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How to Disguise the Taste of Weed in Edibles

You may be of the school of stoners that likes an edible treat now and again, or you may be a medical user in search of the tastiest options. You may also be a host or party-goer who wants people to fully enjoy themselves with various intoxicating offerings, and wishes to make a potent potluck dish that doesn’t taste like mulch.

It’s Evil Week at Lifehacker, which means we’re looking into less-than-seemly methods for getting shit done. We like to think we’re shedding light on these tactics as a way to help you do the opposite, but if you are, in fact, evil, you might find this week unironically helpful. That’s up to you.

You should never give people any sort of illicit substance without their knowledge or consent, but you should make your well-labeled foods taste as good as—or better than—food that doesn’t get you high. (Failure to warn people of potentially hyperdimensional space capacity in your food can result in their going plaid , or you know, losing their job or making an unexpected hospital visit.)

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Aside from the potential for getting way, way, way too high from ingesting too much THC, the taste of cooked weed itself is not so appetizing. Depending on the strain, there are potent, oily resins that can make things taste like you’re chewing on a fat branch. I find West Coast edibles to also be too-potent-tasting about 80% of the time, and it’s because deep, earthy, pine-y hemp is a tricky flavor to work with and, being that many use it as medicine, taste is often an afterthought to strength.

But if your aim is to make tasty treats that go down just a little too easily, here are some things you can do to minimize the taste of actual cannabis in homemade edibles:

Cut the fat

If you want the ability to make edibles on a whim, make your butter or oil extra strong, in advance, and freeze it for future projects. A double or triple dose of THC in the same amount of fat will take up less space in the freezer and also require less up-front oil. This concentrated extraction will not taste that good used in large quantities, but when mixed with fresh, uninfused oil, it’s much less brutal. Fats lose a lot of their unique tasting notes when infused with heat and herb and, adding in virgin stuff right before cooking nails those unique flavors that complete a recipe, like flowery butter, nutty sesame, or peppery olive oil.

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A good example would be chocolate chip cookies. If you can’t taste creamy, warm, sweet butter, they lose some of that magic. Using a ratio of ⅔ fresh butter to ⅓ infused butter in any baked application is a great way to make sure that your cookies don’t taste like Willie Nelson’s bong water. This works for coconut oil too, which makes wonderful baked goods and goes well with the aroma of cannabis.

Use Concentrate

Concentrates are a virtually foolproof method for adding THC to food if you are judicious with the potency. Different types of concentrates provide varying strengths and effects, and a much less dramatic scent when compared to raw cannabis. Though all concentrates can still potently flavor a dish due to the high terpene content, the most foolproof way to limit their taste is to limit how much you use. One gram of concentrate can clock in at 750 milligrams of pure THC, so for a tray of brownies, use no more than one third, and you shouldn’t taste much.

Think Savory

Oil and fat-loaded savories like aioli, cheesy dips, mashed potatoes, and mac and cheese are all places where the slight flavor of cannabis is actually delicious, not disturbing. Experiment with sugarless things that pair well with other herbs like rosemary and thyme and you will soon see weed’s earthy flavor in a new light. Buttery things like pie crust and hollandaise sauce also make really luxe cannabis food, and they don’t change the original recipe much or at all.

Caramel Is Your Friend

Even the weed Kool Aid Man couldn’t bust through the Maillard-driven flavors of caramel candy. Hard and soft caramels with decarboxylated concentrate stirred in are pretty common ways to get your dose, but if you don’t have candy making skills, caramel sauce made with cannabutter is another excellent route. The creaminess flows around the peppery weed and, if you make rosemary caramels, you can hardly taste cannabis in that flavor pool.

Chocolate is Your Best Friend

Chocolate is the end all be all of weed cover up. You won’t notice much even with super potent treats, and it’s a great option for making either compact and strong bites or a big batch of something more mellow. Chocolate’s bitterness and complexity allows you to surround the less-tasty qualities of cannabis with chocolate totality, even if there’s a bit of plant matter in there.

The best chocolate truffles I’ve ever made are vegan and full of super fine bud particulate, which normally tastes terrible. To roll up these simple treats, warm 1 cup of coconut milk with some cracked cardamom, and stir that into 1 pound of finely chopped dark chocolate until melted. Fold in some extra finely ground, once-pressed herb you’ve used to make other infusions. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, then form into a ball shape, toss in some cocoa powder, and wrap with wax paper.

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Deploy any of these techniques or ingredients for a bit more of a gourmet experience and less of a hold-your-nose-and-wolf-it-down-scene. Once you learn what you personally like and don’t like about the taste of cannabis, you can begin to insert it into dishes that you actually enjoy, instead of knocking back treats like shots of crappy whiskey.

New York’s Highest. Sicilian AF. Artist, writer, wicked witch. @realdanhell on Instagram

You may be of the school of stoners that likes an edible treat now and again, or you may be a medical user in search of the tastiest options. You may also be a host or party-goer who wants people to fully enjoy themselves with various intoxicating offerings, and wishes to make a potent potluck dish that doesn’t taste like mulch.

