Do you like burnt ends? I don’t. I LOVE burnt ends! I love them all, the pork belly version, the poor man’s version (chuck roast), or even poorer man’s burnt ends made with bologna, but especially the original beef brisket burnt ends from the point (fatty part of the brisket). Like many of you I cruised the innerwebs and uncovered a few recipes that I liked. I’ve ‘borrowed’ ideas from a few favorites and tossed in a wrinkle or two of my own for this ultimate brisket burnt ends recipe. And despite this being the ultimate burnt ends recipe, it’s still a fairly simple. Although fairly simple, it’s pretty labor intensive and not a quick cook by any means. Learning how to make burnt ends takes a while.
Ultimate Brisket Burnt Ends Recipe Ingredients
- Whole packer brisket or simply the point if available (prime grade preferred)
- Yellow mustard
- Your favorite beef or brisket rub or simply use salt, pepper and garlic (SPG seasoning)
- Beef broth or stock for spritzing
- 1/4 cup melted beef tallow
A little background before we learn how to make burnt ends.
How do you get burnt ends from a brisket?Brisket burnt ends are made by cooking the point of a whole brisket a second time, hence they are called burnt, but they are not burnt. The brisket is essentially over cooked but due to the fat content in the point (part of the brisket used for burnt ends) allows for overcooking while maintaining pillowy soft meat that is still juicy.
Can you make burnt ends from the whole brisket?
A close up of that layer of fat between the point (left) and the flat (right). Most of that fat needs to be removed:
Be sure to retain the trimmings in order to make beef tallow which has so many uses.
Get in there with a filet/boning knife and remove the fat until it looks as shown:
Why trim so much? Two reasons:
- Fat prevents smoke and seasoning from reaching the meat.
- Separating the point and the flat is necessary later in the cook. Removing that heavy layer of hard fat now will make that process easier.
Let me peel back the flat back to give you a peek of the beautiful marbling of the point which will be turned into ultimate brisket burnt ends.
Seasoning the brisket
Should you have a favorite beef or brisket rub go ahead and use it. We can help expand your rubs and seasoning options with our VIP Club. I went with a simple rub for this hunk of beef. I used the salt, pepper and garlic (SPG Seasoning) in the ingredient list above:
Then, apply a thin coat of mustard as a binder for the rub:
Don’t sweat the mustard. As the brisket smokes, the mustard melts away, leaving the seasoning and some outstanding bark.
What is bark and why do you want it?
Bark is the really dark crust that forms on the outside of smoked meat. The bark forms when the smoke combines with the seasoning and the liquid fat that is drawn out of the meat by the heat of the fire. The bark will look terrible for the untrained eye, but in fact, if done properly, the bark is the tastiest part of all barbecue. More on the bark later
Next, apply a heavy coat of the SPG seasoning:
Don’t forget the edges!
The flat lying upon the point almost ready to hit the smoker:
How to Smoke Brisket Burnt Ends
If you don’t have a dedicated smoker a standard charcoal or gas grill will work too. On a charcoal grill, put coals and smoke wood on one side and the brisket on the other side with a target temperature inside the grill between 275F-325F. On a gas grill, turn on the burner on one side and set a chunk of smoke wood on that burner and put the brisket on the other side. Gas grills tend to run hot, so cook the brisket, fat cap down in a disposable aluminum pan. Thus, the fat shields the brisket from the heat.
For this cook, I loaded the fire basket of my trusty rectangle drum smoker (think drum smoker with a little more usable space) with some Rockwood lump charcoal and tossed in 4 chunks of post oak smoke wood and a couple handfuls of mesquite chips. Yeah, I’m kinda going Texas again here. If you are interested in knowing which smoke woods pair best with which proteins, let me help with our exhaustive list.
The grill is set over the fire basket above.
On a lower grate I filled a water pan:
Why use a water pan when smoking meat?
Keeping moisture in the chamber makes for better bark and a better smoke ring, even though the smoke ring is purely cosmetic.
How to make the ultimate brisket burnt ends recipe
Scroll down to see step-by-step, picture-by-picture, foolproof grilling instructions on how to make burnt ends
And we’re on! The pan make it easier to handle the brisket but it isn’t essential:
Rolling at a little over 300F with a target temp in the 275F-325F range:
The simple spritz is beef broth in a spray bottle set on mist (not stream or the rub will be washed off the beef):
Spritz the brisket once the rub sets. After about an hour the rub will be adhered to the beef (and set). If we spray before it adheres, then the rub will run off the brisket and down into the fire thus requiring the rub be reapplied or the bark won’t be any good. After the first spritz, feel free to spritz every 45 minutes or so.
After 2 hours on the grill:
Approximately 3.5 hours into the cook of the ultimate brisket burnt ends recipe:
What Temp to Wrap Brisket
There is no hard and fast absolute temperature in which to wrap brisket. It’s a range of temps between 160F-180F. If the brisket is wrapped at 155F or 185F no big deal.
Ready to wrap based on that range above. The flat reads 173F:
The point reads 159F:
Why the 14 degree discrepancy? It takes longer to render the fat out of the point. As the fat liquifies it cools down the meat. That discrepancy is a big part of the reason for the burnt ends exist. A lot of pitmasters remove the point when the flat is done and serve the flat separately because the flat finishes cooking before the point. They throw the point back on the grill with a little sauce to make the pillowy soft burnt ends.
While the brisket smokes, time to prepare the special sauce crucial to the ultimate brisket burnt ends recipe.
Ultimate Brisket Burnt Ends Recipe Sauce Ingredients
- 12 ounces of cola
- 1 cups barbecue sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (we used Andria’s Steak Sauce because it makes everything better)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark works)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Sprinkle of your favorite beef rub (I have so damn many!)
