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Poor Man’s Burnt Ends

Burnt ends are cubes of smoked brisket that are smokey and sweet – often described as “meat candy.”  Making them involves multiple steps: cook a packer brisket (8-12 hours), separate the point from the flat, cube the point, coat with BBQ sauce, return to smoker (for 1-2 hours). Not only does this process take time, brisket can be quite expensive.

To overcome these limitations, several “Poor Man’s Burnt Ends” recipes are published online. These recipes use chuck roast rather than brisket. The below recipe is modified from “Hey Grill, Hey.”

I previously made burnt ends with brisket point (in fact, burnt ends are the reason I came in second in our 2017 Brisket competition;  otherwise I wouldn’t have placed…my brisket was no better than anyone else’s). In comparison, these chuck roast burnt ends tasted nearly identical.  And I noted a few advantages of using chuck roast: I spent less time prepping since I didn’t have to trim any fat as is needed for brisket; and the cooking time was more predictable than brisket – 8 hours is the cooking time reported in nearly every online Poor Man’s Burnt Ends recipe.

The term “Poor Man’s” is an oxymoron, though. Chuck roast cost more per pound than brisket at the Sara’s Market Bakery (and non-halal butcher shops too from what I undersand). Also, smoking the chuck roast still took 8 hours, so making them has to be carefully planned around the rest of the day.

Poor Man’s Burnt Ends Recipe.


  • 2 chuck roasts, about 3 lb each
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder (optional)
  • Rub of your choice. I used “Cow Lick” (see pic below). Alternatively, you can use more salt and pepper +/- garlic powder.
  • 1 18oz bottle of Stubb’s Original Bar-B-Q sauce cup (or your favorite BBQ sauce brand/recipe). I like Stubb’s because it contains less sugar than other brands.  I can add sugar to taste as needed. 
  • 4 teaspoons of brown sugar (or more/less depending on your tastes)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce


  1. Get grill/smoker set up for indirect cooking at  250-275 degrees with your wood chunks/chips of choice. I used oak and cherry.
  2. Season the chuck roasts with your rub. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder and “Cow Lick.”
    Chuck roast with salt/pepper/garlic powder on the top
    Chuck roast with salt/pepper/garlic powder on the top
    Cow lick spicy beef rub
    Cow lick spicy beef rub
    Chuck roast coated with rub
    Chuck roast coated with rub
  3. Smoke the chuck roasts on your grill/smoker. Similar to brisket, chuck roast hits a “stall” around 160 degrees internal temperature. At this point you can be patient and wait it out or wrap in aluminum foil (or butcher paper). I chose to wait it out. I suspect wrapping would have shortened the cooking time by 30-60 minutes and retained some moisture.
  4. While waiting for the chuck roasts to smoke, prepare the basting BBQ sauce. If you’d like, just use store-bought BBQ sauce without any modifications. I chose to improve on the flavor by adding a few ingredients: in a saucepan, I combined Stubb’s BBQ sauce, sugar, soy sauce, and Worcesteshire sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes.
  5. Once the chuck roasts reach around 190, start testing tenderness by probing with your thermometer or a toothpick. Once it probes like butter all over, the chuck roasts are done. Remove from the smoker/grill.
    Chuck Roast off the grill/smoker. It probed lick butter around 203 degrees. Nice bark formed…looked just like brisket.
  6. Cut chuck roasts into cubes and transfer to a foil baking pan.
  7. (optional) I seasoned the non-bark sides of the cubes with leftover rub from step 2.
  8. Coat all the cubes with the BBQ sauce from step 5
    Reasoned cubes of chuck roast
    Chuck roast cut into cubes, seasoned with more rub, and tossed with BBQ sauce. I had a few extra onions so I threw them in the pan.
  9. Put the pan(s) back on the grill (or even the oven) to smoke for another 1.5-2 hrs at 250-275 degrees.
    Poor man's burnt ends
    Poor man’s burnt ends
  10. Serve hot with pickles and bread.

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