recipes.  For example, if you make your infusion using double the amount of cannabis suggested in the links in this point, you would only need to use half as much in your recipe to get the same dose.  Make sense?    Make up the difference in the recipe with unmedicated butter or oil.
  • In spite of advice you’ll hear from most other cannabis cooks, and in spite of it being a built -in function of a popular cannabis butter making gadget, do NOT finely grind your plant material.  It serves no practical purpose.  What you are trying to extract is ON the plant not IN it.  Fine grinding deposits more plant material into your finished infusions, and that means more herbal green flavor.  Yuck.
  • Use a heavy hand with herbs, spices, and other flavoring ingredients.  While the taste of cannabis might come through in something delicate like vanilla custard, you’ll never notice it on a pizza with the works.
  • Cannabis infusions like butter and oil lose some of their green flavor when they are cooked.  So, for instance, if I were going to medicate a cupcake recipe, I would be better off adding the cannabis to the cake, which is baked, than to the buttercream frosting, which is not cooked at all.
  • Depending on how I am going to use it, I will often add water when infusing cannabis butter or marijuana oil.  This takes away some of the green color and herbal flavor (although it can still taste mighty weedy).  This method works great when you plan to cook with these ingredients, as opposed to say whipping butter for a frosting.
  • I love cooking with concentrates as you get far less  herbal flavor.  Dry ice kief is a favorite.  It is easy to find or easy to make (see this page on my website for instructions on making dry ice kief) and can be stirred into most any recipe.  See this article for tips on cooking with kief and hash.  I have also been using cannabis oil concentrates, especially since getting a Source by Extractcraft as I can now make my own.
  • While cookies, brownies, and candies are popular marijuana edibles, from a flavor perspective, savory foods often naturally meld better with the flavor of cannabis, and if they have enough herbs and spices going on, do a better job at masking the flavor we are all trying to avoid.
  • For those who consider themselves foodies and cannabis connoisseurs, you can match the terpenes in the cannabis strains you are cooking with to the terpenes in your recipe ingredients.  This will make the flavors enhance each other rather than fight each other.    For instance, match a strain high in myrcene with a mango dish, or a strain high in alpha-pinene in a dish seasoned with rosemary.  Terpene matching has a lot in common with wine tasting.  Flavor notes and nuances can be subtle, but when you read about those fancy gourmet cannabis dinners by chefs like Andrea Drummer and Chris Yang, the chefs are usually pairing the strains according to what they are preparing.
  • If your cannabis purveyor offers a terpeneless distillate for cooking, try it, you may get results on part with commercial edibles makers.

Do you have other tips for improving the flavor of marijuana edibles?  Please share them in the comments section of this post!

How to Improve the Flavor of Marijuana Edibles - Making Marijuana Oil

Marijuana oil infusing in the slow cooker.

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9 Comments

  1. I always do what’s called a “wet cure” with my cannabis before decarboxylating. I loosely grind the flowers and sugar leaf, put back in the glass Ball jar and add warm water, leaving enough empty space so I can shake the contents. I shake the jar for a minute and leave it to infuse the water with the chlorophyll and other elements that create the bad flavors. THC isn’t water soluble so there’s no worry about losing any to the washes. After an hour or so, the water turns brown. I put some cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar, empty out the dirty water, refill with fresh warm water and repeat the process. Do that until the water doesn’t turn brown anymore. Then spread out the cannabis on a baking sheet to dry and proceed with decarbing and infusing as usual. I make cookies with the canna coconut oil and they taste just like normal cookies. I also add a little liquid sunflower lecithin to the cookie dough to help the effects come on faster. Not too much lecithin because I think it tastes a little like plastic. A teaspoon in a batch of cookies seems right. You’ll find out what amount works for you.

    • You CAN do a water cure. I personally do not like this method. While THC is not water soluble, I do believe trichomes get knocked off the plant this way and you lose some. But if it works for you, great. There is more than one method, I just don’t personally like this one.

      As far as lecithin, it also does not seem necessary in this case. Lecithin helps bind fats to water and this seems unnecessary in a cookie recipe. As far as lecithin “bringing on the effects faster,” if you feel it does, then do what works for you. There is no scientific proof of this and personally, I have never felt a difference.

    • You can’t really get the green out, but you can avoid letting the green in, something you may or may not want to do depending on what you are using the finished tincture for. The shorter the alcohol wash, the less green. You can also finely filter which will remove some green. How do you plan to use the tincture?

  2. Denyse Kay Ferrell on

    I let my rough shake soak at least overnight in room temp water to leach out nasty flavor, draining and re-soaking several times. I use enough shake that losing a few trichromes here and there isn’t an issue. Then I add my butter and more fresh water and simmer slowly for 3-4 hours before straining through a jelly bag and then cool. I use about an ounce of good shake to a cup and a half of butter to get a full cup of ghee by the time I’m finished. Makes great shortbread cookies with a surprisingly mild flavor compared to not doing the leach first.

  3. Ken Brezenski on

    Cheri . Love Love Your Very Informative Site ….The Best That I’ve Seen !!!!!………I’ve Got 7 grams Of Hashish ……..What Are My Options Please …….My Lungs Are Poor & I Can’t Smoke Anymore !!! …….Video Recipes Would Be Greatly Appreciated ……Please Respond With Videos & Pricing For Recipes . Thanking You In Advance For Your Kind & Speedy Response

  4. Ken Brezenski on

    Thank You So Much For Your Speedy Response To My Previous E-mail . I Guess That My Questions(?) Are……. Do You Have A “Detailed Instruction Video” For Me To Process My “Chunk Of Hashish” ??….Do I Grind It Up Some How ?? Do I Melt It Down Some Way?? How Many Cookies Will This Chunk Produce Or How Many Brownie Cakes Should I Be Expecting To Make ?? Are Cookies Or Brownies The Best & Easiest Way For Me To Process This “Chunk” ??…….Once Again I’m Looking Forward To Hearing From You To Help Me In This Matter & Thanking You Again

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