Poor Man’s Burnt Ends with Chuck Roast

Poor man's burnt ends

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These poor man’s burnt ends are made with smoked chuck roast, so they’re much cheaper than the traditional brisket burnt ends, hence the name. Learn how to make the best smoked poor man’s burnt ends on your charcoal grill.

I have a confession to make… I hate brisket.

I find the brisket cut to be too lean and dry for my taste, no matter how I cook it or what world-renowned restaurant I try it at. A traditional smoked brisket has just never lived up to my expectations, and in my opinion, it’s over-hyped.

So after being disappointed by brisket burnt ends at more restaurants than I can count, I decided to try to make my own Poor Man’s Burnt Ends with a smoked chuck roast. And I don’t think I’ll ever put another chuck roast in a Crock Pot again.

These smoked chuck roast burnt ends may take an entire day to make, but all of the hard work will be worth it once you pop one of the fatty little barbecue nuggets in your mouth.

What are burnt ends?

Traditional burnt ends are little flavorful nuggets that are cut from the pointed, fatty end of a smoked brisket.

A brisket has two main shapes – one that is a more uniform, flatter rectangle shape and one area that is more triangular and pointy on the end. The flatter rectangular portion of the meat is better for slicing. If you order smoked brisket at a barbecue restaurant, chances are you’ll be served uniform slices from that portion of the brisket. The pointed end is much more fatty, and typically not served sliced because of its shape. However, instead of trimming it off the brisket and throwing it out, you can cook it longer than the rest of the brisket to render the fat down, and create concentrated flavor nuggets.

Why use chuck roast instead of brisket?

Using chuck roast for burnt ends is a great way to get the burnt end taste without the big brisket price tag.

You typically can’t buy the point end of a brisket by itself at the grocery store, so you would need to buy a whole brisket and spend about $50. Smoking a chuck roast to make Poor Man’s Burnt Ends is just as flavorful and much less expensive. A 3 pound chuck roast costs about $15 (or $10 if you can get it on sale like we did!), and takes less time to cook because it is a smaller piece of meat.

Ingredients for Poor Man’s Burnt Ends

chuck roast, barbecue sauce and seasoning
  • 3 to 4 lb chuck roast – You should look for a chuck roast with a good amount of fat marbling throughout.
  • BBQ seasoning of your choice – I use a combination of 3 different barbecue seasonings that I mix together in a shaker bottle.
  • BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup beef stock

You will also need BBQ peach butcher paper and a foil roasting pan.

How to make Smoked Burnt Ends with Chuck Roast

1. Set up your charcoal grill like a smoker.

You don’t need a fancy smoker to make your own smoked burnt ends. Just set up your charcoal grill like a smoker, and get the temperature dialed in to about 275 degrees. You can go HERE for how to set up a charcoal kettle grill like a smoker.

2. Season your chuck roast liberally.

Don’t be shy with your seasoning, because a chuck roast is a large, thicker cut of meat. Season all sides of your meat with a nice, even coat of your favorite seasoning, or you can also just use equal parts of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Here is what my seasoned chuck roast looked like before going on the grill:

chuck roast seasoned with barbecue seasoning

3. Put your chuck roast on the grill and smoke it until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of your chuck roast, and put it on the grill, away from your charcoal.

The time needed to smoke your chuck roast will depend on the size of your roast and the temperature of your grill. My 3.5 pound roast took about 5 hours… however, my roast never quite made it to 165 degrees because I hit the “stall”.

What is the “stall”? Think of the “stall” as a plateau, or the point at which the internal temperature of your meat does not continue to rise. When cooking larger cuts of meat at lower temperatures for multiple hours, you may hit the stall when your meat gets to temperatures between 150 – 170 degrees. But don’t panic! There are ways that you can combat the stall when smoking meat.

In the case of my Poor Man’s Burnt Ends, I hit the stall at about 161 degrees, so just a few degrees shy of my 165 degree target temperature. Since I was so close to my desired temp, I went ahead and took my roast off the grill at 161 degrees, and moved on to the next step.

Here is what my smoked chuck roast looked like when I took it off the grill:

smoked chuck roast for poor man's burnt ends

4. Wrap the chuck roast in butcher paper.

Wrapping your smoked meat in pink or peach butcher paper is actually one of the methods to beat the stall when smoking meat. But even if you don’t hit the stall, you should still take your chuck roast off the grill and wrap it in butcher paper once you hit 165 degrees.

The purpose of the butcher paper when making Poor Man’s Burnt Ends is to help accelerate the cooking time of the meat while still retaining the moisture. Butcher paper allows your meat to breathe, which means that the smoke can still permeate your meat and you can still develop the bark that you want for burnt ends, without losing too much moisture and drying out your meat.

I prefer using butcher paper instead of aluminum foil for making Poor Man’s Burnt Ends, because wrapping your roast in aluminum foil creates a steaming effect, which makes your bark soggy.

5. Continue to smoke it until it reaches 195 degrees.

After you’ve wrapped your smoked chuck roast in butcher paper, put it back on the grill and continue to smoke until it reaches an internal temp of 195 degrees. For me, that took about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Once you get to 195 degrees, take your wrapped roast off the grill and let it rest for about 20-30 minutes, then move on to the next step.

I can not stress this enough… allow your meat to rest… DON’T RUSH IT! You’ve already spent about 6.5 hours smoking the chuck roast to this point, and if you cut it too early, you’ll lose all of the extra moisture in your meat.

smoked chuck roast for poor man's burnt ends

6. Cut the smoked roast into cubes and add to a foil pan with barbecue sauce and seasoning.

After your meat is done resting, cut it into cubes about 3/4″ to 1″ square. Then, add the cubes of smoked chuck roast to a foil pan, and toss with barbecue sauce and seasoning.

