This easy, step-by-step beginner’s guide will teach you how to make cannabis butter, also known as cannabutter, at home in a crockpot or water bath. This versatile recipe can then be used to make a variety of your favorite edibles.
How to Make Cannabutter
Here it is, the holy grail of all cannabis recipes – cannabis butter. I’ve covered cannabis coconut oil and cannabis tinctures here on the blog, but after seeing hundreds of searches on my site for cannabutter, I knew it was time to deliver.
Cannabis butter, or cannabutter, is one of the most essential cannabis recipes for anyone looking to make their own edibles at home because it is so versatile and easy to make. Once you have your cannabis butter made, you can use it in just about any recipe you can dream of that traditionally calls for butter.
It is easy to make your own cannabis butter at home, and it can save you a lot of money compared to pricey automatic butter makers, although they can be super convenient for some users.
If You Are New To Cannabis Edibles
If you are brand new to cannabis edibles, I want to make sure you check out my Beginners Guide to Cannabis Edibles first. Homemade edibles can be difficult to dose, and often times more potent than any other type of cannabis consumption.
Friends don’t let friends go into edibles unprepared, so let me help you! Grab my edibles guide here.
If you are brand new to cannabis in general and are looking for important foundational knowledge about your own Endocannabinoid System, I offer a more in-depth educational session inside my Cannabis Compass Online Course.
If you’ve never cooked with cannabis before, I do recommend experimenting with CBD hemp flower first, as it is usually easier to access and cheaper to buy. This also means less heartache if there ever happens to be an accidental mistake made along the way.
Before You Get Started
Just keep in mind that there is no ‘one right way’ to cook with cannabis.
While there are some guidelines you should generally stick with, many different chefs have different techniques when cooking with cannabis. It is OK for you to develop your own preferred method, too, as long as you end up with the outcome you desire.
- Choose your decarboxylation (or decarb) process
- Don’t use margarine or other types of ‘fake’ butter
- Be careful not to overheat the butter while cooking
Choose your Decarb Process
Raw cannabis flower does not naturally contain high amounts of THC or CBD, but it does contain high amounts of THCA and CBDA, part of the full-spectrum of cannabinoids.
In order to experience the intoxicating ‘high’ effect of cannabis, you want to convert that THCA into THC with a process called decarboxylation.
Decarboxylation can occur with heat and/or solvents, and there are two primary ways to decarboxylate when making cannabutter.
The first method involves decarboxylating the cannabis in the oven before infusing with the butter. The second method involves allowing the cannabis butter to cook for twice as long, allowing decarboxylation to occur over time.
Option 1: Decarb In the Oven
This option is preferred because it cuts your cooking time in half. Before infusing the cannabis and the butter together, you will first bake the dried cannabis flowers in the oven at 240° F for 40 minutes.
After baking, you will then combine the cooked flower with the butter and allow them to infuse together for 4 hours in a crockpot or on the stovetop.
Option 2: Decarb While Cooking
This option is preferred because it eliminates the need to decarboxylate the flower in the oven ahead of time, and is reassuring for folks who may have forgotten to decarb before infusing their butter.
It’s true, you can skip the step of decarboxylating in the oven, but it’s important to note that you will need to cook the cannabis butter for a much longer time period to achieve full decarboxylation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below I will break down some of the most frequently asked questions I get about making cannabis butter, and hopefully share some tips along the way to help you make the best cannabutter possible.
There are both culinary and scientific reasons why butter is an excellent choice for making homemade edibles. From a culinary perspective, butter is extremely versatile and can be used in a wide variety of recipes from sweet to savory dishes.
From a scientific perspective, cannabinoids are lipophilic, meaning that they dissolve in and to bind to fat. When cannabinoids are paired with fat, they are more easily absorbed and thus more bioavailable in our bodies (1).
Most butter purchased from the grocery store is on average 80-82% milk fat, 16–17% water, and 1–2% milk solids which are mostly protein and sometimes referred to as curd (2).
During the cooking process, we will evaporate the water and remove the milk solids, leaving a pure, infused butter.
What Type of Butter Should I Use?
It is recommended to use unsalted butter when making your cannabutter because it is one less impurity in the butter itself. While both salted or unsalted butter will work, many Chefs prefer infusing unsalted butter in general for cooking.
