Smoked pork belly burnt ends are a crowd favorite. We have the most tender, flavorful and mouthwatering BBQ pork burnt ends recipe right here.
Burnt ends have become one of our favorites on our Traeger grill. Using just 4 ingredients, this recipe is super easy. If you don't have a smoker, you can make these in the oven! See our tips and tricks for pork belly burnt ends below.
What are Burnt Ends?
Beef Brisket Burnt Ends
Traditionally, burnt ends are made from the point end of a smoked brisket. The pieces of fatty bark were considered "leftovers" from the more slice-worthy flat end used for sandwiches. Famous for its local barbecue, Kansas City claims the origin for beef brisket burnt ends.
Pork Belly Burnt Ends
We no longer consider burnt ends as leftovers but now as lip-smacking bite-size pieces of heaven. They're so popular that people are making them from other types of meat, including cuts from a chuck roast or pork belly cubes, like in our recipe.
(full printable recipe at end of this post)
Our burnt ends taste sweet and savory. We use simple and few ingredients because the juices from the fatty pork belly slab delivers so much flavor.
- Boneless, skinless pork belly slab -- We find ours at Costco (see photo above) for the best price and quality. It's already skinless and ready to cut into inch cubes. You want anywhere from 5 to 7 lbs.
- Dry rub for ribs -- You can use a homemade rib rub or buy your favorite. This recipe calls for ½ cup, and more to taste.
- Honey -- We told you our burnt ends are sweet, and honey is one of the best and more natural ways to sweeten a recipe.
- Barbecue sauce -- Some recipes call for a more homemade bbq sauce with brown sugar. We have a few favorite pre-made sauces we love that keep this recipe simple. Go for a Texas style sauce that typically is sweet and smoky.
How to Smoke Burnt Ends
You need a sharp knife, cutting board, large mixing bowl, meat thermometer and an aluminum pan for this recipe.
We use a Traeger for our smoker recipes, but any smoker will do. There are very few steps required to make burnt ends. Scroll down for the full recipe card, the general steps are as follows:
- Preheat smoker to 250°F.
- Slice pork slab into 1 ½-inch cubes and place into large mixing bowl.
- Add dry rub to bowl and toss to coat.
- Place cubed pork belly pieces directly on grill racks, close lid and smoke 2 to 3 hours, or until reaches 190°F internal temp.
- Transfer bites to an aluminum pan. Add bbq sauce and honey, toss to coat.
- Place aluminum pan on grill grates, close smoker lid, up the temp to 275°F and smoke an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour, until caramelized.
- Remove pan, let rest 15 minutes before serving.
If you do not have a smoker, burnt ends can be cooked in the oven. Instead of placing cubed pork belly pieces directly on the oven rack, you will use a large baking sheet and wire cooling rack. Follow the same instructions in the smoker recipe letting the cooling rack serve as the grill grates.
You can still achieve the smoky flavor in the oven by adding a little liquid smoke to the barbecue sauce in the foil pan.
Can you overcook burnt ends?
Yes! Burnt ends can dry out if you overcook them or cut them too small.
Are pork belly burnt ends fatty?
Pork belly is a fatty cut, so expect fat in this recipe. Good news! The fat gives all the flavor!
What temp should they be?
We find the best internal temperature for pork burnt ends is 190°F. This keeps them on the smoker long enough to become tender, but pulled before they dry out.
We store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. You can reheat them in the microwave or eat them cold! (I love them straight from the fridge as a quick snack.)
What to Serve with Burnt Ends
Try These Recipes With Burnt Ends:
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Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- Cutting board
- Meat thermometer
- Aluminum pan
- 1 5-7 lb boneless, skinless pork belly slab (we find ours at Costco)
- ½ cup Dry rib rub seasoning , use your favorite (more or less to taste)
- ½ cup Honey
- 1 ½ cup BBQ Sauce
- Preheat smoker to 250°F.
- Cut pork belly into 1 ½-inch cubes and place into large mixing bowl. Sprinkle dry rub over the pork belly cubes and toss to coat.
- Place cubes fat side up directly on the grill grates.* (see note below) Close the lid and smoke 2 to 3 hours, or until they reach 190°F internal temperature.
- Remove pork bites from smoker and place in deep 9x13-inch aluminum pan. Add barbecue sauce and honey. Mix until evenly coated. Add additional rib rub, if desired.
- Place pan onto grill, close lid, up the temp to 275°F and smoke an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour, until liquid is thickened and caramelized.
- Remove pan from smoker. Let rest 15 minutes before serving. (We like to set them out as a party app with toothpicks.)
- *If you're afraid the pork cubes will drop between the grates, you can place two wire cooling racks onto two large baking sheets and spread the pork cubes on the wire racks. Place the baking sheets onto the smoker grates.
- Some pork burnt ends recipes call for spritzing the pork with apple juice every 45 minutes to keep them from drying out. We haven't found this to be necessary as long as you don't overcook them.
- Nutrition information is an estimate only using a 6 lb pork belly slab.