To add extra moisture and beef flavor, I also added 1/4 cup of reduced beef stock. While your chuck roast is cooking on the grill in the butcher paper, just add 1 cup of beef stock to a small saucepan and cook uncovered on your stovetop until it reduces to about 1/4 cup. Pour the reduced stock in the foil pan over your cubed burnt ends.

chuck roast burnt ends cut into cubes

7. Cook the Poor Man’s Burnt Ends on the grill for an additional hour.

Rearrange the coals in your charcoal grill and raise the temp of the grill to about 325 degrees.

After you’ve got your chuck roast burnt ends cubed and mixed with seasoning and sauce, place the foil pan on your grill uncovered and cook an additional 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the burnt ends are very tender.

Then, remove the burnt ends from the grill and let them rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

Poor Man's burnt ends in a foil pan on the grill

And here’s what your flavorful, juicy, damn good smoked chuck roast burnt ends will look like:

poor man's burnt ends

Tip for Making Poor Man’s Burnt Ends

Use a good thermometer.

If you know your way around a grill, then you know that the golden rule of smoking meats is to focus on internal cooking temperature instead of cooking time. The time needed to smoke your chuck roast will vary drastically depending on the size of your roast and your ability to maintain a consistent temperature in your grill, so it’s difficult to say exactly how long it takes to make smoked chuck roast for burnt ends.

However, you can’t argue with temperature, which is why you absolutely NEED a good two-way probe thermometer. The target temp for your smoked chuck roast burnt ends is 165 degrees before wrapping and 195 degrees after wrapping. As long as you have a good internal meat thermometer, and you cook your chuck roast to those temps, your burnt ends will be awesome!

Look for a well marbled chuck roast.

Fat equals flavor AND moisture, so select a chuck roast that has a good amount of marbling throughout.

What temperature should I cook the chuck roast at for burnt ends?

The temperature range for smoking meat is anywhere between 225-275 degrees. I smoked mine at 275 degrees. Obviously, if you smoke at a lower temperature, you will need to adjust your cook times.

After you’ve got the chuck roast cubed and mixed with BBQ sauce and seasoning in the foil pan, then you will want to cook them at about 325 degrees to finish them off.

What if I don’t have a smoker or a grill? Can I still make poor man’s burnt ends in the oven?

Yes, absolutely! I like to say that

“A grill or smoker is just an oven with flavor.”

The Charcoal king

So, you can absolutely use this same method for cooking chuck roast burnt ends in your oven. If I were making burnt ends in an oven, then I would place a chuck roast on a wire cooling rack inside a sheet pan in the oven, and cook at 275 degrees until the roast reached 165 degrees internally. Then, wrap the roast, and place it back in the oven to cook until 195 degrees. Then, continue with the other steps including cubing, saucing, and cooking in the foil pan.

*Tip – If you still want the smoke flavor in your oven, you can always add liquid smoke to your roast per package instructions.

How should I serve Poor Man’s Burnt Ends?

These Poor Man’s Burnt Ends can be served a variety of ways, but they’re so dang good that you might be tempted to just eat them all straight out of the pan. Here are some ideas if they actually make it to a plate:

  • Serve burnt ends with your favorite barbecue sides like baked beans, coleslaw, or potato salad.
  • Serve on a bun with sliced onion and pickle for a smoked burnt ends sandwich.
  • Pile your smoked burnt ends on top of tortilla chips, queso cheese, shredded cheddar, sour cream, and green onion for barbecue nachos, like we did:
nachos with smoked burnt ends

Print the Poor Man’s Burnt Ends recipe down below!

Poor man's burnt ends

Poor Man's Burnt Ends

Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Resting Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 9 hours 5 minutes

These Poor Man's Burnt Ends are the perfect little BBQ flavored meat nuggets. If you like traditional burnt ends, then try these with chuck roast cooked right on your charcoal grill.


  • beef chuck roast, 3 to 4 pounds
  • BBQ seasoning of your choice
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • half size foil roasting pan


  1. Preheat your grill or smoker to a temperature of 275 degrees. Add a few chunks of your favorite wood (like hickory) if you like.
  2. Season the chuck roast very liberally on all sides with your favorite BBQ seasoning.
  3. Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the chuck roast, and put the roast on your charcoal grill or smoker.
  4. Smoke the beef chuck roast at 275 degrees until the internal temp reaches 160-165 degrees. This should take between 3-5 hours, depending on the size of your roast.
  5. Once the roast reaches 165 degrees, take it off the grill and wrap it with peach paper or aluminum foil.
  6. Put the wrapped roast back on the grill, and cook until the meat reaches 195 degrees, about 1.5 hours.
  7. While the roast is cooking, pour 1 cup beef stock into a small sauce pan. Reduce the beef stock on the stove until it equals about 1/4 cup by cooking uncovered on medium high.
  8. Take meat off the grill and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes. While the beef is resting, adjust the coals in your charcoal grill or smoker and raise the grill temp to about 325 degrees.
  9. Cut your chuck roast into 3/4 - 1 inch cubes.
  10. Add the chuck roast cubes, reduced beef stock, and 1 cup of BBQ sauce to the foil roasting pan and toss to combine. Sprinkle with BBQ seasoning and mix to combine.
  11. Place the foil roasting pan on the grill, and cook uncovered for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the meat is incredibly tender.
  12. Take your Poor Man's Burnt Ends off grill and allow to cool. The sauce will thicken up.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 256Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 935mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 22gProtein: 17g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. Different online calculators may calculate nutritional information differently. Also, the addition of optional ingredients and varying brands and products may change the information. For the most accurate data, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients that you us

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