As a general rule of thumb the higher quality of the butter you use to start, the higher quality your final product will be. Kerrygold is a commonly recommended brand because the butter comes from the milk of grass-fed cows that are free of growth hormones.
Additionally, Kerrygold Unsalted Butter has a higher butterfat content, meaning more opportunity for cannabinoid infusion and fewer impurities to remove.
Should I Use Clarified Butter?
It is controversial among the culinary cannabis community on whether or not you should clarify your butter before starting the infusion process.
Some people say they never clarify first and make fabulous butter every time, while others say they would never make cannabutter without clarifying the butter first.
You can really do it either way. You don’t have to or need to clarify your butter. It’s a preference most have, not a necessity.
For this recipe, we do not clarify the butter ahead of time, but simply separate the final infused butter from the leftover water and milk solids left behind from the cooking process at the end.
If you want to clarify your butter ahead of time, you would simply gently boil the butter in a saucepan over the stove and skim all the foam, or milk solids, from the top. This process will also evaporate much of the water naturally present in butter.
Remember, if you clarify your butter you will be losing approximately 15-20% of your total weight and volume. If you already have clarified butter, follow this cannabis coconut oil recipe and simply swap the cannabis coconut oil for your clarified butter.
What Is The White Stuff?
If you do not clarify your butter first, you will notice white particles on your cooked butter. This is nothing to be alarmed about, the white particles are simply the milk solids and salt, if you used salted butter. These will be removed when we strain and discard the excess water.
What About Ghee?
Ghee is butter that has already been clarified or has had the milk solids removed. This pre-done step eliminates the need for you to clarify your butter.
In this clarified state, ghee is essentially an oil and can be treated like a traditional cannabis oil infusion. Use this cannabis coconut oil recipe and simply swap the cannabis coconut oil for your ghee to make a simple cannabis-infused ghee.
Why Did I End Up With Less Butter Than I Started With?
As mentioned above, you will lose weight and volume in the cooking process and end up with less butter than you started with. This is because you will be removing the milk solids and evaporating off the excess water. You should expect to experience a volume loss of 15-25%.
This is important to keep in mind, especially if you are trying to make a small batch to use in a particular recipe. For example, 1 stick of butter that has been infused is no longer still 1 stick of butter typically called for in a recipe.
Do I Need A Thermometer?
Yes, we recommend using an instant digital read thermometer for monitoring your temperature accurately. You risk denaturing or destroying, cannabinoids at temperatures that are too high.
Can I Cook Cannabutter in a Pan of Boiling Water?
Yes, you can.
For this recipe, we are using a crockpot because it is easier to maintain a constant temperature and ‘set it – and -forget-it’, but the truth is you don’t need any special equipment like a crockpot at all.
To cook your cannabutter without a crockpot, place the decarboxylated cannabis flowers, unsalted butter, and 2 cups of water in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow to cook on the stovetop for 4 hours.
Once the cooking process is over, simply allow the entire pan to cool. The finished butter will harden and solidify, or float, on top, while the unwanted water will remain on the bottom. Simply pour off the water and discard and you will be left with your final product.
Do I Need to Add Water?
You do not need to add water to the mason jars if you are cooking in a crockpot, but you will be using a water bath. When cooking in a crockpot, a water bath helps to maintain a constant temperature.
You will need to add water to the pot if you are cooking your butter on the stovetop.
When cooking on a stovetop, the temperature can fluctuate quite a bit. The water helps to regulate the temperature of the butter, preventing it from getting too hot and ultimately burning your butter and denaturing your cannabinoids.
Do I Need to Use A Mason Jar?
We used a mason jar in the crockpot here for ease and convenience, but you don’t need to. If you are using the stovetop method above, you can simply combine everything in the saucepan without putting anything in a mason jar.
If you are cooking in a mason jar, it is important to note that there can be an occasional mishap that results in a broken or cracked jar – it happens to the best of us without rhyme or reason. Some tips to help prevent this:
- Use mason jars specifically meant for canning or cooking. Do not use leftover glass jars from other products.
- Make sure you use new mason jars with a brand new lid so you know the seal is good and the contents inside will stay dry.
What If My Mason Jar Floats?
Sometimes the mason jar will float when placed in the water bath. This is no need for concern, simply put the crockpot lid on or add something heat and water safe over the top of the jar to weigh it down. A clean rock works well.
