This recipe for burnt ends is tender cubes of brisket coated in BBQ sauce, then cooked until caramelized. The most delicious way to enjoy brisket, burnt ends are the perfect main course or appetizer option!
Burnt ends are one of of the most delectable items to come out of a home smoker. Serve your burnt ends with toothpicks and a side of sauce for dipping as a party snack, or add side dishes such as mac and cheese and grilled asparagus for a complete meal.
Burnt ends are the perfect combination of tender and juicy meat with crispy edges and a smoky flavor. This recipe takes some time to make, as the meat needs to smoke for hours to become melt-in-your-mouth tender, but it’s completely worth the wait!
How do you make burnt ends?
Making burnt ends is a variation on smoking brisket. In general, you follow the same procedures for smoking a brisket to make burnt ends. However, instead of bringing the temperature of the meat to 200 degrees F in the smoker, you remove the meat at 190 degrees F, chop the meat, sauce the meat and smoke it for another 45 minutes.
What cut is burnt ends?
Burnt ends are made from beef brisket. There are two cuts that are part of a brisket, the point and the flat. The point is a rounder more tender piece of meat that has a fat cap. The flat is a leaner cut that is a more uniform shape.
There is also an option known as the packer cut, or Texas brisket, which has both the flat and the point sections of the brisket attached to each other.
If you just want burnt ends without the brisket, use the point cut for maximum tenderness and flavor. If you really want to do it right, use the packer cut to make smoked brisket, and simply cut off some of the meat for burnt ends when it reaches 190 degrees F.
To prepare the brisket for smoking the first thing to do is to trim off the excess fat. If you are using the point cut or the packer cut, you will want to trim down the fat cap. Even with the flat cut, you will want to cut down excess fat so that you can see the meat underneath the fat. The fat layer should be translucent. You want the fat to be somewhere between 1/3 of an inch to 1/4 of an inch. Do your best, it doesn’t have to be exact.
Next you want to completely cover the brisket in BBQ spice rub. I prefer to use my homemade rub, but store bought will also work. After you cover the brisket in spice rub, cover it and place it in a refrigerator for 10 to 12 hours.
When you are ready to smoke the meat, bring your smoker to 250 degrees F. Place the brisket in a foil pan. Using a foil pan helps to retain the juices.
Insert a meat thermometer in the brisket. Try to get the probe into meat and not the fat for the best accuracy. Leave the meat in the smoker until the interior of the meat reaches 170 degrees F. This will take several hours and the time will vary depending on the size and shape of the meat. For a 13 pound brisket, this could take 4-5 hours.
Once the interior of the beef reaches 170 degrees F, remove the brisket from the smoker. Wrap the brisket in foil or pink or peach butcher paper. Foil will work, but the best brisket is smoked with peach butcher paper. Wrapping the brisket in peach butcher paper allows the beef to hold in its juices while allowing the smoking process to continue. Wrapping brisket in peach butcher paper will also result in a thicker, more flavorful bark.
After wrapping the meat, place in back in the smoker until the internal temperature is 190 degrees F. This can take quite a while. For a 13 pound brisket, this part can take 8 hours.
How do you know when brisket is done?
Once the meat reaches 190 degrees F, take the meat out of the smoker and let it rest for 15 minutes. Remove the meat you will be using for the burnt ends from the wrapping. Cut the the meat into 1/2 inch cubes. If you are cooking a whole packer brisket, you can remove the point and use it for burn ends and place the rest of the brisket back in the smoker. You can let the flat of the brisket cook until it reaches 200 degrees F, which is explained in detail in my smoked brisket recipe.
After the cubes of meat are cut, coat the cubes in a mixture of pan drippings and BBQ sauce. I prefer to use my homemade BBQ sauce recipe, but a high quality store bought sauce is also fine.
Place the sauced cubes back in the smoker for 45 minutes. You can keep the temperature at 250 degrees F or bump it up to 275 degrees F for a more caramelized layer on the burnt ends.
Tips for burnt ends
- Cook the brisket in a foil pan to retain the drippings for the sauce on the burnt ends.
- Use peach butcher paper to wrap the brisket.
- Use an electric smoker for easy temperature control.
These burnt ends are the absolute best thing to come out of a home smoker. They’re tender, juicy, saucy and just packed with smoky flavor.
More fabulous smoker recipes
- Trim the excess fat off the brisket. You want to remove most of the fat cap if you have a point or packer cut. Other excess fat should be removed to 1/3 or 1/4 inch until you can see the beef through the fat.
- Completely cover the brisket in BBQ rub.
- Cover the meat and refrigerate it for 10-12 hours.
- Preheat the smoker to 250 degrees F.
- Insert a meat thermometer (into the meat, not fat) and place the meat in the smoker until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F. This may take 4-5 hours.
- Once the meat reaches 170 degrees F, remove the meat and wrap it in foil or peach butcher paper. Place the meat back in the smoker until it reaches 190 degrees F. This make take up to 8 hours.
- Remove the meat from the smoker, take the meat out of the wrapping and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Cut up the meat into 1/2 inch cubes.
- Coat the cubes of meat with a mixture of 1/2 cup BBQ sauce and all of the pan drippings. It should be enough to completely coat the burnt ends. Use more BBQ sauce if needed.
- Place the cubes uncovered into the smoker and cook for 45 minutes. Leave the temperature at 250 degrees F or bump up the temperature to 275 degrees F for a darker coating.
- Remove the burnt ends from the smoker and serve.