Cookbook Showdown: The Best Weed Cookbooks, Tested

cover of Edibles cookbook

Edibles: Small Bites for the Modern Cannabis Kitchen by Stephanie Hua with Coreen Carroll

This gorgeous weed cookbook with bright, colorful pictures is written by Stephanie Hua, the founder of a cannabis-infused marshmallow business called Mellows. Hua and co-author Coreen Carroll, cofounder of a dining experience called the Cannaisseur Series, include clear and informative context on how exactly cannabis works in food and calculating your ideal dosing. Edibles has an array of recipes, both savory and sweet, but from flipping through, you can tell the desserts are what really shine here. Coconut Yogurt & Honeycomb! Cannoli Cups! Strawberry Jam Pavlovas! Yum!

After considering many of the delightful-sounding recipes in Edibles, I decided to go with Hua’s signature — and the cover photo recipe — for Birthday Cake Mellows infused with canna coconut oil. Had I ever made marshmallows before? No! Was I scared to try it for the first time while also introducing the chaotic element of weed? Yes! Did I let that stop me from shooting for the stars? Absolutely not! Let’s see how much of a sticky mess I made.

Edibles’s Birthday Cake Mellows

I started with weed, sprinkles, and a dream. I followed Hua’s instructions for decarboxylation (put that word in your back pocket for your next game of Scrabble), the process of baking flower at a low temperature to activate the psychoactive element of marijuana, THC. Then, after half an hour of my kitchen smelling like toasted roadkill, I opted for Hua’s sous vide method for infusing coconut oil, a French cooking technique where your food cooks in a closed container in a gentle water bath. That means no bad smells and no babysitting a simmering pot to make sure it doesn’t get too hot and burn off the compounds that get you high. Brilliant! I put the dried-out flower in a mason jar with coconut oil, then dropped the whole thing in my InstantPot on the sous vide setting for four hours. Once you’ve gone InstantPot for cooking weed, you’ll never go back. (And if you live in an apartment like me, your neighbors will thank you.)

Once I had my infused coconut oil, I got to work on the marshmallows. This involved cooking a sugar and corn syrup mixture to a high temperature, then whisking it with gelatin into a cloud of sweet goo and drizzling in a little vanilla extract and canna coconut oil. If you’ve made caramel before, you know that working with hot sugar can be scarring both mentally and physically. But Hua’s recipe came together just as promised. The hardest part was scraping the sticky mallow into a pan lined with sprinkles. And leaving behind any of the goo was completely tragic, knowing it contained wild and precious weed. Yes, my spouse and I licked the bowl. Even though it was 10 a.m. on a work day. Weeeee!

After spreading the marshmallow mixture in a pan and topping it with more sprinkles, it took 24 hours to fully set. Then I cut it up into squares, dipped the edges in a powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture, and divvied them up among my generous taste testers. I’ll be the first to say, HOLY SHIT, homemade marshmallows are totally a thing. They were delicious, with what one friend described as a “La Croix-like whisper of weed flavor”. Each square is estimated at 10 MG of THC in the cookbook, which is tracked with our adventures. They led to a gentle, pleasant high that was equally fun at home and out in the wild. These marshmallows also taught me a new writing method. You’ll never believe how many chapters of a novel you can edit when you’re racing the clock before your edible kicks in!

Photo of square homemade marshmallows topped with rainbow sprinkles on a wooden table next to the cookbook EdiblesPhoto of square homemade marshmallows topped with rainbow sprinkles on a wooden table next to the cookbook Edibles
Image from Susie Dumond

Edibles’s Mellows Cookbook Showdown Scores

  • Appearance: 5/5 — My mellows aren’t quite as sharp and clean as the ones on the cookbook, but damn if they aren’t delightful! I’d be proud to serve these to any stoner friends.
  • Taste: 4/5 — They’re light and sweet with just the gentlest weedy essence. I wouldn’t want to eat more than one at a time, but that’s probably for the best anyway.
  • Difficulty: Moderate — I was intimidated by the process of making marshmallows at home, but Stephanie Hua made it simple!
  • Infusion Process: 5/5 — Sous vide all the way. You’ll never catch me babysitting a simmering pot of weed butter again.
  • Good Times Factor: 4/5 — Taste testers agreed that these marshmallows got them nice and toasted without going too far into partytown. (Approx. 10 MG THC per serving.)
cover of Bong Appetitcover of Bong Appetit

Bong Appétit: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Weed by the Editors of MUNCHIES

Next up, I turned to the beautiful and comprehensive cookbook Bong Appétit, a collection of 65 recipes from various chefs featured on the TV series of the same name on Viceland. If you want to take your weedy cooking to the highest level, this book is a must-buy. With detailed discussions of the science, dosing, strains, and politics of marijuana, it’s more than just a collection of recipes. It’s a lesson in becoming a truly impressive cannabis chef. I am decidedly not a scientist or mathematician, but with this cookbook, I feel like I actually understand how edibles work. (It’s not just magic!)