Can I Sous Vide Cannabis Butter?
Yes! If you have an immersion circulator, you will follow the same process and set your water bath to a temperature of 185° F and cook for the same amount of time, approximately 4 hours with a pre-decarbed flower or 8 hours with non-decarbed flower.
What Type of Weed Should I Use?
Well, the truth is, anything you can get your hands on will work. For some people that means trim and shake, and for others, it means high-quality bud purchased at a legal dispensary.
All parts of the cannabis plant, aside from the stems and seeds, contain some cannabinoids that can be infused into butter. Some parts of the plant, like the buds, contain more cannabinoids than other parts, like the trim leaves.
Here are the most popular options to work with. Keep in mind that how much you use will also impact your final potency:
- High-quality flower: using high-quality dried cannabis flowers, or buds, will make a stronger, more potent butter because the flower bud contains a high concentration of cannabinoids.
- Trim, leaves, and shake: using up all parts of the cannabis plant is great for sustainability. Trim, leaves, and shake all contain varying amounts of cannabinoids. Because leaves do not contain nearly as many cannabinoids as flower buds, you may want to consider using more trim, leaves and shake than you would flower.
- Kief: the fine, powdery substance that accumulates at the bottom of a grinder contains the resinous glands that contain the most cannabinoids from the trichomes of cannabis. Because kief is so much more potent, you may be able to use less of it in this recipe, depending on the effect you’re looking for. Just remember that you still need to decarb kief just as you would traditional flower.
How Do I Make A More Potent Cannabis Butter?
The potency of your final cannabis butter is directly related to the potency of the starting cannabis flower you started with, your decarb process, and your cooking process.
With the decarbing and cooking process spelled out here, the one variable you have the most control over is your starting material. Remember, the better the bud, the better the butter.
To make a more potent cannabis butter:
- Choose a higher-quality flower that contains more % THC.
- Add kief or even cannabis concentrates like distillate or RSO.
- Use more flowers (increase from 1 ounce to 2 ounces or more).
- Use less butter (decrease from 1 pound to 1/2 pound)
How Do I Know How Potent My Final Batch Is?
Soiler alert – it is very difficult to estimate potency of homemade edibles if you do not know the % concentrations of THCA, THC or CBDA, CBD in your starting flower without lab testing.
If you do know the % concentration of your starting flower (easier if you purchased from a dispensary or know the actual strain) you can use an online calculator to guestimate your final product potency.
Again, the potency will depend on the strength of the flower you start with. If you have no clue the starting potency of your material, it’s best to start with a very low dose when consuming your first batch, to be able to get a better understanding of how strong the product is and how it makes you feel.
Does The Final Green Color of the Butter Matter?
No, color doesn’t have any correlation with potency. A very green butter is simply a cannabis butter that has a lot of chlorophyll, the green color, that has also been extracted from the plant.
You will likely have more chlorophyll and green color if you are making the butter with trim, and the fresher the bud, the greener it will also be.
What Should I use to Strain?
We always recommend using something that is food-grade safe to strain your cannabis butter. We use a large paper oil filter, but also would recommend a fine China cap strainer, or clean, unbleached cheesecloth.
We do not recommend using anything that is not food-safe, like pantyhose.
What Can I Do With The Pulp?
Many people simply discard their cooked plant matter after straining their butter or oil, but we’ve heard many success stories of people who have successfully used the pulp in another recipe. Stay tuned for our upcoming cannabis pesto recipe and list of easy ways to use up cannabis pulp!
- Lay a clean tea towel down on the bottom of a large crockpot. This will create a buffer between your mason jars and the crockpot, potentially preventing any jar moving or cracking during cooking.
- Fill your crockpot with enough warm water to cover the mason jars you plan on using in the water bath. Be careful not to overflow. If you have a shallow crockpot, aim for the water to reach at least 3/4 the way up the jar.
- Place a digital thermometer in the water and set the crockpot to high heat. When a temperature of around 185°F is reached, turn the heat to low.
- While the water bath is heating up, measure, and decarb your cannabis flower by baking it in an oven set to 240° F for 40 minutes. If needed, click here for a full cannabis decarboxylation tutorial.
