Grilled beer braised bratwurst, also known as beer brats, are made by braising authentic bratwurst in beer and then finishing them on the grill until charred and imbued with smoke. Welcome at tailgate parties, backyard barbecues, or just on random Tuesday evenings.
Beer Braised Bratwurst FAQs
Can I serve beer brats to children?
The good news is that any alcohol will be burned off during the boiling process, so generally speaking, you should be able to serve these brats to your friends and family. That said, please note that if you or someone you know is a recovered/recovering alcoholic, food cooked in alcohol can be an addiction trigger, so think about keeping some plain brats on the side, just in case.
What is the difference between bratwurst and sausage?
Bratwurst is a specific type of fresh link sausage that originated in Germany. It’s typically made with ground pork and veal and seasoned with ginger, nutmeg, coriander or caraway, and marjoram.
Sausage is also a meat product made from minced meat (ground beef, pork, veal, or even chicken) that’s mixed with fat, salt, herbs, and spices. Sausages may be fresh, cured, smoked, or dried. Bratwurst is sold raw – hence the need to boil in liquid before grilling.
For this recipe, you’ll need good ol’ Sheboygan (Wisconsin) style brats.
What should I serve with braised bratwurst?
Serve these beer brats with a German potato salad and extra sauerkraut.
Grilled Beer Braised Bratwurst
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter plus more for the buns
- 4 garlic cloves minced or grated
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
- 1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds or more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Eight (5-to 6-ounce) bratwursts (or other fresh sausages) preferably Wisconsin-style, pricked with a fork in several places
- Two or three bottles beer or more as needed
- 1 cup sauerkraut undrained
- 8 hoagie rolls, mini-baguettes, top-split hot dog buns, pretzel rolls, or, natch, bratwurst buns
- Mustard for serving
- Fire up your charcoal or gas grill to high heat with the lid closed to ensure it gets nice and hot.
- Place a Dutch oven or largish pot on a corner of the grill or on the stovetop over medium heat. Toss in the butter, garlic, and cayenne and cook for about a minute, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t brown.
- Add the brown sugar, caraway seeds, and some pepper and then add the brats and enough beer so that everything is swimming. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the sauerkraut and its liquid and gently simmer until the brats are cooked through, about 10 minutes more. (You can tell when the brats are done because they’ll expand and the meat will seem tight in its casing.) Remove from the heat. Let the brats remain in the cooking liquid until you’re ready to grill them.
- Brush the cut sides of each bun with butter. (If you have time to melt the butter first, all the better!) Put the buns, cut side down, on the grill until crisp at the edges, magnificently golden brown, and toasted through and through. Transfer the toasted buns to a roasting pan or disposable aluminum pan and tent with foil to keep warm.
- Use tongs to retrieve the brats from the liquid. Carefully grill the brats, being careful for any hot liquid they may exude and turning as necessary, until slightly charred on the outside, about 10 minutes.
- Immediately serve the brats, straight from the grill, on the toasted buns with mustard and a heap of sauerkraut drained through a slotted spoon. Include ample napkins.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Wow! These grilled beer braised bratwurt were by far the BEST brats I’ve ever made. Same goes for the sauerkraut that’s cooked in the braising liquid. The flavor and juiciness were simply amazing. Everyone raved about these.
My husband even said they were better than the best brats we’d previously had, which was in the “German” town of Leavenworth, WA. I thought the kraut was equally amazing. I’m saving this recipe. It will be forevermore my go-to when I’m in the mood for beer brats.
We used a mix of 2 different kinds of microbrew beer—porter and IPA—and the flavor was great. I used sourdough buns from our local bakery. I really like caraway so I added an extra teaspoon of that. And an extra cup sauerkraut, too, since that was the amount in the bag I bought.
My only warning is that when you put the brats on the hot grill, stand back, as a few of them literally squirted out liquid (it reminded me of the way clams squirt water out of the sand on the beach unexpectedly).
We had no leftovers.
