Poor Man’s Burnt Ends: Unlock Mouthwatering Flavor

by Matt

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Ever stood by a smoker, mouth watering, waiting for that perfect piece of BBQ? If you're a BBQ enthusiast like me, you know that burnt ends are the ultimate prize. These little nuggets of joy, traditionally hailing from the fattier point of a brisket, are slow-smoked to fall-apart tenderness and drenched in a delectable BBQ sauce. But here's the rub: not everyone has the time or resources to smoke a whole brisket.

That's where my game-changing approach comes in. I'm about to let you in on how to get all the smoky goodness of classic burnt ends BBQ without the hefty price tag or hours at the smoker. Stay tuned, because I've got a special tip that'll have your guests thinking you're a pitmaster extraordinaire.

Savory Burnt Ends with Crisp Edges, Served with Hushpuppies, Baked Beans, and Cornbread on Butcher Paper, Epitomizing Classic Bbq Indulgence.

What are Burnt Ends?

Burnt ends are a BBQ delicacy, originating from the point end of a brisket, which is the fattier section of the cut. These morsels of meat are known for their robust smoky flavor and a caramelized exterior that lends a unique combination of texture and taste. Traditionally associated with Kansas City barbecue, burnt ends have surged in popularity, becoming a staple in BBQ joints and backyard grills alike.

Here's why burnt ends stand out:

  • Smoky Flavor: Infused with hours of slow smoking, they're bursting with a deep, woody essence.
  • Tender Texture: The fat renders down during the cooking process, resulting in succulently soft pieces.
  • Caramelized Crust: Sugar in the rub or sauce caramelizes in the smoker, giving a glorious sweet and savory finish.

Burnt ends with brisket can be quite an expensive way to create this smoky delicacy. Poor Man's Burnt Ends are my favorite way to recreate the amazing flavor of brisket burnt ends whilst also saving a few dollars on the meat. 

To get a clearer picture, consider these key differences:

Brisket Burnt Ends
Poor Man's Burnt Ends
 Meat Cut
 Brisket Point
 Chuck Roast
 Average Weight
 3-4 pounds
 Cost at Grocery Store
 Smoking Time
 10-12 hours
 6-7 hours

Poor Man's Burnt Ends are made to keep the authentic BBQ flavors intact while reducing preparation time significantly. I've experimented with 1-inch cubes of chuck roast and found them to match the irresistible allure of traditional burnt ends.

Connection to tradition is crucial in BBQ culture, and burnt ends have a firm place in the heart of that tradition. By offering an alternative to the costly and time-consuming brisket point, I ensure that this barbecue favorite is more accessible to home cooks looking to impress with classic flavors. Indeed, you might find these bite-sized pieces so irresistible that the next time you fire up your smoker, chuck roast will be at the top of your list.

Close-up of Succulent Burnt Ends with a Crispy Bark and Glaze, Ready to Tantalize the Taste Buds with Their Rich Smokiness.

Poor Man's Burnt Ends

To create one of the most delicious dishes in the BBQ world you don't need much more than a few ingredients, some time, patience and an appetite. Lets get into Poor Man's Burnt Ends.


  • 3 lb. Chuck Roast
  • 1/2 cup BBQ Sauce (my favorite)
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar (This does not go into our seasoning)
  • 1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Coarse Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • Olive Oil or Mustard as a binder

Preparing the Seasoning Mix

Simply place your tablespoon of sugar, salt, pepper and garlic powder into a bowl and give them a good mix together. Lightly cover the chuck roast with oil or mustard and liberally apply the seasoning all over the roast. 

Smoking Your Chuck Roast for Perfect Burnt Ends

Get the smoker fired up to a temp between 225°F to 250°F, For the wood I love to go a combination of apple and hickory. Once the smoker is sitting at a steady temperature and producing a nice clean smoke, get the chuck roast in. We want to get the internal temperature to around 165°F. 

A great way to measure internal temperatures is with a wireless meat thermometer. Meater thermometers are one of my must have BBQ tools.

