Learning the different ways on how to cook bratwurst will make you a sausage pro in no time! Get the best tips and tricks on how to cook brats PLUS get our 6 bratwurst recipes all in one place, including brats on the stove, baked, steamed, grilled, air fried, pressure cooked, and brats in a crockpot too. It’s a WHOLE LOTTA YUM!
How to Cook Brats – 6 Ways!
With my husband’s family being from Germany, we are a bratwurst obsessed family. Our favorite sausage appears on our table just about weekly. Having a variety of bratwurst recipes on hand makes for a simple yet delicious dinner any day of the week.
Since brats are already pre-seasoned and don’t need much added, learning how to cook bratwurst is a snap! With just one ingredient (the sausage of course), and maybe 1 or 2 extras like a cooking liquid of veggie side, you have a simple yet savory meal.
To have an easy German-style meal, serve any of our bratwurst recipes with sauerkraut, our German mustard potato salad recipe, a pretzel, and of course a German beer.
The Best Way to Cook Bratwurst
What you consider the BEST way to cook bratwurst could come down to how much time you have, how many brats you need to cook, and what kitchen appliances you have available. Bratwurst in a skillet like cast iron is best when you’re just cooking a few brats, either the grill or in the oven works best for cooking a large batch, and in a pressure cooker is one of our personal favorites because it’s hands-off cooking. Here are the different ways to cook bratwurst sausage:
- Bratwurst on the stove
- In the oven
- In a pressure cooker
- On the grill
- In a crock-pot
- In an air fryer
All of the bratwurst recipes start with uncooked bratwurst sausage. Our favorite brand is locally made by a company called Hemplers because fresh and local is always best! For a national brand, Johnsonville produces a terrific bratwurst sausage, and the larger Costco packs of uncooked brats are also a great way to buy many at a time for a good price.
We’ve included the ingredients for cooking brats on the stovetop, which first has you simmer the brats in a skillet in beer, onion, and butter to partially cook the sausages, and then you do a quick brats pan-fry to get the exterior brown to your liking.
- 1 lb of bratwurst (typically 4-5 brats per pack)
- 2-12 bottles of beer
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 large onion, sliced
Popular add-ons – sauerkraut, buns, stoneground mustard
Doubling– feel free to cook up to 2 lb of brats with this method if you have a large pot. Add enough bottles of beer to cover the sausage, and then we recommend doubling the butter and using 2 onions.
How to cook bratwurst and which of the bratwurst recipes you decide to make will really determine what sort of supplies you’ll need. Here’s a list of what we used and/or recommend.
- An Air Fryer- We have an Omni Plus oven style air fryer and a small 3.2L Farberware basket style air fryer.
- Instant Pot
- Dutch Oven
- Baking Sheet
How to Cook Brats on the Stove
Cooking bratwurst on the stove is very quick and easy, and a terrific bratwurst recipe when you’re just cooking a small batch. You first simmer the brats to partially cook them and then finish them off with a quick pan fry in a cast-iron skillet.
Some might prefer to simmer the brats in liquid and then do a quick grill on the BBQ or gas grill to finish browning. Cooking brats in a pan on the stove before browning is a great way to prevent your bratwurst from splitting.
Many people refer to this step as boiling brats, but technically we are simmering them in a pan.
In a deep skillet or Dutch oven, add the brats, 1 sliced onion, the beer, and 1/2 of a stick of butter cut into cubes. Make sure the beer is just covering the meat.
Bring the beer mix to a slow boil, turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer the bratwurst for 10 minutes. They’ll be par-boiled at this point, meaning partially (but mostly) cooked. They’ll finish cooking with the next step.
Remove the bratwurst from the liquid and clean out the pan, making sure to scoop out the savory onions to serve alongside the bratwurst. Pan-fry them in a skillet with a little oil for 3 minutes on each side until brown. The internal temperature should be at least 160F to be properly cooked.
Bratwurst in the Oven
How to cook bratwurst in the oven is another one of our reader favorite recipes. When you don’t feel like pulling out the grill and have a large batch of cooked bratwurst to make, baking brats for a crowd on a sheet pan is the way to go.
Turn your oven to 400F and make sure the oven rack is in the center position.
Lay the uncooked fresh bratwurst on the baking sheet, making sure to spread the sausages out and give them plenty of space.
Bake the bratwurst on one side for 10 minutes. Flip the sausages over with a spatula or tongs, and continue cooking for 5-7 more minutes until the oven-baked brats are cooked through and have an internal temperature of 160 F.
MASTER TIP: If you decide to add veggies to the pan, it’ll cause the baked brats to take longer to brown. Feel free to cut up an onion or peppers to roast alongside the sausage. It could take up to 25 minutes total for them to cook with the addition of vegetables.
On the Grill
Grilling brats outside is probably the best way to cook bratwurst when it’s summertime and nice and sunny out! You can enjoy the cold beer with brats while they cook.
Grill the uncooked brats over indirect heat for about 18 minutes, or until the sausage is “almost” cooked through but not quite.
Grill them for 1-2 more minutes over direct heat to brown the outside of the sausages, the internal temperature should be at 160F+.
Serve with buns and hot dog toppings to go American style, or serve the German classics like sauerkraut and mustard.
If you need to keep them warm, put the bratwurst in beer and simmer on low until you’re ready to serve them.
In a Pressure Cooker
Instant Pot brats is a quick way to cook bratwurst, just brown it on both sides in the pan, add beer or another type of liquid, and then cook the sausage. Instant pot brats make for an easy hands-off meal. Learning how to cook bratwurst in a pressure cooker might just become one of your most favorite methods!
Turn on your instant pot and set to Saute.
