Cooking with cannabis has come a long way from the iconic pot brownie or “space cake” of yesteryear. Today, artisan bakers, chefs, and mixologists have perfected recipes for making everything from cannabis gummy bears to THC-infused gourmet meals with precision and a true appreciation for taste and aesthetics.
The boom in edibles can be linked to the spread of legalized medical — and recreational — cannabis dispensaries across the US and Canada, many of which feature edibles as an alternative delivery method. Eating cannabis has become a popular intake method for people who want to avoid smoking because of concerns about their pulmonary health, or because they simply prefer not to smoke. Finally, many people simply enjoy the sensation of eating edibles, which can produce an effect that is different and usually longer-lasting than that produced by smoking cannabis. Discrete, delicious, and strong enough to get the job done — edibles are here to stay.
If you’re looking to try out your own cooking with cannabis chops, do what you’d do with any cuisine — grab a cookbook and get started. You’ll probably find it’s easier than you thought. So without further ado, here are the best cookbooks for when you’re ready to start cooking (and baking, frying, and drinking) with cannabis.
Just remember: Start low and go slow!
Best for beginners and experts alike: The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook
They don’t call it comfort food for nothing, and when each plate has a healthy dose of THC in the ingredients, you can count on comfort. “The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook” by Robin Griggs Lawrence has the tagline “Feel Good Food for Home Cooks,” and it’s easy to see why, with meals like “seared wagyu New York strip with cannabis rub,” “Cannabis-Roasted Chicken with Onions, Carrots, and Fennel,” and “Jamaican Chicken Stir-Fry with Curry Coconut Milk.” These are the type of recipes you’ll want to curl up next to a fire afterwards, or curl up for a nap, or curl up just about anywhere and think about the meal you just had. With 100 tested recipes and easy to follow instructions, you really can’t go wrong.
Best for connoisseurs: Bong Appétit
From the same channel that brought you Desus & Mero, Epicly Laterd, and Beerland, this book started out as a spinoff of the “Viceland” television series. The book was written by the editors of Munchies, Vice’s home for all things culinary. This is a sophisticated, richly laid out book that is just as suited to the coffee table as the kitchen. And with nearly six dozen edible recipes ranging from spinach and artichoke dip risotto to rib-eye with cannabis chimichurri and a whole host of cocktails and desserts, this it’s the type of cookbook that’ll get you cooking even if you’re not looking to make edibles.
Best for wholesome food: Cooking With Cannabis: Delicious Recipes for Edibles and Everyday Favorites
A space cake can leave you bent over with the giggles – but that doesn’t mean edibles can’t be serious business. In “Cooking With Cannabis: Delicious Recipes for Edibles and Everyday Favorites,” Laurie Wolf, who the New Yorker affectionately calls Laurie Wolf “The Martha Stewart of Marijuana,” uses her 20+ years of culinary experience to craft 70 hearty, wholesome recipes (including recipes for one). Ranging from entrees like meatballs in marinara to snacks and appetizers like grilled three cheese sandwiches and cannabis drinks like peanut butter-almond smoothies, this is home cooking (with cannabis) done right. Along the way, Wolf’s accessible, easy-to-follow book provides readers with a wealth of information about cannabis, from carboxylation to canna-cream, canna-honey, and beyond.
Best for small bites: Edibles
To the newbie, edibles can seem like an investment: calculating how much marijuana you need to make cannabutter, whether you have enough in your stash to bake a whole pan of brownies, you get the idea. Penned by Stephanie Hua, a big name in the cannabis food industry and the founder of the gourmet cannabis marshmallows company Mellows, Edibles is the perfect book for those times when you’re looking to make bite-size marijuana treats that are fun long before the THC kicks in. With options like PB&J Chocolate Cups, Booty Call Brownies, and Spiced Superfood Truffles, these recipes contain about 5mg THC per serving and are perfect for a dinner party — or just a night at home alone.
Best for a sweet tooth: Sweet Mary Jane
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that you can go ahead and eat dessert first – really, just go for it. In “Sweet Mary Jane,” professional baker Karin Lazarus takes readers through dozens of high-end, decadent cannabis desserts that make pot brownies look like an ancient relic. Called “the Martha Stewart of weed baking,” (we’re sensing a theme), Lazarus has a passion for sweets that comes through in every page of this book.
Best for old-school recipes: The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook
If anybody should know a thing or two about cooking up some cannabis and testing out your speakers while you wait for the brownies to kick in, it’s probably the guys at High Times. This edibles cookbook covers the basic mechanics of making edibles, and then moves on to fun, stonery recipes like “psychedelic spanakopita,” “time warp tamales,” and recipes that just scream “I have the munchies and they let me run the kitchen” (see: “cheeto fried chicken”). The bottom line? These guys know their stuff and they LOVE the subject matter.
Best for fine dining: Cannabis Cuisine
Are you ready to put the fine into high dining? A Le Cordon Bleu alumni and founder and chef at the Original Cannabis Cafe in Los Angeles, Andrea Drummer also built her rep catering private cannabis dinner parties in LA. She draws from this rich culinary experience in this cookbook that says “like a fine wine, cannabis is meant to be paired according to its unique portfolio.” The book is meant to be more than a cookbook, rather to show that haute cuisine doesn’t need to step aside when somebody breaks out the cannabutter.
Best for cannabis drinks: Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics
A lot of people don’t like drinking and getting high – but you can make an exception for “Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics.” This book is your one-stop guide to all types of cannabis libations that go far beyond cannabis-infused craft cocktails. Author Warren Bobrow is your bartender for everything from absinthe and cannabis mixed drinks to “breakfast drinks” and mocktails of all sorts.
Best for vegans: The Vegan Stoner Cookbook
Well it only makes sense that people who only eat plants and nuts would naturally want to see just how far they could take plants. In this cookbook, the authors prepare 100 dishes that don’t actually have any marijuana in them, but which any user can easily add cannabis oil or butter to and be in business. Think of it like the equivalent of tofurkey or vegan shawarma, technically it’s not a cannabis cookbook, but it could look like the real deal with a little effort.
Best for kosher cooking: The 420 Gourmet: The Elevated Art of Cannabis Cuisine
There’s always another Jewish holiday around the corner and food is always at the center of the celebration (and the beginning and end). In “The 420 Gourmet: The Elevated art of Cannabis Cuisine,” author JeffThe420Chef (not his real name or Hebrew name) covers the wider world of cannabis cooking, along with a special collection of 420-friendly Jewish favorites such as “Potzo Ball Soup” and marijuana-laced challah bread. Come for the recipes, stay for the (Jewish) dad jokes.