Fire up the grill and pour an extra pint for these amazing Beer Brats! Crispy, grilled sausages infused with caramelized onions, mustard, and your favorite foam-topped brew are serious beer business and make some seriously tasty fall eats.
We all love dynamic duos like Batman and Robin, Lennon and McCartney, and my favorite, Ben and Jerry, but there are lots of culinary couplings that make our tasty world go ‘round too: peanut butter and chocolate, macaroni and cheese, and beer and brats.
Sure, you can enjoy a tasty grilled sausage with an icy pint of your favorite brew, but why not share some of the malty, hoppy flavor with that lonely bratwurst? I can hear the collective concurrence from all the sausage and beer lovers out there, so let’s get right to it – here’s how to make beer brats.
Wisconsin beer brats are the original, famous for their inspirational mingling of caramelized onions, mustard, beer, and those lovely German links, nestled in a big doughy bun (or bratwurst delivery vehicle), so that’s the best place to find a reliable beer brat recipe.
The truth is, though, there are as many different variations as there are Wisconsin families. The only universally accepted rules are that they must spend some time on the grill and that you always use their abbreviated name.
German settlers brought these scrumptious, savory sausages to Wisconsin in the 1800s (there’s still a huge German-American community there – over 1/3 of the overall population). By the mid-1900s Wisconsin-based manufacturers like Johnsonville were sharing their wonderful meat products with the rest of the lower 48. Many recipes are specifically for Johnsonville beer brats, leaving little question as to just how popular this brand still is.
Most brats, including Johsonville’s version, are all pork, and they have a coarser, heavier texture than your average hot dog. Seasonings vary, including spicy versions and ones with cheese, but traditional brats are slightly sweet, mild sausages containing marjoram, ginger, or other subtle seasonings.
The flavors and textures of brats make them a perfect playground for other ingredients, and that’s why the whole beer-infusing business makes this Beer Brats recipe the bomb!
First, you’ll need to fire up your grill since that’s where all the cooking happens. (Here are some tips for prepping your grill and keeping it ready for spur-of-the-moment beer brat grilling.)
Onions are a classic cohort for sausage, and this recipe begins by grilling some alongside the brats. Some recipes suggest skipping this step and throwing them directly into the beer braise; however, traditional brats are a lovely (unappealing) shade of grey, and onions definitely don’t bring any contrast to the party, so giving them both a little time to caramelize on the grill ensures a more appetizing result. Plus the onions release some of their natural sweetness during this process.
The other side of the grill will be used to create the flavor-concentrated beer bath. The main ingredient is beer, of course, and if you’ve been to any beer purveyor lately, you know the choices are overwhelming. So what’s the best beer for beer brats?
The main rule is avoiding any really hoppy beers (like ales) since the bitterness is enhanced by the cooking process. Other than that, it’s really a matter of preference.
Darker beers (porters or stouts) will be a little sweeter and richer, while lagers (including pilsners) will impart plenty of malty flavor without the added sweetness (mild lagers are generally the favorite among beer brat connoisseurs). You can definitely get by with a cheap variety in this recipe, although I always suggest using something you like to drink – that’s what’s in your fridge, anyway, right?
The seasonings for the beer braise are just a few, but they’re complex and strong and add some important flavor levels here. The first is mustard which balances out the natural sugars in the beer and onions, but it also adds a touch of heat that works with the richness of the brats.
You really can’t go wrong with any classic variety – yellow, Dijon, or spicy, but coarse mustards don’t incorporate as well.
The other braise friend is caraway seeds which go so well with sausage they’re found in lots of varieties. The seeds have a warm, licorice flavor that tops off the other aromatic qualities of this dish in a really wonderful way.
Once your onions and brats are brown, they’ll take a swim in this flavorful pool. Since the brat skin will have lost some of its pop at this point, I throw them back on the grill for just a couple of minutes to crisp up again while the beer and onion mixture reduces a bit to concentrate the flavors.
