Poor Man’s Burnt Ends

September 10, 2017

Burnt ends traditionally come from the fat-marbled point of a whole packer brisket. Slow smoked until they are nearly fall apart tender and then basted in finger-licking BBQ sauce, burnt ends are the best bite in the BBQ world. My Poor Man’s Burnt Ends Recipe is a great way to get that same amazing beefy smoked goodness with all of the classic BBQ flavors you love without having to smoke a whole brisket.

Burnt Ends

For this recipe, I’m using a chuck roast instead of a full packer brisket to make a version called “Poor Man’s Burnt Ends.” For classic burnt ends, a whole brisket is smoked and the top muscle (the point) is removed while the leaner muscle (the flat) is sliced and served. The point is loaded with fatty marbling and amazing flavor, so to enhance the flavor of the meat it is often cubed and tossed with BBQ sauce before being grilled to meat candy perfection.

Burnt Ends BBQ


The process for Poor Man’s Burnt Ends is very similar to smoking a whole brisket, but with the intent of turning the whole cut of beef into BBQ burnt ends instead of just a piece. This means more flavorful bark all the way around and often times more even cooking. I’ve also found that chuck roasts have a natural beefy flavor very similar to brisket, so the cut works amazing for making this burnt ends recipe!

Smoked Burnt Ends

PRO-TIP: Always use a meat thermometer when cooking BBQ. A lot of times we want a recipe to give us an exact time, but the best way to cook is always to temperature. Every cut of meat is different (as is every fire we have to cook it on) and will finish at a different time. If you are cooking to temperature, you will never miss! I HIGHLY recommend Thermoworks products as they are the best in the industry for accuracy. I recently got the newest version of their remote thermometer, the Smoke, and it was fantastic! There was a probe for the meat and another for keeping track of the grill temperature. Plus, I could view these temperatures remotely which is so convenient!

Burnt Ends Recipe

Honest truth, the price in my grocery store for brisket vs. chuck roast was almost identical (about $3/lb) so I don’t know where the phrase “poor man’s” even came from. I will say though, I would definitely do this again any time I am craving burnt ends but don’t want to smoke a whole huge brisket. A whole brisket typically costs $40-50 and this chuck roast was under $10. My chuck roast came in at about 3 pounds and was perfect for feeding my family. If you want to learn how to make burnt ends with a brisket, check out my post for a Burnt Ends Sandwich with Pickled Red Onions.

An amazing BBQ Burnt Ends recipe using the more affordable chuck roast.

4.47 from 28 votes
This BBQ Burnt Ends Recipe make the most amazing melt in your mouth burnt ends, using the more affordable chuck roast!
Poor Man's Burnt Ends
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
8 hrs
Total Time
8 hrs 15 mins
Poor Man's Burnt Ends are a great way to get beefy smoked goodness, with all of the classic BBQ flavors you love, without having to smoke a whole brisket.
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Barbecue
Servings: 6 people
  • 3 pound chuck roast
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce your favorite brand/recipe
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
Simple Beef Rub
  • 1 Tablespoon coarse Kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  1. Preheat your smoker for indirect grilling at 275 degrees F. Use hickory or oak wood for the most complementary smoke flavor.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Season your chuck roast liberally on all sides with the rub mixture. When your smoker is to temperature, place the seasoned roast on the grill and cover.
  3. Smoke the roast until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F (this took 5 hours on my smoker). You should have a fairly nice dark bark on the exterior of your roast at this point. Wrap in either butcher paper or foil and return to the grill until the internal temperature is 195 degrees (this took just over an hour).
  4. Remove the wrapped roast from the grill and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. Cut into 3/4 inch cubes and transfer to a foil baking pan. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup brown sugar and drizzle with most of the BBQ sauce, reserving a couple of tablespoons for later. Toss gently to coat all of the pieces in a little of the sauce.
  5. Place the pan on the grill, close the lid and cook for an additional 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the sauce is bubbly and the cubed bits of beef are falling apart tender.
  6. Sprinkle with the additional 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar and the remaining BBQ sauce. stir gently and return to the grill for just a few more minutes until everything is well incorporated. Serve hot as a main course or on white bread/buns with pickles and white onions.

