Curious about cooking with cannabis? There are so many ways to enjoy this potent plant, but nothing is quite so delicious as turning your marijuana into edibles. This time-tested and highly efficient way to medicate can offer powerful pain relief and long-lasting effects that stay with you much longer than inhaling cannabis can.
Still, when most think about marijuana edibles, they imagine the basics: pot brownies, infused cookies and candies, and other simple sweet treats. But while these are popular cannabis edible options, they aren’t the only ones. As the cannabis movement goes more mainstream, professional chefs and everyday home cooks are finding ways to infuse cannabis into gourmet foods that are healthy, fresh and sophisticated.
Now that the floodgates to gourmet cannabis are open, we’re seeing edibles in every form imaginable. Savoury options are becoming much more popular with options like:
- Cannabis-infused marinades for meat
- Delicate salads with medicated dressings
- Side dishes and appetizers like vegetables sautéed with cannabutter
You can even drink your cannabis with recipes for beverages like:
And of course you can always whip up an elevated sweet treat that’s more than just a brownie. For example, our recipe for CBD-infused chocolate ganache is a sophisticated yet delicate dessert that’s a fun way to ingest highly potent cannabinoids.
Want to make your own infused gourmet meals at home? Here are some cannabis cooking basics to get you started:
Cannabis Cooking 101: Decarboxylation
Cooking with cannabis can seem overwhelming, but once you know some basics, it gets much easier. The most challenging part of making marijuana edibles is keeping in mind the way that heat can alter the medicinal effects of the final product. The chemicals in cannabis change at different temperatures, so when you cook with it, you need to find the right temperature for your needs.
Most edibles are made using a process called decarboxylation, where the cannabis is heated in order to transform tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, into Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical responsible for many of cannabis’s medicinal and psychoactive properties. When heated to the right temperature for the right amount of time, the THC becomes activated and much more potent.
But be careful. Don’t heat cannabis at too high of a temperature, or the THC will simply burn off and evaporate into the air.
Here’s a quick guide to properly decarboxylating the THC in your cannabis:
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F.
- Put your cannabis in a covered baking dish and place on the center rack.
- Bake for 30–45 minutes.
- Remove and let cool before using in your recipe.
Of course, there are also people who prefer not to decarboxylate at all. Raw cannabis can have its own benefits, and some prefer it. If you’re looking to minimize the psychoactive aspect of THC, for example, you may be better off consuming the cannabinoid in its original form, as THCA.
Creating a Cannabis Edible Base
Once you have your cannabis ready to go, either in its natural or decarboxylated state, you’ll want to create an edible base. Cannabis can be infused into almost anything including:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Corn syrup
Think about what base will work well with the foods you like to eat. Marijuana-infused butter or coconut oil is great for baked goods, cannabis olive oil can make a lovely salad dressing, and elevated honey or cream can be mixed into your favourite beverages.
Most people pick one or two bases that they can use regularly, make a batch, and then mix the base into their recipes as needed.
Making Gourmet Cannabis Edibles
With your base prepared, it’s easy to make almost any gourmet dish into a marijuana edible. To start, there are plenty of gourmet edible recipes out there, so it’s easy to follow along with the cannabis chefs and try out the recipes they’ve prepared. Some recipes even give guidelines on the best cannabis strains to use for a given dish, based on the flavor profiles involved.
But if you’re feeling more creative, you can also transform your favourite non-infused dishes into a gourmet cannabis edible. As long as the recipe has your base as an ingredient, and doesn’t require excessive heat during the cooking process, you can easily turn it into an infused treat.
Gourmet Marijuana Edibles That Don’t Require Cooking
If all this talk of cooking and decarboxylating already has your head spinning, don’t worry. There are options for making gourmet cannabis edibles that don’t require any cooking at all. You can find cannabis oils already made and ready to mix into your food. Just pick out a strain that works well for you and get started. Cannabis oils like these mix well into your food after the cooking is finished, because they’re already perfectly prepared, ready to be consumed without any additional heat. Spice up a sauce or dressing with a few drops of your marijuana oil. Mix it into drinks like smoothies or milkshakes, or just sprinkle it on any meal after it’s been prepared.
The possibilities with cannabis edibles are endless. So start with a dish you love and experiment with how you want to incorporate marijuana. Just remember that cannabis edibles are processed through your liver, so the effects will be delayed for as much as an hour or more. Be sure to start out slowly and give yourself enough time to feel the effects before going back for seconds or thirds.
Photo credit: Brooke Lark