The snake method with a set-up time of 5 minutes requires patience and is used in most BBQ types. On the other hand, the minion method with a setup time of 10 seconds is designed to work great in upright smokers having a basket or tray for charcoal at the unit bottom.
You will get a steady, low temperature that best suits barbecuing at low temperatures using these methods. You can also adjust the smoke levels in the snake method according to your own choices and preferences.
In this article, we will look at how the snake and minion methods work, how you can control the grill temperature, what type of charcoal you should be using, what temperature goes best with each technique, and the pros and cons of each method.
Table of Contents
How Does Minion Work?
The minion method works similar to the snake method to light your fuel by slowly using other lit fuel to pass the ignition around:
- You can use varied configuration numbers, but you will want to create a circle round the tray with a bit of space in the middle, utilizing enough fuel. You can use coconut shell briquettes or original heat beads for this purpose.
- Use 12 or more coals to the chimney, and when they are lit up, add them to the ring center. Next, add chunks of smoke wood on the chimney top.
- Like the snake method, the minion method depends on your running temperature and the airflow. Depending on these factors, this method will slowly burn the fuel by maintaining consistent heat.
- You can also add more of your fuel when it is required, especially if you are noticing the temperature decreasing.
- Avoid overdoing it, as too much fuel added to the BBQ can cause the temperature to become too high, potentially burning the food.
Does The Minion Method Work?
Minion methods work great for slow and long hours of cooking. Mamy professional BBQ’ers have been using this method in competitions for years.
This method does not affect the aromas, appearance, and taste of food. However, people with palate sensitivity may notice an off-flavor taste in food cooked through this method.
How Does the Snake Method Work?
The snake method is designed to light the unlit fuel progressively by using ignited fuel. Depending on the temperature, vent, and the amount of fuel you use, you can get an estimate of seven to twelve hours of cooking time.
Follow these instructions for the minion method:
- Start with the snake end (where you want it to burn) and lay two rows of briquettes flat on a slight angle side by side around the BBQ.
- Lay two layers of briquettes where flat sides of the briquettes are leaning opposite each other. Do this to increase the surface area around.
- Add another row to the top of these layers around the edges (2×1 configuration).
- Place the chunks of wood on the top of rows so you can fit your grill on top. Keep in mind that your food will take on smoke for a limited time, so it would be wise to place your wood facing towards the snake front.
- Alternatively, you can also place wood chunks on the grate top just above the heat.
- Light the dozen in the chimney and see if these ashes are over. Add to the front snake and pit water pan in the middle.
- With this setup, you should get a consistent temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about 9 hours on average.
What Is the Charcoal Snake Method?
The charcoal snake method is a next-level grilling game with which you can cook and smoke large meat pieces slowly on a standard grill in a most unusual way.
The charcoal snake method is an untraditional smoker method where you can align briquettes series effectively that form a “charcoal snake.”
You follow the process by lighting up the one end of the snake that will lighten up the next lying rows in a time-requiring process.
You will get a steady, low temperature that best suits barbecuing at low temperatures. If you are thoroughly placing strategically smoking wood in the charcoal snake, the woods will lighten up by briquettes giving your meat mouth savoring smoke scents.
If you do the method right, with appropriate briquettes and ventilation, a charcoal snake method will provide an average of 13 hours of slow and steady roasting.
What Things Do You Need for the Charcoal Snake Method?
You will need the following things for the charcoal snake method.
- A BBQ.
- Briquettes without lighter fluid.
- Chunks of smoking wood.
- A water pan.
- A Chimney Starter or a Lighter.
- A probe thermometer.
A BBQ is necessary to enjoy a low-temperature and slow-cooked piece of meat.
You can use a circular grill for this purpose, as well as it has enough room to assemble a charcoal snake and enough space for a water pan—place meat on the colder side.
Briquettes are always a better choice than lumps of coal because of their ease of piling up and unique shape. Two rows of briquettes are placed opposite to the inner wall of the grill, where two briquettes are placed high, equalling to ten briquettes length for the charcoal snake method.
It will make a total of forty briquettes covering half the grill diameter. You can adjust the length and snake size according to your needs.
It is easy to prepare smoked meat with the charcoal snake method. Simply place chunks or chips of smoked woods in the first snake’s half to get a mild flavor of smoke. Then, add more during the final briquettes to get a smoky finish.
Take an aluminum oven-safe water pan. It will keep providing the meat moisture by holding the heat and also play a role in regulating temperature.
You will need a lighter or a chimney starter to lighten up the first 2 to 5 briquettes. It will be hard if you use a chimney starter. However, a lighter is a much easier method that will turn red briquettes in no time.