Bong Appétit has inspired me to host a full-scale weedy dinner party. Blackened Shrimp Cocktail! Corn Biscuits! Rib-Eye with Weed Chimichurri, for ganja’s sake! But for this test, I went with what appears to be one of the book’s simplest and most craveable treats: Stoner Candy Bites. They’re like the extra fun cousin of Rice Krispie Treats, but with potato chips, pretzels, and cornflakes in place of puffed rice, cannabutter instead of normal butter, and topped with chocolate. Sounds like a salty-sweet good time.

Bong Appétit’s Stoner Candy Bites

This recipe comes from Thu Tran, writer, chef, and host of MTV’s Late Night Munchies. I started with the cannabutter recipe at the front of the cookbook, which also involved decarboxylation, something the book’s editors describe as optional “if you don’t mind using more weed to get less high”. Considering I spent more on flower than I’m earning for writing this article, reader, I’m not leaving any THC on the table. After decarbing, I followed instructions and put the weed in a mason jar with melted butter, then simmered it in water on the stove for two hours. Although not quite as hands-off as sous vide, it was an easy process that limited weedy stench.

I then combined that butter with mini marshmallows on the stove, and here’s where I hit my first major road bump of this experiment. Thu Tran’s Stoner Candy Bites recipe calls for a combined six cups of crushed potato chips, pretzels, and cornflakes, the same volume of dry ingredients called for in your run-of-the-mill Rice Krispie Treat recipe. But whereas Rice Krispie Treats call for five and a half cups of marshmallows, this recipe calls for two cups of marshmallows. It became quickly apparent that this much smaller quantity of marshmallows was not enough to bind all that crunchy, salty goodness together. I hoped the chocolate spread on top would help, but alas, serving these bites was an absolute mess of crumbs and chaos, closer to trail mix than bars.

Also, as a side note here, these are meant to be microdosed with only 1 MG of THC per serving. As previously discussed, I didn’t come here to make friends, I came here to get my friends high. So I followed a suggestion at the bottom of the recipe to add a tablespoon of infused coconut oil (which I already had on hand thanks to my first test) to the chocolate topping, bringing the THC per serving closer to 5 MG. The eating process was messy, but was the aftereffect magical?

Photo of a blue plate of chip and pretzel crumbs and squares of chocolate on a wooden table with the cookbook Bong AppetitPhoto of a blue plate of chip and pretzel crumbs and squares of chocolate on a wooden table with the cookbook Bong Appetit
Image from Susie Dumond

Bong Appétit’s Stoner Candy Bite Scores

  • Appearance: 1/5 — Trying to serve these crumb chaos bars with any kind of dignity was impossible. I gave them to friends in cups and suggested using a spoon. But with more marshmallows to bind everything together, it wouldn’t have been so tragic.
  • Taste: 3/5 — I love a salty-sweet treat, but these were HEAVY on the salty with so many potato chips and pretzels. The weedy flavor was mild.
  • Difficulty: Easy — I chose this recipe because it looked like the simplest one in the cookbook, and if it didn’t go to plan, I don’t feel confident in my ability to pull any of Bong Appétit‘s dishes off. But with some tweaks, I think it could be a winner.
  • Infusion Process: 4/5 — It required a bit more babysitting than the sous vide method, but the jar was great for containing the smell.
  • Good Times Factor: 4/5 — Did I see God? Yes, but that’s because I ate these before going to a production of The Book of Mormon. Despite the mess, they did get me (and taste testers) high, but I think most of it came from the coconut oil in the chocolate topping. Definitely opt for that unless you want a super gentle experience. Which might be smart if you make a full meal from this cookbook and don’t want to pass out after dessert! (Approx. 5 MG THC per serving with added canna coconut oil in the chocolate topping)
cover of Cannabis Cuisinecover of Cannabis Cuisine

Cannabis Cuisine: Bud Pairings of a Born Again Chef by Chef Andrea Drummer

The third and final cookbook I chose for this challenge comes from award-winning cannabis chef Andrea Drummer. Cannabis Cuisine isn’t just interested in getting you high; it’s got some serious culinary chops and special attention to how your strain of choice highlights the flavors in a dish. Drummer starts by sharing her own personal journey with marijuana, one that involves a traumatic experience as a young person and decades advocating against drug use of any kind before realizing that weed can do wonderful things when used responsibly. (Is this where, legally, I should mention I have a medical marijuana card?) Cannabis Cuisine has recipes for an impressive array of dank dishes, from French Onion Soup to Lobster Etoufee. I will say that, after reading Edibles and Bong Appétit, this cookbook has the least amount of scientific explanations of cooking with weed — and the most questionable infusion methods. Drummer hasn’t met a liquid ingredient she hasn’t tried simmering with a little tea bag of flower. But as I’ve learned, marijuana bonds best with fat. So will throwing some weed in your vegetable stock really do much for you? I suppose that’s an experiment for another day.

