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What happens when you give an American classic like brisket a kiss of the Irish? You get these little melt-in-your-mouth nuggets of beer-braised corned beef burnt ends.
What is corned beef?
Corned beef is a brisket that has been cured in a brine of various pickling spices and pink salt – the ingredient that gives it its familiar reddish color.
You can find corned beef pre-cured at most grocery stores. It’s often pre-separated and sold as a flat or point. For this recipe, you want to be sure to select the point.
If you’re lucky, your butcher will have a whole corned beef packer, which includes the point and flat. That way you can make corned beef burnt ends and slices.
If you buy the whole packer, you will need to spend a little more time trimming it. I recommend separating the point from the flat and cooking them separately.
Be sure to check out my No-Fail Way to Make Smoked Brisket recipe for more brisket tips.
What are burnt ends?
Burnt ends are traditionally made with the point muscle from a beef brisket. After it is smoked, the meat is cut into cubes and braised with barbecue sauce, sugar and butter, until the cubes are extremely tender.
These corned beef burnt ends are essentially cooked the same way, but the flavors are non-traditional, because we start with a corned beef brisket and finish with a beer glaze.
What rub should I use?
You actually don’t need a rub for this recipe. The pickling spices and curing salt provide all the seasoning you need. I don’t even add salt and pepper.
If your corned beef has a separate spice packet, rub it on the brisket. If the spice packet was pre-rubbed onto the meat, keep as many of those mustard seeds, cloves and peppercorns as possible on the meat. They’ll provide additional aromatics during the smoke.
What wood should I use?
I always start with a high-quality natural lump charcoal. Lump charcoal provides a mild smoke on its own. If you’d like to add more smokiness, cherry or oak pair beautifully with beef.
Whether you use a stick burner, charcoal, pellet or gas grill, this recipe is possible. Set your grill to 275F degrees with an indirect heat zone. Place the brisket point over indirect heat, fat-side-up and smoke to an internal temperature of 165F degrees.
What sauce should I use?
Burnt ends are traditionally tossed in barbecue sauce and finished on the smoker in a foil-covered pan. Regular barbecue sauce doesn’t really go well with the flavor of corned beef, so I concocted a stout beer glaze.
- Corned Beef Brisket: If possible, just look for the point muscle. This is the part of the brisket used to make burnt ends. If you can’t find the point, select a whole packer corned beef brisket and separate the point from the flat.
- Stout Beer: The beer will be used in the brisket wrap and in the beer glaze.
- Butter: Butter will also be added to the wrap and beer glaze. Unsalted butter is best, since the brisket is already cured in salt.
- Worcestershire Sauce: This provides richness and umami to the glaze.
- Brown Sugar: This helps thicken and sweeten the glaze. I always use dark brown sugar because it has more molasses, but you can use light brown sugar, if you prefer.
Note: This recipe will not work with a brisket flat. You need to cook the point muscle.
How to smoke corned beef burnt ends
Heat your grill or smoker to 275F degrees with an indirect heat zone.
- STEP ONE: Remove the brisket from the packaging. Sprinkle the included spice pack on both sides.
- STEP TWO: Place the brisket on the smoker, fat side up.
In this picture, I’m smoking a whole packer brisket, not just the point.
- STEP THREE: Smoke until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165F degrees. This can take 3-5 hours, depending on the size of your brisket.
- STEP FOUR: Once it reaches this point, it’s time to double wrap it in foil with butter and some stout beer. Place two sheets of foil on the counter and add 4 tablespoons butter. Then, fold up the edges of the foil to create a rim. Carefully pour 1/3 cup stout onto the butter and place the brisket on top. Wrap the beef brisket super tight, and return it to the smoker until it reaches 205F degrees.
- STEP FIVE: While the brisket is wrapped and smoking, pour the stout, Worcestershire sauce, butter and sugar in a pot with some salt and pepper. Let it reduce for a few minutes and set it aside, until you’re ready for the final stage.
- STEP SIX: Once the brisket reaches 205F degrees, pull it from the smoker, slice it into cubes and toss them in a pan with that glorious glaze. Cover and smoke for one more hour. The results are salty, beefy nuggets that will make your heart skip a beat.
How to serve corned beef brisket burnt ends
You can pop ’em like candy, or you can smother the corned beef burnt ends with Russian dressing and sauerkraut on a pretzel roll.
What about that flat?
If you bought the whole packer, or you picked up a corned beef brisket flat with your point, smoke it following the first four steps above. While the point finishes cooking, let the flat rest in its foil wrap for an hour.
Then, slice it against the grain and enjoy.
You can store corned beef burnt ends in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. They also freeze very well. Just vacuum seal them and freeze them for up to 6 months.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips
- Use a corned beef brisket point to make burnt ends
- Use the included seasoning packet as your rub
- After the brisket reaches 165F degrees, wrap it to lock in moisture
- Finish the cubed beef in a beer glaze in a pan, until it reaches 205F degrees
Frequently Asked Questions
For tender beef nuggets, be sure to cook your brisket burnt ends to at least 205F degrees. If you’re using a wagyu brisket, aim for an internal temperature of 210F degrees. Wagyu needs a little bit more time to render the fat.
No. You should only use a brisket point to make burnt ends. The brisket flat muscle doesn’t have enough marbling. The cubes will end up less juicy and more tough.
Yes. Follow this recipe by roasting the brisket in a 275F-degree oven. However, you won’t get any of that charcoal smoke flavor. To help mimic the flavor, you can add a 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke to the wrap and glaze.
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Beer-Braised Smoked Corned Beef Burnt Ends
- 1 Certified Angus Beef® brand corned beef brisket point
- 4 tbsps butter
- 1/3 cup stout beer
- 12 ounce bottle stout beer
- 2 tbsps Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsps butter
- 2 tbsps brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Remove the brisket from the packaging. If your package includes a seasoning packet, rub it on both sides. If it doesn’t, don’t worry. It will still have plenty of flavor.
- Heat your smoker to 275F degrees. Place the brisket on the smoker, fat side up. Smoke until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165F degrees. This can take 3-5 hours, depending on the size of your brisket.
- Place two sheets of foil on the counter. Add 4 tablespoons of butter on the foil. Fold up the sides to form an edge. Carefully pour 1/3 cup of stout onto the butter. Add the brisket on top. Wrap tightly with both sheets of foil, locking in the liquid.
- Return to the smoker until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 205F degrees.
- While the brisket is smoking, make the beer glaze. Add all glaze ingredients to a saucepot and boil for 10-15 minutes, until reduced by half.
- Remove the brisket from the foil. Slice into one-inch chunks. Place in an aluminum pan. Pour the beer glaze into the pan with any juices collected in the foil, and toss to coat.
- Cover with foil, and return to the smoker for one hour.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.