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posted May 04, 2020

Burnt Ends Sandwich with Pickled Red Onions

Brisket Burnt Ends are the epitome of good BBQ. I’ll teach you how to make them from scratch, then pile them high on a tasty bun and top with pickled red onions for a sandwich that will tingle your tastebuds!

Burnt ends stacked on a potato roll and topped with pickled red onions. Photo includes decorative text.


Burnt Ends Sandwich

After a trip to the burnt ends capital of the world (Kansas City) and trying all the burnt ends I could get my hands on, I felt like I needed to work on my version of a burnt ends sandwich. One of the pitmasters at Joe’s Kansas City BBQ told me “Kansas City didn’t invent BBQ, we just perfected it” and that statement really resonated with me! I didn’t grow up in a BBQ family, but I’ve spent a lot of time perfecting my recipes and I feel like this burnt ends sandwich is up there on the list of amazing BBQ recipes you can perfect at home. These burnt ends are about as classic BBQ as you can get and are absolutely perfect for your next summer cookout. 

What are burnt ends?

The true secret to good burnt ends is starting with the right cut of meat. Classic burnt ends became popular as the crispy edges cut from a slow smoked brisket. A brisket is actually two muscles that overlap, the flat (which is leaner) and the deckle or point (which is much fattier). The flat is perfect for slicing and serving, and the point is what we need for making our tender, sweet burnt ends, AKA meat candy.

Traditionally, the whole brisket is smoked as one piece (both the point and the flat connected). For this recipe, we will be smoking just the brisket point. Occasionally, you can find brisket points already trimmed and ready in your grocery store. If you’re not that lucky, you can watch THIS VIDEO on how to separate the brisket flat from the point. If you don’t want to (or can’t find) a brisket, you can follow my recipe for Poor Man’s Burnt Ends instead which uses a chuck roast to give you a whole tray of mock burnt ends.  

Smoked brisket point sitting in crinkled up pink butcher paper

Sandwich Ingredients

Since this burnt ends sandwich only has 3 elements, we need to make sure each one of them is great so that every piece shines. Here is what goes into a burnt ends sandwich:

  • Burnt Ends: brisket point, seasoning, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, honey
  • Pickled Red Onions: red onions, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, salt
  • Buns: potato rolls (or another soft, yet sturdy bun)

The burnt ends need to be the star of the show. I like mine a little sweet and saucy to balance the rich smokiness of the meat. I use BBQ sauce, brown sugar, and honey to create that sticky, finger licking flavor. Having pickled red onions adds the perfect element of acidity and crunch. Finally, you need a bun that is tender, but sturdy enough to hold everything together. My favorite bun for this recipe is a potato roll or a Hawaiian roll (if you like some sweetness).  

Smoked brisket sliced into 1 inch cubes sitting on a wood cutting board

More Burnt Ends Recipes

If you’re a burnt ends lover, you might enjoy some of the unique ways I’ve developed recipes around burnt ends. They are definitely not all traditional, but they are definitely all delicious!

Poor Man’s Burnt Ends
Hot Dog Burnt Ends
Kansas City Style BBQ Brisket Burnt Ends

Burnt Ends Sandwich Recipe

burnt ends sandwich with pickled red onions

Burnt Ends Sandwich with Pickled Red Onions

Brisket Burnt Ends are the epitome of good BBQ. I'll teach you how to make them from scratch, then pile them high on a tasty bun and top with pickled red onions for a sandwich that will tingle your tastebuds!
Prep Time : 25 mins
Cook Time : 12 hrs
Total Time : 12 hrs 25 mins
Servings : 8 people
Calories : 600kcal


For the Burnt Ends:

For the Pickled Red Onions

  • 1/2 red onion (thinly sliced into rings)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher salt


  • Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F.
  • Trim your brisket point so that only ¼ inch of fat remains across the fat cap on top. Flip the brisket point over and trim off any excess fat or stringy connective tissue on the bottom.
  • Season all sides of the brisket. You don’t want the rub caked on, but you want to evenly cover all the surfaces of the brisket. Press the seasoning into the meat with your fingers.
  • Smoke the brisket. Place your seasoned brisket on your smoker, close the lid and smoke for about 5-6 hours. This step may take a little more or less time depending on your smoker and the thickness of your brisket point. You will want to use an internal thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the meat to watch your temperature. The meat will slowly rise in temperature until about 145 degrees F, and then it will slow way down. This is called “the stall” and is totally normal. Let your brisket continue to smoke until it reaches 165 degrees internal temperature.
  • Prepare your pickled red onions. In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine and fully incorporate the salt. Add in the red onions and press to make sure they are fully covered by the liquid. Refrigerate for at least one hour, but the longer the better.
  • Wrap your brisket. Once your brisket point hits 165 degrees F, it is time to wrap. Lay out a large piece of pink butcher paper or foil and place the brisket in the center. Wrap the brisket tightly to keep all the moisture in and return to the smoker at 250 degrees F. Close the lid and smoke until the brisket reaches around 200-202 degrees F and your thermometer probe glides into the meat with very little resistance. Remove your meat from the smoker and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
  • Increase the heat on your smoker (or in your oven) to 300 degrees F.
  • Slice into burnt ends. Remove the brisket from the paper and slice into 1 inch cubes. Place the cubes into an aluminum baking pan and drizzle them with the BBQ sauce, honey, and sprinkle with brown sugar. Toss gently to coat and return them to the 300 degree grill. Close the lid and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the sauce is sticky and bubbling.
  • Assemble your sandwiches with a bun, a stack of burnt ends, and a few slices of pickled red onion. Serve with more sauce on the side and a stack of napkins.


If you like your burnt ends without sauce, skip steps 7 and 8. 


Calories: 600kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 55g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 141mg | Sodium: 2293mg | Potassium: 847mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 66IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 192mg | Iron: 7mg
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**This post was originally published on May 22, 2017. It has since been updated with more information**

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