Pork Shoulder Burnt Ends

Are you looking for a recipe for pork shoulder burnt ends? These irresistible sticky, smoky pieces of meat candy are covered in a delicious BBQ rub, smoked then covered in a BBQ sauce and smoked again!

They deliver a major flavor punch of sweet, savory, and smoky goodness. However burnt ends can be tricky the first time you make them. So make sure you follow my simple steps below.

Why You’ll Love These Smoked Pork Shoulder Burnt Ends

The combination of juicy pork and caramelized barbecue sauce is just like meat candy! But my favorite part? Burnt ends are an EASY and tasty alternative to smoking a whole pork shoulder! Plus they are perfect for a appetizer or a main.

Just a heads up, make double, they will go in a flash!

What You’ll Need for Pork Shoulder Burnt Ends

  • Pork shoulder
  • Barbecue rub
  • Apple juice
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Barbecue sauce

What Makes Good Pork Shoulder Burnt Ends?

You may have heard of brisket burnt ends. They originally came from the sections of dried-out, crispy parts of beef brisket, cut off and leftover when smoking.

You can also make your burnt ends from the pork belly or pork shoulder. Both pork belly and pork shoulder work well as they have a high-fat content

You can either use leftover smoked pork shoulder or raw meat. The recipe below uses raw meat which is cut into 1-2 inch cubes, coated in a dry rub, and smoked until they have a crunchy outer layer.

Finish off with a sticky barbecue glaze, and you have an incredibly tasty treat. After 40 minutes remove the cover and give the burnt ends a toss.

Place the tray back in the smoker uncovered and cook until the sauce has reduced and the pork shoulder ends have a caramelized bark outer. Rather have it whole? See how to smoke pork belly like a grill master here.

How to Make Burnt Ends from Pork Shoulder

Let’s dive right into the recipe! Here’s how to make burnt ends from pork shoulder.

1. Preheat Your Smoker

Pre-heat your smoker to 250°F – 275°F and set it up to use indirect heat. I used hickory pellets for this but lighter fruit wood pieces like applewood, maple, and cherry wood are also great options.

2. Cube The Pork

If your using frozen pork ensure you allow enough time for it to defrost completely. Cube the pork shoulder in 1 inch by 1 inch cubes. If your using a bone-in meat, its easier to cut the meat from the bone first, then cube it.Pork-Shoulder-Burnt-Ends-Pit-Boss.jpg

pork shoulder burnt ends

3. Season The Pork

Put the pieces of pork into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the BBQ rub over the pork and give the bowls a good shake to ensure you coat each side of the meat.

In an aluminum, foil tray pour some of the apple juice. This will help retain the moisture in the pork while it’s smoking and acts as a drip tray for any stray pieces that fall through the wire rack. Put you the pork cubes on a grill rack. If you want to you can use a disposable grill liner for an easy clean-up.

4. Smoke and Spritz

Put the rack in the smoker, close the lid and cook for 2.5 – 3 hours.

Mix the remaining mixture of apple juice and apple cider vinegar and pour into a spray bottle.Spritz the pork every 30 minutes .

Let the pork burnt ends cook until you reach an internal temperature of 190°F.Use a temperature probe to check a few of them.This will take 2-3 hours, a long slow smoke will slowly break down the connective tissues and fats to infuse with moisture and give a tender meat.

After 2 -3 hours, or when the meat reaches 190⁰F internal temperature, remove the pork a from the grill and place them in an aluminum foil tray. Always work on temperature, rather than time to ensure the food is safe to eat.

5. Add The Sauce

Pour over the bbq sauce and the honey over the burnt ends and toss together to coat the surface of the pork .

Then tightly cover the aluminum foil tray with aluminum foil and let them cook for 40 minutes.

6. Braise The Pork

After 40 minutes remove the cover and give the burnt ends a toss. Place the tray back in the smoker uncovered and cook until the sauce has reduced and the pork shoulder ends have a caramelized bark outer.

7. Remove From The Smoker and Rest

Remove the tray from the smoker. Allow the burnt ends to cool for 5 minutes then its time to eat!

What to Look for When Buying Your Pork

Try to source a piece of pork shoulder with a moderate amount of fat. Too much fat will leave you feeling overwhelmed in oiliness, and take away from the pork flavors.  Bone-in or bone out doesn’t matter, but it will be easier to cut bone out.   

What Wood Chips to Use for Burnt Ends?

