This Beer Brats recipe cooks on the grill in one pan from start to finish. Grilled bratwurst with tangy sauerkraut piled on toasted buns are the perfect choice for tailgating and backyard barbecues!
Just before Father’s Day this year, my husband honed in on some fresh bratwurst from a local meat vendor at the farmers’ market. Needless to say, we took them home with us. As far as my husband of German heritage is concerned, you can’t do much better on Father’s Day than Beer Brats with sauerkraut.
I came across this fabulous method from the great Kenji Lopez of Serious Eats. These brats are so spot-on perfect for a game day gathering and with football season upon us, you need to give them a try!
If you’ve cooked beer brats any other way, you’re going to love this method.
Table of contents
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- One Pan: The brats cook nestled in sauerkraut and beer in one pan on the grill. No fuss and easy cleanup!
- Perfect for Tailgating: Using a disposable aluminum pan makes them easy to transport and perfect for tailgating.
- Make-Ahead: You can prep them a night in advance, if you’d like.
- Easy to Customize: There are so many ways to customize this recipe to your taste. See below for some delicious variations.
- Bratwurst – When making beer brats, you want to use uncooked, fresh bratwurst. We buy ours from a vendor at our local farmers market but major brands like Johnsonville are available at most grocery stores.
- Beer – For traditional Wisconsin-style brats, go with a German-style pilsner or lager. However, you can make Beer Brats with pretty much any type of beer. Anything from cheap American beer (think Miller, Coors, Bud, etc.) to darker ales and stouts, like Guinness, can be used.
- Sauerkraut – I recommend using fresh sauerkraut vs. jarred or canned. I use a classic caraway seed kraut that I buy at my local grocery store. You should be able to find it with other packaged products in a refrigerated case in the produce section.
- For the rest – A little stone ground mustard, a few bay leaves, and sprigs of fresh thyme are added to the beer bath for more flavor.
- For serving – Hot dog buns, ketchup, and mustard.
- The brats are cooked and served in a disposable aluminum foil pan making this recipe perfect for backyard grilling or tailgating. Be sure to use a deep lasagna-size pan like a Handi-Foil disposable aluminum lasagna pan and not a shallow cake pan.
- This recipe works on both a gas or charcoal grill. See below for alternate directions for cooking indoors.
- Use an instant read meat thermometer for perfectly cooked, juicy brats.
How to Make Beer Brats on the Grill
- Combine the beer, the sauerkraut with any liquids from the package, and mustard in a lasagna-size disposable aluminum pan.
- Stir until the ingredients are well combined.
- Add the thyme sprigs and bay leaves (see variations below).
- Nestle the sausages into the sauerkraut.
You can add additional beer at this point, if it will fit in your container without splashing out when you transport it to the grill. With this size pan, I find that 12 ounces of beer is enough to infuse the brats and sauerkraut with flavor while it’s still easy to carry.
Gas Grill Instructions
Prepare the Gas Grill: Set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat the grill for 10 minutes.
- Simmer: Place the tray on the hot side of the grill and cook until the beer comes to a low simmer (a few bubbles), about 4 minutes.
- Cook: Then, slide the pan to the cooler side of the grill. Cover the grill and cook with open vents for 18 to 20 minutes, turning once after the first 10 minutes. Using an instant read meat thermometer, check the internal temperature of the bratwurst after 18 minutes of total cooking time and remove from the heat once they register 140 to 145 degrees F.
- Sear: Open the grill cover and using tongs, lift the bratwurst from the sauerkraut and place them directly on the oiled cooking grate over the hot side of the grill. Cook the brats, turning occasionally, until well browned and crisp, and they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
- Serve: Return the bratwurst to the pan with the sauerkraut and beer for serving.
Charcoal Grill Instructions
Prepare the Charcoal Grill: Light a chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour it out and arrange most of the coals on one side of the charcoal grate with a much smaller amount of coals on the other side. Set the cooking grate in place, cover the grill, and allow it to preheat for about 5 minutes.
Cook and Serve: Follow the directions to cook the brats as described in the gas grill method above. If you’re using a round charcoal grill, there won’t be enough space for the aluminum pan while you’re searing the sausage. Just pull the pan off the grill , set it aside, and cover it loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil to keep the sauerkraut warm.
