Bacon Burnt Ends: The Perfect Way to Smoke Bacon

We share a tried and tested recipe for this delicious dish, which won't be a challenge for even a newbie.
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Last updatedLast updated: September 09, 2021
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If you are a fan of bacon, you will be an even bigger fan of Bacon Burnt Ends. Bacon Burnt Ends are a spin-off of the famous burnt-end smoked brisket recipes that are the signature style of Kansas City Barbecue, only instead of beef brisket, cubes of slab bacon or pork belly are used. Slab bacon is preferable because it is cured with salt and sugar and has the skin removed.  Pork belly has the skin on, and although this produces crispier bacon, the inside may be less flavorful due to less permeation from smoke.

These slowly smoked cubes of slab bacon are easily prepared in a combination grill with a smoker with set and forget technology such as the Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill & Smoker that you can operate via wife with your cell phone or the Z Grill Wood Pellet Smoker that has a digital panel. You can also prepare them in a simple kettle-style grill, with an attached box for burning your wood chips or wood pellets if you don’t mind keeping your eye on it all day.

Smoked Bacon Burnt Ends Recipe

Bacon Burnt Ends: The Perfect Way to Smoke Bacon

Below, we’ll show you an easy way to make this delicious, tender, and sweet BBQ dish.

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs unsliced bacon
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • Your favorite pork seasoning
  • A cup of BBQ sauce
  • Half cup of chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • Butter

Instructions

  1. Prepare your smoker or grill and heat it up to 250 degrees.
  2. Unpack bacon and cut it into 1½-inch cubes.
  3. Bacon Burnt Ends: The Perfect Way to Smoke BaconSeason the bacon cubes with the rub of your choice.
  4. Put the rub-covered bacon cubes on a wired rack of your smoker. Use multiple racks if you need.
  5. Bacon Burnt Ends: The Perfect Way to Smoke BaconCook for about an hour. Then flip the pieces over and cook for one more hour.
  6. Combine the BBQ sauce, chicken stock, and honey in a bowl to make a sauce.
  7. Remove the bacon pieces from the smoker and place them in a big foil pan.
  8. Pour over the sauce and add some pieces of butter.
  9. Bacon Burnt Ends: The Perfect Way to Smoke BaconCover them with foil and put them back into the smoker for about 20–30 minutes.
  10. Remove the pan from the smoker. Allow the bacon to cool slightly before serving.

Where Does the Recipe Come From?

Henry Perry created the original recipe for slow-cooked, smoked fatty meat, with its hot, sweet taste and crispy caramelization was created in 1908 by Henry Perry. He served his burnt-end brisket at Perry’s Barbecue in Kansas City, where his employees, Charles Bryant and Arthur Bryant learned how to smoke meat over oak and hickory and serve it up with pepper sauce, in old newspapers.

After Harry’s death in 1940, Charles took over the business and then sold it to Arthur who opened the famous Arthur Bryant’s barbecue restaurant that operates at 1727 Brooklyn Avenue in Kansas City until this day. This restaurant achieved great renown in 1972 when a witty columnist from Playboy, Calvin Trillin, claimed that Arthur Bryant’s was “the best restaurant in the world.”

Over the years all kinds of fatty and marbleized meats have been charred and caramelized in wood smokers with grills including chicken, mutton, pork beef and all kinds of bacon and there are many famous Kansas City restaurants including Gates and Sons, Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue and Joe’s Kansas City that have created variations on Henry Perry’s original sweet and sticky bbq theme. It is not obvious as to when slab bacon or pork belly may have entered the culinary picture, but this type of pork has experienced a real resurgence in gourmet cooking, especially if the pig was well fed and raised as a free-range animal.

Cooking Tips

Before you start cooking make sure that you are well organized and set up with the best smoker accessories, not only to look like a champion grill master but also for safety’s sake. For instance it is a good idea to invest in a pair of heat-resistant gloves, simply because you are handling very hot grates, plates and other items. It is also a good idea to buy a good meat thermometer, so you can make sure your Burnt End Bacon is not just charred on the outside and thoroughly cooked on the inside. Just because the bacon is sizzling, doesn’t mean it’s done.

Here are some other cooking tips to help you create the best bacon burnt ends:

  • It is best to use the freshest back bacon you can find. Bring the bacon home from butcher, and plan to start smoking it when you get it home. If it is frozen, thaw it for a day in the fridge and then set it on the counter for a few hours before applying the dry rub.
  • When you apply the dry rub, make sure that you spank it hard on the meat and then shake the cut bacon slab cubes around in any excess powder.
  • If you do not like excessively spicy bacon ends, then simply use a bit of pepper and flour as a dry rub for your burnt ends.
  • If you like a strong char on your bacon, then add a tablespoon of brown sugar to your dry mix. A tablespoon of maple syrup or orange juice added to your sauce can also accomplish a similar effect.
  • If you don’t want to get your iron or porcelain grill racks all gooey, invest in a grate or rack to go on top of it, to catch some of the grease from the bacon. Spraying it with a PAM may also prevent sticking.
  • Open the smoker lid and flip the bacon cubes once an hour or so that they don’t stick to each other or the grill.
  • Always let the meat rest for an hour so that the bacon cubes retain their shape.

Serving Suggestions

If you want to serve up a Kansas City Barbecue the traditional way then you will want to serve these burnt bacon ends straight up along with side dishes such as baked beans, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, white buns or bread and coleslaw. However, it is quite common these days to find Burnt End Bacon served up on a big bun with a side of French fries, just as you would a big bun packed with pulled pork.

Burnt bacon ends make great appetizers for parties, simply because they are bite-size and can easily be speared with a toothpick. Dips that go well with burnt bacon ends are Ranch, Honey Garlic, Maple, Blue Cheese, Dill, Pineapple, and Cherry flavors.

Burnt bacon ends also add an interesting flavor to the salad. Suggestions include a spinach and burnt-bacon salad with red wine vinegar dressing. Burnt bacon ends also go with broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, zucchini, or rapini.

You can also use burnt bacon ends instead of peameal bacon to create an innovative eggs benedict. They also add flavorful interest to any type of omelet and substitute nicely for the sliced bacon in the traditional bacon and eggs breakfast.

The caramelized bits of bacon are sweet enough that you can also top them with ice cream or serve them with whipped cream on a waffle. You can even combine them with peanut butter to make a very tasty white bread sandwich that Elvis Presley would love.

Final Thoughts

Bacon burnt ends are an amazing, inexpensive barbecued item that are sure to impress your family and friends, not only because they are so tasty, but also because they are considered to be a culinary item with a bit of down-home Southern history behind them. It is also great that these gourmet treats are so easy to make, taking much less time than other types of smoked barbecues. Pulled pork or burnt beef brisket can take up to twelve hours to cook but bacon burnt ends can be made in three to three and a half hours. This saves energy and time. When it comes to bacon burnt ends, you are only limited by your culinary imagination and perhaps your personal taste as to what dry rubs, sauces or dips you can use to augment bacon’s famously addictive flavor.

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