Brown the brats
Once the pot is heated, brown the bratwurst lightly in 2 Tbsp of butter on both sides, which will take about 2-3 minutes each. You might need to brown these in two batches, depending on how many brats you’re cooking and the size of your pressure cooker. Remove all of the brats from the instant pot.
Place a rack on the bottom, set all of your bratwurst on top of the rack.
Carefully pour 1 cup of liquid such as beer, apple juice, water, or chicken broth in the bottom of the pot.
Set your instant pot to Manual or Pressure Cook (depending on your model) and cook for 6 minutes.
Once done, do a Natural Release until the steam is released.
In an Air Fryer
How to cook bratwurst in an air fryer is definitely one of our reader favorite methods! Air fryer brats are seriously the quickest of the bratwurst recipes when you just need them cooked as fast as possible without extras.
Cook the air fryer brats on 360F, there’s no need to preheat the unit first.
Lay the brats in a single layer on the air fryer basket, leaving room on all sides.
You’ll be cooking the brats for a total of 11-12 minutes, and flip them over after 6 minutes.
The key is making sure the internal temperature of the bratwurst is 160 F, that’s when you know they’re done.
In a Slow Cooker
How to cook bratwurst in a crock-pot makes for a pretty hands-off meal you can get started early in the day that lets you enjoy delicious scents while the slow cooker does the rest of the work.
In a large skillet on the stove over medium-high heat, sear the brats on both sides for 2-3 minutes.
Add 1 sliced onion, 2 cups of sauerkraut in liquid and 1 can of beer or 1.5 cups of chicken broth to the bottom of the crockpot.
Place the sausage on top and gently press the brats down into the liquid as much as possible. Add 2 Tbsp of cut-up butter and place on top and around the meat and veggies.
Cook on low for 4 hours, or until the bratwurst recipe is cooked through and juicy.
Why Cook Brats in Beer?
Cooking brats in beer is a popular way of cooking brats on the stove OR parboiling before grilling. There’s just something magical about brats and beer together, they’re just made together like peanut butter and jelly!
Many people will cook or steam the brats in liquid to add extra flavor before you cook the bratwurst on stove top or before grilling. Simmering the brats in beer AFTER cooking is also a great way to keep brats warm and juicy before serving them to a crowd.
What to Cook Brats In?
Whether you’re planning to cook bratwurst on the stove or trying to simmer brats in liquid before grilling or pan-frying, you have options on what to cook brats in.
This is an optional step as some people prefer to roast the brats or grill them without partially cooking the sausage in liquid first.
The most popular liquid to cook bratwurst in is beer, the taste of the sausages combined with a mild beer flavor certainly goes hand in hand to make a perfect match. Try to find a mild tasting beer to just lend a light flavor to the final dish instead of a strong beer that could overpower the overall taste.
Cooking without Beer? Try one of the following:
- Apple cider (alcoholic or non)
- Apple juice
- Chicken broth
- Bone broth
- Beef broth
- Sauerkraut – there’s often enough liquid in a jar of kraut to be the liquid stand-in, especially when cooking bratwurst on the stove. Just simmer in the kraut and finish cooking with a quick pan fry.
What to Cook Bratwurst With?
The most popular ingredients to cook bratwurst with is sauerkraut, cooked onions, potatoes, cooking them in beer, or serving brats on a bun.
If you’re looking for a traditional German bratwurst meal, then you’d serve brats with sauerkraut, mustard, potatoes, and beer. If you Barvarian style for Oktoberfest perhaps, then cooking the brats with classic German sides makes a fun and festive meal.
In the US, bratwurst is often served as a hot dog on a bun with classic hot dog sauces OR in a bun with warm sauerkraut and onions served on top of the sausage.
And if you want even more ideas on side dishes for brats, be sure to read our post with 20+ suggestions and recipes.
How to Cook Bratwurst from Frozen?
Not all of the methods for our bratwurst recipes will work well if you’re wanting to cook bratwurst from frozen. The method that works the best for this is cooking brats on the stovetop since they get simmered in beer first before getting quickly browned in a pan.
You’ll just want to add 3-5 minutes to the cooking time if you’re cooking with frozen brats.
Are Brats Keto?
If you’re following a low carb or keto diet like many of our readers, you might be wondering which of our bratwurst recipes are keto! ANY of these are keto bratwurst recipes as long as you skip the bun, and use a low carb beer like Michelob Light.
Be sure to keep the carbs down as low as possible when eating keto brats, by making sure to buy sauerkraut that doesn’t add extra sugar, or you can even cut back on the sauerkraut all together. Some brands of brats have a tiny bit of sweetener added, that’s probably what’s giving 1-2 net carbs in each serving.
More Sausage Recipes
- Crockpot Italian Sausage and Peppers
- Air Fryer Kielbasa
- Creamy Kielbasa and Sauerkraut
- Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana
Please leave a review if you make any of our bratwurst recipes! We love feedback from readers, plus it helps others too.
And pin the recipe for later on Pinterest so you can easily get back to it!
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- 1 lb of bratwurst (typically 4-5 brats per pack)
- 2 bottles of beer
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 large onion, sliced
- In a deep skillet or Dutch oven, add the brats, 1 sliced onion, the beer, and 1/2 of a stick of butter cut into cubes. Make sure the beer is just covering the meat.
- Bring the beer mix to a slow boil, turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer the bratwurst for 10 minutes.
- Remove the bratwurst from the liquid and clean out the pan, making sure to scoop out the savory onions to serve alongside the bratwurst. Pan-fry them in a skillet with a little oil for 3 minutes on each side until brown. The internal temperature should be at least 160F to be properly cooked.
Double the recipe, you won't need to double the beer to do so. Just add enough beer to cover the sausages.
Serve Bavarian style with a side of sauerkraut, stoneground mustard, and beer.
Serve them on a bun like a hot dog with all your favorite American toppings.
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