Pork Butt Burnt Ends Demystified | An Ultimate Guide

September 12, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

Don’t let the name fool you – pork butt burnt ends aren’t burnt at all. They’re cubes of pork butt that undergo a slow smoking process until they become fork-tender. Then they’re accompanied by a luscious slathering of BBQ sauce, spritzing liquid, and other sweetening ingredients in a foil pan. The result is quite similar to pulled pork. And as for the taste, this is meat candy. You could get addicted to it.

As an ardent barbecue enthusiast with extensive experience with the grill and in cooking school, I have diligently refined my pork smoking skills over the years. Join me as I share my knowledge and step-by-step instructions, empowering you to recreate this barbecue delicacy in your kitchen. Prepare to impress your friends and family with these irresistible pork butt burnt ends.

pork butt burnt ends

Pork Butt Burnt Ends Recipe 


  • 1 pork butt or pork shoulder (8-10 pounds)
  • Your preferred pork butt seasoning 
  • Sparkling Ice Grape Raspberry (or your favorite spritzing liquid)
  • Cubed butter
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce
  • Brown sugar
Raw Grass Fed Pork Shoulder Butt

Step-by-step Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Pork Butt

First things first, we need to prepare the pork butt so that it’s ready for some serious flavor infusion. Get a pack of pork butt or pork shoulder from your local grocery store or butcher shop. Yeah, I like to use either pork butt or pork shoulder for this recipe. Both pork cuts are similar, and you can alternate them however you want. We need around 8-10 pounds of either of these pork cuts for this recipe. Now let’s dive in! 

Once you have the pork butt or pork shoulder, remove it from the packaging and give it a quick inspection. Look for any visible defects or excessive amounts of fat that need to be trimmed. Don’t worry if there’s a little bit of marbling left. That will add some delicious moisture and flavor to the final product.

Next, it’s time to deal with the bone. Get a sharp knife and cut around the bone and carefully bid it farewell. We’re aiming for boneless pork cubes here. To avoid this, you may want to always go for boneless pork butt. You get more meat without the need to fuss over bone-ins.

With the bone out of the picture, it’s cube-cutting time! Get your knife once again and start slicing that boneless pork butt into uniform 1-inch cubes. 

Now that you have a pile of cubes, it’s time to get them ready for the smoking process. Take a foil pan and place all the pork burnt ends in it. The foil pan will help to contain any juices and make it easier to handle the pork during the cooking process.

Step 2: Season the Pork Butt

Take your favorite BBQ seasoning, or if you want to try something bold and exciting, go for the Bad Byron's Butt Rub Barbeque Seasoning Rubs. The seasoning adds a delightful blend of spices, herbs, and smoky flavor without sugar or MSG.

But remember, the taste is personal. If you have a preferred BBQ seasoning that you swear by, feel free to use that instead. The goal is to find a seasoning that tickles your taste buds and elevates the pork to a new level. If you want, you could also make your own DIY BBQ rub. A quick mix can include brown sugar, smoked paprika, ground paprika, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper,  ground cumin, and salt. 

Now, grab those pork butt cubes, and sprinkle the seasoning all over the cubes, making sure to cover every single side. Next, gently massage them to make sure they’re evenly coated and the flavors penetrate deep into the meat. 

Step 3: Get the Grill Set

To start cooking the pork butt or pork shoulder cubes, first, you need to get your smoker or grill all setup. You need something that allows low and slow or indirect cooking. I find a Kamado-style grill like the Weber Spirit E6 quite convenient for this recipe. It allows you to organize your charcoal for indirect grilling. 

Get some high-quality charcoal and arrange the charcoal for indirect or low and slow smoking in the charcoal fuel holder basket. Next, add wood chunks or chips in the center of the charcoal to generate smoke and enhance the flavor of the meat cubes. Apple, hickory, maple, and cherry wood are some of the most flavorful wood for pork butt burnt-end recipes. You could get any of that wood flavor from Weber's lineup of wood chunks

Crispy Pork Butt Ends on the Grill

Step 4: Maintain the Smoking Temperature 

You need to keep things steady and sizzling at around 275 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the smoking process. This temperature is perfect for slowly cooking those pork butt cubes, letting them soak up that smoky flavor. Always use the lid thermometer on the side of the grill to keep an eye on the smoker’s heat and make any adjustments as needed.

The vents are your best bet for adjusting the heat in your Kamado grill. Note that you have got the bottom vent and the top vent. If you want more heat and airflow, throw those vents wide open. This lets more oxygen get to the charcoal, resulting in higher temperatures that’ll make your food sizzle.

When you’re looking to lower the heat and airflow, close those vents a bit. This puts a damper on the oxygen supply, taming the fire and lowering the temperature. Keep an eye on the grill’s thermometer as you do this.

Step 5: Start Smoking the Seasoned Pork 

Grab that foil pan brimming with seasoned pork and gently lay it down on the smoker or grill grates. Spread those cubes out in a single layer, giving each little porky piece a chance to cozy up to the smoke and heat. 

Now comes the exciting part! Close that lid of your smoker or grill and let the smoky symphony commence. The pork butt cubes will start absorbing that aromatic smoke, slowly cooking and transforming into burnt ends of pure bliss. 

Smoke the pork for 2 to 2.5 hours. But remember, cooking times can be unpredictable depending on your gear and meat cube size. 

Step 6: Spritz the Pork Butt

After the first 45 minutes of cooking, it’s time to give the pork butt cubes some spritzing love for extra flavor. As the pork butt cubes slowly cook away, they can start to dry out a bit. That’s where the spritzing liquid comes in. By spritzing them, we’re infusing them with moisture and enhancing the flavors. 

