Do you smoke burnt ends covered or uncovered?

Calling all meat enthusiasts and BBQ aficionados. Burnt ends are a mouth-watering protein dish that has captured the hearts (and stomachs) of many. However, there is one burning question that has ignited debates in the grilling community: should you smoke burnt ends covered or uncovered?

Prepare to tantalize your taste buds with juicy, caramelized cubes of smoked beef brisket that practically dissolve in your mouth, leaving behind an explosion of flavor and texture. It’s no wonder why burnt ends are considered the holy grail of BBQ meals.

At the heart of this debate lies the question of whether covering burnt ends during the smoking process helps retain moisture or hinders its cooking process. Fear not, as we will delve into this topic and provide you with all the answers you need.

From understanding the science behind smoking meats to exploring crucial factors that impact your burnt end’s final outcome, this blog post has got you covered (pun intended). So sit back, grab a cold drink, and get ready to learn everything about smoking burnt ends covered or uncovered.


What Are Burnt Ends?

They are the crispy and flavorful pieces of meat that come from the fatty end of a brisket. Traditionally, they were considered a byproduct of smoking brisket and were given away for free to customers. But soon they became so popular that they began to be sold as a separate menu item.

To make burnt ends, the brisket is first smoked low and slow for several hours until it reaches an internal temperature of around 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, it is cut into cubes and placed back in the smoker for several more hours until it becomes dark and crusty on the outside, yet tender and juicy on the inside.

There are two types of burnt ends: the point and the flat. The point is the fattier end of the brisket and is generally preferred for making burnt ends because of its higher fat content, which makes it more tender and flavorful when cooked.

When it comes to smoking burnt ends, there is some debate over whether they should be covered or left uncovered. The answer depends on factors such as the type of smoker you are using, the temperature you are smoking at, and personal preference. If you are using a smoker that retains moisture well, then it may be better to leave them uncovered to allow for more smoke penetration. However, if you are using a smoker that doesn’t retain moisture well, then it may be better to cover them to prevent them from drying out.

Burnt ends can be served as a standalone dish or used as an ingredient in other dishes such as sandwiches or chili. They are often served with barbecue sauce, pickles, and onions. In fact, many barbecue enthusiasts consider burnt ends to be the ultimate barbecue condiment.

What Type of Smoker Should I Use?

Don’t settle for mediocre meat – choose the right smoker to elevate your barbecue experience. As a seasoned expert in all things barbecue, I’m here to guide you through the different types of smokers and help you decide which one is best for smoking those mouthwatering burnt ends.

Let’s start with electric smokers. These are perfect for beginners or those who don’t want to spend a lot of time monitoring their smoker. The convenience of electric smokers lies in their ease of use and low maintenance requirements. However, they may not produce as much smoke flavor as other types of smokers, which could be a drawback when it comes to smoking meats like burnt ends that require that smoky flavor.

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Looking for maximum smoke flavor? Then a charcoal smoker might be the way to go. Charcoal smokers are known for producing a lot of smoke flavor and can reach high temperatures quickly, making them ideal for smoking meats like burnt ends. However, they require more maintenance and can be more difficult to control the temperature.

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Finally, there are wood pellet smokers. These use compressed wood pellets for fuel and are known for producing a lot of smoke flavor. They’re easy to use and maintain, but they can be expensive and may not be as widely available as other types of smokers.

So which type of smoker should you choose for smoking burnt ends? It really depends on your personal preferences and budget. If you’re new to smoking meats or don’t want to spend a lot of money on a smoker, an electric smoker might be a good choice. But if you’re a seasoned pro and want maximum smoke flavor, then a charcoal or wood pellet smoker might be the way to go.

Remember that smoking burnt ends is all about patience and attention to detail. A perfectly smoked burnt end requires the right combination of smoke flavor, tenderness, and juiciness. With the right smoker and technique, you can create mouthwatering burnt ends that are sure to impress your friends and family. And don’t forget to experiment with different types of wood for smoking – each wood adds its own unique flavor to the meat.

