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Bratwurst Recipe: How to Make These German Sausages

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If you like sausages, then having a bratwurst is a good option to try. This dish is a classic German sausage usually made with pork and veal, but some recipes also use beef. These sausages are like hot dogs but have more texture, flavor, and spice.

Bratwurst is very fatty, so grilling or pan-frying it slowly over low heat is often best to avoid drying it out. They go well in hot dog buns with fried onions, warm sauerkraut, and mustard.

And the best way to wash it all down is with a refreshing German beer.

What is Bratwurst?

Cooked Bratwurst

Bratwurst (a.k.a. brat) is a German sausage made with pork and veal. There are also some restaurants and sausage makers that have created bratwurst recipes made with beef.

As it turns out, several etymologists have traced “brat” back to an old German word that refers to finely chopped meat, and “wurst,” which translates to “sausage.” Bratwursts are precisely that: a meaty sausage full of flavor and texture.

They are often served at festivals, picnics, and backyard barbecues in Germany. They appear as appetizers on buns with sauerkraut or onion slices, curry ketchup, and German mustard. They also make a delicious dinner for the whole family any night of the week.

History of Bratwurst Sausages

The exact origins of bratwurst are unknown, but it is believed to have originated in the Swabian region of Germany. It started as a simple peasant dish made with pork and oats.

It soon became a hit among the people of Swabia (modern-day Bavaria) and has been popular throughout Germany ever since. In another potential origin story, the citizens of Thüringen, Germany, and Franconia, Germany, had plenty of disagreements over the bratwurst.

Both parties assert that they were the ones who came up with this great recipe. The earliest record of a bratwurst found in Thüringen is from the year 1404, whereas the earliest record found in Franconia is from the year 1313.

See Related: Hazelnussomeletten Recipe

What is Beer Bratwurst?

Beer Bratwurst

As the name suggests, Beer Brats is a type of bratwurst that is made with beer. The beer gives the sausage a unique flavor and helps to keep it moist. Although it can be made with any beer, it is especially common to use German-style beers. These beer brats with sauerkraut are popularly served during Oktoberfest in Germany.

Beer-braised bratwurst can be served as a main meal or as a side dish with potatoes, vegetables, and sometimes even pasta. It is also often eaten as a part of a traditional German meal of brats, pretzels, beer, and onions.

This meal is served as a snack or appetizer; some have referred to it as “German food in a bowl.”  The beer-braised bratwurst is usually made from pork and beef, with a different taste from the usual recipe. It can also be made from other meats like chicken and venison.

What other beverages go well with bratwurst besides beer?

If you use beer as part of your bratwurst recipe, you can enjoy one as you eat. But many other beverages also go well with brats. Other beverages that go well with brats include: 

Apple cider/fruit cider

Hard or soft, ciders are great fall beverages that go well with bratwurst and many other foods usually served in the fall. 

Coffee

If you want to switch things up from the usual after-dinner drinks, try coffee. This drink goes well with savory foods, especially bratwurst. 

Champagne or Wine

Trust me, few things go better with bratwurst than champagne and wine. Besides beer, German wines are the most traditional drink to pair with brats.

See Related: Best Breweries in Munich

What are the main ingredients of Bratwurst?

The main ingredients of German brats are pork and veal, but you can also use beef. They can also contain breadcrumbs, eggs, milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and ginger.

What are the different types of Bratwurst?

Bratwurst Grilled Sausages

Many different types of bratwurst are available today. Over forty different kinds of brats can be seen in markets, and you can tell them apart by the ingredients they use and the way they are served.

The most popular bratwurst recipe is currywurst. Other varieties include Fränkische bratwurst, Kase wurst (cheese sausage), liver, and blood sausage.

What are the best ways to serve Bratwurst?

Bratwurst is best served grilled or pan-fried slowly over low heat to avoid drying it out. It can be eaten with grainy mustard, sauerkraut, rye bread, toasted buns, potato salad, and beer and onions, which can be easily cooked in a crockpot.

If you’re looking for a few ways to serve bratwurst, here are some delicious suggestions to add to your healthy recipes:

On a bun

Bratwurst on a Bun

Bratwurst also makes for a great sandwich. It’s the king of hot dogs.

In a stew

If you want to make a stew but want to try something new, bratwurst is a hearty addition to any stew recipe.

On a pizza

Bratwurst on Pizza

Pizza is the perfect food that can only be improved by adding bratwurst slices as toppings!

In a soup

A bratwurst is a great option for adding flavor and substance to a hearty soup broth if you’re a fan of sausages.

In a salad

Bratwurst Salad
image by j_bary is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Salads are a great way to make meals healthier. Brats can be put in a salad to add texture and flavor.

With pasta

Bratwurst Pasta
image  by cogdogblog is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Pasta (or the German Spätzle) and bratwurst can create a delicious and filling meal.

With potatoes

Bratwurst with Potato

Potatoes in any form paired with brats are a classic German meal pairing that can be eaten any time of the year. It’s a match made in heaven.

With vegetables

Bratwurst Served with Vegetable

Vegetables are a healthy side dish that can make a great companion for that mighty meaty morsel.

