How to Grill Brats (Cook to Perfection)

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: June 20, 2024

Have you ever visited friends or family for a grill, and the bratwurst tasted strange? We don't grill a brat the same way as a burger patty or pork chop.

Cooking these sausages is relatively simple especially when you're equipped with the right tools like stainless steel grills.

So how exactly do we grill brats to perfection? We have tried and tested a few methods and you can be rest assured that we have you covered.

Quick Summary

  • Grilling brats involves heating them to the correct temperature, aiming for a caramelized exterior and a succulent flavor.
  • Parboiling and simmering are techniques used to keep the brats moist and add flavor.
  • Brats are traditionally served in a hard hot dog roll with mustard and chopped onions.

When it comes to grilling brats, it's all about heating them to the correct temperature. We want our brats to be caramelized, filled with lavish spices, and succulent flavor.

If you want to become the ultimate brat-roaster, follow this guide that we've assembled, and you'll have your guests asking for seconds.

Grilling Bratwurst: The Do’s And Don’ts

Top view of perfectly grilled bratwurst with knife under

The bratwurst grilling community seems to enjoy debating. Do you parboil the sausages or not?

If so, are you to use just water, or can you instead use beer?

Should you simmer before or after grilling? The list goes on; however, we ought to follow a few hard and fast rules.

When purchasing your brats, paying a little more and supporting a butcher is better than your local supermarket. Unpackaged bratwurst, wrapped only in paper, will generally taste a whole lot better.

A butcher will also offer an array of different spices and flavors, which will leave your taste buds watering.

Keep in mind; you’ll only want to add seasoning to your bratwurst if you plan on tossing them directly onto the grill. If you decide to simmer the sausages, add the seasoning to the braising mixture.

Using a paper towel, remember to oil the grates first with a small vegetable or olive oil to prevent sticking when flipping the bratwurst.

You can use both a charcoal or gas grill for cooking brats (you could even use a frying pan or oven).

At What Temperature Should Brats Be Grilled?

Bratwurst grilling on low flame

If you don't have a meat thermometer, there are a few other ways to know if the brats are cooked.

These include wiggling the sausages, touching them, or using an alternative thermometer.

  1. Touching the bratwurst. When rubbing your thumb and pinky together, the feeling you get is how a well-done brat should feel. Your thumb and index finger – rare cooked. The texture between the thumb and middle finger resembles medium-rare. Your ring finger and thumb – medium cooked.
  2. Jiggle the brats. Using tongs carefully, pick up a sausage and wiggle. It should be firm and bouncy.
  3. Use a cake tester. Poke the tester into the sausage, and then touch the tester onto your hand. If it's hot, then the brats are well-done. If the tester is warm, the brats are medium-rare.

Do not try to speed up the cooking process by setting the grill to a higher temperature, as this will cause the brats to burn and split open [1].

To check if your brats are cooked, cut a piece of the sausage off. It should not be a pinkish color on the inside but rather white and firm.

When grilling, make sure you keep an eye on the sausages. You want them to be nicely caramelized by continuously flipping them over, but you also don't want them completely charred.

Parboiling And Simmering Bratwurst

Simmering and boiling hot water on casserole

Nobody enjoys a dry bratwurst, so handle them with care when grilling so that the juices don't spill out (try not to poke holes).

Parboiling in water will help pre-cook the sausages, thus preventing them from rupturing on the grill. Pre-cooking the brats will make the grilling process more speedy and convenient [2].

It is good to note that you don’t have to parboil the sausages. Some people say that you should never do this as you’ll be left with flavorless, bland bratwursts. Whether or not to parboil ultimately depends on personal preference [3].

You could even parboil the sausages after grilling them if you wanted to. Letting the bratwursts simmer after grilling is often done at extensive functions with many guests. Doing this also keeps the sausages warm while dishing up.

Don’t confuse the term boil with simmer. A high boiling temperature will cause the sausages to split open, and we don't want this happening [4]. Instead, simmer (steam) the brats at a hot temperature.

No Parboiling Parboiling Before Parboiling After
Grill the uncooked brats for about 18-25 minutes, turning continuously. Keep a watchful eye so that the sausages don’t burn. Handle the fresh bratwurst with care. · Place the fresh sausages in a pot or pan. Add the water, beer (enough to cover the brats), and other chosen ingredients.

· Turn down the heat immediately once the liquid is on the verge of boiling point and let the brats simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes.

· Grill for about 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.

· Grill the uncooked brats for about 15-20 minutes, turning continuously. Keep a watchful eye so that the sausages don’t burn. Handle the fresh bratwurst with care.

· Place the grilled sausages in a pot or pan. Add the water, beer (enough to cover the brats), and other chosen ingredients.

· Let the brats simmer in a hot bath for approximately 5 minutes.

Using Beer To Parboil Or Simmer Bratwurst

Filling a glass with beer

Some individuals like the idea of parboiling the bratwurst in beer. There is a mix of different opinions on doing this.

Some say the beer adds flavor and moisture, while others argue that it gives the sausages a pungent taste [5].

You could try simmering your bratwurst in a combination of beer and water, apple juice, apple cider, or non-alcoholic beer.

Chicken or vegetable stock is also used for steaming. Onion, garlic, and butter are often added for flavor [6].

If you like the idea of beer brats, then it may be safer to steam the sausages in a hot beer bath, for a few minutes, after cooking. Here is a YouTube video explaining this procedure in more detail.

How To Serve Bratwurst?

Close up image of grilled bratwurst with small tomato

The traditional way of serving brats is on a hard hot dog roll with plenty of stone-ground mustard and chopped onions.

As you are likely aware, these are German sausages, so throw on some sauerkraut.

You can also add some German potato salad and sweet and sour cabbage to your plate.

Some people are more traditional than others. You can always try a variety of vegetables, pickles or salad.

Don't be afraid to add ketchup to the roll and any other sauces of your liking.

Related Articles:


Was this article helpful?

About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy Woods holds a Kinesiology and Exercise Science degree from Jacksonville University and is CCC & GMU Certified. He's also the main man behind Carnivore Style. This food aficionado combines science and experience to spread the word about the carnivore lifestyle.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *