What Are Burnt Ends? Discover the Meaty, Smoky, and Savory Delight

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 30, 2022

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Burnt ends are flavorful pieces of meat cut from the point half of a smoked brisket. A traditional part of Kansas City barbecue, burnt ends are considered a delicacy in barbecue cooking. Either the entire brisket is cooked whole, then the point end removed and cooked further, or the point and flat are separated prior to cooking.

In this article, I’ll explain what burnt ends are, how they’re made, and share some tips for making them at home.

What are burnt ends

Discovering the Secrets of Burnt Ends

Preparing burnt ends requires a unique technique that involves smoking and roasting cubes of the point cut until they achieve a smoky and crispy exterior. The internal temperature of the meat (here are the best types to smoke) should reach approximately 200-205°F to achieve the desired tenderness. Once the meat is cooked, it is sliced into small pieces or chopped into bits.

How Did Burnt Ends Become Popular?

Burnt ends became popularized in the 1970s when a restaurant in Kansas City started serving them as a special dish. Customers loved the unique flavor and texture of the dish, and soon other restaurants began putting their own spin on the recipe. Today, burnt ends are a staple in many barbecue restaurants and are enjoyed by people all over the world.

What Are the Different Types of Burnt Ends?

There are two main types of burnt ends: traditional and modern. Traditional burnt ends are made from beef brisket and are served with a sweet and smoky sauce. Modern burnt ends, on the other hand, can be made from pork or other types of meat and may use different ingredients and cooking techniques.

How Can You Make Your Own Burnt Ends?

If you want to try making burnt ends at home, you will need to start with a packer brisket (check out this pellet smoker recipe) and a good quality smoker. Here are the basic steps to prepare burnt ends:

  • Trim the brisket and separate the point from the flat.
  • Season the point with your desired rub or seasoning.
  • Smoke the point at a low temperature (around 225°F) until it reaches an internal temperature of 200-205°F.
  • Cut the point into small pieces or chop it into bits.
  • Toss the burnt ends in your favorite barbecue sauce and serve.

Learning how to prepare burnt ends takes time and practice, but once you master the technique, you’ll be able to create a delicious and unique dish that your friends and family will love.

What Makes Brisket Burnt Ends So Unique?

When it comes to burnt ends, the taste is what sets it apart from regular beef. The extended cooking process and low heat create a smoky, rich flavor that is hard to replicate. The tough parts of the brisket are transformed into tender bits of meat that melt in your mouth. The key to the taste is the fat content, which is rendered down during the cooking process, creating a juicy and flavorful dish. The sweet barbecue sauce adds a unique flavor to the dish, combining with the smoky taste to create the ultimate barbecue experience.

The Local Speciality

Burnt ends are a local speciality in Kansas City, and many restaurants in the area serve their version of the dish. It has become one of the biggest fan favorites in the barbecue world, with people traveling from all over to taste the unique flavor. The dish is often served with sides such as coleslaw and baked beans, adding to the overall experience.

Creating the Perfect Burnt Ends: What Goes into Making This Popular Dish?

Burnt ends can be made from both pork and beef, but the traditional burnt ends are made from the point cut of a beef brisket. This cut is fatty and contains a lot of internal marbling, which makes it ideal for creating the smoky, sweet, and fatty flavor that burnt ends are known for.

What Are the Steps Involved in Preparing Burnt Ends?

Preparing burnt ends involves a few different steps, including:

  • Trimming: To create the perfect burnt ends, you’ll need to trim the brisket point to remove any excess fat or gristle. This will help the meat cook evenly and prevent it from becoming too dry.
  • Seasoning: Once you’ve trimmed the meat, it’s time to season it with your desired rub or spice blend. Be sure to cover the meat evenly and let it rest for a little while to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.
  • Smoking: Burnt ends (here’s the best wood for smoking them) are typically smoked low and slow over wood until they reach an internal temperature of approximately 200-205°F. This can take anywhere from 8-12 hours depending on the size of the meat.
  • Chopping: Once the meat is fully cooked, it’s time to chop it into bite-sized pieces. Be sure to use a strong knife to avoid the meat falling apart.
  • Sauce: To add a little extra flavor, many people like to add a sweet and smoky sauce to their burnt ends. This can be a traditional barbecue sauce or something a little different.

Where Can I Learn More About Making Burnt Ends?

If you’re interested in learning more about making burnt ends, there are plenty of resources available online. Many barbecue enthusiasts have YouTube channels or blogs dedicated to creating the perfect burnt ends, and there are also plenty of recipes and tips available on food websites and forums. Just be sure to start with a decent piece of meat and don’t worry too much about achieving the “perfect” burnt ends – as long as they’re smoky, sweet, and bursting with flavor, you’re sure to have a great dish on your hands.

What Kind of Meat Makes the Perfect Burnt Ends?