Wrap It Up

Now that our chuck roast has hit 165°F its time to create our burnt ends. Remove the roast from the smoker and get it wrapped up to allow that meat to stay moist and juicy. I have an in-depth article on wrapping meat and why we do it. 

Using either foil or butchers paper wrap the roast up, you can add some butter and apple juice if you would like to add some additional flavor and moisture. 

Once its wrapped up, get it back on the smoker. We want to get that internal temp up to the sweet spot of 195°F

Cubing and Saucing

Our chuck roast has hit 195°F its time to create our burnt ends. Remove the roast from the smoker and let it rest for at 20-30 minutes.
Cut the roast into 1 inch cubes and place them into a foil baking tray.

Get the 1/4 cup of Brown sugar and your bbq sauce then smother your chuck cubes with them. Give the cubes a thorough mixing to make sure they are totally coated in the sauce and sugar. 

Finishing for Maximum Flavor

Place the foil tray back into the smoker and get that marinade cooked into the meat. This will take an additional hour or 2 of cooking. Once the marinade is golden and sticky its time to serve

Serving Poor Man's Burnt Ends

Here a few of the side dishes I like to serve my burnt ends with. 

  • Classic Coleslaw: The creamy, tangy flavors of coleslaw cut through the richness of the burnt ends, providing a refreshing contrast.
  • Mac and Cheese: A creamy, cheesy mac and cheese pairs wonderfully with the smoky flavors, offering a comforting balance.
  • Baked Beans: Smoky, sweet baked beans complement the meaty burnt ends perfectly, adding depth to your BBQ spread.
  • Cornbread: Serve your burnt ends with a side of moist, buttery cornbread to soak up all that delicious BBQ sauce.
Glossy, Smoked Burnt Ends Paired with Soft, Yellow Cornbread, Highlighting a Harmonious Blend of Savory Barbecue and Sweet, Buttery Sides.

Brisket Burnt Ends

Brisket burnt ends, often heralded as the epitome of BBQ decadence, start with the point end of a brisket. This meat is known for its rich marbling, which renders down during a long, slow smoke to create succulent, flavorful morsels. I'll show you how the marriage of fat and heat brings forth a bark that’s both savory and slightly sweet, resulting in a treat that's as addictive as it is satisfying.

Initially, the whole brisket receives a generous rub of spices, forming the foundation of flavor for the burnt ends. The smoking process, usually at a temperature around 225°F to 250°F, can last anywhere from 10 to 12 hours, depending on the size and thickness of the meat. During this time, the collagen and fats within the brisket melt, tenderizing the meat and infusing it with a smoky essence.

After reaching an internal temperature of about 195°F, the point end is separated from the flat. It's then cubed into bite-sized pieces, typically 1 to 2 inches in thickness, and returned to the smoker. Additional seasoning, often a mix of BBQ sauce and more dry rub, coats these cubes and helps create the signature caramelized exterior.

Key Aspect
 Desired Internal Temp
 Approximately 195°F
 Cube Size
 1-2 inches
 Smoking Temp
 225°F to 250°F
 Flavor Profile
 Rich, Smokey, Savory, and Sweet

In comparison, burnt ends from chuck roast might be easier on the wallet, but I find brisket burnt ends hold a sacred place in BBQ culture. These delicious morsels, with their perfect ratio of bark to tender meat, are worth the effort and time. While brisket prices can be steep, the outcome is unforgettable, and with every bite, you'll understand why brisket burnt ends remain a cherished tradition in barbecue.

Uncooked Whole Brisket on a Cutting Board, Showcasing the Rich Marbling and Fresh, Red Meat, Ready for Seasoning and Smoking.

Identifying the Grain: Look for the parallel lines of muscle fiber running across the brisket. Here, the grain runs horizontally from left to right. For the most tender bites, slice perpendicular to these lines, cutting against the grain.