Should I Cover or Uncover the Burnt Ends?

First, covering your burnt ends can help to retain moisture, resulting in a tender and juicy final product. By creating a steamy environment around the meat, you’re essentially keeping it from drying out. This is particularly useful during the final stage of cooking when you’re glazing the burnt ends and need to heat them through without making them tough. However, be aware that covering the meat can also prevent smoke from penetrating it deeply, potentially leading to a less smoky flavor.

On the other hand, leaving your burnt ends uncovered can result in better flavor and texture. By exposing the meat to the heat, any excess moisture evaporates, creating a delicious crust on the outside of the meat. Additionally, smoke can penetrate more deeply into the meat, giving it a richer and smokier taste. But beware: leaving your burnt ends uncovered for too long could cause them to dry out and become tough.

Ultimately, whether you choose to cover or uncover your burnt ends depends on personal preference and experience. It’s important to experiment with both methods and find what works best for you. Some pitmasters may find that one technique works better than the other depending on the type of smoker they’re using or the specific recipe they’re following.

To help you make an informed choice, here’s a quick summary of the advantages and disadvantages of each method:


  • Retains moisture
  • Prevents drying out
  • Useful during glazing
  • Could prevent deep smoke penetration


  • Creates delicious crust
  • Allows for deep smoke penetration
  • Richer and smokier taste
  • Could lead to dryness if left uncovered for too long

Benefits of Smoking Covered Burnt Ends

You may have heard about the ongoing debate concerning whether to smoke them covered or uncovered. While some barbecue aficionados argue that uncovered burnt ends are the only authentic way to go, there are several compelling benefits to smoking them covered in foil or butcher paper.

One significant advantage of this technique is that it helps preserve moisture in the meat. When you wrap the burnt ends in foil or paper, it creates a barrier that traps in steam and prevents the meat from drying out during the smoking process. This can lead to a succulent and juicy end product that will leave your taste buds craving for more.

Another benefit of smoking covered burnt ends is that it can speed up the cooking process. The trapped steam and moisture can actually help accelerate the cooking time, which can be a lifesaver if you’re running short on time but still want that mouth-watering smoky flavor.

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But wait, there’s more. Wrapping your burnt ends in foil or butcher paper also presents an opportunity for additional flavor infusion. You can add extra ingredients like spices, herbs, or even liquids such as beer or apple juice to create a more intricate and flavorful end product.

In conclusion, while some may argue that uncovered burnt ends are the only true way to achieve barbecue perfection, smoking covered burnt ends has its own unique advantages.

It can help retain moisture, speed up cooking time, and offer the chance for additional flavor infusion.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and experimentation to determine which method works best for your taste buds.

Benefits of Smoking Uncovered Burnt Ends

If you’re a fan of tender, juicy, and flavorful burnt ends, you’ll want to know about the benefits of smoking them uncovered. While some pitmasters prefer the covered method, going uncovered can yield some mouth-watering results.

One of the most significant benefits of smoking uncovered burnt ends is the formation of a crispy bark. When the meat is exposed to smoke and heat without a cover, it develops a crusty exterior that adds both texture and flavor to the meat. This is especially true for pork belly burnt ends, which have a high fat content that renders out during smoking and creates a delectable caramelized crust.

Another advantage of smoking uncovered burnt ends is better smoke penetration. Without a cover, the smoke can fully envelop the meat and infuse it with a rich smoky flavor. This is particularly important for beef brisket burnt ends, which require a longer smoking time to break down the tough connective tissue and become tender and flavorful.

In addition to flavor benefits, smoking uncovered burnt ends can help regulate temperature and prevent moisture buildup. When meat is covered during smoking, it can trap in moisture and cause the temperature to fluctuate. By leaving the meat uncovered, pitmasters can ensure consistent heat distribution and avoid overcooking or undercooking.

