Cannabis How-Tos

How to Make Edibles

Yes, it is legal to cook with cannabis to make your own infused edibles for personal consumption. Here’s a guide for beginners.

Making Your Own Edibles

If you’re age 19 or over, and you don’t sell them or share them with anyone who’s not of legal age, you can use dried cannabis and cannabis oil to make your own infused edibles. We asked Redawna Kalynchuk, a food and gardening writer and artisan edibles developer for Canadian Licensed Producers, for some beginners’ tips on how to make edibles, plus the top things to consider when cooking with cannabis.

Making edibles with dried cannabis vs. cannabis oil

To make edibles with cannabis, you can either use dried flower to infuse an ingredient, such as butter, or add premade cannabis oil to drinks and foods. The aromatic and flavourful terpenes in dried flower and oils will influence the taste and smell of a finished dish, so choose one you prefer or that complements the ingredients.

How to make edibles with dried cannabis

Dried cannabis must be heated in order for the cannabinoid THCA to be converted to psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — which is what occurs when it’s exposed to heat during smoking, for example. This process is called decarboxylation, or “decarbing,” and it’s just one of the steps in making edibles. Here’s a basic guide to making edibles with dried flower.

1. Decarboxylate the cannabis

Decarbing is done slowly to retain the cannabinoids and terpenes — and avoid burning the dried flower. (Pro tip: Microwaving is not recommended.) These are the essential steps Kalynchuk follows.

How to decarb cannabis

  1. Break up the dried flower to create smaller evenly sized pieces that will decarb at the same rate. Do not grind it into a fine powder.
  2. Spread on parchment paper–lined cookie sheet.
  3. Bake on middle rack of a 245ºF oven, stirring once, until golden brown, about 35 minutes.
  4. Let cool to room temperature before moving on to infusing step. Kalynchuk warns that this process creates a strong cannabis smell, so keep that in mind.
2. Infuse an ingredient (aka making cannabutter)

The next step is to infuse an ingredient with cannabis so you can use it to create your edibles. Cannabinoids bind to fats, so oils and butter are your best options, says Kalynchuk — think cooking oil, like canola or vegetable oil, or an earthy choice like olive or avocado oil. You can also use another liquid ingredient, like honey.

To infuse butter with cannabis (also called cannabutter), Kalynchuk suggests these basic steps. If you’re infusing another ingredient, simply swap it out for the butter in the process below. Note: These amounts are Kalynchuk’s recommendations. If you prefer a lower potency, use a smaller ratio of cannabis to butter.

How to infuse butter with cannabis

  1. Melt 2 cups butter in a slow cooker on low (200ºF or lower). Higher temperatures will decrease the potency.
  2. Stir in 1 cup water and 28 g decarbed cannabis. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for two to three hours, making sure mixture does not boil.
  3. Place a fine mesh strainer over a container and pour butter through strainer to remove any dried flower. Chill butter in fridge until solidified.
  4. Remove solid butter from container and pat dry to remove any moisture. Refrigerate in a covered clearly marked container for three to six months.
3. Cook or bake with the ingredient

Here’s where you can adjust the potency of the final edibles — if you prefer a lower amount of THC, use a mix of regular and infused butter, for example. Make sure you stir in the ingredient until it’s fully blended to ensure each piece of the final product has a consistent dose of cannabinoids.

The THC in cannabis must be “activated” through heating — called decarboxylation — before the dried flower can be used for cooking.

How to make edibles with cannabis oil

Premade cannabis oil can be used in recipes that call for any kind of oil (like muffins and salad dressing), stirred into drinks (including smoothies) and added to other recipes with ingredients that contain oil, like chocolates. Here’s how.

  1. Choose the right cannabis oil. Cannabis oil comes in many different potencies — high THC, CBD-dominant and a mix of both cannabinoids — with various dispensing options, such as a dropper, dosing syringe or spray bottle. Choose one with the potency and cannabinoid profile you prefer.
  2. Calculate the desired dosage. Determining your dosage for this method is much easier than when cooking with decarbed cannabis. Read the product packaging and label to find out how much THC and CBD is in the entire bottle. You’ll then have to do a quick calculation to determine the amount in each drop of oil.
  3. Add the oil to your recipe. Add the premade cannabis oil directly to your recipe or a prepared food. Ensure you stir the oil in well until it’s fully blended so each portion of your finished dish or drink contains the same amount of cannabinoids.

Dosing: How much should I take?

Determining the amount of THC and cannabidiol, or CBD, in each portion is one of the trickier aspects of making homemade infusions. While you can know the potency of the dried flower you start with, factors such as temperature and cooking time will influence the amount of THC and CBD your finished product contains.

Licensed Producers use lab testing to determine the potency of their products and ensure a consistent amount of cannabinoids in every product so dosing can be more accurate when incorporating pre-made cannabis oils to each portion.

Just as with any form of cannabis, there is no recommended dosage for edibles. The cannabinoids in edibles are absorbed through the digestive tract and processed by the liver before entering your bloodstream, so it can take much longer than smoking or vaping to feel an effect. Start with a small portion and wait until you feel the effects before deciding on whether to consume more. Consuming a similar amount of CBD may moderate the effects of THC.

The effects of consuming edibles

Everyone’s response to cannabis is unique, depending on many personal factors — even when two people consume the same product, they can experience different effects. Because edibles are ingested, the effects can take 30 minutes to two hours to become apparent. (Unlike inhaling cannabis, which produces almost immediate effects.) The effects may peak around four hours after consumption, and effects like drowsiness may linger for 24 hours.

Safety tips for cooking with cannabis

Keep these considerations in mind when cooking with cannabis to ensure your infused ingredient, dish or drink is safe to consume.

  • Take care to stir in the infused cannabis ingredient completely to ensure a consistent spread throughout the product.
  • Watch your temps: High temperatures will destroy the cannabinoids and low ones will fail to activate the THC.
  • Divide your food into even portions so each serving is consistent: Use a ruler to cut brownies or a measuring cup to scoop muffin batter.
  • Store all cannabis products in clearly labelled, locked containers to prevent unintentional consumption.

Ensure you handle, prepare and store all food products safely. For more info, check out the tips from the Ontario Ministry of Health.

Keep cannabis-infused goods in a clearly marked container (a locked one is best if you have children).

Making edibles FAQ

Have more questions about making and storing your own edibles? You’ll find some answers here.

What is the best cannabis oil for infusing recipes? When using a premade oil product, choosing one mixed with medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil will ensure the most neutral flavour.

Which strain or cultivar is best for decarbing? Any dried flower can be decarbed, but the infused cannabis butter or oil will alter the taste of the food it’s added to, so consider the aroma and flavour of the strain — the dominant terpenes, such as lemony limonene or piney pinene, should complement the other ingredients.

How long can you store decarboxylated cannabis? Kalynchuk says decarbed cannabis can be stored in a sealed jar for up to six months before the potency starts to degrade

What is the best way to store edibles? To maintain freshness, Kalynchuk says edibles should be stored in airtight containers. Room temperature is fine for a few days, she says, and then baked goods like cookies and brownies can be frozen (not so for gummies and fudge, which will become sticky in the freezer). All homemade edibles should be consumed within three to six months.

What do I do if I’ve overconsumed edibles? While there are no documented cases of death from overconsumption of THC, cannabis poisoning is serious. If you’re experiencing particularly unpleasant or harmful effects, or a child or pet has accidentally consumed edibles, Health Canada suggests seeking immediate medical attention or calling your local poison control centre.

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