Embark on a culinary journey with the delectable and savory delight known as Pork Butt Burnt Ends. This dish, a true masterpiece of BBQ cuisine, brings together the rich flavors and tender textures that food enthusiasts crave. Originating from the art of slow-cooking, Pork Butt Burnt Ends have evolved into a popular delicacy for BBQ lovers and gourmet explorers alike.

Pork Butt Burnt Ends

The journey of crafting these burnt ends begins with the selection of a high-quality pork butt, also known as the Boston butt. This cut, derived from the upper part of the shoulder, is renowned for its perfect balance of meat and fat, making it ideal for slow cooking. As the pork butt gently smokes, the magic unfolds, transforming the meat into a succulent and flavorful treat.

The term “burnt ends” traditionally referred to the charred, crispy tips of smoked brisket. However, when applied to pork butt, it takes on a new dimension. The exterior of the pork butt caramelizes to form a crispy, mouth-watering crust, encasing the succulently soft and moist meat inside. This contrast in textures, combined with the rich, smoky flavor, creates an unforgettable eating experience.

Pork Butt Burnt Ends are not just about taste; they’re a celebration of patience and skill. The slow-smoking process allows the flavors to deepen and meld together, resulting in a dish that’s both complex and harmonious. Whether served as a main dish or a tantalizing appetizer, these burnt ends promise a journey of flavors that is both deeply satisfying and irresistibly delicious.

Prep time1 hour
Cook time 3 hours
Servings8 servings

Tools Needed

  • Smoker or Charcoal Grill
  • Digital Meat Thermometer
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Aluminum Foil Pan (or Disposable Aluminum Tray)
  • Cutting Board
  • Sharp Knife (for trimming and cutting the pork butt)
  • Basting Brush
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Spray Bottle (for the apple juice and apple cider vinegar mix)
  • Tongs (for handling the meat)
  • Oven Mitts or Heat Resistant Gloves
Pork Butt Burnt Ends

Ingredients for Pork Butt Burnt Ends

  • Pork Butt (Boston Butt) – 4 to 5 pounds, trimmed
  • BBQ Rub – 1/4 cup (store-bought or homemade)
  • Brown Sugar – 1/4 cup
  • Paprika – 2 tablespoons
  • Garlic Powder – 1 tablespoon
  • Onion Powder – 1 tablespoon
  • Ground Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon
  • Kosher Salt – 1 teaspoon
  • Apple Juice – 1/2 cup (for spritzing)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – 1/4 cup (for spritzing)
  • Honey – 1/4 cup
  • BBQ Sauce – 1 cup (your choice)
  • Unsalted Butter – 4 tablespoons, cubed

What cut to use for Pork Butt Burnt Ends?

For Pork Butt Burnt Ends, the ideal cut is the pork butt, also known as Boston butt. This cut, from the upper part of the pig’s shoulder, offers a superb mix of fat and lean meat. Its marbling and connective tissue melt during slow cooking, resulting in tender, flavorful burnt ends.

How to make Pork Butt Burnt Ends?

Preparation of the Pork Butt

  • Begin by trimming the pork butt. Remove any excess fat, leaving about 1/4 inch of fat cap for flavor.
  • Cut the pork butt into 2-inch cubes. This size is ideal for achieving a good balance of bark and tenderness.
Pork Butt Burnt Ends


  • In a bowl, mix together the BBQ rub, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and kosher salt.
  • Generously coat each cube of pork butt with this seasoning mix, ensuring all sides are well covered.

Preheating the Smoker

  • Preheat your smoker or grill to 250°F (121°C). If using a charcoal grill, set it up for indirect cooking.

Smoking the Pork

  • Place the seasoned pork butt cubes on the smoker rack, ensuring they are not touching each other to allow even smoke circulation.
  • Smoke the pork for about 2-3 hours. Maintain the smoker temperature at a steady 250°F.
Pork Butt Burnt Ends


  • Combine apple juice and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle.
  • After the first hour of smoking, spritz the pork cubes every 30 minutes to keep them moist.

Creating the Burnt Ends

  • After 2-3 hours of smoking, check the internal temperature of the pork cubes. They should be around 160°F (71°C).
  • Transfer the pork cubes to the aluminum foil pan.
  • Drizzle honey over the pork, add cubed unsalted butter, and pour BBQ sauce over the top. Toss gently to coat all pieces.

