Whether you’re completely new to cannabis, or you’ve been using it for years, the transition into cooking with cannabis at home can seem intimidating.
Decarboxylation? Lecithin? Times and temps? Cannabinoid ratios? What does it all mean?
Once you get the hang of making your own cannabis products, all of those questions will be answered. You’ll be able to save money, control the ingredients, and customize your medicine so it works better for you.
Plus, with a batch of cannabis-infused chocolates in hand, you’ll be everyone’s favorite dinner party guest.
In this complete cooking with cannabis guide, we’ll cover the simple guidelines I use to navigate this complex plant. I’ll also show you how to use cannabis as an ingredient in your favorite recipes, and how to replicate the expensive edibles you see in dispensaries.
The History Behind Cooking with Cannabis
While most of us grew up in the short-lived days of cannabis prohibition, cannabis cooking has been used in many cultural traditions throughout the world for thousands of years. In India, as far back as the 10th century, people have been making Bhang, a drink containing cannabis leaves and flowers that were used to promote sleep and digestion. In Egypt, cannabis was used in suppositories to treat hemorrhoids, and also as a concoction to relieve sore eyes. In China, cannabis was powdered and mixed with wine to be used as an anesthetic by surgeon Hua Tuo, and is considered one of the 50 Fundamental Herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Humans have been cooking with this plant medicine around the world for millennia, and even though it has gone through periods of stigma, prohibition, and misunderstanding throughout history, cannabis has been, is, and always will be the people’s plant.
Now that the prohibition of cannabis is lifting around the world, it’s time to bring it back into our kitchens and medicine cabinets so we can harness its healing power for ourselves, our families, and even our pets. That is why I wanted to share this incredible cooking with cannabis guide with you.
What is the best way to cook cannabis?
There are thousands of ways to use cannabis as medicine, or for adult use. While many people have a method that works for them, we’ve learned a lot about cooking with cannabis over the past decade which has shaped the way we bring this ingredient into our kitchen as well as our bodies.
Whether you’re making oils, candy, tinctures, or topicals, the best way to cook with cannabis is to follow these guidelines:
- Experiment in the dispensary first: Have you already tried store-bought edibles and topicals to find a dosage and product that works for you? The easiest way to know what to make at home is to experiment with dispensary products until you find one you like and then head to the kitchen to replicate the dosage and cannabinoid profile. It’s more expensive in the beginning to test store-bought products, but it will save you more time, money, and unpleasant experiences if you try tested products first.
- Set your goals: The first thing you want to do when beginning to cook with cannabis is to be intentional about it. Are you looking to use cannabis to relieve pain, feel more relaxed and connected, make your board game party noteworthy, or just to sleep? Knowing what you want to achieve will help you create products and recipes that work for you. If you’re new to cooking with cannabis or want to avoid the intoxicating effects of THC, start with a high CBD strain or balanced ratio. If you only have access to high THC plant material, you can skip the decarboxylation process or experiment with micro-dosing. If you want to make a recipe that creates a more elevated experience, make sure to decarboxylate and add sunflower lecithin (see steps 3 and 4 below).
- Start with high-quality plant material (and that doesn’t mean the strongest plant material): Always use plant materials that are sun-grown using organic farming practices and organic inputs. This isn’t hippie propaganda. The chemicals that are commonly used in cannabis cultivation, especially on the “legacy market”, are notoriously toxic and many are not meant to be used on plants for human consumption. It’s very important that you know where your cannabis was grown and how it was grown. If you can, grow your own. If that’s not possible, do everything you can to know your farmer.
- Calculate your dosage first and last: Before you step foot in the kitchen, do the dosage math for your infusion. This will allow you to adjust your measurements and keep you from making a batch that is too strong or too weak. After you’ve finished your batch, go over the dosage math again to make sure it checks out.
