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posted June 28, 2022

Poor Man’s Burnt Ends

My poor man’s burnt ends recipe is a great way to get all of the classic BBQ flavors you love in burnt ends without having to smoke a whole brisket. By using a chuck roast instead of brisket, these chuck roast burnt ends save you some pocket change as well as some time spent at the smoker (without compromising on flavor!).

Poor man's burnt ends in a pile with text overlay - Poor Man's Burnt Ends.

What Are Poor Man’s Burnt Ends?

Poor man’s burnt ends are beef burnt ends made with a chuck roast instead of a brisket.

BBQ Brisket 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, they are the best bite in the BBQ world. These burnt ends are similar to brisket-style but might be a bit less intimidating than traditional brisket burnt ends.

Poor man’s burnt ends tend to be a cheaper option than brisket burnt ends, but you can often find meat that is relatively comparable in price. Think of them as bite-sized pieces of beef that are perfectly smoked and exploding with BBQ flavor.

Beef seasoning being sprinkled on a mustard-rubbed chuck roast.

Chuck Roast Burnt Ends

I understand that not everyone has the time to smoke up an entire whole packer brisket to make burnt ends. When you are craving burnt ends but don’t want to break the bank or make a smaller portion, using a chuck roast gives you a great flavor on a budget. 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!

For this recipe, I’m using a 3-pound chuck roast instead of a full-packer brisket to make a version called “Poor Man’s Burnt Ends.”

Smoked chuck roast wrapped in peach butcher paper.

Poor Man’s Burnt Ends vs. Brisket 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. To enhance the flavor of the meat, it is often cubed and tossed with BBQ sauce before being grilled to meat candy perfection.

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. Despite this, I would definitely make these again any time I’ve craving burnt ends but don’t want to smoke a whole brisket.

A whole brisket typically costs $40-50 and this chuck roast was under $10. My chuck roast burnt ends came in at about 3 pounds and was perfect for feeding my family.

Both burnt ends turn out delicious and both have a unique, delicious flavor, so I recommend trying out each type to determine which one is your favorite.

Chuck roast on the grill reading a temperature of 165 degrees F.

How to Make Poor Man’s Burnt Ends

The process for Poor Man’s Burnt Ends is very similar to smoking a whole brisket, but with the final intent of turning the whole cut of beef into BBQ burnt ends. This means more flavorful bark all the way around and oftentimes more even cooking. (It’s also fairly easy as well!)

Here’s the step-by-step on making these delicious treats:

  1. Preheat. Turn on your smoker and allow it to preheat to 275 degrees F with your favorite wood. I like to use hickory or oak pellets for my burnt ends as it beautifully complements the chuck roast.
  2. Season. Slather the roast in mustard then season. I recommend using my Hey Grill Hey Beef Rub (available from the Hey Grill Hey Store), but you can also use simple salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Season the roast liberally.
  3. Smoke that meat! Place the chuck roast on your smoker and smoke it until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. For me, it took 5 hours to reach this temperature, so adjust smoking time as needed.
  4. Wrap the roast. Wrap the chuck roast in butcher paper or foil and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees F (this takes about an hour).
  5. Rest, cut, and season. Allow the roast to rest for 15-20 minutes. Cut into small cubes and season with 1/4 cup brown sugar and Everything BBQ Sauce (or your favorite Kansas-City Style BBQ Sauce) and place them in a foil baking pan.
  6. Finish smoking. Place the pan back on the grill grates of the smoker, and cook for up to 2 more hours.
  7. Add finishing touches. Sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar and the remaining BBQ sauce. Return to the grill for just a few more minutes until everything is heated through and well mixed. Serve hot.

Poor man's burnt ends in an aluminum pan.

Tips for Cooking Poor Man’s Burnt Ends

Before you dive into this recipe, take note of a few tips to keep in mind that will help you get a great result.

  • Cook to temperature, not to time. Often we want a recipe to give us an exact cook time, but the best way to cook is always to temperature. Every cut of meat is different, and each will finish at a different time. If you cook to temperature instead of time, you will never miss! For these burnt ends, I used ThermoWorks 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!
  • Don’t forget to wrap. This recipe works fine wrapped in either butcher paper or foil; however, I prefer to use butcher paper. Lucky for you, we have some awesome Hey Grill Hey Peach Butcher Paper in the Hey Grill Hey Store!
  • Meat grade matters! Normally with brisket, burnt ends are made from the fattiest piece of the muscle, so when you are choosing a chuck roast, try to select one with as much intramuscular fat as you can. This doesn’t mean you buy a roast with big, white chunks of fat in it. Rather, look for meat with small, white flecks of fat within the muscle.

Poor man's burnt ends in a pile on a cutting board.

More Burnt Ends Recipes

Ready to take on more burnt ends recipes? Check out these other tasty nuggets below!

Poor Man’s Burnt Ends Recipe

Follow the video below and I’ll show you step-by-step how I make these easy Poor Man’s Burnt Ends at home. I’m all about helping you make the best backyard BBQ of your life, so check out more of my smoking and grilling recipe videos on YouTubeInstagram, or our Facebook Page. Follow along and let’s make awesome food together!

This post was originally published in May 2019. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

Poor man's burnt ends in a pile.

Poor Man's Burnt Ends

Susie Bulloch
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.
4.85 from 76 votes
Prep Time : 15 minutes
Cook Time : 8 hours
Resting Time : 15 minutes
Total Time : 8 hours 30 minutes
Servings : 6 people
Calories : 506kcal



  • 3 pounds chuck roast
  • 2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons Hey Grill Hey Beef Rub (or 1 Tablespoon each coarse salt, ground black pepper, and garlic powder)
  • ½ cup Hey Grill Hey Everything BBQ sauce (or your favorite ketchup-based BBQ sauce)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar


  • Preheat. Preheat your smoker for indirect grilling at 275 degrees F. Use hickory or oak wood for the most complementary smoke flavor.
  • Season. Slather the chuck roast with yellow mustard then season liberally on all sides with Hey Grill Hey Beef Rub or equal parts salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Smoke. When your smoker is up to temperature, place the seasoned roast on the smoker and close the lid. 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. Remove the roast from the grill and wrap it in either butcher paper or foil. Return the roast to the grill and continue smoking until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees F (this took just over 1 hour).
  • Rest and cut. 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.
  • Add sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup brown sugar and drizzle with most of the Everything BBQ sauce, reserving a couple of tablespoons for later. Toss gently to coat all of the pieces in a little of the sauce.
  • Finish smoking. 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.
  • Enjoy. 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.


Calories: 506kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 156mg | Sodium: 433mg | Potassium: 850mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 85IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 5.1mg
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