First, pour the cola into a saucepan and heat until reduced by half. Full disclosure. I became anxious and didn’t cook it down long enough. More on that later.
Next, add the barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce (we used Andria’s), brown sugar, salt, and butter and combine
After 4 hours we’re in the 175F-180F range and it’s time to wrap. Pull the whole brisket from the cooker:
Before wrapping, separate the point and flat by taking a knife along that layer of fat between the two muscles:
The muscles come apart easily.
For the wrap I’m treating the two hunks of beef differently. I wrapped the flat in foil with a bit of beef broth and the point in peach butcher paper with wagyu beef tallow. Why? The flat, being thinner and leaner than the point, tends to lose moisture rather quickly which can make it chewy or tough. Broth in the foil will prevent the flat from drying out. Additionally, I can pull it when the flat reaches target temp way before the thicker/fattier point. The butcher paper will allow the point to breathe a little and preserve some bark.
Place the flat on a couple sheets of foil, then pour on some broth and wrap:
Also, place the point on peach butcher paper with beef tallow on top:
Wondering about the beef tallow? We did a side by side between two briskets. On one we added some beef tallow. On the other we skipped the tallow. The results were startling.
Also, at this point, you can reapply some of the SPG seasoning before wrapping in the butcher paper.
The wrapped brisket point:
Both the flat and the point go back on the smoker
Next, pull both parts of the brisket from the smoker after 5 hours. The target temp of the flat is around 203F. The internal temp of this flat read 201F. Close enough.
Wrap the foiled flat in a bath towel and place it into a faux Cambro to rest. The microwave works as would an empty cooler. We won’t be eating anytime soon. This will take a while. The flat will be saved for sandwiches or perhaps used in our smoked brisket bean recipe.
Time for the point.
Pull the point from the grill around 190F-195F internal. Here she is, unwrapped in all her glorious deliciousness
A lot of recipes call for a one inch cube. Trust me here. A bigger cube is better as these will continue to render and thus get smaller, The point trimmed into 1.5 inch cubes:
According to this ultimate brisket burnt ends recipe, place the cubes into a disposable aluminum pan, pour over the burnt end sauce, drizzle some honey, and place the point cubes back into the smoker to simmer for a couple hours at 325F.
After approximately an hour I realized I made an error (they don’t call us fools for nothing!). I hadn’t cooked the cola down enough initially and the mixture didn’t ‘tack up’ like I wanted. The remedy? I grabbed the turkey baster and removed some of the excess liquid. The burnt ends are ready to come off the grill after a 2 hour soak and simmer. How did I know they were done? My probe thermometer told me. No, not the temp. The probe went in and out like a knife through butter on a warm August day:
The best way to tell if Burnt Ends are done?
The toothpick test. A probe thermometer works as well. Not to check the temp. To check if the meat is pillowy soft. Insert a toothpick or probe thermometer into the meat and slide it back out. If the meat sticks to the toothpick or probe they aren’t done. If they slide in and out like buttah, the burnt ends are done.
How does this closeup look?
Next, time to plate these beauties:
The cubes tacked up nicely, were full of flavor and very tender. Beef nirvana!
With a sprinkle of beef rub added
With the photography done (the camera always eats first) I presented the plate to share with my wife. The brisket burnt ends passed her taste test and we finished the entire serving.
After we polished off that plate she asked “What’s for dinner?” Indeed, I was ready with another serving idea. I went old school and showcased the brisket burnt ends as a sandwich on plain white bread as was done in Kansas City where burnt ends were supposedly discovered. Remove the skewer and fold the bread around the cubes:
Ultimate Brisket Burnt Ends Recipe Recap
They say that brisket is the king of all barbecue. It’s both the most delicious and hardest to master. Well, if brisket is the king, brisket burnt ends are the crown. Because burnt ends taste better than regular brisket and are harder to master. But once you do…. lookout! Pillowy soft, super smoky, beautiful (and tasty) bark. Heaven. I hope this ultimate brisket burnt ends recipe teaches you how to make burnt ends and helps you reach the crown!
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Ultimate Brisket Burnt Ends Recipe
- 1 Food grade spritzing bottle
- 1 Whole packer brisket Prime grade preferred
- ¼ cup Yellow mustard Substitute mayonnaise if you don't want to go with the mustard
- ½ cup Your favorite beef rub Substitute salt, pepper and garlic
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup Beef broth or stock For spritzing
- ¼ cup Beef tallow
Brisket Burnt Ends Sauce
- 12 ounces Cola
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup Brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons Butter, unsalted
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- 2 tablespoons Honey
- 1 pinch Your favorite beef seasoning
- Trim the brisket of the fat cap and much of the layer in between the point and the flat
- Apply mustard binder (mayo works well too) to the entire brisket
- Coat the brisket with the seasoning you prefer
- Prepare the smoker for a smoke session between 275F and 325F
- Place a water pan in the chamber and smoke wood on the fire (we used oak)
- Set the brisket in a double layer of disposable aluminum pans to make it easier to manipulate the brisket
- When the point and the flat hit the 160F-180F range, remove from the grill
- With a knife, follow the fat between the two parts of the packer and separate the flat from the point
- Place the flat on some foil and drizzle over some broth
- Fold the foil up to completely envelope the flat
- Place the point on butcher paper and add the wagyu beef tallow and wrap up like the tastiest Christmas present ever
- Place them both back on the smoker
- Remove the flat when it hits around 203F (ours was at 201F) and had been on the smoker a total of five hours at 300F
- When the point reads 190F-195F pull from the grill and carve into 1.5 inch cubes
- Place the cubes in a double layer of disposable aluminum pans and pour the sauce over with a drizzle of honey
- Put the brisket burnt ends back on the smoker until they are probe/toothpick tender (about 2 hours)
- Remove from the grill and serve, white bread optional but recommended