These sweet, smoky and sticky super-tender bites of candy-like smoked brisket are an appetizer, main and dessert all rolled into one. They are the ultimate finger food, making them perfect for any BBQ or gathering.
Smoking meat is a labor of love, and this recipe is no exception. While it may be a little involved, the end result is well worth it. The juicy, super flavorful beef with its dark bark and addictive sweet and smoky flavors will have you coming back for more.
What Are Brisket Burnt Ends?
Brisket burnt ends are a barbecue dish that originated in Kansas City at Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque in the early 20th century. Their pitmasters would trim off the fattier end of the brisket (the deckle) and cook it until tender and flavorful. Then, cut it into bite-size pieces and served to their special customers.
Now burnt ends have become popular on barbecue restaurants' menus throughout the entire country. Today, you can order an open-faced burnt ends sandwich for $16.95 and it is also sold by the pound.
Making your own burnt ends at home is pretty easy, and they don't just have to be just made from brisket. Burnt ends can also be made from smoked pork belly and from smoked chuck ("poor man's burnt ends").
What You'll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card for all the specifics and instructions.
How to Make Brisket Burnt Ends
1. Season and Preheat the Smoker
Season the brisket point with kosher salt and coarse black pepper at least 45 minutes prior to smoking.
Preheat your smoker to 250° F with your preferred wood for smoking brisket. I like to use oak, pecan or a Texas blend for the pellet smoker.
2. Smoke the Brisket Point
Place the brisket in the smoker (with a probe thermometer inserted into the thickest part).
After a nice bark is formed and the internal temperature reaches 165° F, which will take between 3 to 4 hours depending on the thickness of the meat and your smoker setup, it's time to wrap the meat.
Tip: Always cook to temperature rather than by time.
4. Wrap the Brisket
Pull the brisket point off the smoker and tightly wrap it with butcher paper or aluminum foil. Be sure to re-insert the thermometer probe back into the thickest part.
Place back in the smoker and continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 185° F to 190° F.
Pull it out of the smoker and rest it for 30 minutes, still wrapped.
5. Make the Sauce
Make the burnt ends sauce in the aluminum pan while the brisket rests. Stir all the ingredients to combine.
6. Slice and Cube
Unwrap the brisket and slice it into bite-size ¾" to 1" cubes and add them to the pan with the sauce and stir to fully combine.
Discard any cubes that are only internal fat, as they can be too chewy.
6. Smoke Again
Increase smoker temperature to 275° F.
Place the pan in the smoker and continue to cook for about 1 to 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until the sauce is thickened and the burnt ends are caramelized.
They will be melt-in-your-mouth tender when they reach 203 to 210° F internal. Spot-check with a probe thermometer, and taste for texture and flavor.
Serve and enjoy with your favorite brisket sides.
How to Serve Them
These burnt ends are pretty much the perfect finger food on a plate (toothpick optional). Make them into burnt end sandwiches on brioche buns with coleslaw or sliders with Hawaiian buns. Burnt end tacos or rice bowls with plenty of veggies have totally different flavors and will be a hit.
My favorite sides to serve them with are Hawaiian macaroni salad or potato salad, and they go perfectly along with BBQ baked beans or creamy mashed potatoes. Don't forget some smoked apple crisp for dessert. Check out the whole list of sides for brisket.
Brisket burnt ends will take around 8+ hours in the smoker
Burnt ends will last 3 to 5 days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can be vacuum sealed and frozen for up to 6 months.
Leftover burnt ends can be reheated in a skillet or pot over medium heat, in a 325° F oven, or they can also be microwaved for about 1 minute, or until warm. You can also heat them again in the smoker or grill if you are firing that up.
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Brisket Burnt Ends Recipe
- Aluminum pan (½)
- Butcher Paper, unwaxed or aluminum foil
- 1 beef beef brisket point, trimmed (6 to 8 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon Diamond kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
Burnt Ends Sauce
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 to 1 ½ cup BBQ sauce
- ½ cup brown sugar (honey or maple syrup can also be used)
- Kosher salt
- Season the brisket with salt and pepper at least 45 minutes prior to cooking and let it sit out while you prep the smoker.
- Preheat your smoker to 250° F, using your preferred wood for smoke (I like oak or pecan for brisket).
- Smoke the brisket point (with a probe thermometer inserted into the thickest part) until the bark is formed and the internal temperature reaches 165° F, about 3 to 4 hours depending on the thickness of the meat.
- Pull the brisket point off the smoker and tightly wrap with butcher paper or aluminum foil. Be sure to re-insert the thermometer probe into the thickest area.
- Place back in the smoker and continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 185° F.
- Remove from the smoker and rest for 30 minutes.
- Make the burnt ends sauce in the aluminum pan. Whisk all the ingredients to combine.
- Unwrap the brisket and slice it into bite-size ¾" to 1" cubes and add them to the pan with the sauce. Discard any cubes that are only internal fat.
- Increase smoker temperature to 275° F.
- Add the cubed brisket to the pan with the sauce and toss to fully combine.
- Place the pan in the smoker for about 1 to 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until the sauce is thickened and the burnt ends are caramelized. They will be tender when they reach 203 to 210° F internal. Spot check with a probe thermometer and carefully taste for texture and flavor.
- Serve and enjoy!