Updated: Feb 27
The evolution of American-style barbecue has quite a bit of history and it's thought to have originated with the first eastern colonies in Virginia and North Carolina. It developed from a concoction of two techniques. The first was adding sauces to cooked meats from the British, and the second was incorporating the technique of preserving meat which came from the Caribbean.
When it comes to American barbecued meat, there's nothing quite like burnt ends, an all-time favorite. They are essentially the candy of meats. These smoky, flavorful morsels are the perfect addition to any cookout or backyard barbecue. But what are burnt ends, exactly? Where do they come from? And how are they made?
Today we're going to talk about everything you need to know about burnt ends BBQ with our complete guide. Get ready though, as you're going to be craving some mouthwatering BBQ by the end of this article.
What are BBQ Burnt Ends & Why Are They So Good
Burnt ends is a popular barbecue dish that originated in Kansas City. The dish is made by cooking the fatty ends of meat until they are crispy and charred. The burnt ends are then usually smothered in barbecue sauce and served on a bun, them themselves, or with baked beans.
Burnt ends are a type of American barbecue that wasn't created through design though, but rather by adaptation. As beef barbecue became more popular, pitmasters would set aside the tougher, drier, and awkwardly formed end pieces of their briskets after they sliced them.
These pieces at one time were scraps and not served very often. Burnt ends, unlike rib tips though, are able to capture melted fat and turn into a smoky crunchy piece of meat. Making them extremely juicy and flavorful.
Burnt ends have become a favorite of pitmasters and barbecue lovers all over the world and for good reason. They are juicy, flavorful, and packed with protein. Plus, they are easy to make at home with just a few simple ingredients. Burnt ends are now served as an appetizer or main course in many barbecue restaurants across the country and are sought after by BBQ lovers.
Where Do Burnt Ends Come From?
Burnt ends came from Kansas City. Restaurants somewhere around the 1970s would start serving brisket sandwiches with the crispy, fatty, and well-charred meat stuffed inside of some delectable bread, it quickly became popular!
There are two main types of burnt ends:
Brisket Burnt Ends
Pork Belly Burnt Ends
Burnt ends can be made from either cow or pig meat, but the most popular type is brisket burnt ends. A brisket is a cut of meat from the chest or breast of a cow.
Pitmasters will also use pork belly to create pig meat burnt ends, which have similar fat content to brisket. Which is why they can be just as good as brisket burnt ends.
On top of using brisket and pork belly for burnt ends, some people have even used a good marbled chuck roast for another type of burnt ends.
Which chuck roast is made from less expensive cuts of meat and is often referred to as "poor man's" burnt ends since a roast is frequently cheaper than brisket or pork belly.
It's up in debate as to which type of burnt ends is the best kind!
Where Does the Name Burnt Ends Come From
The name "burnt ends" comes from the fact that the meat is cooked until it is charred on the outside. However, contrary to its name, burnt ends are not actually burnt. They're cooked to just the point of the bark being predominant, which provides a perfect crunchiness. Which you won't find if you overcook a steak or some other types of meat.
So the word "burnt" refers to the fact that the ends of the meat are cooked longer than the rest of the meat, which gives them a crispy, charred flavor. Not that it's actually burnt.
How Are Burnt Ends Made?
While there are many different ways to make burnt ends, the basic method is relatively simple. Burnt ends are made by smoking cubed brisket point pieces low and slow, slathering them in a preferred type of BBQ sauce, and then giving them a final blast of smoke to caramelize the outside.
The typical steps you'll see when making burnt ends can look like this:
Remove the point from the flat end of the brisket.
Remove any remaining hard fat from the tip and fat cap, then cut them with a sharp knife. Make sure they're 1/4 inch thick.
For best results, smoke the brisket over low heat for an extended period of time.
To cook a beef brisket, set the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooking time will be around 1 to 1 1/2 hours per pound.
Remove the smoked point from the smoker and cut it into cubes after the internal temperature has reached 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cube sizes should be about 1 to 1 1/2 inches.
Sauce up the cubed meats.
Allow the charred ends to smoke for an additional hour or two in an uncovered pan.
What to Eat With Burnt Ends?
When it comes to the question of what to eat with your burnt ends, there are all sorts of sides that go well with burnt ends. If you're looking for something classic, try serving your burnt ends with baked beans, coleslaw, or potato salad. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, try pairing them with Mexican elotes.
No matter what you choose to serve them with, we guarantee that you and your guests will love these smoky little bites.
Generally as a role, if it's something that you would normally see and eat with other types of BBQ foods, then it should go well with your BBQ burnt ends too.
Burnt Ends Vs Rib Tips
Now that we've answered the question "what are burnt ends," it's time to address a common misconception: burnt ends versus rib tips.
Rib tips and burnt ends are not the same things. Burnt ends are the piece of brisket that is charred and has bark-covered edges.
Rib tips come from a strip of meat and cartilage. Which is usually after trimming a full rack of pork ribs. These rib tips will have quite a bit of gelatin. In addition to that, the muscle is rather tough.
Rib tips result from butchers when preparing squared-off ribs cuts like St. Louis style spareribs.
Ribs tips will also respond to heat differently. Rib tips can be cooked in a similar way, but burned ends retain fat, resulting in a richer flavor and creamier texture.
Burnt Ends Sauce
Kansas City style BBQ sauce is one of the most popular types of burnt ends BBQ sauce. It's a thick, ketchup-based sauce with a molasses swirl that has high sugar content. It is a popular addiction in households across the country.
However, there are many types of sauces that can be used with burnt ends. Some people prefer to use a Memphis-style sauce, which is tomato-based and has a vinegar and mustard flavor.
Others prefer to use a Texas-style sauce, which is tomato-based and has a smoky flavor. And finally, some people prefer to use an Alabama-style sauce, which is mayonnaise-based and can have a sweet and tangy flavor.
So when it comes to burnt ends barbeque sauce, it's really up to what type of flavor profiles and heat levels you prefer.
The Best Burnt Ends Sauces
If you're looking for the perfect burnt ends sauces, we've got a few of our favorites to share with you guys. Below are some of the best sauces for burnt ends. All of these have their own unique flavor profiles and heat level.
Whether you're looking for a Gold Carolina, Texas style, white Alabama, or iconic Kansas style BBQ sauce, you'll want to try it with your burnt ends. These sauces are all winners, but be warned that they have a lot of flavor and heat! They're all must-tries, though.
Reaper Gold Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce
Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce is a take on a South Carolina mustard-based BBQ sauce. It's paired with the hottest pepper in the world, which also originates from South Carolina.
Try it on both your brisket and pork belly burnt ends, or anything that you would eat with mustard. It is basically liquid gold... but with an amazing KICK of heat.
Reverse Sear Texas BBQ Sauce
Reverse Sear is an in-your-face and full of flavor of your traditional style of BBQ sauce. You can use it on all of your favorite BBQ meats, including your burnt ends brisket.
Warning though, it's been paired up with the 7-pot Primo making it a delicious sauce with a serious initial punch.
Fatal Mango Texas BBQ Sauce
Fatal Mango is a mouthwatering BBQ mango sauce made with mangoes and fatalii peppers. The taste of Fatalii peppers is reminiscent of citrus flavors, but they're a little spicier. The heat level in fatalii peppers is comparable to that of Habaneros. This makes the sauce adaptable in every way!
If you want a good sauce that will add some heat to your burnt ends, this is a great option.
White Wraith Alabama White Sauce
White Wraith pays homage to Alabama-style BBQ sauces, where white sauces originated. It kicks up the heat with Ghost Peppers. Chicken is typically dunked in Alabama white sauce, which is popular in the South, but it also pairs perfectly with burnt ends! It also makes a great dipping sauce for chicken wings. It is incredibly addictive though, so be prepared.
Beware that the Ghost Peppers in this sauce give it plenty of fire that some people may not be able to handle.
Pear Burner Kansas BBQ Sauce
Pear Burner pays home to Kansas City and is the home of burnt ends and arguably the most popular style of BBQ sauce. The sauce gives honor to this iconic BBQ city with a delicious version of Kansas City style BBQ sauces. If you're looking for sauce for burnt ends, look no further than this sauce.
It also introduces some light fruity notes with the help of pear and prickly pear, and brings the heat with the Scorpion Pepper! (So be prepared for that heat). Pear burners are used to burn the spines of the prickly pear fruit. It's especially good for BBQ burnt ends.
You can also find all of these at burnt ends sauces at our online BBQ shop where there are also combination packs, that way if you want to try multiple flavors and heat, you can buy them as a single pack! (Or as a great gift).
Burnt Ends: An All American BBQ Favorite
If you're looking for something new to try at your next cookout or barbecue, then you're going to want to try out some burnt ends. These smoky little bites are sure to impress your taste buds and add some serious flavor delight to your summertime gatherings.
So what are you waiting for? Fire up the grill and get started on your very own batch of burnt ends! Just make sure to get your burnt ends sauces ahead of time, so that you're ready to rock and roll.
If you guys have some of your own favorite methods of smoking and cooking up burnt ends, leave a comment down below and share with us! Also, let us know what you're favorite type of sauce to use on burnt ends.