Ingredients for Brisket Burnt Ends

When it comes to creating succulent brisket burnt ends, the selection of ingredients is crucial. You'll want to start with a high-quality point end of a brisket, known for its marbling, which is vital for rendering down fat and keeping the meat moist during the smoking process. I like to emphasize that using the right cut is the first step to achieving that melt-in-your-mouth texture that burnt ends are famous for.

Here's a breakdown of the essential ingredients you'll need:

  • Brisket Point End: The ideal size for this cut of meat is between 3 to 5 pounds. This size ensures that each piece cooks evenly and gets that desirable bark.
  • Beef Rub: A mixture that can be homemade or store-bought. It should have a balance of sweet and spicy flavors to complement the beef.
  • Barbecue Sauce: Opt for a sweet and slightly tangy sauce to enhance the final glaze of the burnt ends.
  • Brown Sugar: This adds a caramel-like crust to the edges, contributing to the 'burnt' aspect of the ends.
  • Butter: Helps to tenderize and add richness to the meat as it smokes.
  • Apple Juice: Used for spritzing the meat to keep it moist throughout the cook.

Transitioning to the next stage, it's important to remember that the quality of your rub and sauce will play a significant role in the end result. Moreover, don't hesitate to adjust the flavors to suit your palate.

 Brisket Point End
 3-5 lbs
 Main component
 Beef Rub
 To coat
 Flavor enhancer
 Barbecue Sauce
 As needed for glazing
 Adds sweetness and tang
 Brown Sugar
 1/4 cup
 For the caramelized crust
 1/2 cup (1 stick)
 Adds richness and moisture
 Apple Juice
 For spritzing
 Keeps meat moist

After gathering these ingredients, I'm ready to delve into the prepping process. Significantly, the rub and the sauce should interact well with the brisket, not overpowering but rather, elevating the natural flavor of the smoked meat.

How to Trim Brisket for Burnt Ends

When crafting burnt ends, properly trimming the brisket is imperative. Adequately trimmed brisket ensures an even cook and a perfect bark, vital for delicious burnt ends. Most seasoned pitmasters focus on the brisket’s point end, noted for its rich marbling. Here's my step-by-step guide that will help you prepare your brisket ideally for mouthwatering burnt ends.

Selecting the Brisket

Firstly, select a high-quality point end. Look for good marbling, which implies a higher fat content that'll render down and impart that iconic flavor to the burnt ends.

Trimming Fat

Begin by trimming the excess fat from the point. Ideally, leave about a quarter inch of fat cap, as this will help keep the brisket moist during the long smoking process. Removing excess fat helps the smoke and seasoning better penetrate the meat.

Squaring Up

For uniform cooking and an appealing final product, square up the point piece. This step involves cutting off any ragged edges to create symmetrical pieces that transform into succulent burnt ends.

Preparing for Smoking

After trimming, the brisket should have:

  • A consistent fat cap, no thicker than 1/4 inch
  • No lose or hanging pieces
  • A uniform shape for even cooking

Once trimmed, you'll want to ensure the brisket is at room temperature before seasoning. This aids in an even application of the rub and helps start the cooking process evenly when placed in the smoker.

Key Point
 Selecting Brisket
 High marbling
 Contributes to flavor
 Trimming Fat
 Leave 1/4 inch fat cap
 Keeps meat moist; enhances smoke infusion
 Squaring Up
 Remove irregular edges
 Ensures even cooking
 Room Temp
 Let brisket sit before seasoning
 Aids in even rub application

Remember, quality materials and proper prep lay the groundwork for the ultimate burnt ends. After trimming the brisket to perfection, you're ready to progress to the seasoning, smoking, and eventually transforming the brisket into rich, bark-laden burnt ends that are sure to be the highlight of any BBQ.

a Sumptuous Burnt Ends Sandwich on a Brioche Bun, Served with Hush Puppies and Baked Beans, Showcasing the Best of Barbecue Flavors.