This beer brat recipe is now one of my favorite sausage recipes! These brats are so good I could eat them every night—and I’m really not a huge sausage fan. The aroma fills the house as the sausage simmers and has everyone waiting in anticipation. It’s worth the braising for that amazing scent alone.
I used a Hefeweizen for the beer. The cooked brats grill up with perfect grill marks and are fantastic with all sorts of mustards. We used yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, and a spicy Syrah mustard. There was no need for any other toppings.
I used a stick of melted butter for the rolls, which looks a little scary, but it produced some delicious and toasty sandwich rolls off the grill. I used larger hoagie-style rolls instead of hot dog buns. They were perfect—not too much bread and easy to hold and eat.
Some of the sauerkraut stuck to the brats and frilled up crispy on the sausage. It was a lovely touch. I might grill a bit more of the sauerkraut on the edges of the sausage next time.
There was a lot of liquid left over after preparing and braising the brats. I placed mine in the refrigerator overnight and made a second batch of brats with it the next day. They were super.
The hands-on time is about 25 minutes with a total time of about 45 minutes, which makes this a great recipe for a busy weeknight or a lazy afternoon.
Where I come from—a German family in the bowels of a VERY German city—bratwurst and sauerkraut are as common as the grass beneath our feet. EVERYONE has their favorite bratwurst, and EVERYONE has their favorite sauerkraut. I’ve been putting writing this review on the back burner, not because I didn’t like the grilled beer braised bratwurst recipe, but because I REALLY LOVE it, and I was afraid that I’d somehow shortchange the recipe in my review.
My choice for the beer was a high-quality black and tan. From my perspective, no point in using a weak, pale beer. I opted for a crusty baguette instead of an all-too-ordinary hot dog bun.
I prepared the brats and sauerkraut on the stovetop as I didn’t want to use more propane than was necessary. I also find it much easier to cook using a pot on the stovetop than on a grill.
I GUARANTEE whatever your favorite sausage may be— including a simple hot dog—this recipe will leave you wanting more. I would also like to suggest that simply preparing the sauerkraut simmered in beer, sans sausage, would be a good bet. This sauerkraut is a fabulous mix of sweet and hot that can stand up to ANY side dish you can conjure. I can picture a heaping mound of this sauerkraut atop my favorite Reuben sandwich.
I can also attest to the fact that it is quite good eaten at 1 AM by the light of the refrigerator. My choice of the black and tan and the crusty baguette (generously brushed with melted butter) were WONDERFUL choices. I can’t wait to make this again. I hope my review does it justice!
These grilled beer-braised bratwursts tasted great. The spices, the beer, the sauerkraut, the smokiness from the grill—all these things were wonderful enhancements to the bratwursts.
I drained and washed off the sauerkraut to rid it of excess sodium before adding it to the pan. Since the brats were simmering and not outright boiling, not that much beer cooked off during the time they were on the stove.
These were tasty enough that I would make them again.
This was the best sausage sandwich I’ve ever had. Comfort food at it’s best. What a satisfying quick and easy dinner which received all thumbs up! Dinner does not get much easier or tastier than this!
I skipped the grilling part and made this recipe in just 20 minutes. I still wanted to achieve a slightly brown exterior to the sausages so I heated a cast iron skillet, got it screaming hot, and quickly browned them in the hot pan after their initial 20 minutes of cooking in the liquid.
For the beer I used a nonalcoholic Becks beer and one bottle was plenty. Just to be sure I had enough liquid, I added about 1/2 cup more water but I didn’t really need it. I only used 2 tablespoons of butter and thought it was plenty for the garlic to quickly cook. I also added 2 cups more sauerkraut with liquid, but next time I will add 3 cups more since we all love sauerkraut.
I served the sausages on a freshly baked baguette cut into sausage lengths to create the roll or bun. I substituted a spicy Austrian Kasekrainer-style sausage from my local butcher for the bratwurst. I really think any sausage would work well with this recipe, but I will look for the brats next time. I didn’t grill the bread with butter due to time constraints but the meal was still satisfying as ever.
I served the sausages with a side of roasted broccoli and called it a meal.
Originally published September 26, 2014