Beer Brats on the Grill is Like Sunday in Wisconsin
Grilled beer brats, topped with onions that have been slowly braised in a good German beer and a slathered with spicy mustard, yum! That’s how I like to start the summer grilling season. Beer Brats are perfect for tailgating, parties or just a family get together and barbeque. It’s one of our favorite things to grill, that’s why I created this guide to help others make Beer Brats | Step by Step.
Brats are a German sausage called Bratwursts, they have an amazing spice mixture including nutmeg, sage, ginger, and caraway seeds just to name a few. Brats are usually pork but can be made with a mixture of beef, veal, and other cuts of meats as well.
This is how I make Beer Brats | Step by Step
Why Are They Called Beer Brats?
Prior to browning the bratwurst on the grill, broiled or pan-fried they are precooked by simmering or steaming in beer. By simmering the brats in beer, you can be confident that the pork is 100% cooked and safe to eat prior to grilling. Once they are on a hot grill, they brown very quickly, making them a great party food.
The brats are removed from the onions and the beer is reduced down to the slowly brown the onions.
Please Don’t Boil Beer Brats
Many people have asked me ‘how to boil brats’, or ‘how long to boil brats’? The answer is pretty simple, boiling brats is actually bad for the flavor and dries out the brats. You shouldn’t actually boil the brats in beer, but rather you should gently simmer or even better, steam the brats with beer.
Boiling can leach a lot of flavor out of the brats and has the potential to overcook them and make the brats dry, tough, and dull tasting when you grill them. Dry brats bad, juicy brats good! If you have always boiled brats in the past or were taught to boil brats, try my method instead. You may find that your beer brats are a lot juicier, more tender, and have better flavor with my technique.
I like to make a bed of onions in the bottom of the pot to lay the brats on, then fill the pot with enough beer to come halfway up the sides of the brats. Once the beer is steaming, I turn the brats once and place the cover on and let them steam for 12-15 minutes. This will partially simmer and steam the beer brats leaving them juicy and delicious.
How Long Do You Grill Beer Brats?
That all depends on how hot your fire is, I like a medium-hot grill for beer brats. The brats are fully cooked in the beer prior to going on the grill so it doesn’t take long, and you don’t want to leave them unattended. Since they are already cooked, all you are really doing when you grill beer brats is browning them. I like to grill the beer brats until they have nice light brown grill marks on all sides. Not too well done but just enough so they have a light caramelization and the skin cracks a little and gives the juice places to escape when you bite into it.
Can You Make Non-Alcohol Versions of Beer Brats?
Yes, absolutely! I often use non-alcoholic beers and they work great, as well as ginger beer or ginger ale. Ginger is one of the main spices in bratwursts, so ginger beer is a great substitute when grilling beer brats.
What Beer Do You Use for Beer Brats?
German beers and lagers are my first choice to make the best beer brats. Followed closely by IPAs and Mexican beers. Mexico had large German immigration in the 19th century and these immigrants brought with them their beer-making skills making Mexican beers and lagers perfect for Beer Brats. I sometimes add ginger beer to the mix to highlight the spices in the brats and add a little kick to the onions.
Can You Make the Brats in Advance?
If I have a large gathering planned, you can simmer the brats in beer the night before so they are fully cooked and let the onions and beer reduce down to caramelize until golden brown. Once the party starts, all that’s left is to brown the beer brats on the grill. However, I personally prefer to simmer the brats in beer just prior to grilling them. I like the beer brats to be hot when they go on the grill so they won’t overcook. If you want a shortcut, browning the onions and reducing the beer is the most time-consuming part of making beer brats. That part can be done the night before and it will save you a lot of time the day of the cookout.
What Do You Put on Beer Brats?
Onions braised in beer and good German mustard is my choice for beer brats. Sauerkraut is a good option, as well as pickles, and relish. There is a German street food called ‘Currywurst’ that has spicy curry ketchup served with bratwurst and fries. That is the only ketchup I put on a brat, but that’s just me.
What to Serve with Beer Brats
- German Potato Salad: My recipe is pretty amazing and goes great with Beer Brats. Served hot with loads of bacon, this has always been my favorite potato salad.
- Toasted Buns: These only take about 10 seconds on a hot grill, so be quick! Toasting buns makes all the difference in the world as far as flavor goes. I do it anytime I’m grilling and putting meat on bread.
- Apple Strudel: My strudel recipe with phyllo dough is a lot easier to make than a traditional strudel dough. Regardless of the dough you use, my apple filling is amazing.
- German Apple Cake: My recipe for Apple cake doesn’t get much easier or delicious.
Here is my recipe for Beer Brats | Step by Step:
- 1 Pound Brats Usually 5 to a package
- 1 1/2 Red Onion Sliced
- 12 Ounces Beer IPAs, lagers, or dark beer. You're choice
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- In a pot over medium-high heat, create a bed of sliced onions on the bottom and add seasonings. Poke a hole in the tip of each brat with a toothpick to allow pressure to escape, lay brats on top of the onions and add the beer no more than halfway up the sides of the brat.
- Heat the beer until it begins to steam, not boil, turn the brats once, reduce heat to low, and cover. Let simmer or steam for approximately 12-minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 160°F. This step can be done the night before or immediately before grilling.
- Remove brats from the pot and turn the heat up to high, bring the beer and onion mixture to a boil, stirring often, and reduce the liquid until almost dry (but still moist) and the onions are golden brown.
- Preheat grill to medium-low. To toast the buns, open the bun so the heat gets to the inside add buns one at a time for approximately 5-10 seconds, toasting is very fast so be quick.
- Add the brats and turn often and don't leave them, they brown quickly! Cook uncovered for approximately 10-15 minutes until nice and golden brown