Best Burnt Ends Recipe

I've walked you through the ins and outs of creating the perfect burnt ends, a BBQ delicacy that's both delicious and deeply satisfying. Remember, it all starts with a high-quality point end of a brisket and the right blend of ingredients to bring out the best in your meat. My step-by-step guide ensures you'll master the art of trimming and seasoning for those irresistible bites.

So fire up your smoker, gather your friends, and get ready to impress with the best burnt ends they've ever tasted. Trust me, it's not just about the meal; it's about the memories you'll make around the table with this ultimate BBQ classic.

Let's dive into some tried-and-true recipes that will take your BBQ skills to the next level. Each recipe brings its own unique twist to this classic dish: 

  • Matts Burnt Ends

Smoked BBQ Source's Brisket Burnt Ends:

  • Choose Your Brisket Wisely: Look for one with plenty of fat and marbling. Remember, the bend test can help you pick the best one.
  • Trimming and Seasoning: Trim off the excess fat, leaving about a quarter-inch. Season with a mix of kosher salt, coarse black pepper, and granulated garlic powder, ideally overnight.
  • The Smoking Process: Smoke at 250°F, spritzing with water every hour after the first couple of hours. Once it reaches 165°F, wrap it in foil or butcher paper with beef broth, then continue until it reaches 190°F.
  • Making the Ends: Cube the point, coat with BBQ sauce and brown sugar, and smoke again until the internal temp hits between 205°F-210°F.
  • Serve and Enjoy: Don’t let them rest too long; enjoy these bites of heaven while they're hot and juicy.

The Grilling Dad's BBQ Brisket Burnt Ends:

  • Ingredients: You'll need an 8-10 pound brisket point, your favorite BBQ dry rub and sauce, butter, Worcestershire sauce, a splash of Dr. Pepper, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.
  • Prep and Smoke: Get your smoker to a steady 225°F. Trim the brisket, apply the rub generously, and start smoking the point.
  • Cooking Steps: When the internal temp reaches 190°F, it's time to remove it from the smoker.
  • Finishing Up: Cut the brisket point into cubes, toss with the sauce mixture (including that unique Dr. Pepper touch), and smoke again for another 1-2 hours until the sauce thickens up nicely.
  • Ready to Serve: Let them cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving. Remember, good things come to those who wait – about 10 hours for these beauties.

With these recipes, you're well-equipped to create some of the best brisket burnt ends out there. Each brings a unique flavor and technique to the table, allowing you to experiment and find your favorite. Remember, BBQ is as much about the process as it is about the final dish, so take your time and enjoy every step of the journey!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make burnt ends in an air fryer?

To make burnt ends in an air fryer, season the brisket cubes generously with your choice of rub and place them in the air fryer basket. Cook them at 250°F for about an hour, then coat with barbecue sauce and cook for an additional 15 minutes until they have a crispy, caramelized exterior.

Can you make burnt ends on a gas grill?

Yes, you can make brisket burnt ends on a gas grill. Utilize a smoker box with wood chips to impart a smoky flavor. Maintain low and consistent heat to replicate the slow cooking process typical of a smoker.

Do you stir burnt ends?

Yes, stir the burnt ends gently every 30 minutes while cooking at 250-275°F for about 2 hours. This process ensures each piece is evenly coated in sauce and allows the sauce to reduce and caramelize properly.

What are the burnt ends of a BBQ?

Burnt ends are savory, smoky morsels cut from the point end of a smoked brisket. They are known for their rich bark and tender, juicy interior. These pieces are cubed, sauced, and smoked again to intensify the flavor and texture.

Do you cook burnt ends covered or uncovered?

Cook burnt ends uncovered in the smoker. This exposes them to the smoke and heat necessary to create the iconic crispy bark. Covering them with foil would steam the meat, preventing the desirable bark from forming.

About the Author

Matt Barrell

Hi, Matt Barrell here. A BBQ and Smoked meat enthusiast. I love grilling and smoking meat, it is not just my hobby its my passion. My goal is to share my passion with as many other like-minded people as possible.