Illustration by Angelica Alzona.

A stoner, a true stoner, will tell you that smoking weed is not at all the same as eating it. Baking weed tends to make it feel stronger, if only because it’s stripped down to its most potent parts. A note to beginners: never eat the whole brownie.

The two basic species of marijuana—sativa and indica—are commonly understood to have different characteristics, ones that are much more present when cooked down to the oil or butter that is baked into edibles. Sativa is best for functional highs; it can keep you energized and thoughtful, and won’t knock you out. Indica strains tend to be mellow, and best for relaxing nights in. The seemingly infinite hybrids of the two strains is the reason why specialty dispensaries dish out finely-tuned medicinal gummy bears that will help you focus, or chocolate caramels that cure your back pain, or weed-infused peanut butter cups that will make you see god.

Advertisement

We’ve all tried to do this at home, of course. My last attempt was in college, when I cooked a nug in some oil on a skillet and then poured that oil into a Betty Crocker brownie mix and hoped for the best. The brownies tasted like burnt skillet and grass. When I got sick later that night, I couldn’t tell whether it was from eating too many disgusting brownies that I made myself sick, or if I was just too stoned.

There’s a solution for this—compound butter, a properly cooked fat that can be used to replace regular butter or oil in baked goods. (We’ve got a recipe for that over here.) But even the most potent compound butter can get boring to the gourmands among us, or those whose tastes are too refined to want to even taste the weed that they’re getting their high from. (As a stoner, I will admit to being one of those frou frou types who want their weed cookies and brownies to taste like the regular versions of themselves.) In turn, we went on a quest to find stoners and foodies who could advise us how to best cook our weed-cake and enjoy eating it, too. Their tips follow.

Toast Your Weed Before Using It For Baking

A foodie friend recommended lightly toasting your finely chopped weed to remove some of the excess bitterness that tends to ruin sweet deserts. The process is apparently called “decarboxylating” and is described by Matt Gray (of The Stoner’s Cookbook) as follows:

“Raw cannabis contains a lot of THCA, which is nonreactive. When you smoke cannabis, it heats up to a certain temperature and loses a CO2 molecule and becomes THC, which has the psychoactive benefits that many users are looking for.” Simply simmering cannabis in butter, or oil, isn’t always enough to fully convert all of the THCA into THC, he continues. And so, the result is less than optimal: “You’re going to make a very dull cannabutter,” he says.

The best method, Gray says, involves some added prep work. “So, instead of just, say, sticking your cannabis in butter or sticking it in oil, you should first grind it onto a baking sheet, stick it in your oven at 310-degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 to 18 minutes. That allows it to become psychoactive and it’s ready to cook with.”

Buy A Cheesecloth

The process of simmering weed down into a compound or butter will take hours upon hours, and it’s easy to get impatient and flake on the last steps. The key is to avoid straining weed through a tea or metal strainer, or even cotton. Get a proper cheese cloth and strain your cooked concoction through it for the cleanest separation of oil from bud. It will help the flavor in the end, too.

Mask Strong Bitterness With Savory Flavors, Like Cheese

Weed oil is underused in actual home cooking. Using a little bit of weed oil in sauces or salad dressings sounds crazy, but it’s an herb and actually can blend in pretty well with other herbs! I’ve used it mixed with spices as a rub and drizzle it on top of pizza before I put it in the oven to bake. I’ve also done it with a baked brie—which ended up being gooey and delightful. It’s a good high that blends well into foods that might already have a fatty or oily flavor profile (like melted cheese or cream cheese). You might be able to taste it still, but it’s not overwhelming and really blends nicely.

Mush It Into Some Nutella

Mush a nug in some Nutella on a ritz cracker, put it in the toaster oven and call it a day says 2008 [name redacted]. My other tip is that weed pesto hides the semi-gross weed flavor really well.

Infuse Honey

Your baked treat doesn’t necessarily need to be the element of your desert that has the weed in it. Try making a topping for your already-perfect homemade brownies instead. Honey is a really malleable form that works well with weed oil. Once you’ve chopped up your weed, put it in a cheesecloth in a crock-pot and pour in as much honey as you want to make from the batch. If you’re confident in your flavor profiles, add one drop of almond or vanilla extract and let the pot cook for a while. Strain the liquid through the cheesecloth, and you’ll have honey that’s great for drizzling over cookies, scones, or cakes. It’s also great in coffee and tea and the sweetness of the honey will be the strongest flavor present.

Make A Simple Syrup

This works best in cocktails but can also be used as a base to make the sort of glaze or icing you’d see on donuts. You’ll need equal parts sugar and water, 2 tbsp of veg glycerin, and a gram or two of weed depending on how strong you want it to be. Bring the water to a boil, add the weed, and stir the sugar in until it’s dissolved. Cover the pot and let it boil for about 20 minutes before reducing the heat, adding the glycerin, and letting it simmer on medium for an additional 5 minutes. After it’s cooled, you’ll have a potent simple syrup that can be used in cocktails.

Advertisement

Advertisement

To turn it into an icing or glaze: This can be tricky, but add 1/4-1/2 cup of milk to as much simple syrup at the beginning of the medium-heat simmering process and immediately switch it to low heat. Add a tsp of vanilla extract, and slowly sift in 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar as you stir. It can be easy to burn the sugar here, so you’ll have to be careful to watch it on low heat. If all goes well (you’ll fudge it the first time), you’ll be able to dip the tops of cupcakes, brownies, donuts, or whatever else you want in the finished product.

Make Goo Balls

These are the stoner’s version of a truffle meets a Kind Bar and require no baking, but can easily swap in for the weed brownies or cookies you’re aiming for.

Use Your Vape Dregs

Vaporizing is a good way of “smoking” weed, and has the added benefit of leaving you with raw material to cook with. If you are vaping properly, the weed should end up a nice toasted greenish-brown color, and still contain small amounts of THC, which you can extract into butter/oil.

Advertisement

Cooking with vaped weed is an exercise in flying blind. It’s hard enough to determine the potency of your butter/oil using fresh weed; it’s doubly hard using already vaped weed. You obviously have to use a lot more of it than you normally would, and all sorts of internet sites attempt to tell you an approximate conversion, but really you just have to throw a ton of that shit into your pot and cook. You’ll end up with mystery butter/oil. Take it easy the first time or two you use it until you know how strong it is, then go nuts!