Snake Method vs. Minion Method

Grilling is a process that requires patience and skill. The snake method vs. minion method is two common ways of grilling. Some clarification can be found in this blog post for those unfamiliar with either technique. The article describes the significant differences between these two charcoal grills and their respective benefits and drawbacks.

Both methods have the same goal: to provide prolonged life to your charcoal grill. They’re often used for smoking when cooking at low temperatures that range from 225-250 degrees. Both works use unlit charcoal and then add in some hot charcoal slowly so the fire can stay lit for a long time.


What Is the Snake Method?

The snake method is a technique for building a half-circle ring of coal around the edge of a circular charcoal grill. Place a couple of lit briquettes at one end of the round – or snake – that will continuously ignite the adjacent charcoal briquettes. The slow heat of the charcoal produces low and even flame temps over a long period.

The snake method can be used to cook almost any type of meat or vegetable, but it’s most commonly used for meats like chicken, pork, or beef.

Snake Method

What Is the Minion Method?

This method (called the Minion Method) allows you to cook for hours without needing to add new charcoal halfway through. You start by creating a circle around your charcoal grate with about 2kg of Briquettes and then adding more lit briquettes inside that circle as and when needed. The hot briquettes will burn and eventually ignite the outer ring. Wood chunks are often added to the Minion Method, which creates a tasty smoke.

The modified minion method is a cooking technique for low and slow cooking. Ideally, you want to use this on a Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker – it does particularly well on a smoker because it is specifically designed for it. Some dishes take more time to cook, which is called the ‘low and slow technique.’ This technique often uses cheaper cuts of meat such as Pork Shoulders, Briskets, or Ribs.

Minion Method

Does the Minion Method Work?

The minion technique configures your coals to have a low and even heat over several hours. This way, you’ll be able to cook and smoke succulent meats without continually monitoring the fire and adding more fuel.

The Minion Method is a clever technique for long-burn cooking and smoking barbecue meats. Although it was initially used in a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker (or a similar larger-scale charcoal grill), the recipe will also work with any smoker; even a smaller, more compact one. To use charcoal briquettes, you need some dry wood chunks for smoke. Lump charcoal also works well but takes more effort from the user.

Low and slow barbecuing is the perfect technique if you’re hands-off or don’t want to watch your food cook. If you start a fire after putting the meat on, it’s safe to go off for a whole football game. If you grill or use a smoker, the fire will burn at an even temperature. Once the coal is glowing, you can adjust the damper and monitor the temperature—no need to add more fuel to make it hotter.

The best way to grill small items is with the Minion Method. Build a 2-zone fire by making coals on only one side and using the other to cook your meat. This will be the indirect way of cooking. Smaller grills usually need more fuel added frequently, leading to heat loss and longer cooking times.

How Long Does the Snake Method Last?

This is good for when you want to smoke meat for several hours without needing to add more charcoal in the middle of cooking. It will allow you to fire up your smoker quickly and get lasting heat that won’t fluctuate.

The snake method ensures the need to stop and refuel is eliminated. It can constantly run for 12-15 hours on one charge and doesn’t require additional refueling. The snake method can significantly help heat stability if you use a grill or an uninsulated smoker. That is why the snake method benefits grills like the Weber Kettle. Your grill works with charcoal and a water pan, unlike a smoker, which relies on insulation from thick rolled steel walls.

The Snake Method is a versatile cooking technique applied to various grills. Once you get the hang of it, you could use it on other pit and grill styles like kamado-style smokers.

How Long Will the Minion Method Last?

Have you ever wished you could cook a low and slow barbecue without making constant adjustments? If so, we’ve got just the thing for you. By cooking for two hours at 250 degrees Fahrenheit and only adding fuel to the fire once each hour or not when not needed, in case you are using the minion method, your BBQ will come out perfect every time. This method has a burn time of up to 6-18 hours.

The Minion Method of smoking is one of the most popular ways to use smoke. One great benefit is that it lets you get your smoker going quickly, saving time. This technique will enable you to set and forget your charcoal smoker. You don’t have to constantly adjust it or refuel unless you are doing a long cook.

Can You Snake Method With Lump Charcoal?

This is a question that many people have asked. The answer is no; it is not mostly preferred to use the snake method with lump charcoal. This is because the snake method requires a chimney starter, and lump charcoal does not have any starter. It does not ignite on its own and needs to be lit with a lighter or matchstick.

You can use it, but there are specific essential points about lump charcoal.

  • Lump charcoal is more expensive, not as uniform, burns faster, and burns hotter than briquettes.
  • Lump charcoal does not have the same properties as briquettes and does not work in the same way when it comes to smoking meat.
  • Lump charcoal is wood burned in a low oxygen environment. This makes it hard to light and thus unsuitable for the snake method.

 Key Takeaways

Grills are usually either set up to the minion method or the snake method. I think the minion method is better for larger grills, and the snake method is more suited for smaller grills like the Weber Kettle. The reason is that the Minion method uses a lot of unlit charcoal, then you add more hot coals in the middle (the snake method has more time to set up – needs fewer hot coals to start).

For better roast beef, experiment with different cooking methods until you find the one that works best for your smoker. Share your discoveries in the comments!

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