Guide to Making Incredible Edibles With Cannabis

They say baking is a science, but when it comes to edibles, we would argue that it’s more of an art form than anything. (Though there’s plenty of science involved, too.)

This page covers every aspect of marijuana edibles under the sun. Use the Table of Contents below to jump around, or, read from start to finish to become a total expert on marijuana edibles in less than 20 minutes.

What Are Marijuana Edibles

Marijuana edibles are food items that you can eat in order to experience the effects of marijuana. Why would you want to eat your bud instead of smoking or vaping it? For a few reasons:

  • Edibles are more efficient. Due to greater THC absorption, you can get the same effects with less bud used.
  • Edibles last longer. Effects from smoking and vaping generally cease after one to three hours, whereas edibles can last for two to three times as long. (Although it does take longer to start feeling the effects of edibles.)
  • Edibles are convenient. Just take a bite.
  • Edibles can be more intense. One or two food items infused with cannabis can provide fantastic effects all on their own.

In a broader sense, since edibles do not require inhalation, they’re an attractive alternative for those who are not comfortable with the act of smoking or vaping.

Lastly, since it’s easier to control THC consumption with edibles, they’re an attractive alternative for people who want to experience the positive therapeutic effects of marijuana without the sensation of feeling too high.

Picking the Best Strain For Your Edible

Since the effects from edibles have the potential to be more intense than those of smoking or vaping, it’s imperative you choose the perfect strain before you attempt to make them. 

And, since edibles are generally made in batches, it’s wise to make sure the edibles provide the desired effects before you commit to making so many.

Marijuana is classified into two categories: sativa and indica. In general, indica is associated with relaxation and sativa is associated with energy. So, if you want to get stuff done after eating an edible, choose sativa. If you just want to relax, choose indica.

Note that these categorizations are quite broad and not always entirely accurate. For example, some indicas will make you want to fall asleep quickly, whereas others will simply provide a soothing hum or relaxation without the drowsiness. Things are further complicated by the fact that many strains are a hybrid cross between indica and sativa.

So, how do you choose the perfect strain for your edibles? It depends where you’re getting your bud from:

  • When purchasing from a dispensary, find a dispensary that lists their strains and corresponding effects. (Most do.)
  • When growing your own, find a reliable breeder to ensure you’re getting your desired strain.

Before committing to any particular strain, it’s always a good idea to do extra research via websites such as Leafly to get a more accurate idea of how the strain will affect you. For example, this page details the effects of OG Kush, with thousands of people sharing their experiences with how the strain affected them.

Note that although the effects of a particular strain are generally fairly standard for everyone, there is always the matter of preference. If you haven’t experienced the effects of a particular strain before, consider smoking or vaping a small amount beforehand before you commit to making the entire batch of edibles.

Edible Dosing

Most know that it’s very, very difficult for marijuana to be fatal. Even though the effects from marijuana edibles are more intense, it’s still nearly impossible to overdo it in a life-or-death sense.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should simply make the most potent edibles possible. Eat too much THC and you may feel very uncomfortable, which will be made even worse by the fact that the effects from edibles tend to last for quite a long time.

Colorado’s guideline for edible consumption is 10 milligrams of active THC per serving. Most other states have followed this guideline when decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana, and we agree that it’s a good jumping off point. If you have experience with marijuana and you know you are comfortable with the effects of the strain you have chosen, aim for 10mg per serving.

However. If you are new to marijuana, or you consider yourself to be a “lightweight”, or you haven’t tried a particular strain before, we would recommend starting with even less. For example, 5mg may be more appropriate. 

Worst case scenario? You can increase the dosage by taking another bite if you’re not feeling anything. 

Remember that the effects from edibles take longer to set in, so give it two to three hours before you declare they haven’t hit you like you wanted them to. Bad edible experiences often begin with someone eating too many due to an erroneously perceived lack of effects.

Edible Dosing Formula

To ensure you get close to 10mg, use the step-by-step guide below.

  1. Weigh the bud you will be using to make edibles.
  2. Multiply that number by 1,000 to arrive at milligrams rather than grams.
  3. Multiply that number by the percentage of THC in your particular strain.
    1. For example, if you have 4g of bud (4,000mg), and your strain is 12.5% THC, the formula is 4,000 x .125 = 500mg. This is the total amount of THC in your batch.
  4. Divide that by serving size. For example, if you cut a 500mg tray of brownies into 25 pieces, each piece will have approximately 20mg of THC in it.

From the example above, you can easily deduce just how intense edibles can be, even if not much marijuana is used. 4g of marijuana dispersed among 25 pieces of brownie results in double the recommended serving for each brownie!

Since it’s very hard to get perfectly even THC distribution with an at-home edible setup, note that certain servings may contain slightly more than your approximation, and some may contain slightly less. At the risk of repetition, we remind you once again that when it comes to edibles, less is always more.

