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Burnt ends are a BBQ favorite — here’s how to make them

Level up your barbecue game with these incredibly delicious burnt ends

Burnt ends
Cayobo / Flickr

Burnt ends are all the rage, and honestly, we can’t believe this hasn’t always been the case. What started as a “family meal” (the meal served to the restaurant staff, typically made up of leftovers and scraps) has become one of the most coveted menu items at any barbecue joint worth its salt. Despite the name making it sound like these are just overdone pieces of meat, burnt ends BBQ is a delicacy that you simply must try.

S,o how can you create these incredibly juicy, fatty, and flavorful little meat candies at home? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a great burnt ends recipe. All you need are a few ingredients and a smoker.

What are burnt ends?

Burnt ends with fries
Prayitnophotography / Flickr

Before we show you how to make burnt ends, we should probably explain exactly what are burnt ends. Burnt ends are cubed pieces of tender brisket, typically served with barbecue sauce. While this dish is tremendously popular now (and for good reason), this hasn’t always been the case. Burnt ends are made from the deckle (tip) of the brisket, which is a pretty tough cut of meat.

But while it’s a tough cut, it’s also a fatty one with great marbling. This means that when cooked low and slow – as it is in a smoker – that deliciously juicy fat melts and breaks down the tight connective tissues that make the meat tough. The end results are little bite-sized morsels of meat magic.

How to make burnt ends

Burnt ends
Wesley Fryer / Flickr

We’ll be honest — this isn’t a “quick and easy” recipe. Well, it’s not quick. It actually is pretty easy if you have the proper equipment and a bit of patience. But trust us, that patience will be well rewarded. The other thing you’ll need to make burnt ends barbecue is a smoker. There’s really no getting around this. Many dishes that call for a smoker, in all reality, will taste just fine without the smoking step. This isn’t one of those dishes. Invest in one. If you love good barbecue, you should really have one, anyway.

Best brisket burnt ends recipe

Burnt ends
Cayobo / Flickr

This recipe brings some sweetness to the party thanks to the brown sugar and the ketchup-based barbecue sauce, but it’s more than sweetness; it also allows for that delicious darkened crust to form on the meat which is the best part of the burnt ends. Plain, simple white bread is the way to go for this dish, it really helps to soak up that sauce.

Burnt ends recipe

(From Hey Grill Hey)


  • 1 6-8 pound brisket point (also called the deckle)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 cup ketchup-based barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar


  1. Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Trim your brisket, then season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  3. Smoke the brisket until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 6-8 hours, spritzing with beef stock throughout the process.
  4. Once the brisket reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, wrap tightly in peach butcher paper and continue to smoke until the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees Fahrenheit, about 3 hours.
  5. Drain the liquid from the brisket by allowing it to rest on a cutting board. Cut into 1 1/2-inch thick cubes.
  6. Place the cubes into the aluminum pan and toss with the barbecue sauce and brown sugar.
  7. Recover the pan and continue smoking at 225F for 1-2 more hours or until the burnt ends have started to caramelize.
  8. Serve with white bread.

Poor man’s burnt ends

Brisket burnt ends
Hey Grill Hey

Say you’re craving burnt ends (and after reading this article, who would blame you?), but you don’t want to spend the time smoking an entire brisket, we have a solution for you. Poor man’s burnt ends get their name from the fact that they come from a chuck roast, which can sometimes be less expensive than a brisket, especially since a whole brisket is much larger than a chuck roast.

Indeed, these burnt ends won’t have the exact flavor profile as brisket burnt ends, but they will be very close. Also, they have the advantage of allowing you to use a smaller piece of meat if you have a smaller crowd, and it will cook faster.

Poor man’s burnt ends recipe

(Recipe from Hey Grill Hey)


  • Chuck roast, about 3 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons of yellow mustard
  • Coarse salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup ketchup-based barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar


  1. Heat your smoker to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. For the best smoke flavor, use hickory or oak.
  2. Spread the yellow mustard all over the chuck roast.
  3. Season all sides evenly with equal amounts of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  4. Put the roast on the smoker and smoke it until the meat’s internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (times will vary).
  5. When the roast reaches the correct temperature and has a dark crust on the outside, remove it from the smoker and wrap it in butcher paper or foil.
  6. Return the roast to the smoker and continue to smoke it until the temperature reaches 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Remove the roast from the smoker and allow it to rest for 20 minutes.
  8. When the meat has rested, cut it into 3/4-inch cubes and place the cubes in a foil baking pan.
  9. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of brown sugar over the meat and drizzle with the barbecue sauce. Toss to coat.
  10. Put the pan on the smoker and smoke for an additional 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the sauce is bubbly and the meat is falling apart tender.
  11. Sprinkle with the additional 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and extra barbecue sauce and then stir and return to smoker for a few minutes.
  12. Serve with white bread.

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Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
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