How to Grill Brats

Summer is upon us and you know what that means —  it’s grilling season. If you’re in the mood for something savory and packed with flavor, bratwurst is the way to go. It’s a German sausage that’s an excellent choice to serve at lunch or dinner for a delicious summer meal. It pairs perfectly with German-style potato salad or sauerkraut as sides.

There are a variety of ways to cook brats like pan-frying or oven-roasting. However, since it’s summer, grilling is the way to go at your next cookout with friends and family. Brats are a delicious crowd pleaser when prepared correctly.

In this article, we’re going to discuss how to choose the best brats for grilling, tips and tricks for grilling bratwurst and tools that help make the grilling process a breeze. Plus, you’ll even learn some fun bratwurst facts!

How to choose the best bratwurst for grilling

There are just a couple of things to look for to help ensure you’re choosing the best bratwurst for grilling from the grocery store.

First, check the “best by” date. Don’t buy it if it’s past the best by date.

Second, look for secure packaging. It should be sealed tightly and free from puncture holes. Steer clear if it’s visibly leaking juices or there are holes in the packaging.

Conversely, you could opt to purchase your brats from your trusted local butcher.

Tips and tricks for grilling brats

  • The first tip to grilling delicious brats is to know that they need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 160-165 degrees for food safety and optimal juiciness.
  • They should be grilled at a temperature of 300-350 degrees (medium-low) until they reach the correct internal temperature (it takes about 20 minutes).
  • Remember, low and slow is best. If you cook the brats at too high a temperature, it will cause the casing to split, and all the delicious juices will come out. This must be avoided at all costs, so don’t rush the cooking process.
  • Turn them frequently while grilling to caramelize each side. This will make them beautiful to look at and create a satisfying texture and crunch when you bite into them.
  • Do NOT poke holes in brats before cooking or while cooking. This will allow the juices to spill out, causing the insides to dry out. Even if you plan to soak them in hot beer beforehand, don’t puncture that skin. 

Tools that are helpful

Meat Thermometer: ThermoPro TP-17 Dual Probe Digital Cooking Meat Thermometer

To make the best brats, you need to grill them at the correct temperature until they reach the proper internal temperature. That means a meat thermometer is a must. 

With this one, you can test the temperature of both the meat and the grill you’re using. It comes with two probes so you can use it on two different types of meat simultaneously (just in case you’re doing brats and burgers for lunch). Plus, you can even use it as a timer.

Brat Basket: Johnsonville Brat Griller

This isn’t necessary, but it can be a beneficial tool.

To grill a tasty brat, you need to be careful about piercing the skin, and you need to turn often to create a caramelized skin on each side. Plus, it would be best to make sure you’re not cooking the bratwurst too hot/fast. 

That’s where this baby comes in. You place your brats in it (it holds 5) and close it up. Then you put it on the grill. It keeps the brats up off the rack for even cooking. Plus, they’re protected from puncturing, all while saving turning time because you can flip five brats at once!

What’s grilling without the right accessories? Read our reviews of the best grill tongs and best grill brushes.

What is bratwurst?

Fun fact: The name “bratwurst” comes from Old High German. “Brat” means “finely chopped meat,” and “wurst” means “sausage.” Today, the term bratwurst is often associated with the modern German word “braten,” which means to pan fry or roast.

Bratwurst (commonly called brats) is a German sausage that can be made from finely chopped veal, beef or pork.

They are fresh link sausages seasoned with a savory blend of ginger, nutmeg, coriander, sage or caraway. The most traditional recipes will include cream and eggs too. Different regions of Germany even have their own bratwurst recipes.

You can serve them as bratwurst sandwiches or accompanied by German-style potato salad, sauerkraut, or spaetzle to keep things more traditional. You can also Americanize your brats by serving staple sides like baked beans, grilled corn on the cob, and coleslaw.

Final thoughts

If you plan a perfect summer cookout, impress your guests with savory, delectable bratwurst grilled to perfection and literally exploding with flavor!

The trick is to know your optimal temperature ranges for grilling the best bratwurst and avoid puncturing the skin to keep all those flavorful juices inside. You want your guests to get an explosion of flavor from their very first bite.

A cookout is an ideal time to experiment with making homemade traditional bratwurst sides like sauerkraut and German-style potato salad. But any side goes excellent with expertly grilled brats!

Now break out your meat thermometer and the sauerkraut and get to grilling up the best brats for summer!