Jess Pryles

Best-ever BBQ Brisket Burnt Ends

smoked burnt ends
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Smokey, sticky nuggets packed with extreme beefiness, follow this recipe to create the ultimate bbq brisket burnt ends.

This post was inspired by #foodrage. It’s a real thing. Not to be confused with Hangry, which is when you’re so hungry that you become moody, irritable and angry. Foodrage is the product of being exposed to food has that been mistreated. Food that either doesn’t make sense, or could be better. Way better. You know, like putting a bone-in meat cut in a sandwich just because it looks good on Instagram. That’s the epitome of #foodrage – who the hell wants to bite into a bone? Stupid.

At any rate… in this case, my #foodrage was inspired by some really underwhelming burnt ends. I’m not even sure they could be called burnt ends. Let’s have a moment of truth together, shall we? Simply cubing and tossing brisket in BBQ sauce does not mean you have made burnt ends. It means you have cut chunks of brisket and coated them in sauce. Which is a tragedy in and of itself.

sticky burnt brisket ends

What burnt ends are supposed to be, certainly in my opinion, are cubes of point-end smoked brisket that have been coated and returned to cook. Placed back into the smoker, they transform into delicious dark nuggets of caramelized deliciousness, sticky on the outside and impossibly soft and rippled with beef fat and gelatin on the inside. Now THOSE are some burnt ends I wanna eat.

The trick for me was to make sure there was enough sugar content to get a decent sticky exterior crust forming. I did this with a small arsenal of ingredients like sugar, cola and a rich BBQ sauce. And butter. Because why the hell not?

Here’s the basic method of how it’s done. I smoke up a brisket point (around 7lb) at 250f for about 4-5 hours, then wrap it with foil. Once wrapped, I take it to an internal temperature of 185f (which is way below done by the standards of normal brisket). Because I return it to cook, no resting is necessary, so the point is sliced thickly then cut again to form cubes. The cubes are coated in the special sauce mix, placed into a large foil tray and returned to a hotter smoker to cook until all the liquid has evaporated and reduced, about another 2-3 hours.

If you want a more detailed understanding of how to cook a brisket, check out this complete guide. It explains why you’re going to be cooking to temperature, rather than time. I use the Thermoworks Smoke unit to monitor the internal temperatures of my meat in the pit – I’ve used others before, and I must tell you I am so impressed with this unit. It works straight out of the box, and is precise to a fraction of a degree. I also use my own rub, Hardcore Carnivore: Black, to help create a vivid black bark.

You do have to be a fan of sweet/beef pairing to enjoy any form of burnt ends, but if you can handle the flavor profile, truly my version of burnt ends are beef candy.

Recipe after the pics:

slicing the brisket into thick pieces

how to make burnt ends
sauced chunks waiting for the second smoke

delicious burnt ends

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Print Recipe

Best-ever BBQ Brisket Burnt Ends

Meat advice: you can create this recipe by cooking a whole packer brisket and splitting it down the middle, cutting the flat into slices as usual and then use the point to make the burnt ends. You can, however, actually buy the point-end as an individual cut, and some of the better grocery stores will even cut a whole packer in half for you. If you’re buying point only, be sure that it still has portions of the flat muscle and a good sized fat cap. 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 brisket point-end, approx 7lb
  • 1/4 cup Hardcore Carnivore Black rub
  • 2 cups cola
  • 1.5 cups BBQ sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey
  • kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat a smoker to 250f. Place apple cider vinegar and water into spritz bottle.

  2. Season the brisket well with salt and then rub generously with Hardcore Carnivore: Black.

  3. Place the brisket into the smoker. Cook, spritzing occasionally with the cider vinegar mix until an internal temperature of 150f is reached.

  4. Wrap the brisket tightly in foil, and return to the smoker until an internal temperature of 185f is reached.

  5. Remove brisket from the smoker, and cut into thick slices, about 3/4 inch. Then cut the slices again to form cubes. If there are large seams of fat, you may want to trim these out or discard - they will not have a pleasant mouthfeel.

  6. Place the cola in a small saucepan over medium high heat, and reduce liquid by at least half. Add the bbq sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire, soy and butter, plus salt to taste. Stir to combine.

  7. Place the brisket cubes in a large foil tray, then pour over the sauce, stirring to make sure all the pieces are well coated. Drizzle honey across the top, then return to the smoker.

  8. Increase the heat of the smoker to 275f, and cook a further 2-3 hours, or until the liquid has reduced and caramelized. You will see fat accumulate at the bottom of the pan as it renders - this is normal, and should not be confused with the sauce liquid. Serve immediately or keep warm until ready to serve, otherwise the sugars in the sauce may harden.

By Jess Pryles

Jess Pryles is a full fledged Hardcore Carnivore. She’s a cook, writer, and TV personality specializing in red meat, with penchant for grilling and bourbon. She's also a respected authority on Texas & competition style barbecue. Born in Australia, she now resides in Austin, Texas.

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