Poor Man’s Burnt Ends

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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

By: Susie Bulloch
4.85 from 82 votes
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.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time8 hours
Resting Time15 minutes
Total Time8 hours 30 minutes
Servings6 people


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  • 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

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Susie is the BBQ Brain behind the Hey Grill Hey website. Her passion for smoked meats and developing fun, new recipes have landed her on the Food Network, cooking turkeys with Shaq, and on a couple of Guinness World Records. When she’s not grilling, she is hanging out with Todd and their three kids, preferably outdoors!

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Recipe Rating

Reader Reviews

365 Reviews

  1. Ron says:

    Great Recipe!!!
    I love burnt ends, but I don’t love smoking briskets.
    I did make a couple of swizzles to the recipe that I’ll share just in case others are thinking along the same lines.
    1) I cut my roast in half lengthwise to maximize the area exposed to smoke.
    2) I smoked for a couple of hours at 190 also to maximize the smoke flavor.
    3) I didn’t add the brown sugar, thought the bbq sauce (I use Trader Joe’s) was perfect by itself.

    The burnt ends were fall apart tender, moist, full of flavor.

  2. Dennis says:

    Are you sure your smoker was set to 275? My 3lb roast has been on for 2 hours and has come up from 44 degs internal to 134 degs already. There is going to have to be a very big stall for this thing to take 5 hours to get to 165…

    1. Dennis says:

      Well, just about 5hrs to 165! Took the last hour to go from 159 – 165… Looks like we are right on schedule!

      1. Dennis says:

        Wrapped and back on @275 the meat was up to 195 in about an hour… so right on queue! rested and cut into cubes. I should have gone smaller, on avg I thing my cubes were 1-1.5″ pieces. Sauced and tossed and back on at 275, 2 hours later a taster was very chewy and a bit tough. I ended up covering the pan with foil and turned the smoker up to 300. An hour later we were hungry so I pulled the pan off the heat. Let rest for 10 minutes and we ate…. Very tasty indeed, the smallest bites were oh so tender and delightful. The largest bites, well they needed to cook more! All in all a great learning experience and my next batch will be a crowd pleaser! Thanks for the recipe. I’ll probably cover the bites when they go in the pan with sauce next time…

    2. TC says:

      let your roast sit out at room temp before heading to the smoker. if it is cold, it will sweat and “cool” the meat as well as dry it out. hope this tip helps…

  3. Ed Hagerdorn says:

    My go-to recipe for burnt ends.

  4. Jason says:

    I made this recipe the first 2 times and they were delicious. Recently, the meat has turned out chewy. Any suggestions as what I may be doing wrong?

  5. Lindsee says:

    Why were mine dry? The flavor was great, but they were super chewy. Help please