The Second Smoke

  • Cover the aluminum foil pan with foil and place it back in the smoker.
  • Continue to smoke for another 1.5 to 2 hours. The goal is to reach an internal temperature of about 195°F (90°C), where the pork becomes tender and the flavors meld.

Final Touches

  • Remove the foil cover for the last 30 minutes of cooking to allow the sauce to thicken and caramelize.
  • Keep an eye on the pork to ensure it doesn’t burn.


  • Once done, remove the pan from the smoker and let the burnt ends rest for about 10-15 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute.
Pork Butt Burnt Ends

How to Garnish Pork Butt Burnt Ends?

To elevate the presentation and flavor of Pork Butt Burnt Ends, consider garnishing them with a sprinkle of freshly chopped green onions or chives for a pop of color and a subtle oniony crispness. A light drizzle of honey or your favorite BBQ sauce can add a glossy, appetizing finish.

For a bit of freshness and contrast, a few sprigs of fresh parsley or cilantro can be used. If you enjoy a bit of heat, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes or thinly sliced jalapeños can add a spicy kick that complements the rich smokiness of the burnt ends.

What to Serve with Pork Butt Burnt Ends?

Pork Butt Burnt Ends pair wonderfully with a variety of side dishes that balance their rich and smoky flavor. Classic BBQ sides like creamy coleslaw and sweet baked beans are always a hit, offering a contrast in textures and flavors. For a fresher approach, consider a crisp garden salad or a tangy vinegar-based slaw.

Cornbread or dinner rolls can be served to soak up the flavorful juices, and for a heartier meal, macaroni and cheese or grilled vegetables are excellent choices. To complete the BBQ experience, consider a cold, refreshing beverage like iced tea or a craft beer.

Storing Leftover Pork Butt Burnt Ends

Cooling Down

  • Allow the burnt ends to cool to room temperature before storing. This should take about 30 minutes. Avoid leaving them out for longer than 2 hours to prevent bacterial growth.

Choosing the Right Container

  • Use airtight containers or heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap. This helps to keep the burnt ends moist and prevents them from absorbing other odors in the fridge.


  • Store the burnt ends in the refrigerator if you plan to consume them within 3 to 4 days. The cold temperature slows down bacterial growth and keeps the burnt ends safe to eat.

Freezing for Long-Term Storage

  • For longer storage, wrap the burnt ends tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. Place them in a freezer bag, squeezing out as much air as possible.
  • Label the bag with the date. Properly stored, they can last in the freezer for up to 3 months. This method helps preserve the quality and flavor.

Thawing and Reheating

  • When ready to eat, thaw frozen burnt ends in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheat them in the oven or microwave. If using an oven, cover them with foil to prevent them from drying out. Heat at 275°F (135°C) until warmed through.
  • In a microwave, use a microwave-safe dish and cover them. Heat on medium power to avoid drying them out.

Avoid Repeated Reheating

  • Reheat only the amount you plan to eat. Repeated reheating can cause the burnt ends to become dry and can also be a food safety concern.
Pork Butt Burnt Ends

Variations and Substitutions in Pork Butt Burnt Ends

  • Spice Mix Variation: Experiment with different BBQ rubs, like a Cajun-style rub for a spicier kick, or a coffee-based rub for a deeper, earthy flavor.
  • Sauce Substitutions: Instead of traditional BBQ sauce, try a honey mustard glaze or a spicy chipotle sauce for a different flavor profile.
  • Sweetness Adjustment: For less sweetness, reduce or omit the brown sugar and honey. Alternatively, for a sweeter taste, add maple syrup or increase the honey.
  • Meat Alternatives: While pork butt is traditional, beef brisket points or chuck roast can be used for a beefier version of burnt ends.
  • Vegan Option: For a plant-based twist, use seasoned and smoked tofu or tempeh cubes, following a similar preparation method.
  • Liquid Smoke Addition: If cooking in an oven or lacking a smoker, add a few drops of liquid smoke to the seasoning or sauce for a smoky flavor.
  • Herbal Touch: Incorporate fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme into the rub for an aromatic twist.
  • Heat Level: Adjust the spiciness by adding cayenne pepper to the rub or a spicy hot sauce to the mix for those who enjoy extra heat.
  • Fruit Flavors: Experiment with different spritzing liquids like pineapple juice or cherry cola for a unique twist in flavor.
  • Alcohol-Infused: For a richer depth of flavor, consider adding a splash of bourbon or apple cider to the sauce mixture.