See Related: Traditional German Christmas Food

How is a bratwurst different from a sausage?

Asking how a bratwurst differs from a sausage is complicated since brats are sausages. With that being said, a number of differences exist between bratwurst and the sausages you might recognize in your All-American or Full-English breakfast.

Although bratwursts are a kind of sausage, it’s important to note that not all are the same. Haggis is technically a sausage – try making a hot dog out of that!

In contrast to bratwursts, which typically have natural hog casings, most American sausages at the grocery store or butcher shop have a synthetic casing. American sausages are also normally smaller, softer, made with finer ground meat, and have less seasoning and flavor.

Originally, the most notable distinction between a brat and a sausage is that brats are often prepared with pig meat. On the other hand, American sausage is often prepared with ground meat.

Which is healthier, sausage or bratwurst?

Cooked Bratwursts

American sausage is typically higher in fat and calories than bratwurst because it is usually made with higher-fat cuts of meats such as pork or beef offal. Bratwursts also typically don’t have any fillers added, which means it has zero added fat.

A bratwurst is a great option for those watching their weight or limiting their fat intake. That said, the German sausage recipes are a fair winner in this comparison.

Also, you can still make it healthier if you make your bratwurst at home. You can switch from the traditional sausage recipes and opt for leaner meat options such as chicken or turkey.

It is also great to experiment with different ingredients if you are following a vegetarian or vegan diet. You can certainly find vegan “sausage” on the market today, but making your own allows you to control which ingredients go into the recipe.

How to cook bratwurst

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 pounds lean veal, preferably shoulder
  • 2 pounds pork belly or fatty pork butt
  • 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 8 yards prepared casings, about 4 oz. (traditional recipes call for intestine)
  • 2 tablespoons melted, salted butter

Directions

All right, now onto the directions – but first, a few words of advice:

Keep your meat cold!

You’ll want to keep the meat cold while making bratwursts. You need the fat in the grinding and coating processes to remain frozen. When cooking, the fat will burn if the meat is not frozen, resulting in a decrease in flavor and moisture.

Casing the brats

The casing is somewhat more complex than the grinding and seasoning. The brats need to be prepared immediately before cooking. If you have a meat grinder with an attachment, take advantage of it.

If not, place the sausage into the casings using a forcing funnel or natural casing needles. You will notice that pork-based and collagen-based casings are available in the market today. 

Pork-based casings are more commonly used because they are less expensive. They can also be easily peeled off after the brats are cooked. Using the collagen-based casing is also very effective, but you will have to peel it off the sausage once it’s cooked.

If you’re making bratwursts, you’ll also need casings that have been salted to remove their smelly odors. Do this, especially if you get yours from butcher shops.

Soak the casings for around an hour to get rid of the saltiness. As a result, the casings will become flexible. There are also organic tubing tools to aid with this process.

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, soak the breadcrumbs in the milk.
  2. Grind the veal and pork belly together. You should grind it twice – first coarsely and then finely.
  3. Place the meat into a large bowl.
  4. Add the salt, nutmeg, white pepper, and softened breadcrumbs.
  5. Mix well with your hands until thoroughly blended.
  6. Work with about one-quarter of the filling at a time. Cover and refrigerate the rest.
  7. Stuff the casings loosely with the filling.
  8. Pinch and twist into 4-inch links.
  9. Refrigerate the finished sausages while working on the rest.
  10. Place as many in a cast iron skillet that will fit in a single layer without crowding.
  11. Pour in about half an inch of water, cover, and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
  12. Pour off any excess liquid.
  13. Add butter to the pan and cook uncovered until the sausages are evenly browned (about 10 minutes.)
  14. Enjoy!

Is it necessary to boil a bratwurst before grilling it?

You can grill or fry a bratwurst like any other type of sausage. However, if you plan to grill it, it is traditional to boil it until partially cooked. You can also parboil a bratwurst before sautéing it as well. This is a great technique because it ensures the bratwurst is fully cooked inside while also getting a nice browning outside.

Also, boiling can be a cooking technique in and of itself. It allows you to skip the grill and clean any additional equipment. This method also allows you to enjoy them warm and fully cooked without worrying about undercooking them on the grill.

Can I grill bratwurst?

You can grill them over medium heat on a gas or charcoal grill. Grilling bratwursts is a great way to cook them if you have a barbecue grill in your backyard. You can cook each individually or place them on a grill grate basket so they are all together. If you use a grill grate basket, cover it with aluminum foil to avoid burning. 

If you want to add extra flavor, brush the sausages with oil or melted butter before placing them on the grill. Ensure you don’t char your bratwurst, which could make it too tough and dry. 

Bratwurst is best when cooked at a low temperature. If you cook it with high heat, the sausage fat will release too quickly and make a mess.

Can I cook bratwurst in a crockpot?

Yes, you can cook bratwurst in a crockpot or a slow cooker. Cooking bratwursts in a crockpot is a great way to save time and energy. Just put them in the slow cooker with some chopped onions, sauerkraut, beer, and spices, and you’re good to go. 

