Ask Cheri

How High a Temperature Can I Use When Cooking with Cannabis? 

By Cheri Sicard
February 3, 2021

Dear Cheri,

I signed up for your online cannabis cooking course and am looking forward to taking it this weekend.  I had a question before I began though.  I see a lot of cannabis recipes that recommend cooking at higher temperatures.  I had always heard high temperatures destroy THC.  So my question is, how high is too high when it comes to temperatures when cooking with cannabis, and what temperature does THC degrade at?

Proper temperature is an essential component of cannabis cooking and one that causes a lot of concern and confusion for a lot of people. The biggest challenge in that is making sense of all the conflicting information out there concerning cannabis temperatures.  

We know that THC is completely broken down at 292 F degrees but it starts to degrade long before that. 

When I asked Dr. Jeff Raber of the Werc Shop about temperatures, he said it’s difficult to give a definitive statement of exactly what temperature is best for cooking and as so many variables come into play.  Not only do different cannabinoids and terpenes boil off at different temperatures, Dr Raber said the chemical makeup of the foods being infused can even have an effect on the optimal cooking temperature.

Well, that’s as clear as mud.  What’s a cannabis cook to do?

The rule of thumb when it comes to cooking with cannabis is low and slow, meaning generally speaking you are better off cooking at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. 

I have seen a lot of sources recommend that cooking at about 250 degrees F (or 120 Celsius) is ideal.  And I agree this is might be a great temperature for decarboxylating, but it is far too low to be practical for most recipes.

We know that THC evaporates at temperatures greater than 292 degrees F.  (that’s 144 Celcius) , but that means it’s gone at 292.  It  actually starts breaking down long before that.  That sounds scary as lots of recipes recommend you cook at higher temperatures. 

What temperature is too hot?  Like a lot of answers with cannabis cooking, it depends.  Let’s explore.

The truth is you can cook higher temperatures with no problem or lack of quality in the finished edibles, as long as the food itself does not get too hot, and it doesn’t.  Likewise for the most part, all the dire warnings about never cooking at temperatures above 300 degrees F (150 C) are largely exaggerated. 

As an example, think about when you roast a chicken.  The bird might spend an hour in a 350 (175 C) degree oven, but when it is perfectly cooked the meat itself only reaches a temperature of 165 degrees F (or 75 celsius).

When it comes to baking cannabis infused foods in the oven, you are not likely to run into a problem with too much heat.  You are also safe adding cannabis to most liquids, as water boils at 212 degrees F (or 100 celsius) which is well below the danger zone.

Where you might run into trouble is with stovetop cooking, broiling, frying, or grilling over direct heat.  When using these cooking methods, keep your temperatures as low as possible. 

When using cannabis butter and oil make sure you are adding them into the foods you are making and not using them to cook or sauté in as this is likely to cause them to get too hot. 

So for instance, if you wanted to batter and fry a piece of food, you would be better off adding the cannabis to the food that is inside the batter, such as in the stuffing of a jalapeño popper, rather than making it part of the batter itself, as that is what will be making contact with the hot oil.  Make sense?

Otherwise, you have a whole lot of leeway when it comes to the upper range of cooking temperatures, again, as long as the inside of the food where the cannabis is does not reach excessive temperatures. And in most cases, it doesn't.

How High a Temperature Can I use When Cooking with Cannabis and Not Degrade the THC?

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