How to Cook Beer Brats Indoors
Maybe it’s snowing outside and you want beer brats for the big game. No problem!
- Stovetop: Place the sauerkraut mixture with the beer and brats in a large pot or Dutch oven on the stove. If cooking on the stove, I recommend adding enough beer to cover the brats. Bring the beer to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for the initial cooking time.
- Oven: Then, finish them on a baking sheet in your oven set to broil or on a stovetop grill pan.
Apples and Onions: For a delicious flavor variation, try adding thinly sliced onions and/or apples to the sauerkraut. You can sauté them in a little oil or butter briefly before to soften them a bit.
Herbs and Spices: Instead of flavoring the sauerkraut with fresh thyme, you can add sprigs of fresh rosemary or sage. Try tossing in some black peppercorns.
Peppers and Onions: Skip the sauerkraut all together and instead sauté peppers and onions in oil in a cast iron skillet until tender and lightly caramelized. You can add them to the beer mixture before cooking or just serve them along with the cooked brats.
Tips for the Best Beer Brats
Soak Overnight: To infuse the brats with even more beer flavor, prep them the night before, cover the pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate them overnight.
Use tongs: Avoid piercing the brats with a fork while grilling. This prevents flavorful juices from escaping, keeping the sausages moist and tasty.
Don’t overcook: Use a meat thermometer and cook to 160 degrees F. This ensures they are cooked through but will be perfectly juicy.
Toasted buns: To prevent soggy buns, briefly toast the empty rolls with open side down on the grill. Or for indoor cooking, place the buns under the broiler for a couple of minutes before serving.
Toppings: Offer a variety of condiments like mustard, ketchup, relish, and chopped onions to allow everyone to personalize their bratwurst.
What to Serve with Beer Brats
- Spicy Baked Beans
- Old Fashioned Potato Salad
- Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole
- Broccoli Salad
- Crispy Oven Baked Fries
Beer Brats Recipe
- 12 ounces beer
- 1 pound package sauerkraut, with juice (I used classic caraway kraut)
- 3 tablespoons whole grain or stone ground mustard
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme, optional
- 3 dried bay leaves, optional
- 2 pounds raw bratwurst sausages, 8 sausages
- 8 hot dog buns
- ketchup, mustard, relish, and chopped onions, optional and as needed
To Prepare a Charcoal Grill
- Light 1 chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange most of the coals on one side of the charcoal grate with a much smaller amount of coals on the other side. Set the cooking grate in place, cover the grill, and allow it to preheat for about 5 minutes. Oil the grate.
To Prepare a Gas Grill
- Set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Oil the grate.
For the Beer Brats
- Combine the beer, sauerkraut with any juice from the package, and mustard in a lasagna-size disposable aluminum pan. Stir until the ingredients are well combined. Add the thyme sprigs and bay leaves (if using) and nestle the sausages into the sauerkraut and beer.
- Place the tray on the hot side of the grill and cook until the beer comes to a low simmer (a few bubbles), about 4 minutes. Slide the pan to the cooler side of the grill. Cover the grill with the vents over the bratwurst. Cook with open vents for 18 to 20 minutes, turning once after the first 10 minutes. Using an instant read meat thermometer, check the internal temperature of the bratwurst after 18 minutes of total cooking time and remove from the heat once they register 140 to 145 degrees F.
- Open or remove the lid from the grill and using tongs, lift the bratwurst from the sauerkraut and place them directly on the oiled cooking grate over the hot side of the grill. If using a gas grill, reduce heat a little, if needed, to avoid burning. If there is not enough space, just pull the pan off the grill, set it aside, and cover it loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil to keep the sauerkraut warm. Cook the brats, turning occasionally, until well browned, crisp, and they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, about 3 to 5 minutes total. Return the bratwurst to the pan with the sauerkraut for serving.
- Toast the buns over the hot side of the grill or your oven’s broiler.
- Serve the bratwurst on toasted buns with the sauerkraut from the pan and optional toppings.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.
Adapted from Serious Eats