Common Mistakes and Tips

  • Overcrowding the Smoker: Avoid placing pork cubes too close together. This prevents even smoke circulation and consistent cooking.
  • Tip: Leave sufficient space between each cube for optimal smoke flow.
  • Neglecting Internal Temperature: Not monitoring the internal temperature can result in undercooked or overcooked pork.
  • Tip: Use a digital meat thermometer to ensure the pork reaches the ideal internal temperature of 195°F (90°C).
  • Incorrect Cube Size: Cutting cubes too small or too large affects cooking time and texture.
  • Tip: Aim for uniform 2-inch cubes for consistent cooking and a good bark-to-meat ratio.
  • Skipping the Resting Phase: Serving immediately after cooking can lead to less juicy burnt ends.
  • Tip: Allow the pork to rest for 10-15 minutes after cooking for juicier, more flavorful results.
  • Overusing Smoke: Too much smoke can overpower the meat’s flavor.
  • Tip: Opt for a moderate amount of wood and maintain a clean smoke for a balanced smoky taste.
  • Inconsistent Heat: Fluctuating temperatures in the smoker can affect cooking time and quality.
  • Tip: Maintain a steady temperature (around 250°F) for the best results.
  • Ignoring the Spritzing Step: Not spritzing can lead to drier pork.
  • Tip: Regularly spritz with a mix of apple juice and apple cider vinegar to keep the meat moist.
  • Rushing the Process: Rushing the cooking process can result in tough burnt ends.
  • Tip: Be patient and allow enough time for the connective tissues to break down and the flavors to develop.
  • Overdoing the Sauce: Too much sauce can overwhelm the natural flavors of the pork.
  • Tip: Apply sauce sparingly and consider serving extra on the side.
  • Uneven Seasoning: Inadequate or uneven seasoning can lead to bland spots.
  • Tip: Thoroughly and evenly coat each pork cube with the spice mixture for consistent flavor.
Pork Butt Burnt Ends

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Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ’s

Pork Butt Burnt Ends are unique because they combine the rich, deep flavors of slow-smoked pork with a caramelized outer crust. This is achieved by cutting pork butt into cubes, seasoning them generously, and smoking them until they develop a crispy exterior and tender interior.

Yes, you can make them in an oven, though the smoky flavor will be less pronounced. Use liquid smoke for a smoky flavor and roast the seasoned pork cubes at a low temperature until tender. Finish by broiling for a crispy exterior.

Pork Butt Burnt Ends are done when they reach an internal temperature of about 195°F (90°C). They should be tender enough to easily break apart but still hold their shape.

Absolutely! You can smoke them a day in advance and reheat them in the oven before serving. Store them properly in the refrigerator overnight, and they will retain their moisture and flavor.

For the best flavor, use a homemade or high-quality BBQ rub and apply it generously to ensure all sides of the pork cubes are well-coated. You can also experiment with different spices and herbs to tailor the flavor to your liking. Remember, the seasoning forms the crust and adds a significant flavor punch to the burnt ends.

Nutritional Facts of Pork Butt Burnt Ends (Per Serving)

  • Calories: Approximately 350-450 kcal
  • Protein: 25-30 grams
  • Fat: 20-25 grams (saturated fat varies)
  • Carbohydrates: 10-15 grams (primarily from sugars in the BBQ sauce and rub)
  • Sugars: 6-10 grams (depends on the BBQ sauce and rub used)
  • Sodium: 500-700 mg (varies based on seasoning and sauce)
  • Fiber: Less than 1 gram
  • Cholesterol: 75-90 mg


Pork Butt Burnt Ends epitomize the essence of classic BBQ – a dish where simplicity meets immense flavor. Made from the humble pork butt, these burnt ends are a celebration of texture and taste. Slow-smoked until they achieve a tender interior and a caramelized crust, they’re a testament to the art of patience in cooking. Each cube offers a burst of sweet, smoky, and slightly savory flavors, making them irresistible to BBQ enthusiasts.

Ideal for gatherings, these burnt ends can be a show-stopping centerpiece or a complementary side, versatile enough to fit any meal setting. Their rich flavor pairs well with a variety of sides, making them a culinary delight that appeals to a broad audience. Pork Butt Burnt Ends are not just food; they are a joyful experience, bringing people together over a shared love of good, hearty, flavorsome cooking.

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