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153 thoughts on “Poor Man’s Burnt Ends

    1. I’ve never had a problem with them drying it at 275, but you can totally smoke them at 225 if you want to. Just add on an extra couple of hours to the total cook time.

      1. My first run through was in the oven – thanks to bad weather – and although the flavor was good, they were a little dry. Second run through today, this time on the smoker… just cut the meat into chunks for the final step and, I have to say, it also looked a little dry. We shall see when it comes out in about an hour.

          1. my smoaker has a tray and i put apple cyder or apple juce it so it wont be dry

  1. I’m using a “Tragger” grill.Using that I start out on smoke Then switch to desired temp, Should I keep it on smoke or temp?

    1. You could stay on the smoke setting, but I know Traeger’s typically run at about 180-200 degrees on smoke, so you’d have to add quite a bit of cook time to the recipe. Your best bet would be to change the temperature to 275 degrees after the initial fire-up and follow the recipe as written.

          1. The stall happens when the meat “sweats” which cools down the cooking process. Regardless of the temp when the stall happens, it’s a good time to wrap which will help the meat from drying out.

  2. Starting this on my Big Green Egg in the morning and can’t wait!! The written recipe states to set the smoker at 275 but the video says 225. I know it’s not much difference but should I stick with the lower temp for a smaller roast around 2 1/2 lbs?

    1. Hey Nicole- you can get away with either temperature, since you’re cooking to the internal temp of the roast. 225 works great though if you want it on the smoker and exposed to the smoke a little longer.

  3. Can you possibly do this in a slow oven?I don’t have a smoker but would love to try it. I make a pork butt in a slow oven similar to this with a pan of water under it for moisture. Thanks

    1. Hi Lori- you can absolutely try this in the oven. You’ll be missing the smoke flavor, but the results should still be good if you follow the time and temperature guidelines. The water pan is a great idea!

      1. If you’re making it in the oven, you can get a nice smoke flavor by using smoked salt in the rub. I make my own by mixing 2-3 Tbsp of liquid smoke to 1 C of sea salt an drying it on low in the oven.

  4. Did a 4 pound Chuck Roast this weekend. Followed the recipe, but found that I reached the temperature levels in quite a bit less time on my Traeger Smoker/Grill. I used a internal probe for temp. Had no time to make BBQ sauce and used what I had in the pantry, Jack Daniels BBQ sauce. Mixed the meat, sauce and brown sugar in the aluminum pan as described. My concern was the brown sugar was going to be to much since the sauce is what I would consider very sweet. But I must say this turned out to be one of the best recipes I have ever tried. It was a huge hit with wife, son and grandsons. I would think that a spicier sauce might be the best choice since we are using quite a bit of brown sugar. The idea is wonderful and works great for us since we buy a half beef each year from a friend. His steers are large and be quite a few Chuck Roasts. Normally not one of my favorites but I can say for sure several of them will be Poor Man Burnt Ends. Thank you for a great recipe to add as one of our favorites.

    1. Thinking of trying these this weekend. When you say you reached internal temperature in considerably less time, about how long did it take you?

    2. Try the KC style sauce recipe on here. I doubled the red peppers. REAL good. I put a post up. The video says 225F recipe says 275F. I am guessing 225F is the correct temp.

      1. Hey Brian- sorry about the video to post discrepancy! There was a miscommunication between my video editor and me. I actually smoke these chuck roasts at 275 degrees F. The biggest difference is cooking time. I love the idea of using extra red peppers in the sauce!

  5. Thinking that this would be amazing for our tailgate this weekend. Any tips on making this ahead and reheating for the tailgate Saturday? Maybe retreat in crock pot? Thanks

    1. Hey Todd-

      The slow cooker can work for reheating, but you’ve got to be careful not to overcook or the chuck can just fall apart on you. Still tasty, but more like pulled beef than cubed burnt ends.