Assembling Your Tools for Making Edibles

Required Tools

  • Digital scale. Precision is important due to how intense edibles can be.
  • Fine-mesh strainer. The smaller the holes, the better. If plant product gets into your edible, the edible won’t taste very good.
  • Cheesecloth. Required for certain types of edibles, such as cannahoney and canna maple syrup.
  • Something to infuse with cannabis. Butter, oil, alcohol, honey, and maple syrup are five popular choices.

Accessories

  • Mason jar. To contain the pungent smell during the decarboxylation process (explained in next section).
  • Grinder. Technically not required, but fine-ground bud will lead to better results. A coffee grinder may be used in a pinch.
  • Instant-read thermometer. Precise temperature control will help you get the most out of your bud.
  • Tupperware, ice cube trays, and extra mason jars. For storing cookies, sauces, pasta and other food items.
  • Labels. Make note of strain used and quantity per serving so that you don’t forget and accidentally overdo it. Add a clear warning directly on the storage container if other people use the same fridge. You don’t risk someone accidentally eating your edibles. That’s bad news for everyone involved.

Prepare Your Buds: Decarboxylating

Decarboxylating is the process of removing acid from cannabinoids in order to activate them. Specifically, we are focused on the acidic cannabinoid THC-A and CBD-A. These cannabinoids produce no active effects until they are heated up (via vaporizer or flame). Once that happens, THC-A becomes THC and CBD-A becomes CBD, which leads to a traditional high that makes use of buds efficiently.

It’s commonly stated that without decarboxylation, edibles are useless. Although we undoubtedly agree that THC-A and CBD-A will not become activated unless heated, we aren’t quite ready to write off non-decarboxylated edibles just yet. According to Dr. Willian Courtney, raw (non-decarboxylated) marijuana is a “superfood”, and actually more effective if you desire antioxidants, anti-inflammation effects, and neuroprotective effects more than you do psychoactive effects.

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Our overall recommendation is to start with decarboxylated edibles, and if you feel that the effects aren’t quite right for you in particular, consider trying the same approach without decarboxylating the buds beforehand.

Methods of Decarboxylation

There are five common ways to achieve decarboxylation. We’ve listed them in no particular order before. In general, the oven is the easiest, and a mini decarber or sous verde machine is the most efficient.

Slow Cooker

The slow cooker is ultra-convenient. You can toss some buds in, go to work, and they’ll be ready for cooking when you arrive back home.

  1. Fill a mason jar with your desired amount of cannabis.
  2. Close the lid tightly so that water cannot enter. (If your buds get wet from water, they’re useless.)
  3. Fill your slow cooker halfway with water.
  4. Place the jar inside of the slow cooker.
  5. Place the cover on the slow cooker.
  6. Cook on high for four hours.

Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is similar to the slow cooker, except way more efficient. The whole process takes 40 minutes instead of four hours. 

The process for the instant pot is the same as it is for the slow cooker. Just set it to 40 minutes instead of 4 hours, and remember to be very careful when manually releasing the steam.

Oven

Start with the oven if you’re new to edibles and want to reduce the chances of making a mistake.

  1. Fill a mason jar with your desired amount of cannabis.
  2. Close the lid tightly.
  3. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
  4. Keep jar inside of oven for 45 minutes.
  5. Once it’s done, take the jar out carefully and place it on the counter to let it cool down.

Note that you can also use the toaster oven on the “Bake” setting, though traditional ovens generally lead to more even heat distribution, which prevents the bud from potentially burning.

Mini Decarber

If you’re making a lot of edibles, you will eventually want to invest in a mini decarber, which is a specialized machine quite literally built for the job. These specialized machines provide steady and ultra-consistent temperatures, resulting in more precise end results.

Along with better results, mini decarbers also nearly eliminate the odors involved in the process, making them excellent choices for multi-person households.

Sous Vide

Sous Vide machines use a similar heating method as the slow cooker and instant pot do. However, they’re smaller and more specialized machines, usually resulting in a more even and consistent distribution of heat. Specifically, water circulates inside of the machine to achieve better results; however, this fact also means that mason jars cannot be used, as glass becomes very brittle when heated.

  1. Set the temperature to 200 degrees.
  2. Fill halfway with water.
  3. Place a vacuum-sealed bag of buds inside. (MUST be vacuum-sealed. Do not use any ordinary plastic bag.)
  4. Let the machine run for 90 minutes.

Making Your Edibles

Alright! You’ve gone through the decarboxylation process and you’re finally ready to get cooking. Although edibles are generally associated with sweets like brownies and cookies, once you have the cannabis-infused staple ingredient sitting in your fridge, the sky is truly the limit. 

Check out the five recipes below as a jumping off point. From there, get creative!

