Ever since I got into smoking meat, I’ve been told that burnt ends are the pinnacle of barbecue. To be honest, I never had much of an interest in making them. After waiting 12-14 hours of smoking a brisket, then letting it rest for at least another hour on top of that, I am not very keen to wait another 90 minutes to two hours burnt ends and to eat the meaty goodness I’ve labored (and sometimes starved myself) for.
I’ve had all sorts of good intentions to make them in the past. However, whenever I slice up the point of the brisket into cubes, they look so good already! Tender to the touch, those meat juices oozing out, the savory flavored bark on the outside, and that classic brisket smell my family and I have been taunted with for hours, I mean how can I wait any longer to eat?
Well, one day I decided to brave it. Exercising the determination of a cornered honey badger, I powered through the slicing of the point and tossed the meat cubes into a foil pan. Adding a few other ingredients, I put them back on the grill/smoker at 275F and after about 90 minutes, I had taken these meat cubes and turned them into something worth posting about!
I have tweaked with the ingredients here and there since then and I think I have figured out a pretty good recipe for burnt ends. Good enough that I feel confident sharing with you folks.
What are burnt ends?
Little nuggets of heaven. That’s what.
But how do you smoke a brisket?
Smoking the full brisket (also known as a full or packer) is a topic that could be covered over multiple postings in and of themselves (such as trimming the brisket, fat side up or fat side down, wrapping or no wrapping, etc.). In a nutshell, trim off some of the fat, rub with your favorite rub (or a simple 50/50 mix of salt and pepper), put on the grill/smoker at 250F using your favorite smoking wood (I prefer pecan, hickory, or oak). Let it ride until the brisket hits an internal temp in its thickest spot between 195F to 203F internal. Remove and let rest for about an hour before serving.
Now that we have briefly covered that, let’s get into the burnt ends! First off, take the finished brisket and separate the point and the flat. This is done by finding that thick vein of fat which divides the two portions of meat. Now that the point is separated, start cutting it into cubes, slicing about one to 1 1/2 inches apart. Place the cubes into a foil pan (I usually go with an 8×8).
The other ingredients
With the cubes of brisket in the foil pan, add about one tablespoon worth of your favorite beef rub (or salt n pepper). After that, grab your barbecue sauce and pour on about a cup. Follow up with a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, two teaspoons of honey, four tablespoons of butter and three ounces of Dr Pepper or whichever cola you prefer (but seriously, Dr Pepper goes well with barbecue).
Trust the process
Mix the ingredients together in the pan and wrap the top with aluminum foil. Preheat your grill/smoker up to 275F. Hopefully, you have done this during the prep so you have less time to wait. Once at the desired temp, put your foil wrapped pan on the grill and cook it for an hour.
After one hour, go back to the grill and remove the sheet of aluminum foil. Cook uncovered for another 30 to 60 minutes. We uncover at this point so all of the juices in the pan will start to reduce and help create some stickiness to the burnt ends themselves.
You don’t want burnt ends to be too saucy because it wouldn’t be much different than just dumping BBQ sauce on cut up pieces of brisket. Let the mix of ingredients cook into the cubes. Its normal to have some juices still in the pan when they are done.
How will I know when they’re done?
Once the burnt ends have finished cooking uncovered, remove from off of the grill and let them rest for about 10-15 minutes. This will help some of the remaining sauce to thicken some and also let the meat relax so juices can build up a little inside.
To tell if they are done, I like to do the squeeze test. I take a cube and then squeeze down with some pressure. If it shreds apart, then they are cooked well. I also like to have my burnt ends be a little sticky to the touch.
Yep, I made a brief video of making burnt ends that pretty much explains everything I just told you. Maybe I should’ve led with this.
- 1 brisket point, fully cooked (point can be from full brisket)
- 1 Cup BBQ sauce
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp rub
- 2 tsp honey
- 3 oz Dr Pepper
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat grill/smoker to 275 degrees
- Cook the full brisket, separating the point and flat when done. Slice the point into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes and place in foil pan
- In the foil pan, combine rub, BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, butter, honey, and Dr Pepper with the brisket cubes. Mix in pan and put sheet of foil over it.
- Place on grill/smoker and let it cook for one hour. Remove foil and cook uncovered for another 30-45 minutes.
- Remove from grill, rest for about 10-15 minutes before serving.
**THE FULL BRISKET WILL NEED TO BE COOKED PRIOR TO MAKING BURNT ENDS**
After burnt ends have cooked for an hour and you unwrap the foil, feel free to drain some of the excess juices in the foil pan
Make sure the burnt ends render when you give them a squeeze.
Aim to have them be a little sticky.
I use Dr Pepper, but feel free to use your favorite cola instead
Serving Size:3 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 245 Total Fat: 16g Saturated Fat: 6.2g Cholesterol: 90mg Sodium: 41mg Carbohydrates: 0g Protein: 24g