  6. Can you recommend a smoker on a budget? Not looking to spend a ton on something I’m not planning on using daily if you get what I’m talking about

    1. Hey Corey- depending on the size and functionality, I think a small Camp Chef pellet grill is a great way to get started. If you like to smoke meat a little more hands on with babysitting a fire, look into the Weber Smokey Mountain.

  7. Saw a couple comments on time. I printed the recipe and it says 275F (step one of the instructions). When I watched the video it says 225F. Hadn’t watched the video. roast was 165F in about 2 hours. Went down to 250F took an hour to get to 195F. Started looking to see why things were going so quickly and watched the video which says 225. We’ll see how it comes out.

    1. All done. Flavor was OK with just the meat. Put it on bread with the onion and pickle as the web page says. mmmm good. will cook it at 225F next time and i think the meat will be more tender.

  8. Smoking a chick roast today for burnt ends. Are you guys covering the foil pans when you return to the smoker, after it’s been cubed?

      1. I figured, but just wanted clarify, just cubed it and put them in pans with my own bbq sauce, brown sugar and a small small splash of apple cider vinegar. They are already awesome, stole a hunk!! Thanks for the reply

        1. They came out spectacular ! I am in no rush to do brisket due to cost, prep and cooking time. I’d rather through a chuck on and make these burnt ends for wraps and sandwiches. Made my bbq sauce and cole slaw. The flavor blew me away and I am pretty critical of good bbq! Thanks for the advice!! I’d love to upload some pics, but don’t see a link??

  9. One of our local BBQ restaurants serves the most incredible burnt ends as their Friday daily special. Word has gotten out, and they always run out of them before the lunch run is over. I made “Poor Man’s Burnt Ends” in my smoker last weekend, using a 4-lb chuck roast. My menfolk raved about them! They said they taste as good as the ones from the BBQ joint. Best of all, they only took 8 hours instead of the 12-16 for a whole brisket… and only cost 12 bucks! As I write this I’m eating the last of the leftovers. YUM!!!

  10. You have the worst email system I’ve seen.
    I try to forward recipes to daughter.. it is sooooo slow or doesn’t let you type email address. And it very seldom forward email to daughter.
    I love your recipes and all but sure need some improvement

    1. So sorry Anne, I had no idea! There are so many moving parts on websites like this, sometimes it is super helpful to have feedback from readers when something isn’t working quite right. Thanks for taking the time to let me know and I will see if I can get it functioning better!

  11. Seriously fabulous! We are doing Whole30 now so I used a Whole30 bbq sauce that I made. I didn’t used the brown sugar at all. While I’m sure it’s marvelous with the brown sugar, it was very, very good without it. Thanks for the recipe. Will definitely be doing this again!

    1. Hey Lisa- there are instructions for adapting to your oven in the post above the recipe card. You simply follow the temperature guidelines listed in the recipe itself. Hope you enjoy!

      1. I didn’t see the directions for cooking without the smoker above the recipe card….. Am I missing something?

        1. Hey! I follow the same time and temperature guidelines listed in the recipe for your oven. If you want to add a hint of smoke, you can slather with a little liquid smoke or use smoked paprika in the rub.

  12. Like many, many others, I hit an internal temperature of 165* on two 3 pound roasts much sooner than the 5 hours you indicate. I have a Cookshack Inc. electric smoker, and I trust its thermostat, which I set at 275*. I had a temperature probe in each roast. Both probes showed 165* in less than 2 hours. I knew I wouldn’t have much bark in just 2 hours, so I let it go another hour. At 3 hours, I was at 190*, and that is when I foiled the meat and let it go for another hour to 200*. I rested the meat for an hour, cubed it, then put it in the indoor oven at 250* for an hour, then under the broiler about 5 min. It could not have been any better–moist, and falling apart tender. So, I loved the recipe, but I can’t imagine what the result would have been like had I used your timelines.

