Snake Method Vs Minion Method

Different people choose different techniques to smoke their meat according to their taste. Minion and snake methods are the two most widely used smoking methods. However, most people get confused while making a difference between them. There are some differences between both methods which I am going to jot down in this article.

For the snake method, there is a need to set up a long and thin briquette line. However, for the minion method, you must set your charcoal in a pyramid shape. Unlike the minion method, you cannot use lump charcoal in the snake method. Besides, the snake method is suitable for long-term smoking. And this method is less harmful than the minion. 

What Is the Snake Method?

The snake method is designed for lighting the unlit coals with the help of lit coals and is commonly used in kettle BBQs. The smoking time ranges between 7-12 hours depending upon many factors, such as temperature, vents, and fuel use.

As I lay out my two rows of briquettes, I start at the end of the snake (where I want it to burn). Keeping the kettle upright will make it easier for the others to stand around it. Put more than a dozen of briquettes in the chimney.

Set a couple of rows of briquettes, so the flat sides lean against one another. Then place another row on the edges of them in a 2×1 configuration. Keep a wood chunk over a single row to fit your grill on the top.

Place your wood chips in front of the snake because the meat takes smoke for a specific time. As an alternative, you could also place your wood above the grate. At 250 degrees Fahrenheit the method will last for 8-10 hours.

What Is the Minion Method?

The minion works well with upright smokers with a basket or a tray at the bottom for charcoal like Weber Smokey Mountain or Pro-Q. Using unlit fuel and lit fuel, you will use the snake method to light it.

There are a lot of configurations that you can use in the minion method. Make a ring around the tray, leaving a space in the center. Fill the basket with fuel until it reaches the top.

Place a dozen or more coals in the chimney and put them in the center of the ring when they light up. Like the snake method, the smoke time depends upon the smoker’s airflow and temperature. 

The minion method is slow and low cooking, through which you can cook large-sized pieces of meat, pork shoulders, briskets, and ribs. This technique is popular with smokers and grillers and takes 8-12 hours to complete.

Snake Method Vs Minion Method: The Basic Differences

You can distinguish butcher paper from kraft paper by knowing a few basics. It will let you get a deep understanding of the smoking process. So, let’s discuss the basics because I do not want you to get confused at the start.

Factors Snake MethodMinion Method
Safety issueSafer Riskier
Temperature controlA little difficultEasier 
Smoking session time12-16 hours6-18 hours
Wood shape and sizeSimilar-sized and shaped woodsAny sized and shaped woods
Charcoal sizeSimilar sized charcoal Any size
Smoker typeSteel-kettle styleKamados
Wood SetupChunks are kept on top of the briquette line.Chunks are kept around the perimeter of the peak and at the edge 
Charcoal SetupYou can arrange the coal in a long and thin line. You can arrange the coal in a pyramid shape

These are the differences between snake and minion methods. So, now discuss it in detail.

How To Place The Wood And Charcoal On The Smoker?

The setup is the fundamental difference between both of them. Most people can recognize them because of their setup.

Charcoal Setup

Charcoal smokers can use both processes. So, charcoal is essential to their minion and snake methods. Let us discuss the snake method for charcoal. First, wear smoking gloves and put your briquettes into a thin, long line. Then, take out the cooking grate of the kettle. 

Place your briquettes around the perimeter of the kettle side by side in two rows. While placing the briquettes, you must ensure that you have put them against the side of the kettle. Make sure they overlap each other when you place them.

After finishing working on the bottom row, make another row at the top. You will have to place your briquettes between the first two rows. The briquette line should look like a domino that should look tilting but not falling. So, it is about setting up the charcoal through the snake method. 

As for the minion method, the setup is different. Under the surface of your cooking, you will need to place at least 20 lumps of coal into the pit. But you can use more than twenty charcoal. 

To set it up perfectly, you would have to throw your briquettes or charcoal into the middle of the pit. Then, form a peak with your hands. In the end, you will see that the whole structure looks like a pyramid.

Wood Setup

There is a different setup for the woods. For the snake method, you should need to place your wood chunks at the top of the charcoal setup. Around the charcoal, add a few wood chunks a little bit more than halfway. You will have to add the wood chunks after the charcoal. 

In the minion method, place the wood chunks around the peak of the charcoal. Also, place the wood chunks at the edges of it. So, this is the difference between wood and charcoal putting for these methods. 

Compatibility: Smoker, Charcoal, And Wood Sizes

Many people do not know that there is a difference in the size of charcoal and wood chunks. However, you use both techniques for the same type of smokers. Sometimes, you want to choose a specific method for smoking.

