10 Common Marijuana Cooking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them 

By  Cheri Sicard

 April 22, 2020

Avoid these marijuana cooking mistakes and put yourself well on the road to making great tasting potent marijuana edibles!  These are in no particular order.

10 Marijuana Cooking Troubleshooting Tips

1. Over grinding the plant material when making marijuana butter or cannabis oil.

For some reason the majority of internet sites tell people to finely grind the marijuana being used to infuse marijuana butter or cannabis oil. There is even a commercially made electronic gadget for making marijuana butter and other infusions that includes a built-in electric grinder that you cannot bypass (despite its widespread popularity, I am not a fan of this butter making machine for this reason). I have never understood the advice of finely grind your weed.  Yet I see it repeated almost everywhere.

If you want better tasting edibles, DO NOT FINELY GRIND THE MARIJUANA!
What you are trying the extract, the plant’s resinous trichomes, are ON the buds and leaves not IN them! All grinding accomplishes is to put more plant material into the finished product which in turn increases green color and unwanted herbal flavors.

2. Medicating fat-free foods like gummies.

Yes, you can medicate gummies and other fat-free foods, but how these became the public's go-to food to medicate is beyond me as they are certainly not the best choice by a long shot.  OGs and other long time users know better.  Cannabis binds to fat and metabolizes better with fat.

I find if I feel the effects of fat-free edibles at all, they tend to come on quickly (a plus), not last very long (a minus), and leave me with a headache at the end (a very bad thing).  You might react differently, but I know I am not the only one who reports these effects from fat-free edibles.

If you do choose to make fat-free edibles you would do yourself a favor to consume them along with something that does contain fat, for instance coffee with cream. However, I think a better choice is to forego the gummies entirely.  You can medicate most any food, why choose one of the least effective ones?

3. Cooking marijuana at too high a temperature.
Generally speaking, lower cooking temperatures are better. THC is completely degraded at temperatures in excess of 392 degrees F although it starts to break down long before that. Since water boiling never gets above 212 degrees F, I always recommend adding water when making cannabis infusions (see point 2 above).  You will also need to pay attention to cooking temperatures when using the infused butter and oils, or when cooking with marijuana concentrates. Do not use infused marijuana oils for direct sautéing for frying. If you are making something battered, make sure the medicated part is inside the batter. You can cook at oven temperatures up to 375 degrees F, as the food itself will not get that hot.

4. Not decarboxylating the cannabis first.
While too much heat will kill your THC, some heat is necessary. Most people do not realize the raw cannabis plant contains no THC at all. It does contain THC-A (or THC-acid). It takes the process of adding heat or decarboxylation to make the chemical reaction that converts THC-A to THC. If you are infusing butter or oil, some decarboxylation is taken care of in the process of infusion, mostly.  But lab tests show that even when making infusions, decarbing first will up the percentage of THC extracted.  If you are cooking with kief you will need to decarboxylate first. I recommend this step when cooking with hash too, as it can help maximize THC potency.   For more info on decarboxylation, why you need it, and how to do it, see this page.

5. Adding too much cannabis/over medicating.
There is no easier way to ingest too much marijuana than by eating it. Sometimes people are impatient and think “it’s not working” and eat more. By the time it all kicks in they have overdone it. While “overdoses” are not dangerous in that they are never fatal, they won’t shut down your organs, they can make you feel anxious, paranoid, and/or disoriented. Dosing edibles is somewhat of an art, a lot of factors need to be taken into consideration and people’s tolerances run a wide range. An amount that one person does not even physically feel might be enough to make someone else experience couch-lock for hours. When cooking with marijuana, especially new plant material you are not familiar with, it’s a good idea to vape or smoke a little to get general idea of its potency.  Keep in mind that cooking can intensify potency somewhat. If you do find a batch of your edibles is more potent than you intended the remedy is easy – eat less! Learn more about dosing when cooking with marijuana at this link.

6. Adding too little marijuana/undermedicating.
Likewise, if you ever find yourself with a weak batch of food, eat more! If you make a batch of infused butter or oil that is less potent than you’d like, you can always augment it later by heating gently to dissolve some decarboxylated kief or hash into it before using in recipes.  I know marijuana is an expensive ingredient and the natural urge is to use as little as possible.  But think of it this way, you can always eat smaller portions, but if your batch of edibles does not deliver, there's no way to avoid disappointment.  I won't say that you "wasted" the weed as you will still be getting medicinal benefits even if you don't feel high, but if you were expecting/desiring a buzz and you use too little, then you certainly did not put your plant material to its optimal use. Learn more about dosing at this link.

