These poor man’s burnt ends will have you feeling rich!
Chuck roast is normally used for stews or braising and is really tasty when cubed up, seasoned, smoked, and finished with barbecue sauce.
A great alternative to brisket burnt ends, these are a must-try and always a great option if brisket prices ,are too high or you don’t want to cook such a large cut of meat.
Poor man’s burnt ends vs. brisket burnt ends
Traditionally, burnt ends are tender and flavorful cubes of meat from the point end of a brisket. The point of the brisket is much fattier than its “flat” counterpart which makes for delicious bites that are rich and beefy in flavor.
Due to the higher fat content of brisket, it can take a long time to render down, but when done properly there isn’t a better bite of bbq out there.
Briskets are large cuts of meat and can be very expensive. That’s why chuck is a great alternative if you want to try burnt ends on a budget.
Instead of having to buy a huge brisket that can weigh anywhere from 10-20 lbs and set you back over $100, you can buy a three to four-pound chuck roast and make poor man’s burnt ends using essentially the same recipe without breaking the bank.
I will say that brisket burnt ends have a richer flavor and the fat content in a brisket point is a little better.
With that said chuck makes a great substitute and can give you the burnt end look, flavor, and can be tender if you smoke it low and cook it to the right temperature.
The best part is your guests won’t be able to tell the difference so they’ll never know you cheaped out on them!
Where does chuck roast come from?
Chuck comes from the shoulder area of the cow, right above the brisket. It has a great beefy flavor although it can be tough because it is a heavily exercised muscle.
It is ideal for slow cooking and many people use it for stews and other similar types of cooks. When cooked slowly the connective tissue melts as the chuck braises, helping it to become very tender. Other roasts cut from the chuck are Boston Cut and English Roast or Cross Cut.
How to make poor man’s burnt ends
1. Cube your chuck
You want to cut 1” by 1” cubes as evenly as possible so they cook at the same time.
Season your cubes with a layer of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I went over them again with a layer of Kosmos Chipotle Honey Killer Bee.
I wanted a little bit of a kick and color with this rub, so I went for it! Feel free to stick with the basic SPG rub, use our best brisket rub, or experiment with anything you have in your rub cupboard.
Beef can take quite a bit of rub, so don’t hold back!
2. Fire up your smoker
You can use any smoker you want for this cook. I fired up my Large Big Green Egg and added some hickory wood chunks to the warm coals. Once the wood chunks were ignited, I closed the lid and adjusted the vents properly until the smoker was running around 250°F degrees.
When your smoker gets up to temp, take your cubes of chuck and spread them out evenly on your grill grate. Although I did not do it here, having a water pan underneath the grate to catch the drippings and to help deflect the heat is a good idea.
This is also a good time to apply any extra seasoning to your burnt ends if there are any spots that are missing bbq rub.
3. Spritz after an hour on the smoker
After an hour into the cook, spray the burnt ends with a 50-50 mix of water and beef broth.
After you have done your initial spritz, spray every 30-45 minutes or when you see the meat starting to dry out.
3. After 2-3 hours the burnt ends are ready to wrap
Within 2-3 hours your chuck roast will be ready to wrap. A lot of guys will wrap their chuck roast in foil or butcher paper to help further break down and tenderize the meat. You could do the entire cook without wrapping the meat but I usually wrap.
I prefer butcher paper when I have more time because it allows the meat to breathe a little better and therefore the bark will be better preserved.
Using a meat thermometer, check your chuck roast has an internal temperature of 165-175°F. Wrap them with a few pads of unsalted butter and a good drizzle of honey.
You could also add a sprinkle of brown sugar, but I don’t like overly sweet beef.
I find that the barbecue sauce at the end is more than enough.
At this stage, the chuck cubes should have a good bark and be much darker in color, especially if you decided to smoke with a stronger smoking wood like hickory.
After you have wrapped the chuck roast, place it back on your smoker until the internal temperature of the meat is around 205°F.
4. Finishing off
You know the burnt ends are done when they feel squishy and can be pushed apart with some pressure. They shouldn’t completely fall apart in your hand though. You don’t want to overcook them as it will dry the meat out and change the texture.
After the foil is opened and you know the meat is done it’s time for the finishing touch.
I like to add barbecue sauce and mix everything together.
Use your favorite bbq sauce, or try our homemade bbq sauce recipe.
After adding the bbq sauce, close the foil back up and let the meat rest for 30 minutes.
You can place them back on the smoker at this stage, so the sauce tacks up.
If I’m serving these poor man’s burnt ends to a large group, I lay out some butcher paper, pile them in the middle, and let people dig in.
The recipe is really easy to make, delicious and affordable. They may be called poor man’s burnt ends but can taste like a million dollars!
Some more bbq beef recipes you might like to try
Poor Man’s Burnt Ends Recipe
Poor Man’s Burnt Ends
- 5 lbs Chuck roast
- 2 tbsp SPG (equal parts salt, pepper and garlic powder)
- 2 tbsp Kosmos Chipotle Honey Killer Bee
- 3 tbsp butter unsalted
- 3 tbsp honey
- ¼ cup BBQ sauce
- Beef broth and water equal quantities for spritzing
- Get your smoker up to a temp of 250°F.
- Cut your chuck roast into 1"x1" cubes.
- Season the cubes with a layer of SPG seasoning then a layer of a spicy bbq rub.
- Place cubes into the smoker.
- Spritz every 30-45 mins with a 50-50 beef broth and water mixture.
- When the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165-175°F remove from the smoker.
- Wrap the cubes in aluminum foil with pads of unsalted butter and a good drizzle of honey.
- Place the foil pack back in the smoker until the temperature of the meat reaches 205°F degrees and is very tender.
- Open the foil, add the bbq sauce and mix everything together.
- Wrap the meat back up and let the rest for 30 mins before serving.