In this case, we’re using the Sparkling Ice Grape Raspberry because it adds a refreshing zing to the mix. However, feel free to use your favorite spritzing liquid if you have one you swear by. Apple juice works fine as a spritzing liquid too.

To spritz, simply grab a spray bottle filled with your spritzing liquid. Give it a good shake, then gently spray a fine mist over the pork butt or shoulder cubes. Make sure to cover all sides of the cubes so they get an equal amount of spritz. The liquid will settle on the surface and mingle with the seasoning, creating a beautiful glaze.

As the spritzing liquid evaporates during the cooking process, it leaves behind a beautiful sheen on the pork. This adds an appetizing visual appeal and also helps to seal in the flavors and keep the cubes moist. Plus, the spritzing liquid adds its unique taste.

Remember to set a timer or keep an eye on the clock, and do the spritzing every 45 minutes.

Spritzing Spicy Liquid on the Pork Butt Cubes

Step 7: Sauce Up the Pork Butt 

So, once those little chunks of pork butt burnt ends hit an internal temperature of around 180 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s time to make them even more delectable. As always, you need a meat thermometer, preferably an instant-read digital thermometer, to check the internal temperature.

Now, grab a disposable aluminum pan like these 8x8 foil pans. Make sure it can fit the cooking chamber of your grill, if you are using a small type like a Kamado. hold all the smoked pork cubes. Carefully transfer the smoky cubes from the grill or smoker to the disposable aluminum tin. 

Now, take a couple of cubed butter and add them gently on top of the meat cubes. The butter adds a whole new dimension of richness and flavor. The butter will melt and infuse its cream into those cubes, making them even more tender and succulent.

But we’re not stopping there. We’re going to drench the pork meat in barbecue sauce. Don’t have BBQ sauce? Then try out apple cider vinegar or get a barbecue sauce such as the Cattlemen's Memphis Sweet BBQ Sauce

Pour that tangy, smoky, sweet elixir all over those pork cuts, ensuring each piece is well-covered. Now sprinkle some brown sugar over the sauced-up pork butt burnt ends. The brown sugar adds some sweetness and helps thicken the sauce.

To keep all those flavors locked in, cover the foil pan with another layer of foil. This will create a cozy pocket of steam and deliciousness, allowing the pork to continue cooking gently and soaking up all the flavors from the butter and barbecue sauce. 

Step 8: Finish Cooking the Pork Burnt Ends

Now, carefully place the foil pan with the pork butt burnt ends back on the grill grate. Ensure it’s still set up for indirect cooking at that steady temperature of 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook those cubes for another 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on how patient you can be. We’re aiming for that moment when the cubes get fork-tender like pulled pork. 

Once they are tender and easily yielding to the slightest touch, this is when they’re ready for consumption.

Step 9: Remove from the Grill, Rest and Serve 

Carefully remove the aluminum foil pan from the grill. Let the burnt ends rest for a few minutes, allowing the flavors to settle and mingle.

Now, it’s time to serve up the pork burnt ends. Place them on a platter. Whether you choose to savor them as the main dish or serve them up as a finger-licking appetizer, one thing’s for certain—these pork butt burnt ends are going to steal the show. Bon appétit!

Want a quick visual guide on a smoked pork butt burnt end recipe explained above? Then check out the YouTube video below:

Origin and Popularity of Pork Butt Burnt Ends

Pork butt burnt ends have a fascinating origin story that traces back to the barbecue culture of the United States, especially in Kansas City. It’s believed that pitmasters came up with the idea to use the flavorful parts of the pork butt that were often overlooked. These less desirable cuts, usually fatty and closer to the pork shoulder, were transformed into tender, flavorful bites through clever cooking techniques.

With the advent of social media and food-focused TV shows, the popularity of pork burnt ends skyrocketed even further. People started sharing their experiences, recipes, and drool-worthy pictures, creating a buzz around these delectable bites. You can find various variants, from smoked pork shoulder burnt ends to pork belly burnt ends:

What Kind of Meat Do You Use to Smoke Burnt Ends? 

The best pork for making burnt ends is without a doubt pork butt or pork shoulder. These are the traditional cuts for burnt ends. 

And why are they the preferred cuts? 

Well, pork shoulder and pork butt cuts have a good balance of fat and meat. These provide excellent tenderness and flavor when cooked low and slow. 

But you may also consider pork belly if you’re looking for a melt-in-your-mouth, richly flavored option. The high-fat content in the belly results in incredibly tender and flavorful burnt ends.

Finally, you may as well try brisket too. Brisket burnt ends are now quite trendy and the recipe is similar. But you may want to cook it slowly and under lower heat, say 225 degrees Fahrenheit. At this cooking temp, you’d need to cook it for 10 to 12 hours until it reaches the right internal temp, which is around 200 to 210 degrees

And remember that if you’re choosing cuts from the pig shoulder (pork butt and pork shoulder), they are available both with and without bones. But remember, you’ll be stripping the bones from the meat. So, always choose boneless cuts. They offer convenience for cubing and preparation.

Related Reading


In a nutshell, preparing and smoking pork butt burnt ends is an absolute blast! Just follow the step-by-step instructions and pick the perfect pork cut, and you’ll be treated to tender, smoky, flavor-packed burnt ends. The whole process of seasoning, smoking, spritzing, and finishing the pork butt burnt ends takes each piece to a whole new level. Whether you take them as a main dish or kick off your meal with them as an appetizer, these pork butt burnt ends are a true testament to the magic of slow-cooked, flavor-packed meats.

Oh, and by the way, if pork butt is playing hard to find, belly pork or pork shoulder burnt ends are equally awesome alternatives. So, get your hands on some good quality pork, fire up that grill, rub it in seasoning, and get some BBQ sauce on the meat and bon appetit!

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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