For this test, I chose two recipes from Cannabis Cuisine: Savory Crackers and Bacon Jam. The crackers are made with cannabutter, while the bacon jam derives its special properties from infused maple syrup and a coffee reduction. Neither maple syrup nor coffee has much fat for the THC to bond to, so I’m not sure if it’s bringing as much to the party as the crackers. But let’s see how this last test turned out!

Cannabis Cuisine’s Savory Crackers & Bacon Jam

At this point in my very scientific experiment, I was sick and tired of my apartment smelling like ass. And Drummer’s cookbook says nothing about decarboxylation, which had thus far been the stinkiest part of my process. But I took Bong Appétit’s advice about decarbing to heart, and I wasn’t about to waste my weed on ineffective snacks, so I went off-book to activate the THC. Then I went off book again because I’d fallen in love with jars and their ability to save my nose (and neighbors) from stinky misery. I followed Drummer’s recipe’s proportions and times, but in a jar in simmering water instead of straight in a pan.

Perhaps, at this point, I’d grown too confident in my ability to edit recipes on the fly, because here’s where things went off the rails. I’d mixed together the ingredients for the savory crackers, including butter, flour, parmesan, fresh herbs, and salt and pepper. But just as I was about to put them in the oven, I made what my spouse described as a Kermit the Frog face when I realized I’d made a sizable error. The recipe calls for one tablespoon of cannabis-infused butter and seven tablespoons of normal, non-psychoactive butter. I did use eight tablespoons of butter! They just happened to…all be cannabutter. That’s right. I accidentally septupled the weed content. But it was too late to go back now!

So at this point, I was grateful for the scientific shadiness of the weedy bacon jam. I simmered maple syrup and strong coffee separately with flower, unconfident I was adding any THC to the mix, then used both to make a thick, flavorful bacon concoction. Before my butter mishap, the combination of one cracker and one tablespoon of bacon jam was estimated at 10 MG of THC. With my mistake, my best (shady) math puts the same bite at about 50 MG. So in an effort to not enter the multiverse, I opted to eat a half cracker and half tablespoon of jam. And reader, I still got pretty goofy.

Photo of a small blue plate of homemade crackers, a small bowl of dark bacon jam, and one cracker topped with jam on a wooden table next to the cookbook Cannabis CuisinePhoto of a small blue plate of homemade crackers, a small bowl of dark bacon jam, and one cracker topped with jam on a wooden table next to the cookbook Cannabis Cuisine
Image from Susie Dumond

Cannabis Cuisine’s Savory Crackers and Bacon Jam Scores

Note: It seems pretty unfair to judge Andrea Drummer’s recipe considering my own (intentional and unintentional) diversion from the plan. So please take all of this with a grain of salt and a bong hit!

  • Appearance: 3.5/5 — Nice golden crackers with a thick, luscious jam. Pretty!
  • Taste: 3.5/5 — I don’t hate it! The jam is rich and delicious. The crackers smell horrible, but the parmesan and herbs mask the weedy flavor quite well. (And they probably wouldn’t be as weedy if I’d used the appropriate amount of cannabutter. Whoops!) The texture is the strangest part. They’re more like savory shortbread cookies than crackers, super delicate and crumbly.
  • Difficulty: Moderate — The dryness of the crackers made them challenging to work with, and the jam involved a lot of elements, but worth it in the end.
  • Infusion Process: 3/5 — I opted to go off-book and use a jar for the cannabutter, and I spent hours infusing maple syrup and coffee, which I’m not sure even brought any THC to the party.
  • Good Times Factor: 5/5 — Turns out that when you accidentally use seven times more weed than the recipe calls for, a little crumb will do ya! I got those all-over body tingles and plenty of giggles. I also still have twenty crackers and can’t responsibly eat more than half of one per day. Woohoo! (Approx. 50 MG THC in one full cracker + tablespoon of jam)

4/20 Cookbook Showdown Reflections

Well, reader, it was certainly an adventure. I used three-quarters of an ounce of flower. I infused ingredients I’d never considered adding weed to before. I learned some things about science and math (mainly, that I’m not good at either). I got all of my friends high and probably made my apartment-building neighbors hate me. And I turned just about every utensil in my kitchen into drug paraphernalia. But which weed cookbook took my culinary cannabis skills to a higher level?

Weed Cookbook Showdown Winner: Edibles by Stephanie Hua with Coreen Carroll

I’m high-key obsessed with the Birthday Cake Mellows from Edibles. They’re delicious, surprisingly easy to make, and fun to share with friends. The sous vide method of infusing coconut oil changed my high life. I’m already planning to make these again, and I can’t wait to try more of the other recipes in this cookbook. (Cardamom Caramels are next on my list. Yum!) Edibles make a perfect gift for weed-loving bakers, with fun recipes for many skill levels.

Honorable Mention: Bong Appétit by the Editors of MUNCHIES

Although the dish I tested from Bong Appétit didn’t come out on top, I found a lot to explore in this cookbook. If you’re looking to take your weed cooking to the next level, do not sleep on this one! It’s about more than just the recipes; it empowers you to better understand the science behind cooking with cannabis and push the boundaries of what you can make with flower, trim, fan leaves, and more.

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