Canna Butter

Canna butter (cannabutter) is a smart all-around choice. It can be cooked with dishes; or, if you don’t typically cook, you can just spread it on a piece of bread to get the desired effects.

Canna butter cooking instructions:

  1. Combine 1 cup of butter with 1 cup of water in a skillet. (The water helps prevent burning.)
  2. Grind your buds.
  3. Turn on the stovetop and melt the butter.
  4. Once the butter has melted, add the buds.
  5. Cook on low heat for three hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. Use a thermometer to ensure the mixture does not exceed 245 degrees fahrenheit.
  7. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to get the buds out.
  8. Pour the melted butter into a container and place it in the fridge.

Canna Oil

Canna oil is a popular alternative to canna butter due to its versatility. In general, a higher number of baked goods call for oil than they do butter.

Cooking instructions for canna oil are identical to the canna butter cooking instructions above. Just replace butter with oil. We recommend canola or vegetable oil, though olive or avocado oil are also good choices for making certain dishes.

Canna Tincture 

Did you know? Edibles aren’t limited to food items. You can also create tincture, which can be added to alcoholic drinks! We recommend exercising extreme caution when consuming tincture, as the effects of alcohol when combined with the effects of edibles can be very intense.

Unlike other cannabis edibles, tincture does not require any heating, making it a perfect alternative for those of us who like to avoid cooking at all costs.

Step-by-step guide to make canna tincture:

  1. In a mason jar, combine one ounce of buds with a regular 750ml liter of high-proof alcohol (40+).
  2. Close the mason jar lid.
  3. Let the mixture sit for 2-4 weeks.
  4. Strain the buds out of the alcohol.
  5. Enjoy!

If you plan to drink quite a bit of your tincture at once, drastically reduce the amount of buds used.

Canna Honey

Honey is an excellent alternative to canna oil and canna butter due to its long shelf life. It can sit in the pantry for a full two months before concerns with its age start to sprout up.

Step-by-step recipe guide to make canna honey:

  1. Mix 3.5g of cannabis with one cup of honey.
  2. Place into a pan or pot.
  3. Simmer for 30-40 minutes.
  4. Strain with a cheesecloth.

Canna Maple Syrup

Canna maple syrup is similar to canna honey. The instructions for making canna maple syrup are identical to the instructions above. However, note that canna maple syrup requires refrigeration, and lasts for only two to four weeks before going bad.

Conclusion

Edibles are an attractive alternative to smoking or vaping, and now that you know how to make them, you can avoid hefty markups from dispensaries and independent sellers. (Yours will probably taste better, too!)

Have a question or comment? Be sure to leave a comment below to join the conversation.

FAQ

How long do edibles take to kick in? 

In general, edibles take between one and two hours to kick in. However, this is only an estimate. Various factors affect THC absorption:

  • How potent are the edibles? The more potency, the more quickly they will hit.
  • Which strain did you use? Certain strains take effect more quickly than others.
  • How much food is in your stomach? On an empty stomach, you’ll digest the edibles more quickly, which means they will kick in faster. But for the most balanced experience, we recommend eating them after a light snack.

How long do the effects of edibles last?

In general, the most noticeable effects from edibles come around between 2 and 4 hours after consumption. Beyond that, effects may not completely subside, but they will gradually taper down between 4 and 8 hours after consumption. Most users report the effects wearing off completely after 8 hours or more.

Keep in mind that the more THC you ingest, the longer it will take to leave your system. In other words, eating two edibles instead of one will result in a longer duration of effects.

How to recover from an edible if I’ve taken too large of a dose?

  • Remember that you’re going to be OK. You might feel uncomfortable now, but in just a little bit of time, the effects will have completely worn off, no matter how severe they seem now.
  • Calm your environment. Excessive sensory stimulation will only make the situation worse.
  • Breathe naturally and deeply. You breathe deeply when you’re relaxed, so to induce a state of relaxation, try taking deep breaths. Don’t overdo it, but steady breathing can be a big help to your psyche.
  • Sip on water to stay hydrated. It’s easy to forget about the simple things. A glass of water is often all you need to feel right as rain.
  • Eat a light snack of your favorite food. Avoid the munchies, but getting something into your stomach can certainly help.
  • Avoid problematic media. Remember that you’re in an altered state. Light and fun music, TV shows, and movies can take your mind off the unpleasant effects and sometimes solve the situation entirely.

How long should I wait if I don’t feel anything from an edible?

Due to the variability with how long edibles take to kick in, wait at least two hours before you conclude that you haven’t felt anything. 

Also keep in mind that the effects from edibles are different than those from vaping or smoking, meaning you shouldn’t expect an identical experience. 

After two to three hours, if you still feel nothing, increase your dose by a small amount, but do not double it (by simply eating two edibles instead of one). If you eat too much, you risk going from feeling nothing… to feeling highly uncomfortable from the too-intense effects.

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