To summarize, here are some benefits of smoking uncovered burnt ends:

  • Crispy bark that adds texture and flavor
  • Better smoke penetration for richer flavor
  • Temperature regulation and prevention of moisture buildup

Keep in mind that smoking uncovered burnt ends requires careful attention and monitoring to prevent burning or drying out of the meat. As with any smoking method, experimentation and practice are key to finding the perfect balance of smoke, heat, and timing.

What Temperature Should I Smoke at?

Then let’s talk about the all-important factor – temperature. As a seasoned expert on the topic, I can tell you that the ideal temperature range for smoking burnt ends is between 225°F to 250°F. This temperature range allows the meat to cook slowly and evenly, resulting in that signature smoky flavor we all crave without drying out.

Maintaining a consistent temperature throughout the smoking process is key to achieving perfectly smoked burnt ends. To start, some smokers prefer to begin with a higher temperature of 275°F for the first couple of hours. This technique helps develop a crust on the meat before lowering the temperature to the ideal range.

To achieve the perfect level of doneness, rely on a meat thermometer. The internal temperature of the meat should reach an optimal 203°F to ensure it is fully cooked and tender. Check the meat temperature every hour and adjust the smoker’s temperature as needed.

It’s worth noting that different types of wood can affect both the temperature and flavor of your burnt ends. For a bold and smoky taste, opt for hardwoods such as hickory, oak, or mesquite. These woods complement the meat’s richness and add depth to its flavor.

Tips for Smoking Burnt Ends

Smoking burnt ends is an art that requires precision, dedication, and a lot of love for meat. If you want to impress your guests with a mouth-watering barbecue dish, you need to follow some tips and tricks to achieve the perfect result. Here are five sub-sections that will guide you through the process of smoking burnt ends like a pro.

Start with High-Quality Meat

The quality of your meat is the foundation of a delicious end result. When it comes to burnt ends, it’s best to select a good quality brisket with good marbling and a thick fat cap. This will ensure that the meat stays moist and tender during the smoking process.

Season Generously

Seasoning is key to enhancing the flavor of your meat. A simple rub of salt, pepper, and garlic powder can go a long way in adding depth and complexity to your burnt ends. Make sure to season the meat generously and let it sit for at least an hour before smoking to allow the flavors to penetrate.

Cover or Uncover?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to covering or uncovering your burnt ends during smoking. Some prefer to cover them with foil or a lid for the first part of the cook to help retain moisture and prevent them from drying out. Others leave them uncovered throughout the entire cooking process to allow for maximum smoke flavor and bark development. Experiment with both methods to find what works best for you.

Monitor Internal Temperature

To achieve optimal tenderness, monitor the internal temperature of your meat. Aim for an internal temperature of around 200-205°F for perfectly cooked burnt ends.

Let It Rest

Once your burnt ends are cooked and ready to serve, don’t rush into slicing them right away. Letting them rest for at least 10-15 minutes will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and tender final product.


As BBQ enthusiasts, we know that the debate over whether to smoke burnt ends covered or uncovered is a hot topic. But there’s no one-size-fits-all answer – it ultimately comes down to personal preference and experimentation.

If you’re looking for moist and juicy burnt ends, covering them during the smoking process can help retain moisture and speed up cooking time. However, if you prefer a crispy bark with better smoke penetration, leaving them uncovered is the way to go.

But regardless of your preferred method, starting with high-quality meat and seasoning generously with your preferred rub is key. And when it comes to temperature range, aim for 225°F to 250°F – monitoring the internal temperature with a meat thermometer will ensure optimal tenderness.

Of course, choosing the right smoker is also crucial for elevating your BBQ experience. Whether you prefer an electric smoker for its ease of use, a charcoal smoker for maximum smoke flavor, or a wood pellet smoker for its convenience and versatility – the choice is yours.

In the end, smoking burnt ends requires patience, attention to detail, and experimenting with different techniques and flavors. With these tips and tricks in mind, you’ll be well on your way to creating mouth-watering burnt ends that will leave your guests begging for more.

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