BBQ Brisket Burnt Ends: Little Bites Of Heaven
- Trim the excess fat from the beef brisket.
- Season with your favorite dry rub.
- Set the smoker to 225-250 degrees and place the brisket.
- When the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 160-170 degrees wrap it in aluminum foil and cook a bit more.
- When the brisket reaches a temperature of 195 degrees, cut the point from the flat. Cover the flat again and return it to the smoker.
- Cut the point into one-inch chunks, toss them in BBQ sauce and put them back in the smoker for 1-2 hours.
- When the sauce is caramelized, take them out and let them cool before serving.
1. Let’s Talk About Brisket
Brisket is a single cut of meat taken from the breast or pectoral muscles of the cow. This meat is usually on the tough side, not as tender as other cuts, because this part of the cow’s body is exercised and moved a lot.
Because this beef is tough, the process required to cook brisket is long and slow (from 6 to 20 hours in a smoker). So it may not be the go-to recipe for a quick lunch; but it’s definitely worth the wait. Brisket is an incredibly flavorful dish with a solid fan club.
Moreover, even though it takes a long time to be ready; the cooking process is not really time-consuming, it’s actually quite simple (even relaxing, BBQ lovers say) and can be enjoyed by the whole family on a Sunday gathering, for example, or a sunny holiday.
And there is something really unique about brisket that has become quite inseparable from the recipe itself: brisket burnt ends!
2. What Are Burnt Ends?
The burnt ends are those blackened bits of meat, formed by melted fat and smoked rind of beef brisket, in this case.
They are a bit crispy, a bit sweet, a bit smokey and the absolute star of any brisket recipe. They’re often called “meat candy”. It’s true you can get some kind of burnt ends with other meats like pork belly or ham; but originally, burnt ends belong to beef brisket.
The term “burnt end” may come from the smoke flavor, but don’t worry, they’re not really burnt. They’ve been cooked to result in a crusty bite with an intense flavor.
But who started the whole thing? Not surprisingly, burnt ends originated in Kansas City, Missouri, the “barbecue capital of the world”. The story began in a barbecue joint where smoked brisket was prepared in plain sight, in front of the customers.
The burnt ends were cut, discarded, and piled up. Surely, some people could not resist the aroma of what looked like crunchy caramelized pieces of meat. Eventually, customers were allowed to eat them as leftovers, free of charge.
Things escalated quickly. Clients began asking for these free leftovers and the demand for brisket burnt ends grew so much, they ended up being included on the menu. Burnt ends are part of Kansas' own dining tradition.
Today, not only are they not seen as ‘disposable’ pieces, they are highly sought-after and even served as a recipe on their own, dipped in a barbecue sauce as a snack or even served to complement other recipes like casseroles, beans, chili or gumbo.
3. How To Make Burnt Ends?
First of all, you will need a prime brisket cut, and preferably a whole Texas beef brisket (also called packer brisket) for this slow-cooking burnt ends recipe.
The first lesson in “burnt ends 101” is this: The brisket consists of two parts: the “flat” and the “point”. The brisket point is the part that we will use for burnt ends. Choose a brisket with a thick flat to ensure better burnt ends.
Another key to success here is a good dry rub mix, as well as a great barbecue sauce to get that black caramelized crust with crispy tip.
Brisket recipes in general are simple and require only 10 minutes to prepare the ingredients; but cook time is 6 hours or more, so the most important ingredient is actually patience.
We want to keep it as traditional as possible, so the following recipe takes place in a smoker. Please note, you can also cook brisket in the oven, a pellet grill or gas grill, or in a slow cooker. Ideally, you’ll also use a meat thermometer to check the desired brisket temperature.
4. BBQ Brisket Burnt Ends Recipe
Ingredients and tools:
- A whole brisket
- For the seasoning: salt, black pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, onion powder.
- Your favorite BBQ sauce (prepare your own bbq sauce with ketchup, brown sugar, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and paprika)
- Aluminum foil or butcher paper
- Cutting board
- A sharp knife
- Trim the excess fat from the brisket. To get brisket burnt ends, you also need to separate the flat part from the point part by removing the fat layer between the two. For this, you’ll need a sharp boning knife. (recommendations later in this article).
- Season the brisket. You can use your favorite dry beef rub; we’ll go here for a classic rub mix: garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, onion powder, salt and pepper. You can also buy one at your favorite store, as long as it enhances the natural already-intense flavor of brisket. Coat the meat entirely!
- Smoke the brisket. We recommend using heavy smoking woods such as cedar, oak or hickory. Set the smoker to a temperature between 225 and 250 degrees and place the brisket.
- The “Texas crutch”. Use a meat thermometer to check the brisket, and when it reaches an internal temperature of 160-170 degrees (which can take 4-6 hours), wrap it in aluminum foil or butcher paper.
- Separate the brisket point. When the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees and the bark is formed, it’s time to cut the point from the flat. After doing so, the flat goes back to foil and to the smoker according to your favorite brisket recipe or until your desired tenderness. The brisket point goes to a cutting board for the next step.
- Burnt ends preparation. Now, after putting the flat back into the smoker, we are left with the brisket point part on our cutting board, ready to become delicious burnt ends. It’s actually quite simple: cut it into one-inch chunks and place these cubes in a pan. Toss them in your favorite BBQ sauce or any hot-sweet-strong sauce, rub or broth of your liking. Coat them well and put them back in the smoker for another hour or two (uncovered).
- When the sauce is completely caramelized, your BBQ brisket burnt ends are ready! Let them cool before serving and enjoy!
Thank you Texas!
5. Recommended Tools For The Best Brisket
For preparing your delicious brisket burnt ends, you’ll need a proper knife that is sharp, strong and comfortable to hold. A slicing knife, a butcher knife, a carving knife or a boning knife will all be able to help tremendously with the task; either with a serrated or a straight edge. Here are some Dalstrong recommendations:
Ingeniously engineered knife to effortlessly trim briskets like a pro; but also to make clean and precise cuts of any meat: the traditional pork, beef and chicken; the delicate fish, or heavy-duty deer or moose. You will feel like you run your own butcher shop.
- Extra high carbon,which translates into exceptional, long-lasting sharpness.
- Honbazuke 3-step method (an ancient, complex process where the blade goes first through a vertically rotating sharpening stone, then through fine honing and the last stage ensures a mirror polished edge).
- Built to last forever. Resistant to heat, moisture and corrosion.
- Non-stick properties.
- Beautiful Tsunami Rose pattern on the blade, exclusive to the Shogun series.
- If you need to cut through hard bones, although you could get it done with this knife, you’d do better with a cleaver.
- Not everyone is a fan of the rounded tip.
If you’re already here, looking for the best tools to prepare, slice and serve those perfect burnt ends, then you may care enough to get a whole carving set. And not only that: Be more than ready for that perfect Christmas ham, that roasted chicken or that thanksgiving turkey. All with the timeless aesthetics and affordability of the Gladiator series.
- The fork is perfect for carving, moving and serving those brisket slices in the most gracious way.
- The 9” carving knife has a narrow blade for more agility and is super comfortable to hold. Comes with a perfect-fitting sheath.
- The honing rod included in the set will ensure that your blade is sharp and effective whenever you decide to go for those brisket burnt ends.
- By the way, in case this is useful for you: it’s perfect for a gift! especially for someone who enjoys barbecues and cooking in general.
- Depending on the type of cook you are (or the type of person, for that matter) you may be thinking: can’t I just use a pair of regular kitchen forks? and actually yes, you could. Not as glamorous though.
- If you’re working with a really big brisket; this blade size might not be enough.
You need a boning knife for the trimming stage in your burnt ends recipe. This step is very important and needs to be done right, so we recommend you use a boning knife even though other alternatives are possible.
This Dalstrong boning knife has you all covered. “Culinary magnificence” is what it promises… and delivers. The dragon-skin fiber handle is so pleasant to hold, that you’ll soon be looking to debone more stuff.
- Super sharp, single-piece high carbon steel
- The blade pattern reduces food drag and enhances the knife’s beauty.
- The blade height gives your knuckles a comfortable position and a better workflow.
- Fiber-resin military grade handle.
- Not the cheapest purchase, considering it’s a specialty knife.
- I personally love the feel of the handle; but some people may prefer a more traditional style.
Butcher briskets of any size with this fulminant blade that will double as a chef knife and as a slicer if needed. The massive size will make you feel empowered to pursue any recipe you want. Dalstrong likes to call it “the devastator”, I think that says enough.
- Special blade geometry for deboning, chopping, cutting and slicing any piece of meat.
- Meatless Monday? Cut through squash, pumpkin or watermelon with a single stroke.
- Massive size and blade thickness.
- Comfortable, ergonomic and ambidextrous handle.
- National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) Certified.
- Any cook will benefit from this design, but especially busy, professional kitchens will value its versatility and strength.
- The price is very convenient, considering the quality.
- This is a big, heavy butcher knife, not ideal for smaller, more delicate cuts.
- Following the previous point, make sure you have the available space in your kitchen to store a knife with these dimensions
A serrated blade has its benefits when it comes to brisket, cutting through muscle and tissues without tearing apart the meat. This extra-long model from the Gladiator series will treat your brisket delicately with one single movement.
- The micro-serrated teeth are designed for perfect slices of briskets or any kind of roast, large fruits and vegetables and crusty bread.
- The blade is made of high-carbon German steel hand-polished at 16-18 degrees.
- Award-winning design: premium and quality.
- The second bolster brings extra balance.
- The blade is extra-long. You can get a shorter serrated blade if you prefer.
- The blade feels a bit flexible, which may not be the feeling you’re looking for.
Written by Eva ContrerasFood & travel writer based in Buenos Aires. Superpowers include relentless curiosity and high tolerance to spicy foods.