Smoker Type And Size

The snake is best for steel kettle-style BBQs. As a result, using this method for kettle grills is recommended. Since you have to place the briquettes in the form of lines in the snake method, it will work excellently with the kettle grills. 

While the minion method is best for Kamados because kamados are made of either ceramic or metal, such smokers will allow you to add more charcoal to the pit than any other smoker. 

You also know that many charcoals are used in the minion method. Stick to the right smoker if you want to achieve success. Otherwise, the smoking process will become difficult for you, and you will not cook the meat or fish properly.


Charcoal Size

There’s a difference between charcoal and charcoal dust. You cannot use the regular charcoal lumps in the snake method, as you must create a line. Using irregularly shaped charcoal will make the process quite tricky.

A restriction of this type does not apply to the minion process. There is no restriction on the size or type of charcoal you can use. As a result, either lump charcoal or briquettes can be used. Briquettes are available in similar sizes and shapes, so they are ideal to use.


Wood Size

After charcoal arrives in wood chunks, like coals, there is a big difference in using wood chunks. Wood chunks the same size as your briquettes can be used in the snake method.

Therefore, I recommend you cut your wood into chunks yourself. To make the process easy, you can also use wood logs. Mark the logs with a marker so that it will become easy to cut them.

The minion method is more flexible, since you can use any kind of wood chips or chunks (shape and size) you like. You must ensure that you use fruit tree wood such as cherry, apple, etc. because they are proven best for smoking. 

Considerations During Smoking Sessions

Now, the method you will choose directly affects your smoking. So, selecting the technique you are using is very important. Have a check on the following things to make a good decision: 

Session Time

The essential thing while smoking is how long you will smoke pizza, fish, or meat. For this reason, you should note each method’s cooking time and choose one according to your preference. Many people are unaware of the smoking time for many items but do not worry, I have solved this problem.

Smoking ItemSmoking Time 
PizzaThe crust needs to be crispy for 60 minutes, then it needs to be baked on the top rack for 30 minutes.
Fish filet1 hour
Turkey4 hours
Chicken2-3 hours
Pork butt1 and a half hours
Beef rump roast 25-35 minutes per pound
Pork and beef ribs, spare, short, and back4-7 hours
Pork hog16-18 hours
Beef breast12-20 hours

The method that you will choose mostly depends upon the smoking time. The snake method is ideal for slow smoking. It is suitable for items that take 12-16 hours. Thus, the snake method gives an excellent taste to chuck roast and beef brisket. Otherwise, you will make the chuck roast and beef brisket smoking difficult. 

On the other hand, the minion method is exceptional for both slow and fast cooking. You can cook meat for 6-18 hours by this method. Using this method, you can easily smoke ribs, poultry, pork, and fish. 

Temperature Control

The smoking time of the smoker is directly related to the smoker’s temperature. Therefore, both processes have their temperature-controlling process. Beginners can choose this method as it gives more heat.

The reason why it gives more heat is that it takes more charcoal. To get more heat means that the smoker’s temperature is increasing, and it is not very easy to control the temperature by opening or closing vents.


With the snake method, you will not have this problem. In the snake method, food is placed at the edge of the grill. Charcoal is not used too much. Thus, you can control the temperature better with the snake method.

Snake Or Minion Method: Which One Is Better?

The availability of briquettes is sometimes challenging to determine. From the above mentioned statments, if you are still unable to make a decision, then I can solve it. The minion method is the best if you do not have ready briquettes.

For fast and high-temperature smoking, the minion method is suitable. But if you have a kettle grill and the briquettes, then the snake method is recommended. So, let’s briefly note the temperature and smoking time. 

While for slow and long-term smoking, the snake method is a good choice. Due to its simplicity, it is a perfect bet for beginners. I hope now you can decide according to your requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

The minion method is a slow and long process in which the meat is cooked with indirect heat. For high-heat grilling, however, you need a large bed of coals at maximum heat to sear your steak or hamburger.

It permits you to start your smoker rapidly during slow and long-term heat. Using the snake method, you can eliminate messy refueling since it can run continuously for 12 – 15 hours.

I noticed a considerable amount of acrid, bitter smoke when I assembled the Minion method for smoking ribs. I have used a small amount of apple wood. When it lights up, it smells like Kingsford.

Briquettes and lump charcoal have their own positive and negative aspects, but briquettes have won the competition for the snake method. Briquettes can burn longer than charcoal. Naturally, briquettes burn slowly, while charcoal burns hotter and faster. 

Final Words

After going through this article, you must clearly understand the difference between the two methods. Though the methods have many similarities, they also have many differences. You must also note that your chosen method will depend on your taste and requirement.

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