You can place a thermometer in the grill to keep checking the temperature throughout the process of lengthy cooking. This will be helpful as it will allow you to keep an eye on temperature without even opening the grill.
What Are Easy to Follow Steps for the Charcoal Snake Method?
Below is a step-by-step method covered in detail:
- Clean your grill correctly and place the first layer of briquette against the grill sides over the grate. Stop halfway. It will take roughly 12 to 14 briquettes.
- To create a half-circle, place briquettes in a second layer. Pile up two layers of briquettes to form a high snake. Keep the wood smoke chunks over briquettes pattern-wise, and place them over the first half of the snake.
- Put a pan of water on the opposite side of the charcoal snake by pouring a few water cups.
- To light up the charcoal, use a lighter. Then, put the grill on the charcoal top and put your meat over the opposite side.
- Keep a steady temperature between 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, ensure the vents are open.
- To drop the temperature down if it increases, simply open them and maintain a target temperature.
Is the Minion Method Better Than The Snake Method?
The answer depends upon the larger and smaller grills as the minion method suits larger grills, while for small round grills, the snake method is a much more appropriate choice. On the other hand, the charcoal snake method may not be enough for a larger grill because of less room.
Still, both methods provide you enough time to prepare your favorite delicious meat slowly and steadily, allowing you to add a smokier taste as well.
If you talk about smoking, the snake method lets you devise your own heavy or light smoky taste by making minor adjustments while lifting the wood without opening the lid. Unfortunately, you cannot do the same with the minion method.
How Long Does the Snake Method last?
The snake method keeps a steady temperature ranging between 275 to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 10 hours.
When you set up the coals in coils patterns, the coals burn slowly and steadily for 10 hours.
How Long Does Minion Method Last?
Minion methods maintaining the temperatures between 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit last for about 18 hours. You can fire up the smoker quickly with the minion method and get it to burn slow and low.
How to Control the Grill Temperature?
To control the grill temperature, you should know the exact temperature inside the grill. A bbq thermometer can be of great help in this regard as it will allow you to keep checking the temperature during long hours of cooking without letting you open the grill.
The secret behind the closed grid or inside smoker temperature control is not the charcoal amount but the oxygen you allow to run through the grill or smoker.
If you open up the grill lid to check the meat, it will cause the heat to escape. So, you should try keeping the grill closed and use a bbq thermometer for this purpose.
What To Do If The Temperature Inside The Grill Decreases?
You can open the top half and lower vent entirely as it will cause a slow, fresh airflow that will keep fueling the fire. You can reduce the temperature of the inside of the grill by simply closing the list.
Pro tip: You should never completely close the vents. This is because less air may cause the fire to extinguish. Also, if the wood smoke is burning, this will affect the meat.
Can You Use The Minion Or Snake Method On Any Grill, BBQ, Or Smoker?
With minor adjustments, you can use the Minion and Snake methods on any grill, bbq, or smoker. These methods, however, work better on larger grills with enough space to set up a two-zone fire.
Following these methods, you can keep your goals away from meat being on one side.
A small grill does not have enough room to hold more coal or charcoal.
Various problems may arise with smokers that are not air-tight as it causes leakage of air, making coal burn fast. On the other hand, a smoker that is air-tight enough will be more appropriate with charcoal.
What Is The Best Temperature For The Minion And Snake Method?
Temperatures between 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit go best with slow-burning minion and snake methods.
These methods work great at slow and low temperatures. However, these methods are not good ways to make steaks where higher temperatures of about 350 degrees Fahrenheit are needed.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of The Minion And Snake Method?
Following are some common pros of the minion and snake methods:
- Suitable for long sessions of cooking.
- These methods make the grill ready to start cooking in 20 minutes.
- You do not require a lot of changing during the cooking time.
And here are some common cons of the minion and snake methods:
- Lump charcoal is not best to go for them.
- These methods are not suitable for grilling at a higher temperature.
Snake method vs minion method compared- Which is better?
The minion and snake methods share several similarities, but they differ vastly in many points.
To steadily cook with the minion method, you must be putting a significant amount of charcoal or coal on the grill, primarily briquettes, and spreading them.
After, you put another layer of unlit briquettes on the top of a burning layer of briquettes.
When using the minion method, the lower briquettes are ignited by the top briquettes. This increases the hours of slow cooking temperatures, allowing you to increase the slow burn time for meat that you want to roast or tenderize according to taste.
The snake method setup requires much more time than the minion method. But once the structure is complete, you can start slow and steady cooking.