Cook time: Including prep and decarboxylation, around 3.5 hours
Yield: 6-8 portions
On Thanksgiving with the family, in tupperware at a cookout, or microwaved from a box after school — mac and cheese hits the spot no matter where you see it. It’s one of those foods that always seems to whisper in your ear, “you are home now, this is a place that diets can’t reach you.”
Mac and cheese is also known for the way it sticks to your ribs and leaves you wanting to crawl onto the couch and tune out the world. In fact, long before a lot of us started smoking weed, our first “couch-lock” was likely from mac and cheese. But what if you could combine the two? What if you just made cannabis mac and cheese?
Cannabis edibles are a great way to mix things up from time to time, and they produce a totally different effect than smoking cannabis. It’s a fully-immersive experience, starting with taking the edible and waiting for it to kick in, and then feeling that sort of cascade effect as you coast through a full-body high that can last for hours and have you laughing your way towards the morning.
Edibles are also a discreet way to consume marijuana, and don’t fill the house with thick smoke or the lingering odor of a bong on the coffee table. They can be a great option for people who want a long, sustained effect that will take them through the rest of the day.
A word for the perhaps less-experienced: Take your time with edibles. Unlike smoking, there is no instant onset. Edibles can easily take an hour or more to kick in, so if you still aren’t feeling anything after 45 minutes or so don’t sweat it, just kick back and be patient. The last thing you want to do is to take another dose thinking the first one didn’t work, only to find out that you just took a double dose and you’re gonna be in for a long night.
Making your own edibles really takes the experience up a notch, and once you’ve mastered the art of cannabis infusion, you may just find you have a new hobby. First things first though, the key to making any sort of edible is to have a cannabis-infused fat on hand.
Prep: How to Make Cannabutter
THC is fat-soluble, so in order for it to be broken down by the body it must be eaten with fat. Infusing butter with cannabis allows the fat to soak up the THC — as well as other cannabinoids and terpenes and flavonoids — leaving you with your own batch of cannabutter that you can use to whip up potent edibles like cannabis cookies, pot brownies, or your own batch of cannabis mac and cheese.
The good news is you’ll probably find that making cannabutter is a lot easier than you thought.
First you’ll need to decarboxylate about half an ounce of ground cannabis. What’s decarboxylation? This is a process that activates the compounds in cannabis, including THCA, which transforms into THC, the molecule responsible for the high. Decarboxylating requires heating the cannabis, typically in an oven set to around 220-245°F (105-120°C) for about 30-45 minutes. Just make sure to keep an eye on the cannabis so it doesn’t burn in the oven.
Check out our step-by-step directions: How to decarboxylate cannabis
After decarboxylating the cannabis, simmer a cup of water and a cup of butter until the butter melts. Let it simmer, and mix in the decarboxylated cannabis and mix well. Simmer on low heat – around 160-180°F (70-80°C) for 2-3 hours, making sure not to let it boil. After 2-3 hours, take the pan off the heat and let it cool before straining it through a cheesecloth into a container.
You can always experiment with the amount of cannabis you put in the butter, as well as the potency and cannabinoid or terpene profile of the marijuana you use.
Making mac and cheese with cannabis
A favorite recipe of this author is the Southern Living Classic Baked Mac and Cheese. It makes a large batch of rich, homemade mac and cheese and all you have to do is substitute the butter with cannabutter. It’s really that easy.
- 2 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons cannabutter (you can also experiment with 3-4 tbs, or just 1)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (10-oz.) block extra sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
- 1/2 (16-oz.) package elbow macaroni, cooked (you can also use the full package to make a larger batch). Pasta shells are also fine.
1. Melt the cannabutter in a skillet on medium-low heat, slowly add flour and whisk until smooth.
2. Add milk, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of the cheese.
3. Stir in the skillet until it all melts together smoothly.
4. Boil and drain pasta
5. Combine pasta to sauce, place in baking dish, casserole dish, or cast iron pan, and top with the remaining cheese
6. Bake in oven at 400°F for 20 minutes or so
You can choose to cook longer depending on how hard you like the top layer of cheese.
Who said shortcuts are bad? (Just use a box)
If we’re being real here, probably 95% of the mac and cheese most of us have eaten came in a box. If you’d like to kick things up a notch, making mac and cheese out of a box couldn’t be easier.
How do you do it? Just make the mac and cheese according to the instructions on the box, and replace 1-2 teaspoons of cannabutter for the butter called for in the original recipe. You can also just keep the butter called for in the recipe and add another 1-2 teaspoons of cannabutter.
How much cannabis mac and cheese should you eat?
How much edibles one should take really depends on the individual and their experience with edibles, their tolerance, and metabolism. What could be a mild dose for one person could send somebody else on a four-hour exploration of the carpet in their closet. The best rule of thumb is to start slow until you see the effects, and then adjust accordingly.
With cannabis mac and cheese, start by trying a single serving and then kick back and wait about an hour or an hour-and-a-half and see. Worst case, if it’s not strong enough you get to have more mac and cheese!
If the cannabutter was made as above, and you used cannabis that is about 14% THC, then each teaspoon of cannabutter will have about 40mg of THC. This means that if you used 2 tablespoons of said cannabutter in your mac and cheese, then the whole platter should have about 240mg of THC. The recipe says “serves 6-8,” so if you divide it by 8 you should have 8 ample portions of 30mg THC each.
The average THC gummy usually contains about 10mg THC, so you may want to try a smaller portion of mac and cheese or just put 1 tablespoon of cannabutter in the mix the first time you try this recipe. Or just go with a hearty portion of rich cheddary mac and cheese – with 30mg of THC along for the ride.
Or you can check out one of many online edible dosing calculators to make it an exact science.