Ask Cheri: How to Improve the Flavor of Marijuana Edibles

By Cheri Sicard

HELP! I just don’t like the taste of my homemade edibles! Why are the ones I buy at the dispensary so much better tasting and how can I improve the flavor of what I make at home?

Hungry Hannah

The second the most common question I get (after how to properly dose edibles) is how to improve their flavor. While there are a few rare individuals who enjoy the acrid green flavor of cannabis in their food, most do not, so you’re not alone.

In answer to your first question, store-bought edibles often taste better because they are usually made with a specially produced distillate — a pure cannabis concentrate, created specifically for edibles manufacturers. When making distillate for vape cartridges, the maker will usually add terpenes and flavors, elements that were removed in the process of creating the distillate, back in. When creating distillate for cooking, the terpenes are usually left out, making for a more neutral flavor.

Home cooks, on the other hand, don’t always have the luxury of specially created distillate. More often than not, they will cook with trimmings or flowers from the whole plant, or with solventless concentrates like dry ice kief or water hash. These have more flavors as the terpenes remain intact. However, that’s a good thing as many of the plant’s medicinal effects are carried in the terpenes, so in my mind, it’s a worthwhile trade-off for a little less than ideal flavor.

That said, here are some things you can do to improve the flavor of marijuana edibles, even when cooking with whole plant cannabis.

  • Make your infusions (cannabis butter or oil, etc) as strong as possible in order to use less of them in your recipes. For example, if you make your infusion using double the amount of cannabis suggested in the links in this point, you would only need to use half as much in your recipe to get the same dose. Make sense? Make up the difference in the recipe with unmedicated butter or oil.
  • In spite of advice you’ll hear from most other cannabis cooks, and in spite of it being a built -in function of a popular cannabis butter making gadget, do NOT finely grind your plant material. It serves no practical purpose. What you are trying to extract is ON the plant not IN it. Fine grinding deposits more plant material into your finished infusions, and that means more herbal green flavor. Yuck.
  • Use a heavy hand with herbs, spices, and other flavoring ingredients. While the taste of cannabis might come through in something delicate like vanilla custard, you’ll never notice it on a pizza with the works.
  • Cannabis infusions like butter and oil lose some of their green flavor when they are cooked. So, for instance, if I were going to medicate a cupcake recipe, I would be better off adding the cannabis to the cake, which is baked, than to the buttercream frosting, which is not cooked at all.
  • Depending on how I am going to use it, I will often add water when infusing cannabis butter or marijuana oil. This takes away some of the green color and herbal flavor (although it can still taste mighty weedy). This method works great when you plan to cook with these ingredients, as opposed to say whipping butter for a frosting.
  • I love cooking with concentrates as you get far less herbal flavor. Dry ice kief is a favorite. It is easy to find or easy to make (see this page on my website for instructions on making dry ice kief) and can be stirred into most any recipe. See this article for tips on cooking with kief and hash. I have also been using cannabis oil concentrates, especially since getting a Source by Extractcraft as I can now make my own.
  • While cookies, brownies, and candies are popular marijuana edibles, from a flavor perspective, savory foods often naturally meld better with the flavor of cannabis, and if they have enough herbs and spices going on, do a better job at masking the flavor we are all trying to avoid.
  • For those who consider themselves foodies and cannabis connoisseurs, you can match the terpenes in the cannabis strains you are cooking with to the terpenes in your recipe ingredients. This will make the flavors enhance each other rather than fight each other. For instance, match a strain high in myrcene with a mango dish, or a strain high in alpha-pinene in a dish seasoned with rosemary. Terpene matching has a lot in common with wine tasting. Flavor notes and nuances can be subtle, but when you read about those fancy gourmet cannabis dinners by chefs like Andrea Drummer and Chris Yang, the chefs are usually pairing the strains according to what they are preparing. Be sure to download my Free Terpene Cheat Sheet below as it can help you get started.
  • If your cannabis purveyor offers a terpeneless distillate for cooking, try it, you may get results on par with commercial edibles makers. But keep in mind, you will be sacrificing the benefits of full spectrum, whole plant medicine.

Do you have other tips for improving the flavor of marijuana edibles? Please share them in the comments section of this post!

FREE Terpene Cheat Sheet

Download my free Terpene Cheat Sheet and start using the power of terpenes to improve your edibles’ flavor and enhance their medicinal effects. The handy Cheat Sheet, that you can use in the kitchen or take with you to the dispensary, covers 14 of the most common terpenes, the strains they are commonly found in, their medicinal effects, and foods and recipes they work well in. Fill out the form and get your hands on a copy now!

Ask Cheri: How to Improve the Flavor of Marijuana Edibles, cannabis cookbook author and Cheri Sicard shares the tips for improving flavor that you need.