It is best when cooked in liquids or simmered in beer. The sauerkraut, onions, and beer act as natural flavoring agents while they cook, turning your slow cooker into a tasty bratwurst casserole. 

You can also use this method to make a delicious German potato salad. Just substitute the sauerkraut with diced potatoes, and add some sliced bell peppers, chopped apples, and a splash of vinegar.

Can I cook bratwurst in a pan?

You can cook them in a frying pan over medium heat for about five minutes per side, turning occasionally. Pan-frying bratwursts can be tricky since getting an equal cooking temperature over the whole piece is tough. The outside will cook faster than the inside, resulting in unevenly cooked sausage.

Also, note that overcooked sausages will have a dry, salty flavor and a rough texture. To get the finest results, pan-fry bratwurst slowly over a low temperature to ensure it’s cooked to the desired level. In order to ensure a successful dish, you should cover the pan and cook the meat for around 20 minutes on medium heat.

See Related: Everything About German Beer

Bratwurst Recipe: How to Make These German Sausages

Craving for some fine German pork sausage? Follow this simple and easy-to-follow Bratwurst recipe that you’ll definitely enjoy and savor.

Type: Main Dish

Cuisine: German

Keywords: bratwurst, german bratwurst, how to make bratwurst, german sausage, bratwurst sausage, bratwurst and sauerkraut, how to cook bratwurst

Recipe Yield: 6 servings

Preparation Time: PT1H30M

Cooking Time: PT30M

Total Time: PT2H

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 pounds lean veal, preferably shoulder
  • 2 pounds pork belly or fatty pork butt
  • 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 8 yards prepared casings, about 4 oz.
  • 2 tablespoons melted, salted butter

Recipe Instructions: You’ll want to keep meat cold while making bratwursts. You need the fat in the grinding and coating processes to remain frozen. When cooking, the fat will begin to burn if the meat is not frozen, resulting in a decrease in flavor and moisture. The casing is somewhat more complex than the grinding and seasoning. The brats need to be prepared immediately before cooking. If you have a meat grinder with an attachment, take advantage of it. If not, place the sausage into the casings using a forcing funnel or natural casing needles. You will notice that there are pork-based and collagen-based casings available in the market today. Pork-based casings are more commonly used because they are less expensive. They can also be easily peeled off after the brats are cooked. Using the collagen-based casing is also very effective, but you will also have to peel it off of the sausage once it’s cooked. If you’re making bratwursts, you’ll also need casings that have been salted to remove their smelly odors. Do this especially if you get yours from butcher shops. To get rid of the saltiness, soak the casings for around an hour. The casings will become flexible as a result. There are also organic tubing tools to aid with this process.

Editor's Rating:
4

How to make bratwurst and sauerkraut

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Then, cut a yellow onion and apple into thin wedges. Next, mince two cloves of garlic. Add a tablespoon of water to a deep skillet or large pot and bring everything to a simmer over medium heat.

Add six bratwurst portions (19 oz.). Let it brown on both sides until cooked, about five minutes per side. Seasonal spices are also a fantastic addition to this recipe for your next backyard barbecue! Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan.

Next, add caraway seeds, paprika, garlic, and chicken stock to the pan. Then add your favorite sauerkraut. Stir until everything is well-mixed and any remaining brown bits on the bottom of the pan have been removed. Serve hot.

What kind of sauerkraut should I use?

Jarred German-style (ALDI brands Deutsche Küche) flavored sauerkraut, such as garlic or jalapeño, would be fantastic in this dish. These ingredients are all available at the grocery store. Red cabbage sauerkraut should be avoided because the color tends to bleed through and make everything blueish.

How do I serve bratwurst and sauerkraut?

There are often two ways in which you could serve bratwurst in sauerkraut: First, in toasted buns with whole grain mustard and a small side of German potatoes. Second, with a side of mashed or fried potatoes with cheese curds. You can also have a cold German beer with your meal to ramp up your dining experience.

How long does bratwurst last?

If properly stored, uncooked bratwurst will last up to three days in the fridge. To keep it fresh, place it in an airtight container and cover it with a paper towel to prevent it from drying. It is also safe to freeze them for two to six months.

On the other hand, those that have been cooked and cooled can be frozen. Cooked bratwurst can be kept in the fridge for three to four days. They’ll hold their freshness in the freezer for up to three months if you let them cool completely before sealing them in a bag. However, they will continue to dry out after that period.

FAQ

How is German bratwurst traditionally cooked?

German bratwurst recipes usually indicate grilling as the main cooking method. It can either be through charcoal or gas barbecue grilling.

How long does it take to cook a bratwurst?

Depending on the temperature of your grill, uncooked fresh sausage can be grilled for between 18 and 25 minutes or until it is no longer pink or a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees. To prevent food from becoming overcooked, it is important to keep a close eye on it and use tongs to turn the bratwurst frequently.

Do I need to prick sausages while cooking them?

No. Pricking to release the steam that builds up while they cook is a common misconception. Fat can escape from the brat if its skin has a hole. When the fat is removed, many delicious flavors are removed. Additionally, the likelihood of the sausages becoming dry is increased.

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