The Best Ever Poor Mans Burnt Ends Recipe

November 3, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

One of the ways that I fuel my barbecue obsession is to frequently make the rounds of the best joints in Alabama, Texas, and Kansas City. It is in the last region that I discovered poor mans burnt ends and I have been obsessed ever since, working hard to recreate the recipes from my favorite spots.

I think that I have more or less succeeded so I share my recipe in this post – along with a few helpful guidelines. Let’s begin!

Poor Mans Burnt Ends

What are Poor Man’s Burnt Ends?

If you have ever had Kansas City barbecue, then you may have tried burnt ends. Also known as bark, these are the trimmings of brisket that are cut off before the smoked brisket is served. There are many different ways these can be served, including with a helping of BBQ sauce.

So, what are poor man’s burnt ends then? Well, as mentioned, burnt ends tend to come from brisket. Poor man’s burnt ends, however, are made from chuck roast.

See, the thing is that brisket may be delicious, but it typically comes in very large cuts. This means that you have to smoke a whole packer brisket for hours on end making it a time consuming dish to prepare.

Chuck roast, on the other hand, comes in far smaller cuts, allowing you to speed up the process. What’s more, as you are buying less meat, it costs you less money as well, hence the term poor man’s burnt ends.

Now, does this mean you can make poor mans brisket burnt ends? Yes, if you were able to get your hands on a smaller cut of beef brisket, then you can make this recipe.

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Poor Man’s Burnt Ends Recipe


  • 3lbs beef chuck roast
  • 1/2 cup of whiskey barbecue sauce (below) or your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
Meat Skewers

Whiskey BBQ Sauce

  • 1/4 onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup and 2 tsp. of bourbon whiskey
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. of black pepper
  • 1 cup of ketchup
  • 2 tbs. of tomato paste
  • 2 tbs. and 2 tsp. of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbs. of liquid smoke
  • 2 tbs. of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar


  • 1 tbs. of kosher salt
  • 1 tbs. of black pepper
  • 1 tbs. of garlic powder

Making the Whiskey Barbecue Sauce

If you are sticking with your own BBQ sauce or will be going with a store bought version, then you can move straight onto poor man’s burnt ends recipe.

Step 1

In a large skillet, add the onions, garlic, and the whiskey.

Simmer until the onion is translucent.

Step 2

Add in the rest of the ingredients, mix, and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium low heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Take the sauce off the heat.

If you want a smoother texture, pour through a strainer to get rid of any chunky portions.

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Making the Poor Man’s Burnt Ends

Step 1

Preheat the smoker to 275°F.

Step 2

Combine the ingredients of the rub.

Season the chuck roast liberally with the BBQ rub. Press into the meat.

Place in the smoker.

Step 3

Smoke until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. This may take up to 5 hours.

Remove the chuck roast from the smoker and wrap in aluminum foil or butcher paper. Place the wrapped roast back in the smoker until the temperature reads 195°F.

Take out of the smoker and let rest for up to 20 minutes.

Step 4

Preheat your grill.

Cube the chuck roast and place in a foil pan.

Sprinkle the brown sugar and the BBQ sauce over the meat.

Step 5

Grill for two hours and take off the heat.

Serve while it is still hot.

Meat Stew

Choosing Your Chuck Roast

When it comes to smoking, fat is key. This is when choosing chuck roast, it is important to select a well marbled piece. Avoid cuts that have large pieces of fat embedded in it. Instead, look for smaller veins of fat.

Not only will this allow the chuck roast – and the resulting poor man’s burnt ends – to remain nice and tender, the fat also delivers wonderful flavor.

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Making the BBQ Sauce

For the most part, I wouldn’t advise making any changes to the barbecue sauce, except when it comes to the sugar content. If you don’t have an especially sweet tooth or are simply trying to cut down on your sugar intake, start by adding just two tablespoons.

Stir that in and give it a taste. If it tastes fine, then leave it as is. Otherwise, add another tablespoon and taste once more.

Remember, you will be adding in more sugar later on so it can be better to use less here as you can’t manipulate the other half of the recipe as easily.

The Rub

As you will notice, I’m keeping the seasoning pretty simple here. This is because here, the stars of the show are texture of the poor man’s burnt ends as well as the BBQ sauce.

Due to this, I feel like it is unnecessary to add any more flavoring, especially as it is going to be overshadowed by the sauce which has plenty of flavor anyways.

However, if you do want to add more flavoring, you can certainly add in other spices perhaps even some dried herbs.

The Wood Chips

I have to say that when it comes to smoking beef, oak pellets. They have a more neutral flavor but still produce enough of smoke flavor to infuse the meat.

If you would like, you could also give hickory a try as well. The chuck roast cut does have a stronger beef flavor and can often hold up well against the more potent notes of hickory.

Make sure to only use half a handful or so of these wood chips and mix in plenty of oak. Use too much and your risk your chuck roast getting too bitter.

The Smoking Temperature

Now, usually I am a fan of lower temperatures. This is so that the meat can cook for longer, really taking on that smoke flavor.

However, chuck roast tends to hold up to higher temps quite well and there isn’t s much risk of drying out. Not to mention, it is much faster to smoke at this temperature.

Nevertheless, make sure to use a meat thermometer to track the temperature at all times.

If you are using a smaller cut than what I recommended here, however, it is best to opt for a temperature of about 225 or 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Should You Wrap Your Chuck Roast?

As you will have noticed, I do wrap the meat once it begins to stall. So, is this something that you should do as well?

This all depends. If you want a truly crispy bark, then you may want that wrapping the meat compromises the exterior. However, it does certainly speed up the process, shaving hours of your cook time.

Personally, I am a bigger fan of butcher paper rather than foil. The paper allows the meat to breathe more keeping the crust intact a bit more.

If you do decide to wrap the meat, make sure to wrap it tightly. I find this is a mistake that far too many people make.

Every time that you fold the foil or the paper over the cut, you should be able to sit the outline of that edge clearly. And, when you are done, the shape and size should closely resemble the original cut as well.

Resting the Meat

It is important to let the meat rest after it has smoked. It is at this point that the chuck roast is able to reabsorb all the liquid and juices it has lost during the smoking process.

The longer that you can rest the meat, the better. If you are short on time, however, then make sure to do so for at least 20 minutes. Otherwise, even slathered in BBQ sauce, you will still find the meat a bit too dry.

Grilling the Meat

Though I have stated that the poor man’s burnt ends should be grilled for two hours, you don’t necessarily have to do it for quite so long. Instead, make sure that the mix has been grilled to your preference.

Thus, you may want to check on the poor man’s burnt ends at the one hour mark and then the 90 minute mark rather than having to wait for too long.

If you don’t have a grill or can’t be bothered to set it up, then you can always place the meat back in the smoker. To match a similar effect of the grill, though, I would suggest turning the temperature up to 300°F or 400°F even.

Just make sure to check on the meat every fifteen minutes to half an hour to make sure that they are not getting dried out.

Serving the Poor Man’s Burnt Ends

If this is a dish that you haven’t tried before, you may be wondering what to serve it with. I would advise you to think of it as any other barbecue meat. Thus, corn on the cob, mac and cheese, potato salad, and coleslaw will all be perfect accompaniments to this dish.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does it Take to Smoke Burnt Ends?

Depending on the size of the cut as well as the smoking temperature it can take up to seven hours or longer to smoke this meat.

What is Another Name for Burnt Ends?

Burnt ends are sometimes referred to as bark.

Wrapping Things Up

So, there you have it – everything you need to know to make poor man’s burnt ends. Go ahead and give it a try and you will be pleasantly surprised to learn how easy this recipe is to master!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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