When it comes to burnt ends, beef is the star of the show. Specifically, pitmasters use the point cut of the brisket to make burnt ends. This cut of meat is fattier than the flat cut, which makes it perfect for smoking and developing that delicious smoky flavor.

Trimming and Preparing the Meat

To make burnt ends, pitmasters start by trimming the point cut of the brisket. They remove any excess fat and slice the meat into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Then, they add a sauce made with sugar and other seasonings to the meat before returning it to the smoker to continue cooking.

The Cooking Process

The cooking process for burnt ends takes time and patience. Once the meat has been sauced, it goes back into the smoker for an additional few hours. During this time, the meat gets kissed with smoke and the sauce caramelizes to create a sweet and smoky flavor.

The Final Product

When the burnt ends are ready, they’re removed from the smoker and allowed to rest for a few minutes. This rest period allows the internal temperature of the meat to even out and ensures that the pieces are juicy and tender. The final product is a delicious dish loaded with flavor and texture.

Serving Burnt Ends

Burnt ends are a popular dish in barbecue restaurants and are often served as a main dish or as a side. They’re typically served with additional sauce on the side and can be sliced or served in smaller, bite-sized pieces.

Despite their popularity, burnt ends started as a way for pitmasters to save money. The fatty portions of the brisket were cheaper to buy and allowed them to pocket a little extra cash. Today, burnt ends are a famous dish in the barbecue world and are loved by customers and pitmasters alike. So, the next time you imagine yourself as a barbecue master, don’t forget to add burnt ends to your recipe list!

Trimming Brisket for Burnt Ends: A Meaty Process

Before diving into trimming your brisket for burnt ends, it’s important to make sure you have all the necessary tools and ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Brisket
  • Salt and pepper
  • Wood for smoking
  • Sauce for serving

The Trimming Technique

Trimming brisket for burnt ends is a delicate process that requires patience and precision. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start by removing any excess fat from the brisket. You want to leave about 1/4 inch of fat on the meat to keep it moist during the cooking process.
  2. Next, cut the brisket into two pieces: the flat and the point. The point is where the burnt ends come from.
  3. Trim any excess fat from the point, making sure to leave a thin layer to keep the meat moist.
  4. Cut the point into 1-2 inch cubes, making sure to cut against the grain.
  5. Season the cubes with salt and pepper, and let them sit for at least 30 minutes to absorb the flavors.

Creating Mouth-Watering Burnt Ends: A Step-by-Step Guide

  • Prepare your smoker or grill to a temperature of approximately 225-250°F.
  • Add some wood chunks or chips, such as apple or hickory, to create a smoky flavor.
  • Place the meat on the smoker or grill, making sure to leave enough space between the pieces so they can cook evenly.
  • Let the meat cook until it reaches an internal temperature of around 195°F, which normally takes around 6-8 hours.
  • Once the meat hits the desired temperature, remove it from the smoker or grill and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

Preparing the Sauce

  • In a saucepan, mix together 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and 1/4 cup of pure apple juice.
  • Heat the sauce over medium heat until it thickens to your desired consistency, adding water as needed to thin it out.
  • For an extra kick of flavor, add some chopped spicy peppers or hot sauce to the sauce.

Serving and Enjoying

  • Burnt ends are a popular dish that originated in traditional BBQ restaurants and have since been popularized by chefs and foodies alike.
  • They are typically served as a main dish or as a side to complement other BBQ favorites.
  • For an extended flavor experience, serve the burnt ends with some sliced pickles or coleslaw.
  • And there you have it, a mouth-watering dish that is worth the time and effort it takes to make.

Mastering the Art of Smoking Burnt Ends: How to Get the Perfect Cook Time

To smoke burnt ends, you need to start with a good piece of meat. Pork and beef are the most common choices, but you can use any meat that you love. The key is to choose a piece of meat that has a good amount of fat and is large enough to create a variety of burnt ends. Here’s how to prepare the meat:

  • Remove excess fat: Use a sharp butcher knife to carefully remove any excess fat from the meat. This will help the meat cook evenly and prevent it from becoming too greasy.
  • Cut the meat into cubes: Cut the meat into 1-2 inch cubes, making sure that each piece is roughly the same size. This will help the meat cook evenly and ensure that each piece is cooked to the same internal temperature.
  • Add your favorite rub: Prepare a rub with a variety of ingredients that you love. A great rub should include a mix of sweet, spicy, and savory flavors. Cover the meat with the rub and let it sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.