Make sure you get some nice, large brat buns for serving, and have some chopped pickles, extra mustard, or sliced jalapenos on standby . . . oh, and one of those icy cold pints.
Fear of fire – We don’t all have a grill on our patio (or a nice sunny day for grilling), but you don’t have to use fire to produce some really tasty beer brats. Here’s how to cook brats without a grill. If you want to cook your beer brats on the stove, you can brown your onions and brats in a big skillet, then add the braising ingredients and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. You can move the brats to a second pan for that last browning or use a broiler. If you’re not sure how to broil brats without burning, just watch them carefully and turn them every 3 or 4 minutes. You can actually cook the beer brats in oven-safe dishes too. Broil your brats and onions a bit first, then put them in a pan with all the beer braise ingredients. Cook everything, covered, at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, then uncover for another 15 minutes. Can you make a beer brats slow cooker version? Sure! Brown your brats and onions first (either under the broiler or in a skillet), then pop everything into the slow cooker for 7-8 hours on low or high for 4 hours. I do still recommend crisping the brats before serving though to most closely mimic the grilled version.
Meaty matters – You may be tempted to pierce the brats to maximize absorption of beer/onion flavor, but that means you’ll actually lose brat flavor so I don’t recommend it. Also, you don’t want the braising liquid to boil or else you’ll have tough brats, so keep that in mind whatever cooking method you use (you may need the low setting for the beer brats slow cooker version if your cooker runs hot). These are raw sausages too, so just make sure they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees before serving.
More Grilled Recipes!
Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken -Zesty chicken is tender, moist and juicy and loaded with yummy fresh flavors!
Grilled Peach and Mint Pistachio Pesto Summer Salad– This salad has a delicious taste and is loaded with nutrients!
Everyday Simple Marinade Grilled Chicken -This easy an simple marinade chicken accompanied by a charcoal grill makes a delicious family favorite dish!
Grilled Flank Steak – This is simple yet absolutely delicious and tender steak!
Grilled Cumin Chicken Stuffed Pita Bread – Perfectly flavored and served perfectly alongside veggies and brown rice!
Source: Cook’s Country
- Yield: Serves 6-10
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
Beer Brats Recipe
- Yellow Onions, Sliced Into 1/2 Inch Rounds - 4
- Salt - To Taste
- Black Pepper - To Taste
- Vegetable Oil - 3 Tablespoons
- Beers - 2-12 Ounce
- Dijon Mustard - 2/3 Cup
- Sugar - 1 Teaspoon
- Caraway Seed - 1 Teaspoon
- Bratwurst Sausages - 10
- Sourdough Rolls - 10
Prepare Gas Grill
- Heat all burners of the grill on medium high heat with lid closed for 15 minutes. Clean and oil the grates.
Prepare a Charcoal Grill:
- Place a single layer of unlit coals on the bottom of a charcoal grill. Fill a chimney start with coals and light. When the coals in the chimney are covered in grey ash, pour them evenly onto of the cold, unlit coals. Set grate and cover with lid, opening vents completely, for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grate.
Prepare Onions and Brats:
- Brush both sides of onion slices with vegetable oil and season withy salt and pepper.
- In a disposable 13 x 9 inch aluminum pan, mix together beer, mustard, sugar, caraway, and 1 teaspoon pepper.
- Place the aluminum pan on one side of the grill, and arrange onions on the other side and cook until the onions are lightly charred. Move onions into the aluminum pan and arrange sausage on grill and cook until browned on both sides, about 6-10 minutes. Place sausage in pan. Cover the grill, and continue to cook until the sauages are heated through, about 15 minutes.
- Remove sausages from beer mixture and grill grill until they are lightly charred, about 4 minutes. Remove charred sausauge to plate and tent with aluminum.
- Continue to cook onions with grill covered, in mustard mixture, until they are soft and tender and beer mixture has thickened slightly, 5-7 minutes.
- Serve. Place charred Brats on rolls and spoon onion mustard mixture over them. Enjoy