My poor man’s burnt ends recipe is a great way to get all of the classic BBQ flavors you love in burnt ends without having to smoke a whole brisket. By using a chuck roast instead of brisket, these chuck roast burnt ends save you some pocket change as well as some time spent at the smoker (without compromising on flavor!).
What Are Poor Man’s Burnt Ends?
Poor man’s burnt ends are beef burnt ends made with a chuck roast instead of a brisket.
BBQ Brisket Burnt Ends traditionally come from the fat-marbled point of a whole packer brisket. Slow smoked until they are nearly fall-apart tender and then basted in finger-licking BBQ sauce, they are the best bite in the BBQ world. These burnt ends are similar to brisket-style but might be a bit less intimidating than traditional brisket burnt ends.
Poor man’s burnt ends tend to be a cheaper option than brisket burnt ends, but you can often find meat that is relatively comparable in price. Think of them as bite-sized pieces of beef that are perfectly smoked and exploding with BBQ flavor.
Chuck Roast Burnt Ends
I understand that not everyone has the time to smoke up an entire whole packer brisket to make burnt ends. When you are craving burnt ends but don’t want to break the bank or make a smaller portion, using a chuck roast gives you a great flavor on a budget. I’ve also found that chuck roasts have a natural beefy flavor very similar to brisket, so the cut works amazing for making this burnt ends recipe!
For this recipe, I’m using a 3-pound chuck roast instead of a full-packer brisket to make a version called “Poor Man’s Burnt Ends.”
Poor Man’s Burnt Ends vs. Brisket Burnt Ends
For classic burnt ends, a whole brisket is smoked and the top muscle (the point) is removed while the leaner muscle (the flat) is sliced and served. The point is loaded with fatty marbling and amazing flavor. To enhance the flavor of the meat, it is often cubed and tossed with BBQ sauce before being grilled to meat candy perfection.
Honest truth, the price in my grocery store for brisket vs. chuck roast was almost identical (about $3/lb), so I don’t know where the phrase “poor man’s” even came from. Despite this, I would definitely make these again any time I’ve craving burnt ends but don’t want to smoke a whole brisket.
A whole brisket typically costs $40-50 and this chuck roast was under $10. My chuck roast burnt ends came in at about 3 pounds and was perfect for feeding my family.
Both burnt ends turn out delicious and both have a unique, delicious flavor, so I recommend trying out each type to determine which one is your favorite.
How to Make Poor Man’s Burnt Ends
The process for Poor Man’s Burnt Ends is very similar to smoking a whole brisket, but with the final intent of turning the whole cut of beef into BBQ burnt ends. This means more flavorful bark all the way around and oftentimes more even cooking. (It’s also fairly easy as well!)
Here’s the step-by-step on making these delicious treats:
Turn on your smoker and allow it to preheat to 275 degrees F with your favorite wood. I like to use hickory or oak pellets for my burnt ends as it beautifully complements the chuck roast.
Slather the roast in mustard then season. I recommend using Beef Rub, but you can also use simple salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Season the roast liberally.
SMOKE THAT MEAT!
Place the chuck roast on your smoker and smoke it until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. For me, it took 5 hours to reach this temperature, so adjust smoking time as needed.
WRAP THE ROAST.
Wrap the chuck roast in butcher paper or foil and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees F (this takes about an hour).
REST, CUT, AND SEASON.
Allow the roast to rest for 15-20 minutes. Cut into small cubes and season with 1/4 cup brown sugar and BBQ Sauce and place them in a foil baking pan.
Place the pan back on the grill grates of the smoker, and cook for up to 2 more hours.
ADD FINISHING TOUCHES.
Sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar and the remaining BBQ sauce. Return to the grill for just a few more minutes until everything is heated through and well mixed. Serve hot.
Tips for Cooking Poor Man’s Burnt Ends
Before you dive into this recipe, take note of a few tips to keep in mind that will help you get a great result.
- Cook to temperature, not to time. Often we want a recipe to give us an exact cook time, but the best way to cook is always to temperature. Every cut of meat is different, and each will finish at a different time. If you cook to temperature instead of time, you will never miss!
- Don’t forget to wrap. This recipe works fine wrapped in either butcher paper or foil; however, I prefer to use butcher paper.
- Meat grade matters! Normally with brisket, burnt ends are made from the fattiest piece of the muscle, so when you are choosing a chuck roast, try to select one with as much intramuscular fat as you can. This doesn’t mean you buy a roast with big, white chunks of fat in it. Rather, look for meat with small, white flecks of fat within the muscle.
- 3 pounds chuck roast
- 2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
- 3 Tablespoons Beef Rub (or 1 Tablespoon each coarse salt, ground black pepper, and garlic powder)
- ½ cup BBQ sauce (or your favorite ketchup)
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- Preheat. Preheat your smoker for indirect grilling at 275 degrees F. Use hickory or oak wood for the most complementary smoke flavor.
- Season. Slather the chuck roast with yellow mustard then season liberally on all sides with Hey Grill Hey Beef Rub or equal parts salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Smoke. When your smoker is up to temperature, place the seasoned roast on the smoker and close the lid. Smoke the roast until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F (this took 5 hours on my smoker). You should have a fairly nice dark bark on the exterior of your roast at this point.
- Wrap. Remove the roast from the grill and wrap it in either butcher paper or foil. Return the roast to the grill and continue smoking until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees F (this took just over 1 hour).
- Rest and cut. Remove the wrapped roast from the grill and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. Cut into 3/4 inch cubes and transfer to a foil baking pan.
- Add sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup brown sugar and drizzle with most of the Everything BBQ sauce, reserving a couple of tablespoons for later. Toss gently to coat all of the pieces in a little of the sauce.
- Finish smoking. Place the pan on the grill, close the lid and cook for an additional 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the sauce is bubbly and the cubed bits of beef are falling apart tender.
- Enjoy. Sprinkle with the additional 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar and the remaining BBQ sauce. stir gently and return to the grill for just a few more minutes until everything is well incorporated. Serve hot as a main course or on white bread/buns with pickles and white onions.