    1. Hey Mike- That’s great you were mindful enough to watch the temperatures on your own. That is why I definitely suggest using a thermometer and watching your own temperatures. Every piece of meat, every smoker cooks differently. Mine, a majority of the time, have taken that 5 hours to reach 165 degrees F. For your roasts to reach 165 degrees in less than two hours really makes me question the thermometer on your smoker, but without being there to check it can be hard to diagnose stuff like this. All in all, I’m glad the results were good and you loved the results you achieved.

      1. We have this in our electric smoker right now and the meat reached 165 a lot faster than the recipe indicated. We are continuing with instructions posted in recipe but am disappointed that we didn’t get the “bark” as indicated.. I am hoping it will still turn out as I love burnt ends but the burnt part is my favorite..

    2. Cookshack smokers are like many really good smokers and actually have a pretty wide temp range inside. Even though the thermometer stated 275, it could have been much hotter where your meat was sitting. I’ve found with most of the better smokers a temp of 245 is far better. For what it’s worth.
      Any smoker will take some trial and error, as all will cook slightly different than the other. Smoking is not hard, but it definitely is an art. Good art takes lots of practice. And, hey, you get to eat the results of all that practice, right?

  13. Has this been tried without adding the sugar? I am on a zero sugar diet, but can live with what’s in the BBQ sauce itself. I’m afraid all that brown sugar would send my body into shock! LOL

    1. Hey Ronnie- You definitely don’t need to sugar for these to be awesome! It definitely adds that meat candy taste, but they are delicious without it as well.

          1. I am trying this today with Stevia brown sugar substitute as I am diabetic and like you can handle the regular sauce but not much extra. Will report on how it works

  14. i used my traeger smoker on this recipe i must say your method is truly awesome the meat came out fantastic i wil keep using it

  15. I’m planning on doing this on an electric smoker rather than a grill or wood burner, should I still go 275 for my start up temperature? Or should I go a bit lower?

    1. I think 275 degrees is great! You can always adjust the temperature within that 225-275 range, the only thing it will massively affect is the time it takes to finish cooking.

  16. I made these before following your recipe and they were great. My question is, I also followed another recipe for pork belly burnt ends. For that the meat is cubed ahead of time and the rub applied to all sides for more bark. would that pre-cubing work here, or would that ruin it somehow?

    1. Hey Dave- pork belly has a way higher fat content than a chuck roast. Cubing it beforehand actually helps with the belly because it allows that fat to really render out. With chuck roasts, the end result would actually be a huge loss in overall moisture. For this cut, it’s better to keep it whole.

  17. If it’s at 195 degrees many hours before you planned it to be, should you go ahead and cube and then store until it’s time to finish smoking in the pan, or are you better to finish the entire recipe and then store/keep warm until dinner time? Or maybe take off and keep whole until time to cube and finish?

    1. If it’s hitting temperature early, I would finish the whole recipe, cover the pan tightly with foil, then keep warm in a low oven (like 175 degrees F) until you’re ready to serve.

    1. Big Easy cookers don’t smoke (unless I’m mistaken) so the results won’t be quite the same. I wish I was more familiar with that cooker so I could give you better suggestions!! If you try it, maybe you can come back and leave some tips you learned in case other people want to try it.

    1. You can smoke on a gas or charcoal grill. There are small metal boxes for woodchips that fit onto gas grills to add smoke, or you can simply add wood chunks to your charcoal.

  18. When you pull your wrapped roast and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting it up, do you keep it wrapped or unwrap? I wasn’t sure on this step!

  19. On my third try with this recipe. These burnt ends are “AMAZING”!!! Like you said every smoker cooks different. I’ve found that my Masterbuilt at 240 degrees takes the full 8 hours to cook. Thanks for sharing!!

