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Can you use pork ribs for burnt ends?

Yes, you can absolutely use pork ribs to make burnt ends! While beef brisket is the traditional choice, pork ribs work very well and result in delicious burnt ends.

What Are Burnt Ends?

Burnt ends are a popular barbecue dish typically made from the point of a smoked beef brisket. The point is cut into 1-2 inch cubes and then smoked again until the pieces become incredibly tender with crispy, charred edges.

Burnt ends get their name from the “burnt” appearance of the meat from the prolonged smoking time. The smoky, caramelized exterior surrounds an incredibly moist and tender interior chunk of meat.

Why Use Pork Ribs for Burnt Ends?

While beef brisket burnt ends are the original, pork ribs can also be used to make amazing burnt ends:

  • Pork ribs are very flavorful and become melt-in-your-mouth tender when smoked low and slow.
  • The high fat content keeps them moist during the prolonged cooking time.
  • The boneless ribs are easy to trim and cube into burnt end sized pieces.
  • Pork burnt ends deliver a slightly sweeter flavor than beef.

So pork ribs are an excellent choice for burnt ends and provide a tasty alternative to the traditional beef brisket.

What Type of Pork Ribs Work Best?

You can make burnt ends from any type of pork ribs, but the best options are:

  • St. Louis Style Ribs – These ribs are trimmed of the skirt for a rectangular rack that’s easy to cut into cubes.
  • Baby Back Ribs – Tender and flavorful with a good meat-to-bone ratio.
  • Spare Ribs – More fat than other cuts makes for moist burnt ends.

The key is finding a rib option with good marbling that will remain juicy through prolonged cooking times.

How to Make Pork Burnt Ends

Making pork burnt ends takes time, but the results are well worth the wait. Here is the basic process:

  1. Start by removing the membrane from the ribs and trimming excess fat. Cut into individual ribs.
  2. Season the ribs generously with a barbecue rub or seasoning.
  3. Smoke the ribs for 3-4 hours at 225°F until tender.
  4. Remove ribs from smoker, cube into 1-2″ pieces, and season again.
  5. Return cubed pieces to the smoker for 1-2 more hours until browned and crispy.
  6. Toss burnt ends in your favorite barbecue sauce to coat.
  7. Enjoy immediately or let cool and refrigerate to reheat later.

You’ll want to use a combination of smoke and indirect heat to get the characteristic caramelized exterior.

How Long to Smoke Pork Burnt Ends

Properly smoking pork burnt ends takes some time. Plan for 5-7 hours total cooking time:

  • 3-4 hours smoking the full pork ribs
  • 1-2 hours smoking the cubed burnt ends

This extended smoking time at a low temperature (225-250°F) is what allows the meat to become incredibly tender while getting that crunchy, charred outside.

Serving Suggestions

Pork burnt ends make a delicious entree or appetizer. Some serving ideas include:

  • Piled high on a bun for pulled pork sandwiches
  • Served over baked beans
  • Topped on a salad
  • Enjoyed as an appetizer with picks
  • Over cheesy grits or mac and cheese

You really can’t go wrong with these succulent smoked pork bites!

Storing and Reheating Burnt Ends

Pork burnt ends will keep refrigerated for 4-5 days. To reheat, place them in a baking dish, cover with sauce, and bake at 300°F until warmed through.

You can also freeze burnt ends for longer storage. Allow to thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.


What wood is best for smoking pork burnt ends?

For pork, sweeter woods like apple, cherry, pecan, and hickory work very well. Avoid stronger woods like mesquite.

Can you make burnt ends without a smoker?

While challenging, it is possible to mimic burnt ends in the oven. Use a smoking tube or wood chips in a foil pouch to get smoke flavor. Cook low and slow at 225°F.

Do you wrap pork burnt ends?

Wrapping partway through cooking can help keep pork burnt ends moist and tender. Wrap in foil after the initial 3-4 hour smoke.


Pork ribs make for amazing burnt ends that are rich, tender and packed with smoky barbecue flavor. Trimming, seasoning and smoking pork ribs low and slow results in irresistible burnt end bites.

So next time you are smoking ribs, cube up some of those leftover bones for finger-licking burnt ends.