Poor Man’s Burnt Ends (7 Cooking Tips & Tricks to Try)

Iva Carter
Published by Iva Carter
Last Updated On: June 21, 2024

As a culinary expert and trained chef with over 10 years of experience in the food industry, I have tasted and created countless variations of beef burnt ends recipes - the barbecue treat made from the brisket point.

However, it takes time and skill to smoke a whole brisket for brisket burnt ends, and it can be expensive.

This is where my so-called "Poor Man’s Burnt Ends" recipe comes to play - a budget-friendly alternative made with a chuck roast.

Quick Summary

  • Poor Man's Burnt Ends are a budget-friendly alternative to traditional brisket burnt ends, made with a chuck roast.
  • The recipe involves smoking a chuck roast, cutting it into cubes, and coating it with BBQ sauce and brown sugar.
  • Suggested sides include cornbread, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, baked beans, and various salads.

Recipe Overview

pieces of poor man's burnt ends
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours and 10 minutes
  • Servings: 6


  • 3-pound chuck roast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar


an image of beef chunks on a chopping board

There are two alternatives for making poor man’s burnt ends.

1. In the Oven

  1. Preheat your oven to 250°F.
  2. Cut your beef chuck roast into 1-inch cubes.
  3. Mix the garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, salt, and chili powder in a small bowl.
  4. Toss the chuck roast cubes with the spice mixture in a large bowl until all pieces are completely coated.
  5. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven or oven-safe pot. Add the seasoned chuck roast cubes and brown on all sides, about 5-7 minutes.
  6. Once the meat turns brown, add the beef broth to the pot and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom.
  7. Cover the pot with a lid and place in the oven. Prepare the dish for a duration of 4 hours or until the meat's internal temperature registers at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit [1].
  8. After 4 hours, remove the pot from the oven and add the BBQ sauce and brown sugar. Stir to combine.
  9. Return the pot to the oven and cook for 2 hours or until the meat is tender and falling apart. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your meat.
  10. Remove the pot from the oven and transfer the meat cubes to a serving dish with a slotted spoon.
  11. If desired, pour the remaining sauce from the pot over the meat cubes.

2. In the Smoker

  1. To make poor man’s burnt ends, first, preheat your offset-smoker or pellet smoker to 250°F.
  2. Trim any excess fat from the chuck roast.
  3. Mix brown sugar, garlic powder, black pepper, and a quality BBQ rub in a bowl.
  4. Rub the mixture all over the chuck roast, ensuring it's evenly coated.
  5. Place the chuck roast on the smoker rack and smoke for 4 hours.
  6. Remove the chuck roast from the pellet smoker and wrap it tightly in butcher paper or aluminum foil.
  7. Place the wrapped roast back on the smoker and smoke for an additional 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 200°F.
  8. Remove the chuck roast from the pellet grill and let it rest for 20 minutes.
  9. Cut the chuck roast into 1-inch cubes, and place sliced meat in an aluminum foil pan so they don’t fall down the grill grates.
  10. Pour your favorite BBQ sauce over the cubed meat, and toss until the meat is fully coated.
  11. Place the aluminum pan back on the grill grate and finish smoking for 30 minutes or until the meat is tender and caramelized.

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Recipe Notes

an image of Recipe Note with beef chunk on the side
  • You can use any brand of BBQ sauce, but a sweeter version will work best with the brown sugar in this recipe. It also pairs well with the spicy rub.
  • You can also make this recipe using a chuck roast in a slow cooker by following steps 1-5 of the oven recipe and then transferring the meat and beef broth to a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Add sauce and brown sugar in the last hour of cooking.
  • Choose a roast with white flecks of marbling throughout the meat.
  • If you prefer a more smoky taste, consider substituting regular salt with smoked sea salt.
  • Pink butcher paper allows the smoke to flavor the meat without losing much moisture.
  • The seasoned roast should be at room temperature before you put it in the grill or oven.
  • My favorite wood when I am craving burnt ends is applewood or hickory wood chips.

7 Tips and Tricks

bbq sauce in a black bowl
  • For an even richer flavor, you can marinate the chuck roast in BBQ sauce overnight before smoking.
  • For easier cleanup, line your roasting pan or grill with aluminum foil.
  • Let the whole roast rest for at least 10 minutes after coming off the grill before cutting it into bite-sized pieces to allow the juices to redistribute.
  • This recipe can easily be doubled or even tripled for a larger crowd.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for up to three months [2].
  • You can tweak the spice rub to your liking by adding more or less of each ingredient or cayenne pepper for some heat.
  • Serve your chuck roast burnt ends with additional barbecue sauce on the side.

Nutrition Information

  • Calories: 365
  • Total Carbs: 4g
  • Protein: 30g
  • Fat: 25g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Net Carbs: 3g

What to Serve With Poor Man’s Burnt Ends?

a bowl of potato salad

Poor man’s burnt ends can be complemented with various sides, depending on your taste preferences and the occasion for which you serve the meal.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Cornbread: The sweetness of cornbread complements the smokiness of the delicious meat.
  • Coleslaw: A refreshing coleslaw can balance out the richness of the meat.
  • Mashed potatoes: Creamy potatoes make a great side with the fall-apart tender meat.
  • Baked beans: The smokiness of the chuck roast burnt ends pairs well with the smokiness of the beans.
  • Mac and cheese: A creamy and cheesy mac and cheese can provide a nice contrast to the meat.
  • Potato salad: A classic potato salad can be a great side dish to serve with smoked burnt ends because it's a BBQ crowd-pleaser and easy to make.
  • Green beans: The smokiness of the meat can be complemented by the crispness of the beans.
  • Biscuits: Biscuits provide a nice contrast to the great flavor of the ends.
  • Roasted vegetables: Roasted vegetables such as asparagus, carrots, or Brussels sprouts can be a healthy and delicious side dish option.
  • Salad: A fresh and colorful salad can provide a nice balance to the meat.


What Are a Poor Man’s Burnt Ends?

A poor man's burnt ends are bite-sized pieces from beef chuck roasts that are slow-smoked until they are fall-apart tender and then caramelized by a layer of BBQ sauce.

Are Burnt Ends Unhealthy?

No, burnt ends are not unhealthy, but they are not the healthiest food choice as they are high in calories, saturated fat, and sodium. However, they can be enjoyed in moderation as a treat.

Why Are Burnt Ends So Good?

Burnt ends are so good because of their crispy exterior, tender, juicy interior, and rich, smoky flavor. Being coated in a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce adds to their deliciousness.

Why Are My Burnt Ends Tough?

If your burnt ends are tough, it could be because they were not cooked low and slow enough to break down the fat and connective tissue. It could also be because the poor man's burnt ends were overcooked, causing the meat to dry.


  1. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2020/06/05/summer-grilling-how
  2. https://fsis-dev.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/leftovers-and-food-safety
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About the author

Iva Carter
Associate Editor
Iva Carter is a FBP certified foodie and influencer who loves to share delicious yet quick dinner recipes. When she's not in the kitchen concocting meaty delights, you'll find her playing with her dog, Sylvie.
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