Once edgy and under-the-radar, CBD has officially become mainstream. CBD tinctures and gummies are likely already part of your holistic toolkit to deal with cramps, anxiety, or trouble sleeping. But the next level of using and enjoying the popular cannabinoid: incorporating it into foods and drinks.
Maybe the idea of CBD-infused foods freak you out. But having anxiety about cooking with CBD is not only ironic, it’s unnecessary, because this primer has everything you need to know. From the best foods to start with to the rules to follow to ensure you’re not just washing your money down the drain, consider this the complete ABCs to cooking with CBD. Soon you’ll be able to switch up your CBD habit to be as delicious as it is functional. (Any scientists out there want to study the effectiveness of CBD brownies as a PMS remedy? Get at me.)
The golden rules of cooking with CBD
1. Don’t waste your pricey tinctures on cooking
While you may already be the proud owner of a CBD tincture, The Ultimate Guide to CBD author Jamie Evans, aka The Herb Somm, says there are more cost-effective ways to infuse your food rather than using up your precious vials. The easiest, she says, is to buy a CBD-infused olive oil that’s ready to cook with.
“These are becoming easier to find, but since CBD is still widely unregulated, you want to look for one that’s organically grown so that there’s less of a chance of it including pesticides,” Evans says. The dosage per serving should always be on the bottle; she recommends a dosage of between 15 to 30 milligrams per serving for newbies. Her favorite brand is Pot d’Huile Hemp Infused Olive Oil ($36).
Basically, unless all you plan on infusing is a smoothie or a vinaigrette, Evans recommends saving your CBD tinctures in favor for a pre-infused oil.
2. Be Wary of heat
Evans says that cooking heat can potentially make CBD less effective. “If exposed to overheating, the effects will burn off,” she says, adding that she recommends staying below 320˚F.
However, because CBD in baked goods is still a relatively new territory, other experts aren’t sure about the impact of heat. “It’s hard to say and is still unknown what happens to the potency of CBD oil when it’s heated at a certain temperatures while cooking or baking,” says Liz Sprinkle, the founder of CBD brand Love Always, Liz.
To be safe, “I recommend adding CBD oil after the food you are preparing has been removed from a hot surface or oven to preserve the integrity of the plant compounds,” Sprinkle says. “For instance, instead of mixing CBD oil into cake batter before it’s baked, add it to the icing that will go on the cake.” This way, you’re more likely to get the most out of the oil.
3. Be sure to incorporate healthy fats
Evans says CBD is fat-soluble—meaning that your body absorbs it best when paired with fat-containing foods—which is another reason why she’s a fan of oil-infusions. “Cannabinoids [like CBD] are really drawn to fats,” she says. Whatever oil you’re into most—olive, coconut, MCT, avocado—having it as a carrier is what’s going to make the CBD most effective.
4. be patient With the effects
Evans says that consuming CBD in food will take your body longer to digest than a dropper full of tincture under your tongue—so be patient. “When you’re infusing it in food, there’s what’s called the ‘first pass effect,’ which means that anything digestible has to pass through your gut and liver first before reaching your bloodstream,” she says. “So [CBD in food] not going to be as potent or as quick-acting.”
5. be mindful with what you consume it with
While Evans says there aren’t any studies saying that CBD is harmful when consumed with alcohol—and even says it can be fun to experiment with CBD cocktails—it’s always a good idea to be mindful of your intake. “And of course if you’re consuming CBD with any alcohol, don’t drive,” she says. If you plan on serving food with CBD to friends, Evans says it’s important to tell them in advance (along with the dosage) as CBD can interact with some medications.
The best foods to start cooking with
Sprinkle and Evans both recommend starting with something you’re already familiar with, such as using your CBD-infused oil to top off a salad. If you want to use a tincture instead of an infused oil, Sprinkle recommends adding a few drops to a beverage. “I really love adding CBD oil to my favorite beverages such as Bulletproof coffee, smoothie recipes, and fun cocktails because it’s so easy and quick acting,” Sprinkle says.
Once you have beverages down, you can get as creative as you want. (Just keep in mind how heating affects the outcome.) Evans says she’s a fan of using CBD oil in sauces, like pesto, drizzled over pasta. Sprinkle says she likes using it to make a red wine mushroom reduction to serve over steak. And of course she’s a fan of using it in baked goods too; CBD brownies was the food she experimented with first.
Ready to try it? Here’s Well+Good co-founder Alexia Brue’s CBD smoothie recipe, straight from the Well+Good Cookbook.
Strawberry CBD smoothie
Ingredients 1 cup packed kale leaves or other dark leafy greens 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves 1/3 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, tops included 1/4 medium avocado, pitted and peeled 1 dried fig Juice of 1/2 lime (about 1 Tbsp) 1/4 tsp sea salt 1 Tbsp honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar (optional) 1 drop high-quality CBD oil 1/4 cup ice cubes
1. In a high-speed blender, combine the kale, basil, strawberries, avocado, fig, lime juice, salt, honey (if using), CBD oil, and half cup water. Blend until smooth.
2. Pour into a glass over ice and enjoy, or pout into a jar or bottle with a lid, store in the refrigerator, and drink within a couple of hours. Shake well before drinking.