Some of the best inventions come from finding ways to use up “leftovers” and in our opinion Brisket Burnt Ends are one of the best inventions ever!
You may have heard of Brisket Burnt Ends or known that they are a specialty of Kansas City BBQ, but do you know what exactly are Brisket Burnt Ends?
Well…they’re the burnt tips of one end of a brisket.
That’s underselling them, so I’ll explain a bit more. Brisket Burnt Ends come about from finding a way to use the fatty, hard to slice point end of a brisket. Typically, in a BBQ restaurant, a smoked brisket would be sliced flat end first into nice slices for sandwiches or platters.
That then leaves the fatty nose or point end left with no purpose. It’s hard to slice, has a lot of fat, and is shaped kinda weird.
Well, one day, some genius had the idea of cubing up that nose, tossing in it that delicious BBQ sauce Kansas City is famous for, and returning it to the smoker.
The brisket pieces have the fat cook off, get crunchy, and the sauce caramelizes to perfection. Voila – brisket burnt ends!
Do I have to cook a whole brisket to make Brisket Burnt Ends?
No, you do not. This recipe is written to specifically make burnt ends and burnt ends only. It’s a great recipe if you would like to skip the time involved to make a whole brisket, or don’t have enough people at your house to feed with the meat a whole brisket yields.
Well, actually, I’m planning on cooking a whole brisket – do you have a good recipe?
Okay! That’s fair!
Yes, here are our three most popular brisket recipes that cover the three most popular cooking methods:
If you are cooking a whole brisket, and want to make burnt ends, simply cook your brisket as normal, then when the brisket reaches 185ºF, cut the nose portion off, and proceed with this recipe at step 3. You can then return the flat portion of your brisket to foil and continue cooking to 203ºF.
How should I order the brisket if I just want to make Brisket Burnt Ends?
If you’re looking to just make brisket burnt ends (which is the way this recipe is written), we recommend ordering a 5 – 6 pound brisket point end (or nose end) that has been trimmed of all hard fat.
If you stop at Lake Geneva Country Meats, we are happy to do this for you, or you can also just order an untrimmed brisket and trim off that fat you don’t like. You want to have a decent amount of soft, white fat cover to protect the meat as it cooks, but you don’t want hard, crusty fat left on the brisket – that’s bad fat!
Could I use a different cut of meat for this recipe?
You can definitely try this recipe with other cuts of meat. If you would like to make not brisket burnt ends but stick with beef here are two cuts to try:
- Boneless Chuck Roast will cook in a similar way, but has more fat, so will need more trimming when you cube up the meat.
- Beef Short Ribs have a very rich flavor and a moderate amount of fat. Order a full plate of short ribs, then remove the bones prior to cooking.
If you want to try a different animal for your burnt ends, pork belly burnt ends are very popular and very yummy! Here’s a Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends recipe from Oklahoma Joe’s if you want to give it a try at home!
How do you know when to do each step of this recipe?
When you are cooking anything, but particularly when you are cooking BBQ, we think it’s very important to cook to temperature not to time.
Briskets are notoriously fickle and based on your smoker setup, the amount of fat in your brisket, and many other factors, they will take different amounts of time to cook: you need to use a meat thermometer to monitor the cook.
You can use a basic dial type of meat thermometer, but if you’re going to cook meat on a regular basis, we recommend getting a quality probe meat thermometer. We recommend this wireless ThermoPro model for its quality and convenience.
Can I make this recipe without a smoker?
Yes, you can make this recipe without a smoker, your brisket burnt ends just won’t have as much smoke flavor to them. Here’s how:
- Use one of the recipes listed above to make your brisket in a slow cooker or oven. Once the meat reaches 185ºF, follow steps 3 & 4 of this recipe.
- Instead of then putting the aluminum foil tray into a smoker, add the brisket to an oven and cook until they are done.
- Alternatively, you can sear the sauced brisket pieces in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, flipping frequently until they are caramelized. This method will be faster, but not as tender.
What type of BBQ sauce should I use?
Your favorite! That’s the short and easy answer.
Brisket burnt ends are a Kansas City specialty, so we do recommend a Kansas City-style sauce; something tomato based with a dash of sweetness.
You can use a spicy version of a tomato based sauce if you like, but this recipe won’t caramelize correctly without a sauce that has sugar in it, so don’t use a Carolina-style mustard sauce, for instance.
Let’s get cooking! I hope you like our Brisket Burnt Ends recipe – we tried to keep it simple and easy. There are many tips and tricks that help make BBQ taste even better, so if you have suggestions on how to make these Brisket Burnt Ends even better, let us know!
Write us a comment, or leave us a rating with your thoughts. Sharing is caring, and BBQ is all about sharing.
- 5 – 6 lb Brisket (nose / point piece)
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- 2 – 3 cup BBQ Sauce (your favorite)
Liberally season your brisket with salt and pepper, or your favorite BBQ rub. Once the brisket is seasoned, place on a smoker that has been heated to 250ºF and is set up to cook with indirect heat and smoke. Close the smoker and start cooking.
Once the brisket has reached 150ºF, about 4 hours, wrap the brisket in foil and return to the smoker. Continue cooking until the brisket reaches 185ºF, about another 2 – 3 hours.
Remove the brisket from the smoker and cut into approximately 1″ thick cubes. We recommend using heat gloves while doing this so you don’t burn your hands!
While you’re cutting your brisket, you will notice there are a number of large seams of fat, which you will need to trim around and discard.
Add the brisket pieces into a mixing bowl, and pour the BBQ sauce over the top of them. Mix to combine, then pour the brisket cubes into a large foil tray.
Increase the heat of the smoker to 300ºF and put the tray onto the smoker, still cooking over indirect heat. Smoke is not necessary at this point. Cook for for about 2 more hours, until the sauce has caramelized, and serve warm.
Enjoy your brisket burnt ends on a sandwich, as a snack, or as part of a BBQ platter. Cheers!