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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
- 3 pound chuck roast
- 1/2 cup BBQ sauce your favorite brand/recipe
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon coarse Kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- Preheat your smoker for indirect grilling at 275 degrees F. Use hickory or oak wood for the most complementary smoke flavor.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.