Plant People, for example, uses full-spectrum oil. “From our perspective, the closer to the whole plant, the better,” Kennedy says. Indeed, some research suggests that THC and other compounds in cannabis act synergistically to yield its various biological effects, which Kennedy likens to how whole foods offer greater nutrition and other benefits than dietary supplements.
Henry Lu, executive chef of Loosie’s Kitchen in Brooklyn, and Gabe Kennedy, cofounder of cannabis wellness brand Plant People and the Season 3 winner of ABC’s primetime cooking competition, The Taste, dished advice on how to cook with CBD oil to ensure your CBD-spiked dishes are not only delicious and responsibly sourced, but also retain the compound’s potential efficacy.
Start low, and go slow
We’ve officially reached peak CBD obsession. Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a non-inebriating compound in cannabis believed to soothe anxiety and pain, as well as facilitate sleep, among other benefits. CBD oil has emerged in a myriad of food products—not only your classic gummies and chocolate bars, but even salad dressing, pizza, and tacos. Whether it works, especially in the small doses that go into food, is still up for debate. Still, you can hit up countless dispensaries and eateries for CBD-infused bites, and you can also whip up your own. As with any ingredient, though, there are a few cardinal rules for cooking with CBD.
Don’t cook CBD oil over direct heat — don’t even saute with it, and definitely don’t deep fry with it, Kennedy says. Lu agrees, and also recommends not heating it above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. “It’s not a very good cooking oil," he says. "It gets really bitter.” Overheating the oil could also cause the CBD to lose its potential efficacy. Lu likes blending it into vinaigrettes or using it as a finishing oil.
He also suggests checking a product’s lab results to ensure that it contains what the company claims it contains, and that it doesn’t contain heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides, or residual solvents from the extraction process, which may also be harmful. Many companies publish lab results on their website, and some product labels display quick response, or QR codes that direct you to them.
Photo by Chelsea Kyle
A Word of Caution: After eating that soup, I had a super-weird dream about being stuck in a long corridor with a cartoon hippo. I can't prove that the CDB oil had anything to do with that, but if you have a similar dream after ingesting some, please let me know.
Lesson Learned: I think the raw product is just really not for me.
I sourced my CBD oil from HempMeds, a company that makes three different extractions: a green-labeled raw version, a blue-labeled decarboxylated (i.e. heated to intensify the CBD compound), and a gold-labeled decarboxylated and filtered version (the filtering is purely to remove any residual plant materials, thereby creating a mostly flavorless oil—which is probably why the gold bottle is the version most recommended for cooking). Over the course of a week, I tried cooking with all three bottles.
Pick your non-poison.
I started the day by adding the filtered version to a fruit smoothie. I couldn't taste anything different. And unlike when I had tried a spoonful of the oil on its own and had felt a little foggy (and, tbh, queasy), I didn't notice any mental or physical effects.
Lessons Learned: Don't place CBD oil over direct heat. While warming the oil may increase its effectiveness, heating the oil too high can cause it to loose terpenes, volatile compounds that work in tandem with the CBD to increase the medical potency. Also, more importantly, it tastes absolutely foul.
“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).
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.
1. Don’t waste your pricey tinctures on cooking
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.
Ready to try it? Here’s Well+Good co-founder Alexia Brue’s CBD smoothie recipe, straight from the Well+Good Cookbook.
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.