Minion Method goes best with low and slow cooking and it is a way to burn charcoal so that it burns efficiently.
It is where the meat is cooked for hours to get a tender result on the cooked meat.
The hours of cooking also mean that there would be a lot of fuel to use. Wood and charcoal are not that cheap so cooking with this method can take a lot of money if not done right.
It had me wondering how I could maintain the temperature of my smoker to get the perfect result on the meat I am smoking.
While there are bits of tips you can use with the smoker, nothing has helped me as much as learning this technique.
That is when I encountered the Minion method which completely changed how I cook with smokers. This method is perfect for maintaining the temperature of the smoker for hours.
The setup process is really simple and, surprisingly, a setup that only takes a few minutes can change the way you cook brisket(meat) and maintain the heat for hours, so let us take a look.
What Is The Minion Method?
The Minion method is a fire-building technique that makes the burn rate more efficient. It is where you place the charcoals strategically to slow the burn rate while producing enough heat.
You light the middle of the pile of charcoals first and the benefit is that the charcoals light up quickly but burn low and slow.
The Minion method ensures that the charcoals will burn evenly so the smoker’s or grill’s temperature stays consistent throughout the cooking period.
If done right, the Minion method can allow a single charcoal load to last up to 8 hours, sometimes even 12 hours without adjusting the charcoals and the vents.
A simple guide below will help set up the Minion method, so keep reading.
Do We Recommend The Minion Method?
Regarding smoking, yes, we recommend the Minion method as it will save a lot of money from buying fuel.
For 8 to 12 hours, there is no need to change or replenish the charcoals so the Minion method can save a lot of money in the long run.
The Minion method is also great with small grills. Small charcoal grills meant for searing can be turned into effective smokers using the Minion method.
Another benefit of using the Minion method is that it is easy to set up and will make any charcoal grill almost a “set and forget” smoker so you have more time for other activities.
We recommend the Minion method because it saves fuel and there is no need to keep an eye on the grill or smoker. That is all thanks to the man who made this method possible.
The Man Behind The Minion Method
Jim Minion is the first pitmaster that wrote about this method, hence the name “Minion” method. This now-famous method went through a lot of updates until perfected.
The earlier versions of the Minion method even involved using hot water. Jim Minion experimented with many different methods until he came up with the final method.
The Minion method was Jim Minion’s creation and he created it while he was in a cooking competition where he bagged the 1st place in smoking chicken and 2nd place in cooking ribs.
Jim did not even read the instructions for lighting up the charcoals in the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker and whipped up his way of doing this.
His goal was to ensure that the charcoals need fewer rearrangements while cooking. So while he had experience cooking before, the discovery was out of necessity to solve one major problem.
The Problem “Minion Method” Solves
The Minion method is a way of arranging the charcoals to eliminate opening, rearranging, and adding fuel frequently, which can eventually mess up the grill’s temperature.
With the Minion method, there is no longer a need to open the grill lid frequently to add or rearrange the charcoals inside for optimal temperature.
Since the middle of the charcoals are the ones lit, the ones on the outer ring will burn so there is no need to rearrange the charcoals.
Jim Minion made this adjustment because he was in a hurry for the competition and needed a way to light up the charcoals while producing consistent heat.
But does this method go with every cooking style or will it only benefit some styles?
Does The Minion Method Work For Everyone?
The Minion method works for everyone who want to smoke meat, and it works in almost any type of grill except the smaller ones with the firebox closer to the grates.
When Jim invented the Minion method, the grill’s firebox was slightly below the grates. That means the meat was not too close to the heat source.
This allows for slow and low cooking as the meat is not seared like steak. One can use it in small charcoal grills as long as there is a heat deflector to keep the meat from burning quickly.
So yes, the Minion method works for almost all grills and smokers except for small grills without heat deflectors.
If the grill has the heat source close to the grill grates, you can devise a setup to use the Minion method.
How Do You Set Up A Minion Method?
