You have to try these tender, caramelized Smoked Brisket Burnt Ends
The act of making smoked brisket burnt ends can be challenging, but the end product is some of the most rewarding delicious barbeque you can make. Brisket burnt ends are a challenge simply because how long it takes to make a brisket before you can even start on the burnt ends. The steps involved are quite simple however, and you’ll feel like a smoking pro by the end of the process.
At a high level, this recipe involves cooking a whole packer’s cut of brisket before cutting off the point. The point is chopped into large chunks and slathered in sauce before going back into the smoker to crisp up.
If you’re looking for instructions on how to initially prepare the brisket, you can check my recipe here.
What are brisket burnt ends?
Smoked Brisket Burnt ends are cubed chunks of meat from the point of the brisket that are cooked a second time in BBQ sauce. The end products are sweet and savory chunks of meat, possibly with some char, and definitely with a caramelized saucy crust.
The “point” of the brisket is the marbled uneven side of the brisket opposite the flat. You can refer to the annotated picture below, once you see one in real life it’ll be impossible to miss. This section of meat is very tender and rich in flavor from the marbling of the fat. However, there is generally too much fat to make the beautiful slices of flat brisket you get at a restaurant. In this way, the point is perfect to be picked apart into meat cubes and cooked further. The extra fat content keeps the meat moist through the second cook, and the taste is unbeatable.
Can I make burnt ends from raw brisket?
You might be tempted to skip the 13 hour smoke on a whole brisket, and jump straight to making burnt ends. I do not recommend attempting to make smoked brisket burnt ends directly from raw cubed brisket. This is due to both the nature of the brisket cut and due to the recipe itself.
- Brisket is actually a very tough cut of meat.
Historically brisket was so tough it was sold cheaply or cut up as filler. You have to slow cook or smoke a brisket at a low temperature for a long time to create the incredibly tender meat that you’re used to eating. Trying to cook the burnt ends directly, in a pan or on a grill, will lead to a very tough and unhappy meal.
- Traditionally, burnt ends need to be cooked twice.
In part this is to caramelize the sauce, but I also find the texture of most foods to be quite different when cooked a second time. It leads to crispier food with a probably greater Maillard effect. You can read more about the Maillard effect here in this serious eats article. It’s a fancy way of defining the way meat browns when cooked.
A middle ground: Separate the point and smoke it directly
If you don’t have enough time for a 12 hour smoke, you can cut the entire point off the brisket before smoking, and smoke the point separately. This will result in a thinner chunk of meat in the smoker and it should shave hours off the initial smoke. Just get the point to 195F before carving it into burnt ends.
Can brisket burnt ends only be made from the point?
You might also be tempted to use the flat of the brisket for burnt ends. In fact, many grocery stores sell just the brisket flat in smaller, more economical packages. I probably wouldn’t use a flat in this way, as the flat is not ideally suited for burnt ends. The fattier nature of the point helps the burnt ends survive the second cook. If all you have access to is the flat, or you’re determined to make a ton of burnt ends, you can probably get away with it. Just be prepared for the flat pieces to be somewhat drier and possibly more charred. Since they’re already cooked, you can probably pull the flat pieces out a bit early.
What kind of sauce should I use on my Smoked Brisket burnt ends?
Generally speaking, use whatever kind of barbeque sauce you like. You can make your own BBQ sauce, but I was so tired by the end of the smoke that a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s did the trick. Overall, try to pick a sauce with a sweet component, as you want the sugars in the sauce to caramelize around the meat. This might also encourage you to avoid sugar free sauces for this recipe.
Recipe for Smoked Brisket Burnt Ends
Smoked Brisket Burnt Ends
- 1 Smoker Pit Boss or other smoker
- 1 9x13" foil tray or other tray for smoking
- 1 smoked packer's brisket Or just the brisket point
- 4 oz Barbeque Sauce
- Start with a freshly smoked brisket. Refer to the recipe above for how to smoke a brisket. Cut off the point from the flat, and set the flat aside.
- Carve off any large chunks of fat from the point and discard. Chop the remaining point meat into 1-2” cubes. Leaving some fat attached to them is ok.
- Place the cubes into a foil tray (or any tray that can be smoked), and mix the cubes in BBQ sauce. The amount of sauce needed depends entirely on how much meat you have, so add sauce in small batches until all the chunks are nicely coated. I used about a third of a new bottle of BBQ sauce on them.
- Preheat your smoker to 280F. Place the burnt ends into the smoker and smoke until they’re caramelized to your liking. I pulled mine after 2 hours, once I could see the sauce caramelizing and the meat darkening. If you prefer more char, continue smoking and periodically check the meat to see if it’s sufficiently darkened. Once done, pull the meat from the smoker, serve, and enjoy.