Tips for Beginners

If you’re new to smoking meat, here are some additional tips to help you master the art of smoking burnt ends:

  • Use a meat thermometer: A meat thermometer is essential for ensuring that your meat is cooked to the correct internal temperature.
  • Peeling the bark: The bark on the outside of the meat can become dry and dark during smoking. If you prefer a softer bark, you can peel it off before serving.
  • Let the meat rest: Allowing the meat to rest for at least 10-15 minutes after smoking will help the juices redistribute and create a more tender and flavorful end product.
  • Size matters: Choosing the right size of meat is key to creating a variety of burnt ends. A larger piece of meat will create larger burnt ends, while a smaller piece will create smaller ones.
  • Add additional sugar: If you prefer a sweeter flavor, you can add additional sugar to your rub or sauce.
  • Cover the meat: If you find that your meat is becoming too dark during smoking, you can cover it with foil to prevent it from burning.
  • Benefit from the fat: The fat in the meat will render down during smoking and create a rich and flavorful end product. Don’t be afraid to leave some fat on the meat for added flavor.

What Goes Well with Burnt Ends?

When it comes to serving burnt ends, there are a few traditional sides that are always a hit. These include:

  • Baked beans: The sweet and smoky flavor of baked beans complements the rich and fatty burnt ends perfectly.
  • Potato salad: A nice, creamy potato salad is a great way to balance out the richness of the meat.
  • Coleslaw: The fresh crunch of coleslaw is a nice contrast to the tender meat.

Other BBQ Dishes

If you’re looking to create a complete BBQ feast, there are plenty of other dishes that pair well with burnt ends. Some popular options include:

  • Grilled corn on the cob: The sweet and charred flavor of grilled corn is a great complement to the smoky meat.
  • Bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers: These little bites of spicy and savory goodness are a great addition to any BBQ spread.
  • Smoked brisket: If you’re a fan of beef, smoked brisket is a great choice to serve alongside burnt ends.

Creating Your Own Side Dishes

If you’re feeling creative, there are plenty of ways to create your own side dishes that pair well with burnt ends. Some ideas include:

  • Apple and onion slaw: This sweet and tangy slaw is a great complement to the smoky meat.
  • Red potato salad: A nice twist on the traditional potato salad, this version uses red potatoes and a tangy dressing.
  • Simmered greens: If you’re looking for something a little healthier, simmered greens are a great choice. They add a nice pop of color to the plate and are packed with protein.

Burnt Ends BBQ FAQ: Everything You Need to Know

Burnt ends are the trimmings from a smoked brisket. During the smoking process, the point cut of the brisket develops a rich, smoky bark and crunchy texture. Pitmasters trim off this flavorful section, cut them into cubes, sauce them, and then kiss them with smoke to caramelize them. The resulting dish is a classic barbecue favorite, known for its savory, caramelized flavor.

How do you prepare burnt ends?

Preparing burnt ends involves a few key steps:

  • Trim the brisket: To achieve the best results, it’s important to trim the brisket properly. Remove any excess fat and cut the meat into even pieces.
  • Smoke the brisket: Smoke the brisket until it’s cooked through and charred on the outside.
  • Remove the burnt ends: Trim off the burnt ends from the brisket and cut them into cubes.
  • Sauce the burnt ends: Combine your favorite barbecue sauces (such as tangy mustard or sweet and smoky) to create a delicious glaze for the burnt ends.
  • Smoke the burnt ends: Place the cubes of burnt ends back on the smoker and allow them to cook for an extended period of time, until they’re caramelized and crunchy.

What sauces are commonly used for burnt ends?

There are a variety of sauces that can be used to flavor burnt ends, including:

  • Classic barbecue sauce
  • Tangy mustard sauce
  • Sweet and smoky sauce
  • Spicy sauce
  • Vinegar-based sauce

What are some tips for making great burnt ends?

To achieve the best results when making burnt ends, consider the following tips:

  • Use the right cut of meat: The point cut of a brisket is the best choice for burnt ends.
  • Trim the brisket properly: Removing excess fat will help the burnt ends cook evenly.
  • Use a low and slow cooking method: Cooking the brisket at a low temperature for an extended period of time will result in tender, flavorful burnt ends.
  • Allow the burnt ends to cool before serving: This will help the flavor develop and the fat content to settle.
  • Combine sauces for a unique flavor: Experiment with different sauces to create a flavor that’s all your own.

Are burnt ends high in fat?

Yes, burnt ends are typically high in fat content due to the nature of the cut of meat used. However, removing excess fat during the preparation process can help to reduce the overall fat content.

What is the difference between burnt ends and regular barbecue?

Burnt ends are a specific dish that involves trimming and preparing a particular section of the brisket. Regular barbecue can include a variety of cuts of meat and is typically served in larger pieces, rather than cubes. Additionally, burnt ends are known for their crunchy, caramelized texture, which is achieved through a specific cooking process.


So there you have it- everything you need to know about burnt ends. They’re a delicious part of barbecue culture and a great way to use leftover meat. You can’t go wrong with a little bit of sauce and some melted cheese on top! So go ahead and give them a try!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.