LifestyleStrains & products

The Leafly Guide to Pairing Cannabis With Herbs and Spices

Published on June 20, 2017 · Last updated July 28, 2020

We all know that herbs and spices are the building blocks of a flavorful dish. In your kitchen right now, you likely have an array of them, from basil and sage to cinnamon and black pepper, at the ready to punch up even the blandest of meals.

What you may not know is that herbs and spices owe their flavors (and even some of their health benefits) to terpenes—just like cannabis does. With some freshly ground black pepper (which gets most of its kick from the terpene caryophyllene), you’re ready to enjoy a delicious chicken wing or pile of roasted potatoes bursting with flavor; with a few sprigs of thyme (which owes a portion of its fragrance to the terpene myrcene), you’ve taken your bruschetta to the next level.

What are cannabis terpenes and what do they do?

Knowing that cannabis also gains its flavors from terpenes, you have a head start toward pairing the perfect cannabis strain with the perfect meal. Whether you use a tincture made with a specific strain to accentuate specific flavors in a dish, or select a strain to consume alongside your dinner based on how its flavors complement the flavors in your entrée, knowing which strains pair with which herbs and spices will let you take your cannabis and food pairing game to the next level.

With so many options at your fingertips, we’ve created the following easily-referenced pairing guide to help you elevate your food with cannabis, whether via infusion or via consumption alongside the meal. Print it out, post it in your kitchen, reference it often, and enjoy the pairings!

Infographic: How Do Cannabis Terpenes Affect the Body?

Black Pepper@2x


(Nick Ouellette & Nicole Daring/Leafly)

Recommended Pairings



It’s not easy to start from scratch, so check out the following for some recipe inspiration to get you started with incorporating the cannabis strains into some delectable dishes and drinks. Create your own infused tincture before diving into the recipes below.

Cinnamon and Tangerine Dream Tea

For a soothing drink after a long day at work, this tea tastes of warm cinnamon, calming chamomile, and juicy tangerine. The super simple recipe is quick and effortless—the notes of cinnamon swirl with citrusy Tangerine Dream to give your taste buds a treat that is both delicious and relaxing. Not only that, cinnamon carries the terpene caryophyllene which is an anti-inflammatory and is said to work as an anti-cancer agent.


  • Hot water
  • Chamomile tea bag
  • Tangerine Dream infused tincture
  • Dash of cinnamon


  1. Boil water in kettle or on stove and pour over tea bag. Let steep according to package directions.
  2. Add infused tincture (amount added should vary depending on the potency of your tincture and your target dosage).
  3. Top with a dash of cinnamon.
  4. Stir and enjoy!

Cayenne Pepper and Chocolope Chili

For something hearty, we give you a spicy, delectable chocolate chili! The heat in the cayenne brings out the sweeter and darker notes in chocolate, and a Chocolope tincture fits right in. Chocolope is also high in guaiol, which offers anti-microbial properties.

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This recipe is inspired by May I Have That Recipe?

Yields: 4–6 servings


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 tomatillos, diced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin, divided
  • 29 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 8 ounces canned diced green chilies
  • Two 15.5-ounce cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 5 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Chocolope infused tincture


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for about four minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add the tomatillos, chili powder, salt, and half the cumin, and continue cooking for another four minutes.
  3. Add the canned tomatoes, chilies, and beans and cook for 10–12 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add the chocolate, second half of the cumin, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika. Stir well.
  5. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  6. Add infused tincture (amount added should vary depending on the potency of your tincture and your target dosage) and stir thoroughly before serving.

Pro tip: This recipe yields 4–6 servings depending on what size serving you’re looking for, so remember to base the amount of tincture you add on the number of servings you’re planning for.

Apple Kush and Sage Lemonade

Need something sippable to quench your thirst? Sage is an earthy herb that brings out the delicate notes in staple fruits such as apples, so combining Apple Kush and sage into an elevated lemonade is a no-brainer.

Cannabis tinctures 101: How to make, consume, and dose them


  • 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3–4 fresh sage leaves
  • 14 cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 34 cup cold water
  • Apple Kush infused tincture
  • Ice


  1. Combine the lemon juice and sage in a glass bowl; steep at room temperature for three hours.
  2. In a 16-ounce cup, stir together the sugar and hot water until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Strain lemon and sage mixture into glass and add the cold water.
  4. Add infused tincture (amount added should vary depending on the potency of your tincture and your target dosage).
  5. Fill to the top with ice and serve.

Pro tip: Want to get fancy? Garnish with an extra sage leaf or two.

*Note: Specific volumes of cannabis tincture are not included due to the fact that tincture potency can vary incredibly widely—10mg may mean anything from a few drops to a whole dropper-full. Always familiarize yourself with the potency of your tincture before adding it to beverages or food—the actual amount you use should be modified based on the strength of your tincture and the potency you desire. The best way to verify potency is to start with one portion of a drink or meal, wait one to two hours, then make an informed decision on whether to consume more. Always dose carefully and listen to your body, and never drive under the influence of cannabis or alcohol.

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Hannah Meadows
Hannah Meadows
Hannah Meadows is an associate editor at Leafly, where she contributes to lifestyle content.
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