Poor Man’s Burnt Ends [Recipe + Tips]

Poor Man’s Burnt Ends [Recipe + Tips]

If you’re craving some burnt ends but don’t want to deal with a whole brisket, chuck roast is the perfect substitute. These poor man’s burnt ends are every bit as smokey, sweet, and tender as traditional ones. Make ’em right, and your guests won’t know the difference. Enjoy!

Poor Man's Burnt Ends Recipe

Here’s how to make chuck roast burnt ends:

Ingredients

  • ~3 lb. chuck roast
  • 2 tablespoons beef dry rub
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Directions

  1. Apply dry rub to all sides of chuck roast.
  2. Smoke at 250° F until a crusty bark forms. This typically takes 3-4 hours.
  3. When you are satisfied with the bark and smoke, remove the meat and wrap it in foil or pink butcher paper.
  4. Continue cooking at 250° until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 200°.
  5. Remove the meat and cut it into 1″ cubes. Combine cubes with BBQ sauce, honey, and brown sugar in a foil pan.
  6. Finally, place sauced cubes uncovered on smoker for another 30 minutes, which will allow the sauce to set.

Recipe Tips and Notes

chuck roast for burnt ends on smoker
  • When choosing a chuck roast, look for a piece with nice marbling. Burnt ends are supposed to be fatty, and chuck roast is more susceptible to drying out.
  • I choose when to wrap solely based on the bark, not the temperature. When dealing with a brisket, it’s typically advised to wrap when the temperature stalls. However, chuck roast is much smaller, so you don’t have to be as concerned about the temperature stalling out. Once a deep mahogany exterior has formed, it’s time to wrap.
  • You can wrap the chuck roast in butcher paper or foil. If you’re not familiar with pink butcher paper, just know that it doesn’t create as tight of a seal as foil, thus allowing your meat to breathe a little more. That means butcher paper will help maintain a crusty bark, while foil will soften it. But really, there’s not a huge difference.
  • Be careful not to overcook your meat, as it will shred apart when you try to cut it into cubes. 200° is a good temperature to shoot for, and definitely don’t go over 210°. With a small piece of meat the temperature can rise fast, so be sure to keep an eye on it!

Are "Poor Man's" Burnt Ends Actually Cheaper?

In my area, brisket and chuck roast are roughly the same price per pound. In fact, the price of chuck roast is often higher than prime brisket from Costco, so the “poor” part doesn’t really seem relevant to price. Instead, I think it’s just a way of noting that burnt ends made from chuck roast are a slight step down compared to brisket burnt ends. Don’t get me wrong, they are still absolutely delicious, but if there’s a choice between chuck roast and brisket, I think just about everybody would choose brisket. Chuck roast just doesn’t have the intramuscular marbling like a brisket point does.

And while I often come across just the brisket flat for sale at the grocery store or butcher, I don’t think I’ve ever come across just the point, which is what traditional burnt ends are made from. That means you’re always buying the whole (“packer”) brisket to make burnt ends. So you will definitely be saving on the total weight and price, and saving yourself some hassle if you’re just interested in burnt ends.

Making (or Buying) a Dry Rub

First off, salt and pepper alone are completely fine if you don’t have a store-bought beef rub or don’t want to make one. The burnt ends get a ton of flavor from the barbecue sauce, brown sugar, and honey, so it’s okay to go light with the dry rub ingredients initially.

For a little more complexity, add some garlic powder to the salt and pepper. Equal parts salt, pepper, and garlic powder make for a great “all purpose” rub that’s perfect on beef. From there, you can really add anything you want. Mustard powder, onion powder, and paprika are common in rubs, and if you like heat, throw in some cayenne. Just remember that the finishing sauce will have plenty of sweetness, so there’s no need for any kind of sugar in the rub.

If you’re looking to buy a rub that’s great on any kind of beef, I always recommend the Black OPS Brisket Rub from Oakridge.

Can You Make These in the Oven?

You can definitely make poor man’s burnt ends in the oven, but you won’t be able to develop a smokey, beautiful bark. If you want to add some smokey flavor, include some smoked paprika or smoked salt in your rub. Otherwise, just follow the recipe instructions – I promise they will still be delicious, real smoke or not.

close-up of poor mans burnt ends

To Sum Up

I hope you’ll give these a try, especially if you haven’t made chuck roast burnt ends before. They work great as an appetizer, on a bun, or even as a main dish. I think you’ll be surprised how close they are to the “real” thing! And if you’re in the mood for another spin on burnt ends, check out my pork belly burnt ends recipe.

As always, please leave any questions or comments below.

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