Minion method ultimate guide

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The minion is a word they would probably never associate with barbecuing or smoking meat for the uninitiated. It could leave them bewildered on how an animation character made its way into grilling and smoking meat. 

On the other hand, a pitmaster will know how vital this slow and low cook method is to reduce stress and hassles while cooking. The minion method is an overhaul of the conventional style of barbecue or smoking.

It involves lighting lump or briquette charcoals at the smoker’s top or a grill pit to produce a more extended, consistent, and even burn, making it ideal for slow and low cooking.

It achieves the desired result without consistently monitoring and controlling the temperature or removing ash from the cooker or grill.  

In this article, you will also find out.

  • History of minion method
  • Procedures for minion method
  • How to regulate the temperature on a Weber Smokey Mountain cooker
  • When to use the minion method?
  • Advantages of the Minion Method
  • Disadvantages of minion cooking method
  • What temperature is best for the minion method?
  • What kind of charcoal is ideal for minion method.

History of the minion method

The minion method was born more out of accident than necessity.  The first use of the minion style is credited to Jim Minion, who invented it in the early 90s. Legend has it that Jim ran late at a barbeque competition and chose to light the fire independently without reading his Weber Smokey Mountain cooker’s user manual. He threw in lumps of burning coal on the top and middle in a hurry, hoping that it would work. 

In the process, Jim got more than what he bargained for. It worked perfectly and burned evenly for hours. He bagged the first prize in the chicken category and the second prize in the ribs category, and the rest is history.


There is no doubt that the minion method of cooking is a tried and tested method. Let us now explore some ways you can achieve the minion method. 

The original method: This is perhaps the fastest way to accomplish the minion method. 

First, arrange the charcoal in a vertical layer and make a well in the center.  Next, place the starter coal in the center and light them along with some wood at the top to produce the smoke.

Use a charcoal chimney starter: Before you try the minion method on your smoker or grill, you could use a chimney starter to light starter briquettes. You can either light the first few chunks of briquettes using a blowtorch or use newspaper or paraffin cubes before placing them at the bottom of the chimney.

Once all the briquettes in the chimney are covered with 70 percent ash on the surface, you can transfer them to the grill. 

The doughnut hole method: This method involves making a well in the middle of the charcoal on the smoker or grill using coffee cans with both ends removed to create space for airflow. Next, place lit coal or briquettes on the top around the well or hole. 

Using the Weber Smokey Mountain cooker, it has a water pan below the first two grill shelves to add moisture and regulate the temperature. Depending on what you are cooking, you may need to use the pan or not at all in dry cooking. There are also vents at the top and bottom that can be opened or closed to help you regulate the temperature.

How to regulate the temperature on a Weber Smokey Mountain cooker

For those who are new to the minion method, this is one crucial aspect of the minion method you must know. 

There are two vents in a Weber Smokey Mountain cooker. You start with both the top and bottom vents open.  Next, as the temperature reaches 200 200°f or 93°c, close the bottom damper to one-fourth and upper damper half-way. As the temperature rises, you only use the top vent.  You can then start regulating the temperature by using only the top vents.

 You may then start adjusting the top vent in 1/8th or fewer increments but only in gaps of 15 minutes to allow the temperature to settle.  It could take some guesswork initially, but you will get the hang of it with time. 

When to use the minion method?

As in the first time the method was employed by the inventor Jim Minion, the minion style of cooking is ideal for a slow and low cook. This method is perfect for cooking larger pieces of meat that have more fat content. It is a preferred cooking method for cutting meat like ribs, pork shoulders, or briskets.


  • The most significant advantage of the minion method is that it is relatively easy to set up.
  • As the heat spreads from top to bottom, it usually takes around 20 minutes to prepare for cooking.
  • It is perfect for a slow and long cook or long smokes that require 6 to 8 hours or even longer time.
  • As the charcoal burns evenly and retain their heat for the longer, you do not need to add more charcoal during the cooking process and keep removing ash from the cooker or grill.  You can grab a beer or read a book while your smoker does the job on its own.
  • The use of a water pan also helps maintain even temperature and add moisture to the meat being cooked.


  • The minion method might not be suitable in case you want a higher temperature in a short burst.  It is not ideal for searing or cooking at least 350°F.
  • The steam from the water pan makes it challenging to form a bark on meats like beef brisket compared to the more conventional grilling method.

What temperature is best for the minion method?

The minion method of cooking works best in temperature around 225°f to 275°f (107°c to 135°c). It would not be suitable for steaks and burgers when you need high heat and a relatively shorter time to cook. This technique is perfect for smokers where the fire is away from the meat.

For what type of charcoal do you use the minion method?

I have observed that the choice of charcoal in the minion method is objective. While some prefer lump charcoal because it has no additives and lends a natural flavor to food, others prefer briquettes for its even and longer burn. However, the disadvantage with briquettes is that they produce more ashes than lump charcoal, smothering the heat.  Both lump and briquettes charcoal seems to work well with the minion method.

About The Author

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James is a writer who is a self-confessed kitchenware and coffee nerd and a strong advocate of Sundays, good butter, and warm sourdough.