posted July 18, 2022
Best Brisket Burnt Ends
This Burnt Ends recipe comes straight from the pitmasters in Kansas City’s biggest BBQ joints. Slow smoked brisket point is cubed and braised in a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce for the most tender, melt-in-your-mouth bites of meat candy.
What are Burnt Ends?
Burnt ends originally began as a Friday special at BBQ joints after the restaurant had collected the crispy ends of their sliced brisket throughout the week, sauced them up, and served them on bread. They became such a phenomenon that lots of restaurants started putting burnt ends on the menu.
Kansas City, Missouri is where burnt ends really took hold, and that’s where I went behind the counter to learn the ins and outs of how to cook them the “right way.” These tasty meat treats aren’t leftovers anymore, they are now a headlining item!
Burnt ends are made from the point end (also called the deckle) of a brisket. This cut comes from the pectoral muscle of the cow and is exceptionally tough because the cow uses it so frequently. It is also well-marbled with fat, so when the meat cooks low and slow over a wood fire those tight connective tissues break down and gelatinize as the fat melts and moisturizes the meat. You are left with these little nuggets of tender beef with a signature smoky bark and crazy good BBQ flavor in every bite.
Brisket Burnt Ends
This whole process for making burnt ends starts with a brisket. This recipe is made from the brisket point only, as opposed to smoking a whole brisket and then separating and cubing the point later. this technique is pretty unique to Kansas City, but it is definitely preferred for making the perfect burnt ends because you end up with more smoke and bark on the entire surface area of the brisket point.
Brisket burnt ends are made by smoking the point of a brisket, wrapping it in peach butcher paper, cutting the smoked brisket into cubes, then cooking the cubed meat in sauce and brown sugar. This results in a delicious almost candy-like cube of meat.
If you’re looking for a cheaper, easier way to make burnt ends, try my Poor Man’s Burnt Ends. They’re made with a chuck roast instead of brisket and are a great variation (with great flavor) on this traditional recipe.
Ingredients for Brisket Burnt Ends
Here’s what you’ll need to make these tasty meat treats.
- 6-8 pound brisket point
- 2 Tablespoons Hey Grill Hey Beef Rub (or 2 teaspoons each of kosher salt, coarse black pepper, and garlic powder)
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1 cup Everything BBQ Sauce (or your favorite Kansas City BBQ Sauce)
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
Kansas City-style BBQ sauces are made with a ketchup base combined with molasses, vinegar, and spices. My Everything BBQ Sauce is AMAZING on these burnt ends, but feel free to use whatever sauce is your favorite. Check out more sauces at the Hey Grill Hey Store and let me know which one is your favorite on this recipe in the comments below!
How to Trim Brisket for Burnt Ends
Unless you are able to purchase a brisket point by itself, you’ll need to separate the point from the flat to make these burnt ends.
Place the brisket on a large, stable cutting board with the fat cap down. First, trim the excess fat from the sides of the brisket. Next, use a sharp knife to cut through the fat, working your way down at a wide angle toward the cutting board. Lift the flat away from the point as you work your knife through. You should be able to cut along that layer of fat the entire way through. If you start to hit any muscle, readjust your knife and stay within that fat as much as possible.
Once the point and flat are separated, trim any remaining hard fat from the bottom of the point, and then trim the fat cap at the top to an even 1/4 inch thick.
How to Make Burnt Ends
Once you have all your ingredients assembled, you’re ready to turn on the smoker and get to the recipe! Here’s how to make burnt ends.
- Preheat. The key to great burnt ends is low and slow cooking. Preheat your favorite smoker to 225 degrees F with oak wood (or whatever is your favorite for brisket).
- Season. Season the trimmed brisket on all sides with Beef Rub or equal parts salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Smoke. Place the seasoned brisket directly on the smoker, close the lid, and smoke for 6-8 hours, or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees F. Spritz with beef stock every hour.
- Wrap. Remove the brisket from the smoker. Wrap it tightly with peach butcher paper, and return it to the smoker. Continue to smoke the meat until it reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees F. This step takes around 3 hours.
- Cube. Take the wrapped brisket off the smoker and carefully unwrap the butcher paper. Drain any liquid into an aluminum pan. Cut the meat into 1 1/2-inch cubes, trying to make each piece the same size.
- Sauce. Place the cubed meat in the aluminum pan. Coat the cubes with brown sugar and BBQ sauce. Finish cooking the burnt ends in the smoker for another 1-2 hours or until they have soaked the sauce and are just about falling apart.
- Serve. Remove the meat from the smoker and serve with a slice of white bread for an authentic experience. You can also serve with additional BBQ sauce on the side. Enjoy!
How Long to Smoke Burnt Ends
It takes approximately 10-12 hours to smoke burnt ends.
The initial smoke takes around 6-8 hours, followed by 3 hours wrapped in butcher paper, then a final 1-2 more hours once cubed and cooked in the BBQ sauce and brown sugar.
This time will vary for each time you cook these due to a variety of factors (the consistency of the heat on your grill, how thick your meat is, etc). Rather than watch the clock while these are cooking on the smoker, gauge the doneness by the internal temperature. Invest in a reliable instant-read meat thermometer and track the temperature as these cook to let ou know when they are done.
More Burnt Ends Recipes
If you loved this recipe, I can guarantee you’ll love these other variations of “meat candy” from Hey Grill Hey. Click on the links below to read the recipes with different flavor variations!
Best Burnt Ends Recipe
Ready to become the master of brisket? Join my members-only group The Grill Squad to access my Brisket Pitmaster Class (and so much more!) to increase your confidence of all things BBQ. Let me help you make better BBQ, feed the people you love, and become a backyard BBQ hero!
This post was originally published in March 2018. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.
Best Brisket Burnt Ends
- Preheat. Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F using oak wood.
- Trim. If you are starting with a whole packer brisket, separate the point from the flat by running a knife through the vein of hard white fat between the two muscles. Trim the brisket point by removing any remaining hard fat and trimming the top fat cap down to 1/4 inch thickness.
- Season. Season the brisket point on all sides with Hey Grill Hey Beef Rub or equal parts salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Smoke and spritz. Place the seasoned brisket point on your smoker, close the lid, and smoke until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees F. This step typically takes 6-8 hours, depending on the size and thickness of your meat. Spritz with beef stock every hour during this initial smoke period.
- Wrap. Once the brisket reaches 165 degrees F, wrap tightly in peach butcher paper and return to the smoker. Smoke until the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees F. This step typically takes 3 hours.
- Cut into cubes. Remove the brisket to a cutting board. Unwrap from the butcher paper, draining any liquid from the paper into an aluminum pan. Cut the brisket point into 1 1/2-inch thick cubes.
- Sauce. Place the cubes into the aluminum pan and toss with the BBQ sauce and brown sugar. Work quickly during this step to prevent your brisket from cooling down too much.
- Finish smoking. Set the uncovered pan back on the smoker and close the lid. Continue smoking at 225 degrees F for 1-2 more hours, or until the burnt ends have started to absorb the BBQ sauce and caramelize on all sides.
- Enjoy. Remove the burnt ends from the smoker and serve with a slice of white bread for an authentic experience.
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