The Minion method setup is really easy compared to traditional charcoal grill setups. Below is a simple step-by-step guide to set up the Minion method on a grill or smoker.
Fill up the smoker’s firebox or grill with unlit charcoal briquettes. 2 kilograms of charcoal can last up to 12 hours if done right.
Once the firebox is filled evenly with the charcoal briquettes, open the top and bottom vents while putting the type of wood chip (for the smoke) on top of the unlit briquettes.
Create a well in the middle of the unlit briquettes. This is the space for the starter briquettes to go in.
Light up the starter charcoals in a chimney starter, about 10 pieces of charcoal briquettes will do the trick.
Once the starter charcoals are about 70% covered in white ash, they are ready to be transferred to the smoker’s firebox or the grill.
Place the lit charcoal briquettes in the well in the middle of the unlit briquettes.
While the starter briquettes continue to burn, they will light up the briquettes around them, creating a consistent temperature.
Adjust the vents to reach the preferred temperature. Usually when smoking, a temperature of 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit is needed.
To get to that temperature, slightly open the vents to allow just enough air to keep the heat burning at a constant temperature.
The grill is now ready to smoke the meat. Charcoal briquettes are effective in smoking but you can use lump charcoal with the Minion method.
Lump Charcoal Or Briquettes For Minion Method- The better option?
You can use both Lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes in the Minion method. The burn rate will be a bit different but there is no strict rule to use only briquette or lump charcoal in this method.
However, there are pros and cons for each type of charcoal used in the Minion method.
1. Lump charcoal
Lump charcoal can produce higher temperatures and burn faster than charcoal briquettes because they are more natural. That means that you need to refill lump charcoal more frequently.
The shape of lump charcoal is also not as uniform as charcoal briquettes, meaning that lump charcoal you need to arrange it tightly so the embers will transfer from one charcoal to another.
2. Charcoal Briquettes
Charcoal briquettes have a more uniform shape and size than lump charcoals, which is why they are easier to arrange for the Minion method.
However, charcoal briquettes can produce more ash that might suffocate the fire inside the grill or the smoker.
Note: Lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes will work with the Minion method but there is a need to keep an eye on the temperature using a quality thermometer with either lump or briquettes.
Will Burning Unlit Briquettes Affect The Taste?
Some pitmasters say there is an off-taste from the briquettes during the cooking process but the opinion varies, so try it yourself.
There is little data that shows briquettes affecting the taste of the meat when using the Minion method despite some briquettes having additives.
If there is something in the flavor of the food you cook with briquettes using the Minion method, lump charcoal can be used as it works just as well and wil less likely add any artificial flavor to the food.
Can You Use Wood Chunks Or Logs Instead Of Chracoal?
Yes, one can use wood chunks or logs for the Minion method instead of charcoal but it is not as effective.
You need to ignite wood chunks and logs beforehand to turn them into charcoal, defeating the Minion method’s purpose where the fuel should lit up quickly.
Woofd chunks and logs also need to be replenished frequently so it is not easy. The main purpose of the Minion method is to “set and forget” the grill or smoker, which is not possible with wood chunks.
Charcoal is stil the best fuel to use for the Minion method.
Is Minion Method A Pass Or Fail In My Opinion?
The Minion method is a definite pass in my opinion. It is a very easy and safe method to light up charcoals while ensuring that the heat is consistent throughout the cooking process.
One of the hardest things to do when smoking meat is maintaining the right temperature, and that challenge is eliminated by the Minion method.
Lighting up the entire firebox of charcoal is also inconvenient and uses too much fuel. The Minion method uses just enough charcoal so it is cheaper in the long run.
Using the Minion method when smoking meat involves less time setting up and attending to the fire and more time to relax and just wait for the meat to cook so it is an absolute pass for me!
Does Charcoal Go Bad? BEST CHARCOAL Dispensers for storage
Best Charcoal Briquettes 2022- Top 5 High Quality Charcoal!!
Can You Reuse Charcoal For Smoking And Grilling
How To Put Out Charcoal Grill
How To Start A Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid