Poor Man's Burnt Ends

Poor Man’s Burnt Ends

If you’ve ever had burnt ends at a bbq joint (or at home if you can invest the hours and hours), real smoked burnt ends made from brisket, you gotta know there’s not much better! Probably the only thing better would be having more of them and having them more often! That’s where this cheaper knock-off, Poor Man’s Burnt Ends comes in.

Poor Man's Burnt Ends

Poor Man’s Burnt Ends


So, guys, I hinted this recipe was coming up, last week when I posted my Kansas City Beef Rub, and here it is! This is an Instant Pot recipe to oven recipe for burnt ends. I can give you some guidelines on how to use the oven only (no Instant Pot version) with the disclaimer that I haven’t tested these burnt ends cooked that way. So if you have an IP or you’re adventurous enough to wing the full-on oven recipe, follow along!

About Poor Man’s Burnt Ends:

If you haven’t had Burnt Ends, Serious Eats describes them as “nuggets of barbecue gold.” They’re made from the fatty end (usually) of the brisket, twice smoked, and come out juicy with an incredibly serious dark bark – hence the name “burnt.” Burnt Ends don’t taste burnt, though, just in case you were wondering. It’s just all the caramelized rub and/or sauce that gives them that look.

The problem with duplicating barbecued Burnt Ends at home? Brisket is outrageously expensive in some areas, practically nonexistent in others, and read deal burnt ends take lots of both time and skill. Both usually put home cooks at a big disadvantage.

These Poor Man’s Burnt Ends use the cheaper but still well-marbled and juicy Chuck roast instead of Brisket and the Burnt Ends are still cooked twice. The first time in an Instant Pot with a rub (KC style, please, either mine or *gasp* someone else’s) until they’re gorgeous and tender. The second go-around, they’re cooked in the oven with a sauce that caramelizes and melds into juicy, sticky deliciousness.

And all this can happen under an hour using the Instant Pot. Every time I make this recipe, I think I’ve just about died and gone to heaven and I STILL can’t believe how easy it is. I’d be eating this all the time if I didn’t worry about balance and budget! A chuck roast is usually, on sale, about half the price of brisket on sale, but still isn’t dirt cheap iffn ya know wot I mean…

Poor Man's Burnt Ends

Poor Man’s Burnt Ends – go heavy on the seasoning. This is Chuck Roast.

What to serve with Burnt Ends?

You’d be wise to have some good sides so you don’t just make a meal of meat (tempting as that might sound!) Anything that goes with BBQ will be perfect with burnt ends. I went very simple with a baked sweet potato and some sweet corn, but there are so many ways to go!

Think cornbread, maybe my Famous Dave’s Copycat with the Jalapeno & Honey Glaze. Maybe this Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread is more your style? Of course, these Doctored Up Canned Beans would be right at home, either baked or done on the stove in a pot.

I have a few different coleslaw recipes on my site but for a barbecue side, I love this simple, old-fashioned Vinegar Based Slaw. If you go for creamy, well I have one of those, too. Of all the potato salads on my site, I gotta give a shout-out to Classic Potato Salad, made in the instant pot or not. It’s perfect with any BBQ. Maybe you’d like my Ultimate Mac & Cheese instead or in addition?

And as long as we’re keeping to the classics, maybe you’ll want Classic Deviled Eggs as an appetizer? I know I do! Or maybe some Bread & Butter Pickles (they are so easy – no canning, strictly a refrigerator pickle!) to cut through all that richness?

Making Homemade Poor Man’s Burnt Ends:

There are a few things to know to make this recipe a success in the Instant Pot:

  • Cut your beef correctly. Try to get pieces that are about 1 1/2″ chunks. If too thin, make cuts a bit wider; aim to make each piece weigh about the same.
  • Season heavily with the rub and a little additional salt to compensate for the steam in the Instant Pot washing off the flavoring.
  • The size of the pieces determines the length of time and is more important than how many pieces are in the pot. Resist the urge to add more time if making a bit more. You can always quickly check and add more time if needed.
  • You’ll cook these on your Instant Pot rack, but it is best to raise the rack a little. Try using little balls of foil to rest the rack on. You don’t want to “stew” the meat in all the juices which will wash away some of the rub.
  • When placing meat on the rack, put any smaller pieces in the center and larger pieces around the outside. Leave room at the edges.
  • The meat is done when a fork penetrates easily but they shouldn’t be falling apart or disintegrating into shreds. You’re looking for great texture just like real bbq.

If making in the oven, place on rack (if possible) over a foil-lined (for easy cleaning) sheet pan. Roast at 325 degrees F. for about 2 1/2 hours, or until fork-tender.

To finish either IP or Oven Version, toss with sauce and bake in a hot oven (or under a broiler) until caramelized, turning now and then. Add another layer of sauce just over the top and toss back in. And def use a foil-lined pan! You can use the broiling lid for the IP but I think the oven does a better job and leaves you with much more crispy, crusty caramelized deliciousness!

Poor Man's Burnt Ends

Poor Man’s Burnt Ends – ready to go in the oven.

How to Store and Reheat Poor Man’s Burnt Ends :

Store your Poor Man’s Burnt Ends in an airtight container in the fridge for three to five days. The best way to reheat is to steam in a pot on the stove or in the Instant Pot. It will gently soften the burnt ends, which can get hard when refrigerated, so they taste like they were just made. A microwave works, too, just not as well.

If you are not going to eat your burnt ends as is, you can transform them by turning them into tacos or burritos or maybe trying them in my Game Day Brisket Chili. When I tasted the juices/water from the bottom of the IP, I found it too intensely flavored to consider using in something like the chili or a soup but I think they would be great in a homemade bbq sauce. Maybe next time! It might be good, also, in Brunswick Stew.

Game Day Brisket Chili

Game Day Brisket Chili

Saving Money on Poor Man’s Burnt Ends:

This recipe uses a good amount of chuck (brisket would be excellent, too, but even pricier) so watch for the sales! It’s a great idea to pick up extra roasts like this when they are at rock bottom pricing and “chuck” (sorry, couldn’t help myself) them into the freezer. That way you’ll always have sales-priced beef to make recipes with. Or else, let a great sale price on chuck roast inspire you to buy and cook.

You’ll often find the best pricing on Chuck Roast in the fall after the animals go to market, and around or shortly after Christmas and New Year. So many of the fancier roasts are sold during both holidays and the rest of the animal, the lesser cuts are often marked down. To see what might be on sale around any holiday, check out my post, Win at the Grocer. You’ll find links to all the major holidays along with items that will likely be on sale.

If you’re really budget-minded, this recipe would be marvelous made with a pork shoulder, too!

If you’re curious how much it costs to run a freezer, the average is about $4.99 a month. Less than the cost of a Big Mac. Just sayin’. You might want to take a peek at my articles on Banking Your Food and Freezer Options.

If, like that old song, If I could buy the world a coke…I would. And if I could serve up the world (not the vegetarians, obs) these burnt ends, I would! They’re mouthwatering nuggets of deliciousness! By the way, I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here in GA! The daffodils are blooming, and I spotted a magnolia opening its buds! On the downside, there are a LOT of toads and frogs!! Like a LOT!

Peace out!


Poor Man's Burnt Ends

Poor Man’s Burnt Ends with Sweet Potato & Corn


Poor Man’s Burnt Ends

  • Author: mollie kirby
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
  • Category: main dish
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American


  • 2 pounds chuck roast cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
  • 1/2 cup Kansas City Beef Rub (if no salt, add 3/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 cup Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke


Toss and rub beef with the beef rub. If time allows, set aside for an hour or refrigerate up to overnight.

Raise the rack in the instant pot to about 2 1/2″. Balls of aluminum foil work great fo this. Add one cup of water to the Instant Pot along with 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke. Arrange beef on rack, any smaller pieces to the center, larger on the outside, piling gently and making sure to leave space around the outside edges of the rack.

Seal and set to High Pressure 3 minutes. Allow for a natural release, 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Remove beef and place on a foil lined sheet pan and toss with 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce. Roast, turning the burnt ends over now and then until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove and drizzle with additional sauce (without tossing, this time) to taste, up to 1/2 cup. Place back in oven until the tops of the beef cubes caramelize. If needed, turn on the broiler but watch closely.

Remove from foil while still hot to prevent sticking.

Keywords: Barbecue, Barbecue Sauce, Beef, brisket, burnt ends, Kansas City

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9 thoughts on “Poor Man’s Burnt Ends

  1. Nancy L Janssen

    As I cook for two, this is perfectly portioned! I can’t (and won’t) justify purchasing an entire brisket. I’m also a traditional oven user and am imagining the glorious smell that will permeate my home with these. You hit this one out of the park, girl!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Nancy, I got ahold of a dirt cheap brisket last year when I was with Jess and the kids! I spun it three ways and we had leftovers from each meal and leftovers from the leftovers, haha!, That’s 8 people (admittedly some little) x 8 meals equals 64 servings! And that didn’t include the cold from the fridge snacking!

      Try it with the chuck! I like it even better than brisket!

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