How to Make Smoked Pork Shoulder Burnt Ends

Jun 20, 2020

My friends and I are at the grocery store shopping for a birthday cookout, and my friend asks me how to make smoked pork shoulder burnt ends?

To make smoked pork shoulder burnt ends, start by preparing the meat and cutting the pork into 1-inch by 1-inch cubes and remove as much fat in the process. After the pork is cubed, season it and place it on a baking sheet and smoke it at 250° for 4 to 6 hours until the meat reaches 190°. Remove the pork and put in a foil pan where you will add in the sauce, honey, and more rub, then cover and toss it. Place them back on the smoker for 30 to 60 minutes, then remove and let it rest uncovered for 15 minutes, then enjoy!

Why Pork Shoulder Burnt Ends?

You probably think of burnt ends with pork belly and brisket, which are outstanding. The problem with the pork belly is that it’s incredibly fatty, and you can only 2 or 3 of those things before you start to fill up. The pork shoulder is very different because we are going to trim the fat so you can make this into a meal or an appetizer. I promise they are delicious and will go fast.

If you want to learn how to use an BBQ Smoker, Electric Smoker, or Pellet Smoker, view our posts. To see a full list of Smokers and their specs, view our post on how much does a BBQ Smoker weigh.

pork shoulder burnt ends

What All Do I Need?

  • Pork shoulder – We recommend bone-in. You want to get anywhere from 6 to 8 pounds. If it is just you and your family, you can do 3 pounds, but you will be trimming off the fat, and you will want some leftovers.
  • BBQ Rub – We are going to use Meat Church and Kosmos today. Keep in mind your audience on how much heat you want to add-in. Today we aren’t going to have any kids eating this, so we are adding some excitement. You can get creative once you do this.
  • Honey or Brown Sugar – This is going to add in some sweetness to the flavor profile and add and caramel crisp.
  • BBQ Sauce – You want good baseline barbecue sauce, nothing too spicy or too thick.
  • Baking Rack – You want something that you can raise on your smoker that still has vents to let smoke thru the bottom.
  • Other Items – Large mixing bowl, Foil Pan, and Aluminum Foil
Sample Headshot

Prepare the Meat

Now you want to cut up the pork shoulder. You may have never cut a pork shoulder apart, but it’s pretty fatty inside. You want to trim off most of the fat, and you want to chop the meaty flesh into 1-inch by 1-inch cubes or as close to it. Because of all the fat, you’re not going to be able to get perfect 1-inch by 1-inch cubes, but that is the goal. Some pieces are going to be longer, and some are going to be short, but you want to trim off the big groups of fat as best as possible. Some fat running through the meat is ok. It will render out and add to the flavor when it gets smoked. Start at one end of the pork shoulder and just cut straight down. Each piece is different because there are different fat renderings, and you have a bone to be careful cutting around. Start trimming and cutting the pork into cues and removing the fat when you can. Remember, some pieces can be a little bit longer, or shorter. It doesn’t have to be exact. You’re going to cut up all the pork and place the cubes into a large mixing bowl. After you finish trimming the pork, you’ll notice a big pile of fat that you removed. Because of all this fat you removed, we recommend getting a 6 to 8 pound of pork because you will lose around 35% of it when trimming the fat.
chopped raw pork shoulder

Season the Meat

After you finish chopping up the pork, you need to apply the rub. Put the pork in a bowl and use either although or so yellow mustard as a binder and get whatever BBQ rub you prefer. Today we are using Meat Church and Kosmos. Mix in the rub with after applying your binder and toss the pork around until evenly coated. Add some more rub in and repeat the process until you feel like it has the right amount of BBQ rub you prefer. You don’t have to go too heavy with the BBQ rub because they are small pieces, and there isn’t a lot of meat you need to penetrate with flavor. You will want to repeat the process two or three times. After you seasoned them to your preference, move them to the side, and we will get out a cooling rack or baking sheet. Now you put them on a cooling rack or baking sheet. If you have something that has handles, that will be best. Find something that fits your grill, and the goal is to keep the meat off the grates so you can remove and easily transport.
seasoning raw pork shoulder

Get the Smoker Ready

Before you get your smoker up to temperature, make sure you have a water pan underneath your grates. Fill the pan up with water or apple juice, and you want to Spritz these every couple hours if you feel it’s getting too dry. With a water pan, there will be added moisture to keep the meat from drying out.

At this point, we’re getting the smoker ready at 250°, and you can use whatever wood you prefer. We used Post Oak and Cherry because we like the smoke with a sweet barbecue sauce with pork. You can use Hickory or any other fruitwood you prefer. Try to stay away from Mesquite because it gets too overpowering. Your best options are going to be Post Oak, Hickory, or any of the fruitwoods.

If you want to learn how to use a BBQ Smoker, view our post on how to use a BBQ Smoker.

Get the smoker up to temp

ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4

Smoke the Meat

Put your rack directly on top of the top grates and close the smoker. We are going to smoke these for at least 4 hours, and it could take up to 6 hours. You want to get the internal temperature to 190°. With these little pieces, it’s hard to put a meat thermometer in them. It’s best to use a Thermapen or ThermoPop to probe multiple pieces to check the temperature. Please make sure the meat is at 190° before we do the next step. After checking at the 4-hour mark, you should set the alarm and check it every 15 to 30 minutes. Paying close attention at this point will make sure you don’t overcook the meat.

start smoking pork shoulder burnt ends

Add the Sauce

Once your meat is done smoking and gets to 190°, pull them from the smoker and place them in a tin foil pan. Because you use the baking sheet, the meat should be easy to scrape off with a large spoon or spatula. Apply some more rub add a generous amount of barbecue sauce. Drizzle the honey over the meat, but be careful, you don’t want to do too much. Drizzle enough to get an excellent sweet coating over the pork. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and toss them around to mix up the sauce, honey, and rub before they return to the smoker for another 30 minutes to an hour. After about 30 minutes to an hour, toss them one more time before removing the aluminum foil cover. Let them cook for another 30 minutes uncovered. In this stage, they’re going to get a nice crispness on them. After they crisp up a little, pull the meat from the smoker and let them rest for at least 15 minutes. The burnt ends will start to caramelize and will look amazing. After resting, serve them up. The burnt ends will have a sweet and smoky flavor that tastes like candy or pork popcorn.
sauce on smoked pork shoulder burnt ends

We hope you found this info helpful, and please follow us to stay up to date on all of our latest posts., Inc.

ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4

Dont Miss Out!

Stay up to date on our latest articles, recipes, how-to's, and product reviews.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This