7. Not paying attention to portion size.
If you don’t know how many portions your recipe makes, it will be difficult to determine how much medicine to add. To get a proper dose divide the total amount of cannabis or infused marijuana butter or oil in the entire recipe to achieve an amount that usually works for you. Exercise will power if necessary. 

hash and kief

Hash and Kief

8. Improperly Incorporating Concentrates
Cooking with kief is a joy. Its fine texture allows it dissolve almost instantly in warm (and sometimes even cold) liquids and other ingredients like mayonnaise, yogurt, sour cream and more. Hash can be a little trickier. It can come in many textures from dry and crumbly to sticky and putty-like. Dry hash can be sent through a small food processor or coffee grinder to turn it into a fine powder. You can even use a mortar and pestle for this. The sticky variety is best heated in a liquid until it dissolves. Even so, hash can sometimes leave a slight gritty texture, which is why when given the choice, I choose kief. Learn more about cooking with hash and kief here.

9. Using too delicate a hand with seasonings.
Most people do not like the green herbal flavor of marijuana shining through their foods. Likewise recipes with lots of spices and flavors going on tend to mask this better than delicate and subtle fare. Use as much or a little more seasoning and flavor adding ingredients (such as onion and garlic) when cooking with cannabis than you would if you were cooking without marijuana.

How long do marijuana edibles last?

10. Believing gummies, brownies, cookies, and sweets are the only foods suitable as marijuana edibles.
The number of people who think that sweets are the only kind of edibles you can make with marijuana consistently surprises me. The fact is most any food can be infused with cannabis. In fact, it is usually easier to hide the green herbal flavor that most people don’t like in spicy and/or savory foods. There are lots of terrific cannabis cookbooks on the market to help you expand you cannabis culinary repertoire, including my own Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook and The Easy Cannabis Cookbook. You can also find lots of recipes, both savory and sweet, on this blog

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  • Hi im kat,
    My father in law is baking for the first and ive been showing him what to do but hes burning everything and i just want to know if burning the cookies is burning out the hash?

    • If you read the point you would understand that while some decarb happens when you cook, you will get INCREASED potency and maximum extraction if you take the extra step and cook with decarbed material. So no it is not necessary, but my edibles will be stronger than yours for taking the extra step. I have seen the lab tests that prove it. Sorry.

      • After making several batches of cookies over the past year, in my opinion decarbing your weed before making butter might not be necessary. I noticed a weaker high when eating a decarbed cookie vs and undecarbed cookie. This is all anecdotal but that’s how I feel. The cooking process while making the butter which is a 3 hour long boil and while the cookies are being baked, should be enough. But those cookies jack me up more than any other edible I have ever purchased. I will always make my own.

        • I am happy you are having good experiences. There are a lot of variables involved and yes a lot decarbs in the process. However, anecdotal evidence aside, lab tests show you will get somewhat more potency if you decarb first.

          • If your using kief and used the oven method i read you do not need to bother with the hours lomg process into butter it said just long enough for it to disolve? So if your skipping decarb process of stove top for hours. Decarbing first is best. But is leaving out the hours long process with kief the right thing or not?

          • Correct, if you have decarbed your kief, you can dissolve it in the butter and you will be good to go, no need for hours of infusing. You can even forego infusing with kief if you like and just stir it into your recipe. But dissolving in butter or oil first is a convenient way and helps to blend it into the overall recipe easier.

          • Having read that one can decarb in boiling water by putting the material in a sealed bag. Boil at least 90 mins, as the temp is lower than oven decarbing. Supposedly works great.

            Taking this further, I boil coco nut oil a water/oil mix using a screen/steaming pot to hold the material at the bottom of the cookware. Boil it for 2+ hrs (to be sure), cool, refrigerate, separate when very cold.

            Works great; boiling process decarbs at a nice low temp, so minimal THC degradation.

          • You CAN somewhat decarb in boiling water, but it not optimal as it does not get hot enough. The best research on this I have found is 240F for 1 hour.

      • I decarbed a half ounce of weed at 215° for an hour. Made butter at the lowest setting with 2.5 cups of water, 2 sticks of butter and the half ounce, stirring frequently on the lowest setting. Butter set, i made cookies, and no potency at all were in them. I ate all 12 (being a new user with low tolerance) and i didnt feel a thing from them. Any ideas of what happened?

      • Cheri,
        I noticed that when I bake the cookies they are more potent if hot. Right out of the oven is the best high. When they are cooled, they are not as potent. I heat them in the microwave for 10 sec before I eat them for the best results.
        Is there a reason for this or is this typical?
        I do decard when making my cannabutter too.

        • There should be no reason that would be. Perhaps it has to do with when you were eating them or how much (or little) you ate before them, but hot out of the oven should have no effect.