Wood chips such as hickory are perfect for burnt ends, hickory has a medium to intense smoky flavor.

However if you prefer a lighter flavor go for a fruitwood like applewood, maple, or cherry wood

I have found that mesquite has a strong flavor and can be too overpowering for the pork.

Burnt Ends Recipe Variation

Try splitting the pork pieces over a couple of aluminum pans and try different flavor ideas such as: 

  • Try a beef and brisket rub for a beefy flavor.
  • Add a splash of bourbon to the barbeque sauce for a southern barbecue classic.
  • Swap the honey for maple syrup and add brown sugar for sweeter bite-size pieces.
  • For a spicy treat, add some chili powder rub.

How to Prep The Pork Shoulder For Burnt Ends

Using a sharp knife dice the pork shoulder into 1-2 inch cubes that are bite-sized. Try to remove the excess pieces of fat as you go.

Pat the pork dry with a paper towel to remove any excess liquid that may wash the rub off. Coat in a dry rub and let sit for 20-30 minutes. This will allow the pork can absorb the rub flavors.

Add a Drip Tray (Optional)

You don’t have to add a trip tray. It does help to retain the moisture in the pork cubes while it’s smoking.

It also acts as a drip tray for any stray pieces that fall through the wire rack. In an aluminum foil tray pour half of the the apple juice. 

Place the tray under the pellet grill smoker grate. You can line the grill rack with layers of foil if you prefer an easy clean-up.

What Else Can You Use Pork Shoulder For?

Smoked Carnitas

Pulled Pork

Pork Shoulder Burnt Ends On A Pellet Grill (6 Simple Steps)

Want make delicious meat candy from pork shoulder? These pork shoulder burnt ends wil be so popular at your cookout you'll have to make a double batch!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time4 hours
Total Time4 hours 10 minutes
Course: Appetizer, main, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Barbecue, bbq, dinner, grill, lunch
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 352kcal
Author: Charlie
Cost: 12

Equipment

  • 1 Pellet smoker
  • 2 Disposable Aluminum Foil tray
  • 1 spray bottle

Ingredients

  • 6-8 lbs of cubed pork shoulder
  • .5 cup Barbecue rub
  • 1 cup Apple juice
  • .5 cup Apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp Barbecue sauce
  • 4 tbsp Honey

Instructions

  • Pre-heat your smoker to 250°F – 275°F and set it up to use indirect heat.
    I used hickory pellets for this but lighter fruit wood pieces like applewood, maple, and cherry wood are also great options.
  • Cube the pork shoulder in 1 inch by 1 inch cubes.
    If your using a bone-in meat, its easier to cut the meat from the bone first, then cube it, .
  • Put the pieces of pork into a large mixing bowl.
    Sprinkle the BBQ rub over the pork and give the bowls a good shake to ensure you coat each side of the meat.
  • In an aluminum, foil tray pour some of the apple juice. This will help retain the moisture in the pork while it’s smoking and acts as a drip tray for any stray pieces that fall through the wire rack.
    Place the tray under the pellet grill smoker grate,
  • Put you the pork cubes on a grill rack.
    If you want to you can use a disposable grill liner for an easy clean-up.
    Put the rack in the smoker.
  • Mix the remaining mixture of apple juice and apple cider vinegar and pour into a spray bottle.
    Spritz the pork every 30 minutes .
  • Let the pork burnt ends cook until you reach an internal temperature of 190°F.
    Use a temperature probe to check a few of them.
    This will take 2-3 hours, a long slow smoke will slowly break down the connective tissues and fats to infuse with moisture and give a tender meat.
  • After 2 -3 hours, or when the meat reaches 190⁰F internal temperature, remove the pork a from the grill and place them in an aluminum foil tray.
    Always work on temperature, rather than time to ensure the food is safe to eat.
  • Pour over the bbq sauce and the honey over the burnt ends and toss together to coat the surface of the pork .
  • Then tightly cover the aluminum foil tray with aluminum foil and let them cook for 40 minutes .
  • After 40 minutes remove the cover and give the burnt ends a toss.
    Place the tray back in the smoker uncovered and cook until the sauce has reduced and the pork shoulder ends have a caramelized bark outer.
  • Remove the tray from the smoker.
    Allow the burnt ends to cool for 5 minutes then its time to eat!

With a few simple steps, you’ll have mastered the art of burnt ends in no time.

It will also give you another delicious dish to add to your cooking arsenal!

Smoke On!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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