- Make a second batch: This may sound like a silly guideline, but trust me on this one. If you’re cooking anything that you’d like to eat more than one of, make a non-infused batch. In order to keep from eating too many cookies and consuming too much THC, always make backup cookies to munch on in case the munchies come on. I can’t tell you how many emails we’ve gotten over the years from people saying they wished they would have followed this guideline because half a cookie, led to one, led to two, led to an unpleasant experience.
How to start cooking with cannabis?
There are a few really important things that you need to know from this cooking with cannabis guide in order to get started. Once you master these cannabis cooking basics, you’ll be able to infuse virtually anything with cannabis.
Step 1: Learn Dosage Math (or use a Dosage Calculator)
If you’re cooking with cannabis, the most important step is figuring out in milligrams the approximate amount of THC, CBD, and CBG that will be present in your recipes.
This step is especially important if you’re creating recipes that someone else will be consuming. Figuring out how much THC, CBD, and CBG is in your infusion requires just a few minutes using the Free Wake + Bake Dosage Calculator.
You can sign up for Free Lifetime Access to the CBD, THC, and CBG Dosage Calculator here, and I’ll also send you a mini-class on dosage math so you get it right the first time.
I use the calculator every time I make an infusion and it makes things so much easier.
Step 2: Choose your Medium
Cannabis compounds are considered lipophilic (fat-loving) and can also be extracted using alcohol. That means any recipe using alcohol, oil, or butter can be infused with cannabis. Recipes without alcohol or fat can be created using cannabis concentrates.
Want to make hard candies, gummies, or use cannabis sublingually? Cannabis tinctures are your best bet.
Interested in making salve, cookies, or chocolate? Cannabis-infused coconut oil is very versatile.
When you’re first starting out, choose an infusion medium that you like and that will allow you to make the recipes you want to try, but don’t be afraid to try new things as you get more comfortable with the process (cannabis-infused olive oil FTW). You can learn more about the best oils for cannabis infusions in this post.
Step 3: Understand Decarboxylation
When you cook with cannabis, heat changes the chemical properties of the plant material. This process is called decarboxylation. It turns the non-intoxicating THCa into THC and CBDa into CBD.
While THCa and CBDa have their own benefits, if you’re looking to create edibles that have THC and CBD in them, and want to get the most out of your plant material, decarboxylation is a necessary step.
Step 4: Add Lecithin
While lecithin doesn’t increase the amount of THC or CBD when you’re cooking with cannabis, it does increase the absorption capacity, making cannabis edibles seem stronger. If you’re looking to stretch your cannabis and save money, adding lecithin to your recipe is incredibly beneficial.
You can learn more about Sunflower Lecithin and Edibles here.
Can I learn to cook cannabis online?
The most important step to cooking with cannabis is to get hands-on experience with it, and the most convenient way to do that these days is by taking a cannabis cooking class online.
Before COVID, in-person workshops and getting in with a knowledgeable edibles chef were the most popular ways to learn how to cook with cannabis.
Now you can bring a professional with years of experience into your own kitchen and learn how to effectively make, dose, and customize your edibles, tinctures, and topicals.
In the Cannabis Cooking Masterclass, I’ll walk you through the entire process from start to finish for less than the cost of a couple of store-bought edibles.
In the class, you’ll learn how to:
- Use simple, effective methods to make tinctures and infusions at a fraction of dispensary prices
- Avoid common mistakes and kitchen fails so you feel confident making your own products
- Start turning virtually anything into a cannabis-infused product (classic family recipes, dispensary favorites, and even ice cubes… yes. Ice cubes.)
- Calculate the approximate dosage of your edibles for better consistency and more predictable effects.
- Create custom product formulations with CBD, CBG, and THC so you can experiment with ratios without breaking the bank
- Activate your plant material (no fancy gadgets necessary)
- Use one secret ingredient that instantly boosts your edibles and saves you money
- Source affordable, high quality, organically grown plant material online for making CBD and CBG products
If you have any questions, ask away in the comments or shoot us an email at [email protected]. We’re here to help!
-Corinne and Team Wake + Bake