Grilled Beer Braised Bratwurst

Grilled beer braised bratwurst, also known as beer brats, is one of God’s finest gifts to humans. Well, when they’re done properly, that is. Here’s everything you need to know about cooking them.

Grilled Beer-Braised Bratwursts

Grilled beer braised bratwurst, when done properly, makes us go wobbly in the knees. Even the thought of it has the same effect. Imagine, if you will, an overcast Saturday in autumn, the wind rattling the leaves, the aroma from beer-bathed brats sizzling on the grill. And if you’re anything like us, that smoke twirling up from the beer brats is going to be luring you just like in those old-time cartoons in which the smoke shape-shifts into a come-hither motion. Not only is it Oktoberfest, folks, but it’s tailgating season as well. So while it’s tempting for us, really tempting, to blather on with a bunch of blah blah blah about bratwurst—what it is, when it originated, where to pay homage to it should you embark on a pilgrimage to Germany—instead, we’re going to just suggest you go make some grilled beer brats. Do the right thing. Originally published September 26, 2014.Renee Schettler Rossi

Grilled Beer Braised Bratwurst

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 45 M
  • Serves 8
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  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) 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
  • 8 bratwursts (5 to 6 ounces each), preferably Wisconsin-style, pricked with a fork in several places
  • Two or three 12-ounce 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


  • 1. Fire up your charcoal or gas grill to high heat with the lid closed to ensure it gets nice and hot.
  • 2. 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 6 to 7 turns black pepper, then add the brats and enough beer so that everything is swimming. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  • 3. Add the sauerkraut and its liquid and let it cook until the bratwursts are cooked through, about 10 minutes more. (You can tell when the brats are done because they’ll expand and the meat will be tight in its casing.) Remove from the heat. Keep the bratwurst in the liquid until you’re ready to grill them.
  • 4. Brush the cut sides of the buns with butter. (If you have time to melt the butter first, all the better!) Put the buns, cut side down, on the grill until golden brown and crisp at the edges and magnificently toasted. Transfer the toasted buns to a roasting pan or disposable aluminum pan and tent with foil to keep warm.
  • 5. Use tongs to lift the brats out of the liquid. Grill the brats, turning as necessary, until they have crusty bark on the outside, about 10 minutes. Don’t dally. Immediately serve the brats on the toasted buns with mustard and a heap of the sauerkraut.

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 of these brats were simply amazing. 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 them 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. Everyone raved about the brats. 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.

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. 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. 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!

This grilled beer braised bratwurst 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.

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. Since the brats were simmering and not outright boiling, not that much beer cooked off during the time they were on the stove. This led to another problem: It was hard to fish out the sauerkraut with a slotted spoon because it disappeared into the large volume of liquid. I had drained and washed off the sauerkraut to rid it of excess sodium and was going to replace the packing liquid with water when I added the sauerkraut to the pot. I decided not to add any more liquid because there was already an overabundance of it. So these were tasty enough that I would make them again and just adjust the process a little.

We have a wonderful pork store, so we really wanted to make this grilled beer-braised bratwurst recipe. The store had several kinds, and when I referenced Wisconsin brats, the butcher said I wanted their "special" brats and their homemade sauerkraut. The only buns I could get were Pepperidge Farm. We used Yuengling lager—3 bottles did the trick. The sauerkraut pretty much disappeared in the broth. The only problems with this recipe were my choice of buns (they were really too soft) and the amount of sauerkraut (we were able to top only 4 buns and those were not "heaped"). With better buns and more sauerkraut, this recipe would merit a 10.


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  1. As a German my heart just bled a little but that might be because Bratwurst is one of these traditional foods I would never mess with :) Just get a nicely spiced one from your trusted butcher, put it on the BBQ and that’s it.

  2. As a true Wisconsinite and German, I can honestly say that you NEVER poke the bratwurst before grilling them. Use tongs to turn them on the grill. If you poke them.they will get very dry. Boil the brats in beer, butter, and onion. Grill until crispy,have another pot of beer butter onions and place your brats in the pan and keep warm. At this point, I also have my sour kraut with some butter, onions, and seasoning, and a Good Dark Mustard with a Very Good Hard Roll or, as the Germans do, Semmels. Semmels or hard rolls stand up to the kraut. Semmels are hard to find outside of WI. Trust me, other buns are too doughy.

    1. Sally T., I know well those rolls of which you speak. I grew up in Iowa, in a rural area mostly inhabited by us of German descent, and as a kid during summer the only thing I loved more than sweet corn and steak was brats on a Very Good Hard Roll. As for poking the brats, I completely understand what you’re saying. We should include in the instructions a caveat that if you know what the heck you’re doing, then by no means should you poke them. But I think for those who aren’t comfortable or experienced at the grill (like, say, my dad), it’s helpful to prick the brats so that they don’t explode and spray scalding hot brat essence all over the cook (it’s not pretty, trust me). My hope is that you try this approach with the kraut, as it’s really something special. But sounds like you already have a lovely approach to grilled brats, so just carry on as you normally do…

  3. I am very lucky to be the niece of a fourth-generation Wisconsin sausage maker. My uncle makes the best brats in the world and he is very generous. (He also makes excellent venison bacon, which is what I am eating right now.)

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