- Evenly divide the butter between two mason jars. We recommend using 16-ounce wide-mouth mason jars, two sticks of butter fit inside one jar perfectly.
- Divide the decarbed cannabis flower between the two jars.
- Wipe the rim of the jars with a clean towel and place the lid on, tighten the metal ring to finger-tip tightness. It does not have to be tightened extremely tight.
- Carefully place the jars into the water bath, place the lid on the crockpot, and cook for 4 hours. You want to maintain a temperature of around 185°F the entire time.
- After 4 hours, carefully remove the jars from the water bath and allow them to cool enough to handle. You are now done with the crockpot and can discard the water bath.
- Prepare a straining area with new, clean mason jars and a strainer, paper filter, or cheesecloth. Pour the contents of the mason jar through the strainer to separate the plant-matter from the infused butter.
- Add the strained butter to whatever jar you would like to store it in. For this step, we recommend a flexible container or wide-mouth mason jar. You can also use butter molds here if desired. Place the container in the refrigerator and allow it to cool completely.
- During refrigeration, the infused butter will harden and solidify. Remove the solid block of butter and drain the remaining liquid which is the unwanted, leftover water and milk solids.
- Your cannabis butter is ready to enjoy! Store this in the refrigerator according to the expiration date on the butter you used, or store for even longer in the freezer.
- If you are storing the butter in the fridge or freezer, never use the microwave to soften or thaw the butter it as it could destroy the cannabinoids and ruin the final product.
We recommend you sanitize your jars ahead of time by keeping them submerged in the 185° F crockpot for 10 at least minutes. This step is not necessary, but a good practice.
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 ounce
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 100Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g
In-depth Step-By-Step Instructions with Pictures
The instructions above are concise and perfect for printing, but I have a lot of students who like step-by-step instructions with pictures. Here is a more in-depth, detailed guide of the entire process for those who need a bit more information than I provided above.
Step #1: Lay a clean tea towel down on the bottom of a large crockpot. This will create a buffer between your mason jars and the crockpot, potentially preventing any jar moving or cracking during cooking.
Step #2: Fill your crockpot with enough warm water to cover the mason jars you plan on using to create a water bath. Be careful not to overflow.
Step #3: Place a digital thermometer in the water and set the crockpot to high heat. When a temperature of around 185°F is reached, turn the heat to low.
Step #4: While the water bath is heating up, measure, and decarb your cannabis flower by baking it in an oven set to 240° F for 40 minutes.
Step #5: Evenly divide the butter between two mason jars. We recommend using these 16-ounce wide-mouth mason jars, two sticks of butter fit inside one jar perfectly.
Step #6: Divide the decarbed cannabis flower between the two jars.
Step #7: Wipe the rim of the jars with a clean towel and place the lid on, tighten the metal ring to finger-tip tightness. It does not have to be tightened extremely tight.
Step #8: Carefully place the jars into the water bath, place the lid on the crockpot, and cook for 4 hours. You want to maintain a temperature of around 185°F the entire time.
Step #9: After 4 hours, carefully remove the jars from the water bath and allow them to cool enough to handle. You are now done with the crockpot and can discard the water bath.
Step #10: Prepare a straining area with new, clean mason jars and a strainer, paper filter, or cheesecloth. Pour the contents of the mason jar through the strainer to separate the plant-matter from the infused butter.
Don’t forget to save the plant-matter if you plan to use it for other recipes!
Step #11: Add the strained butter to whatever jar you would like to store it in. For this step, we recommend a flexible container or wide-mouth mason jar. You can also use butter molds here if desired. Place the container in the refrigerator and allow it to cool completely.
Helpful Tip If You Are Using Butter Molds: We recommend using a ladle to get the pure, infused butter into the first two sticks of the mold. The third stick will contain the remaining infused butter and milk solids. You will then only need to remove the milk solids from one stick. The fourth stick will remain empty due to the loss of water volume during the cooking process.
Step #12: During refrigeration, the infused butter will harden and solidify. Remove the solid block of butter and drain the remaining liquid which is the unwanted, leftover water and milk solids.
Your cannabis butter is ready to enjoy! Store this in the refrigerator according to the expiration date on the butter you used, or store for even longer in the freezer.
If you are storing the butter in the fridge or freezer, never use the microwave to soften or thaw the butter it as it could destroy the cannabinoids and ruin the final product.