Minion Method: (Set Up Your Charcoal to Cook Low and Slow)

When you hear of the Minion Method, you might be those movie characters, that are painted yellow and wearing overalls.

But the Minion method is named after jIim Minion (the BBQ legend) and not a group of animated movie characters!

This set up is handy if you need to cook low and slow on a grill.

Why?  Because the Minion method requires less start-up time and allows for a low and slow cook with out a smoker!

Finding himself rushed at a barbecue competition, Jim Minion put together his Weber Smokey Mountain and without reading the instructions made the unique decision to add a handful of hot coals to a ring of unlit charcoal in the charcoal chamber. 

This is what led competitive barbeque cook, Jim Minion to develop the legendary Minion Method.

Perhaps like all minions, he had accidentally stumbled across a method to rule the world….well, the world of barbecue smoking at least.

Let find out how to do it!

Using the minion method to smoke this duck low and slow on my WSM

How Does The Minion Method Work?

The Minion method of smoking works by arranging unlit and lit charcoal in a way that gets the heat up fast but allows for a consistent burn for hours without supervision.

It is similar to the charcoal snake however you create a well of briquettes, not a long snake.

This method is very appealing due to its ‘set and forget’ feature for slow cooking. It helps you quickly to heat your coals and then consistently burns between 6-18 hours.

You don’t need to supervise your smoker or make adjustments for many hours, freeing you up to focus on making sides– or a quick run to the supermarket.

Keep reading for some things to consider and possible pros and cons.

Using the minion method to smoke my duck low and slow

Is The Minion Method For You?

It takes just a couple of questions to find out if the Minion method is for you.  Do you look good in overalls and how many pairs of goggles do you own?

Okay, not those questions.

–  First, ask yourself if your recipe requires high temperatures to cook.

If you need to cook at 162 degrees Celsius (325 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher, then this is not the method for you.

–  Second, does your barbecue smoker have a firebox? 

If yes, then you are ready to go. This method works best with water/bullet smokers but modifications can be made for other style barbecues. 

Adding more briquettes to keep cooking low and slow

 Common Problems People have had with the Minion Method.

Now, you may be eager to assemble your smoker and get cooking. But first, so let’s go over some common problems people have had.

  • Not good for temperatures above 162 degrees Celsius.If you want to sear a steak or cook sausages this isnt the method for you!
  • Some people find that charcoal briquettes can change the flavor of the meat. We have never found it to be a problem.

Should You Use Lump or Briquette for The Minion Method?

You can use either briquettes or charcoal. You will find that briquette has a slower burn so you won’t have to worry about adding in more as you go.  

Will the Minion Method Work With Just Any Smoker or Grill?

The method has been tested extensively in any sort of grills and smokers. You will find that it does work better in units that have a deeper firebox.

This allows for the indirect method of cooking.

Another advantage is to have a large grill box, which is that you can fill it with more fuel. That means less reloading it with charcoal or briquettes and more relaxing for you.

Plus then you’re not opening it and losing precious heat and smoke.

Handy Hints for the Minion Method:

  • If using a smoker other than the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, some trial and error may be needed, but most importantly make sure the heat is the right distance from the meat.  In most cases, any smoker with a large, deep firebox will work well with the Minion Method.

  • The Snake Method uses the same principles with a modification to the pattern of the lit briquettes. If your smoker isn’t deep enough for the Minion method, the snake method is a good alternative.

  • Creating a donut shape at the bottom has also been a popular modification.

  • If using lump charcoal instead of briquettes, keep in mind that, unlike briquettes and minions, lump charcoal is not a uniform shape and will require some extra effort to pack them in.

What Temperature Should Aim for With The Minion Method?

You want to keep the unit between 220°F – 270°F.

We know the minion method is great for cooking low and slow. It’s not the type of heat you’re looking for to sear steak or cook a burger, it’s for your brisket or pork shoulder.

How to Set Up the Minion Method.

Step 1: Fill Your Firebox With The Briquettes or Coals

The first step to any great barbecue is to decide what you cooking!

If your minions have got that covered, you’ll want to fill the smoker basket with a generous and even layer of unlit briquettes and place a couple of pieces of wood on top. 

Step 2: Light Your Starter Coals or Briquettes

First, create a well in the center of your briquettes in preparation for the starter coals.

Next, light the starter coals in your preferred method. 

Some minions might suggest a chimney starter, and others might like to use a blow torch, but either way, wait until they are 70% covered in grey ash before placing them in the well.

Step 3:  Make Adjustments to Your Temps, Then Cook!

You may need to add a water pan to your particular unit to help regulate the temperature. This is different for each unit, some require you to add it during the cook, and some, you don’t add it all. It’s all about trial and error!

Likewise, a little experimentation with the air vents will get you to the perfect combination in no time.

But first, place your vent settings to wide open top and bottom and adjust as the temperature reaches around 93°c.

At this juncture, close the bottom dampers to 25% and the top to 50%. This will help the temperature to continue rising and you can focus on using the top vents for any adjustments.

If you need to add more charcoal or briquettes during the cook, use your charcoal chimney to get them hot.

Heating more briquettes part way thought the cook

Test, Makes Notes, and Learn! (No One is Born a Pitmaster!)

It may be a little hit and miss at first, but grilling is an art form and we all want to be pitmasters! So practice makes perfect.

So follow this guide to and soon you’ll master this popular smoking process. Next thing you know, you’ll be producing BBQ competition brisket in your backyard!

Smoke On!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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