  20. My first run was on a char broil gas grill using foil packets for smoke and indirect heat they came out very yummy, got a batch in the smoke hollow smoker right now kind of in the stall stage(160°) getting ready for the wrap stage I’m sure they will be scrumptious. Because I’m better regulating the heat with the smoker. Try these you will like them, it’s is meat candy for sure!

  21. Made these a couple weekends ago. Followed recipe and smoked a 3.5 Chuck for about 6.5-7 hours then peach butcher paper til done.

    Why pay big bucks for a brisket when these were devoured quickly.

  22. What is the exact cut of meat for this? I was just looking and saw beef tender Chuck and beef rib Chuck, and beef bottom roasts…I want to make sure I get the right one!

    1. It’s none of the above. Beef chuck ribs are great for low and slow, but not this process. Chuck tenders come from the same primal as the chuck roast, but it doesn’t have the same marbling. And bottom roasts come from a separate piece of the cow (the hind leg). A beef chuck roast (how they are most commonly labeled) is typically 1.5-2 inches thick with several muscles connected by fat and connective tissue.

  23. First round was good. Trying again today. Have time to perfect it. Enjoying new things. You can’t go wrong with Good meat!

  24. This was delicious. I made it for our Fathers Day dinner with a slight revision to the cooking instructions.
    I do not have a smoker and I also didn’t have time to put it on the grill for 5 hours so I put it in my Pressure cooker for 1.5 hours. I followed the rest of the recipe after the initial roast cooking.

  25. I am using a propane smoker and I want to make this recipe. What type of wood should I use? Hickory? Mesquite? Or a combination of the 2?

  26. What digital thermometer do you recommend? My smoker is reading 245. One digital thermometer reads 275 and another reads 306. Feeling frustrated.

  27. We have an electric smoker as well as s gas grill. Can we do all in smoker or should we switch to grill when cut up and in pan?

  28. My Grannie says it’s “poor mans” because up North (where we are originally from) Brisket use to be trash meat. No one used that.. just the poorer people. What the wealthy were missing

  29. Can you use a Arm roast ? Arms are still chuck but leaner so im worried there. I also have eye of round and rump roasts and rolled sirloin I don’t know what I’m going to plan with.

    1. If I’m making pickled onions,I would go with red onions. If you are grilling, you could use a white onion. I like Claussen pickles myself. If you like cheese, go ahead and add it to your sandwich!

  30. I made these simple poor man’s burnt ends, they were so delicious and way cheaper than brisket that’s for sure don’t get me wrong real burnt ends are better but these are just as good specially once you cubed them and rubbed with your favorite bbq sauce and thrown them back on the smoker I left them in a bit longer just because I really like them to be more burnt

  31. I question the recommended temp in the recipe. I used a 3.5 lb chuck roast at 275* verified by laser and accurate probe. Instead of 5 hours in you example it was less than 2. Every other place I checked chuck roast was recommended to cook at 225* Hopefully this was a typo.Thankfully I had the alarm set on my probe and averted a disaster. I do appreciate your recipes.Thanks

  32. I bought the wrong wood I bought mesquite instead of hickory. I’m talking flavor and bark wise will this still do ?

    1. You can absolutely do this in the oven, just follow the same time and temperature instructions. I haven’t tried the liquid smoke myself, so I would just refer to the bottle for how much you would use.

  33. Followed the recipe to a T except I put in oven instead. I couldn’t cube them because it was so tender it fell apart into shreds. What am I doing wrong?!

        1. When I did these on the grill I used foil packets containing about three ounces of cowboy blend wood chips each I used 4 packets totaI, In my Smoke Hollow propane smoker I load the wood pan twice with about four ounces of hickory and mesquite chunks both cookers produced a nice bark and smoke ring with a subtle smoke flavor and not overpowering. Just tender and delicious meat candy!

  34. ANy harm in putting rub on overnight? I made them once and they were delicious, just wondering if letting rub set longer will enhance flavor.

  35. Not done yet, but as others have mentioned my internal temp was reached much earlier than 5hours, set at 275 on my GMG smoker. Excited to see the out come.

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