  • You do not need water when cooking with oil in slowcooker, I would recommend only using it if you have to cook on stove top.

    • You do not NEED to have water, but I recommend you DO use water for the reasons I state, temperature regulation and to help leach out some of the green flavor and color. You have your methods and while you are entitled to your opinion, these are the tried and true methods that I recommend, you can take them or leave them.

  • Hi, I used 15g of quality stuff here in Hawaii, 2 cups coconut organic oil and 2 tablespoons of litchen granules. Spelled in wrong. Anyways I decarb in the oven for 30 min at 240, put everything in crock pot on a low for most the day and keep warm for some sitting occasionally. I cooked for 10 hours strained and chilled. Used it later that the next day in brownies and cookies adding 1/2 cup to a gluten free brownie mix, and and 3/4 cup to chocolate cookies. I ate two cookies. It only felt a little bit but I was high all day. Should this be enough for decent edibles or will I have to eat a lot?

    • There is no one answer to what constitutes a “decent edible.” If it made you feel good and you were happy with the amount you felt, then it was a decent edible. Doing a calculation based upon marijuana containing 20% THC, your half cup of oil likely contains about 750mg THC. Divide that by the number of cookies to get an approximate per cookie dose. (The government says average weed is 10%, since you have what I assume is good Hawaiian, I figured it at 20%).

      Coming soon we will have a free online class on figuring dosage along with a free calculator tool. Stay tuned!

    • Thank you for the article. I have been infusing my coconut oil without adding water in it. I am frightened on adding water as I’m not sure how to effectively separate the two. I understand it will separate, but what is the best way for separating? I am using a crock pot. Thanks again.

    • I’ve made a few batches of butter with great results. This time tho it doesn’t seem to be separating. Two of the jars separated bit the other 4 are still liquid. Is there a way to save it?

  • Well since my last comment I am on my Third batch. And yes. Adding water is great advice. So I take back what I said. I have question tho. When making brownies the oven is set at 350C and takes about 25 min. Am i losing any THC? That heat is not high enough right?

    • I have been a few batches of High THC cookies when I started making “vegan” cookies for a few friends.Simply put.I used clarified unsalted butter.Well with little extra moisture,I burnt the bottoms of the 1st batch.So I figured.I would try 1,It fucked me up,But tated burnt.The next batch.I said fuck it & cooked them for less time.BIG DIFFERENCE..In cookies,hey will reach the 350 F temp & you will start burning off your THC.BUT in Brownies,which are thicker & moister,the inside doesn’t reach 350 F,so you don’t burn any THC off…When I’m ready to make cookie ONLY ,I decarb my bud at 240 for 20-30 minutes in a Pyrex (name brand- I use a glass pie pan).COVER with foil.Check at 25mins.Then ever 5 minutes.Do not go over 45 mins.Leave to cool COVERED in the glass pan.THUS when cooking,the bud will finish decarbing.FOR ANYTHING ELSE THRN COOKIES….ITS 240 FOR 30-40 MINS,,CHECKING AT 30 MINUTES,45 TOPS .after 45 minutes,you’re burning it off.Beening doing this this was for over 30yrs.

      • Thank you so very much Roger…Great information. I am sending you a Big Kiss…. Best of health for all of us.

  • dang man. I have been using a half ounce of high quality buds to only 1 cup of oil (olive). Maybe I should be putting more oil?

  • How do you know when your batch is done?

    sorry for spamming the comment section here but it’s 2:30am and i am SOOOO tired. I have had a batch on now for 8 hours. No idea when it’s done so that brings me to my question. And i been licking the spoon and i am high asf

    • Not spam if you are asking questions, so no problem. Some people simmer for hours and hours and you can, but it is not necessary. A hour or two on the stovetop is good, 4 or so in the slow cooker. You can let it go longer but you will have extracted what you need by that point.

  • Awesome man. thanks for replying. I’m taking in as much as i can. I was thinking tho. And tell me if this is a good idea or not. When it comes time to strain your batch threw cheese cloth, why not have some hot water handy (boiled but cooled slightly) and poor it over your weed that’s in the cheese cloth to wash it out good. would that work out?

  • Is there any “easy” way to find out how much THC is in a batch. Like right down to a piece of brownie? We did have the weed tested that i have been using and it is at 21%.

  • please help me with this confusion. Ideally, decarboxylation takes place at a temperature just over 200 for about just under an hour. This is accomplished in boiling water, which reaches and maintains about 212 degrees. So if I boil the herb at that temp for an hour, isn’t that decarboxylating it? Why do it in the oven first and then do it again in the saucepan? What am I missing?