Simmered in beer with onions that become sweet and caramelized, these bratwursts are a familiar German meal with a Wisconsin twist for the best reason to cheer at tailgates or clink cheers for Oktoberfest.
Hello, my name is Heidi. A classic German name, right? I even fit the demographic, with blue eyes and blonde hair. Growing up, dishes from my youth like Wiener schnitzel and rouladen often displaced the classic American favorites like pot roast and roast chicken or Liverwurst and pickles instead of peanut butter and jelly. German food is in my DNA, which is why recipes for German potato salad recipe and my Grandma’s authentic schnitzel are mainstays in my kitchen. And now, these bratwursts have entered the chat. A few years ago, our friend Tim cooked his famous bratwursts for a Superbowl party at our house. Stewed in beer with sliced onions and then loaded onto soft rolls with my favorite grainy mustard, this style of bratwurst sandwich quickly became my favorite. The sliced onion is first cooked down in a little bit of butter and then braised in the beer with the brats. As they cook, the onion softens in the beer broth, becoming a little bit jammy and an especially good topping for the dogs, or for eating with sauerkraut. These beer brats are a major winner in our house.
What’s in These Bratwursts
This bratwurst recipe is based on the Sheboygan-style bratwursts cooked with sliced onion in a beer broth. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make them:
- Bratwurst sausages: First and foremost, choose a good quality bratwurst. If you can, get them freshly made from a butcher or German deli. My favorite in Salt Lake City is Siegfried’s Delicatessen.
- Onion: I use good old yellow onions. Slice the onions thick so they don’t disappear as they cook down to sweeten and caramelize to candy goodness.
- Caraway seed: Caraway is one of those spices that tastes distinctly German. Add 1 tablespoon of other spices and herbs if you want to experiment, like:
- garlic cloves
- fresh ground ginger
- mustard seed
- coriander seed
- Beer or ale: I use a light pale ale or amber ale to flavor this recipe. These types of beer add a malt flavor that sweetens as it cooks down and flavors both the brats and the onions.
- Buns: One of my peeves about hot dogs, sausages, and bratwursts is is they MUST be served on a great bun. And please, make it warm too. Choose a plain bun or one flecked with poppyseed or onion flakes if you like.
How to Cook These Bratwursts
These bratwursts are steamed in beer and onions, absorbing all the delicious flavor the amber ale beer imparts—and another reason to try my beer steamed shrimp if you haven’t yet. Here’s how to cook them:
Soften the onions. In a cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and caraway seeds and cook for 5 minutes or until the onions begin to soften.
Simmer the brats in beer. Season with kosher salt. Nestle the bratwursts in the onions, add the bottle of ale and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, turning the brats occasionally.
Brown the Brats
While you can certainly eat these bratwursts after they’ve simmered, I love to take them a step further and give them a nice crust. You can either do this on the stove or on the grill. The browning will give them optimal flavor and texture.
To finish the bratwursts on the stove, transfer the onions and beer broth to a bowl and set aside. Add the brats back to the skillet and increase the heat to medium-high. Brown the sausages evenly on all sides, adding a little more butter or oil if needed. Add the onions and beer broth back to the skillet and keep warm.
To finish the bratwursts on the grill, preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Cook the bratwurst sausages on the grill for 2-4 minutes per side or until browned on all sides. Add back to the skillet with the onions and beer and keep warm.
How is Bratwurst Different From Sausage
Germans love their sausages, and bratwurst is just one of the many in the list. So what’s the difference between a regular sausage and bratwurst? Sausage can be made from dried sausage, smoked sausage, and fresh sausage with many countries having their own version. Bratwursts are fresh rather than smoked or dried. They are often made with natural casings, versus synthetic ones that you often see with sausages. What’s in a bratwurst? Bratwursts are a fresh type of sausage, usually made with pork and veal, flavored with seasonings like caraway, coriander, and or nutmeg. Different regions of Germany have different flavorings with other popular sausages like garlicky knackwurst being one of my dad’s favorites. Sheboygan-style bratwursts are a popular version of sausage with plenty of onion that hails from Wisconsin and is one of my favorite ways to make my brats.
Do I Need to Boil Brats Before Grilling
Since these brats are simmered in beer, there’s no need to boil them (they will cook as they simmer in the liquid).
How is Bratwurst Traditionally Cooked
Bratwursts are traditionally simmered gently (as I do here) or just browned via the stove or grill. My favorite way to cook these is to simmer them in beer first, then finish them on the grill.
What to Substitute for Beer
If you don’t want to use beer in this recipe, simmer the bratwurst in a non-alcoholic beer, apple juice, or apple cider, or try chicken or vegetable stock.
How to Serve Bratwursts
I love brats. I love them steamed, grilled, and even boiled. Give me a slather of grainy mustard and a brat on a soft bun and I am good to go. Here are some serving ideas for bratwursts that I love:
- Bratwursts can be served as a sandwich on a bun and topped with mustard, onions, and or sauerkraut, or served as a main meal with German potato salad, sweet and sour cabbage, and sauerkraut on the side.
- Bratwursts call for a good German mustard. I like a combination of both yellow German mustard and grainy mustard. This is one dog that is best when deli-style yellow mustard stays in the fridge.
- Get ready to gorge, it’s time to don your lederhosen, load up your steins, and get your brats on. Prost!
More German Recipes
- Grandma’s Easy German Schnitzel
- German Potato Salad with or without bacon
- German Chocolate Cake
- Apple And Cherry Strudel
- German Chocolate Brownie Pie (not traditional but SO good)
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Bratwurst In Beer With Onions
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ yellow onions , sliced
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 bratwurst sausages
- 1 12-ounce bottle amber ale or nut brown ale
- 6 buns
- In a cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and caraway seeds and cook for 5 minutes or until the onions begin to soften. Season with kosher salt. Nestle the bratwursts in the onions, add the bottle of ale and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, turning the brats occasionally.
- To finish the bratwursts on the stove, transfer the onions and beer broth to a bowl and set aside. Add the brats back to the skillet and increase the heat to medium-high. Brown the sausages evenly on all sides, adding a little more butter or oil if needed. Add the onions and beer broth back to the skillet and keep warm.
- To finish the bratwursts on the grill, preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Cook the bratwurst sausages on the grill for 2-4 minutes per side or until browned on all sides. Add back to the skillet with the onions and beer and keep warm.
- Serve on warm buns with onions and coarse, grainy mustard. Add sauerkraut if desired.
More Sausage Recipe Ideas
- Slow Cooker Little Smokies
- Pigs In A Puff Pastry Blanket
- Chicken, Sausage And Shrimp Jambalaya
- Cheesy Sausage Pizza Bread
- Chicken, Crab And Andouille Sausage Gumbo Recipe
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