Beer Brats on the Grill is Like Sunday in Wisconsin
Grilled bratwurst sausages or 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. Perfect for tailgating, parties or just a family get together and barbeque.
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.
Why Are They Called Beer Brats?
Prior to browning on the grill, broiled or pan-fried (grilling is best) 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. And once they are on a hot grill, they brown very quickly, making them a great party food.
Once the brats are fully cooked, the brats are removed and the beers are reduced down to the slowly braised browned onions, oh they are so good!
Please Don’t Boil Brats
Boil, no. simmer or steam, yes.
Boiling can leach a lot of flavor out of the brats and has the potential to overcook them and make the brats dry. Dry brats bad, juicy brats good!
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 only. This will partially simmer and steam the brats leaving them juicy and delicious.
Can You Make Non-Alcohol Versions of Beer Brats?
Yes, absolutely! Non-alcoholic beers 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.
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, I will simmer the brats 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 brats on the grill.
What Do You Put on Beer Brats?
Onions braised in beer and good German mustard is my choice, 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, this is the only ketchup I personally 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: Apple cake doesn’t get much easier or delicious.
Here is my recipe for Grilled Beer Brats:
- 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