Beer Brats

published Feb 10, 2023
Beer Brats Recipe

The crowning jewel of any good Wisconsin tailgate party.

Serves8

Prep5 seconds

Cook25 seconds to 35 seconds

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Beer brats plated.
Credit: Photo: Linda Xiao; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

When I was growing up in Wisconsin, it wasn’t a tailgate unless there were beer brats. Sure, there were often burgers and salads, but the brats? That’s what made it a Wisconsin tailgate. It didn’t even matter what sport you were going to see. The point was to flip open the trunk, set up some folding chairs, and eat picnic-style food off of paper plates on our laps in a parking lot full of other people doing the same thing. It was really a community experience. 

The best part about beer brats is that they are year-round. It doesn’t matter when I am able to get back to Wisconsin for a visit — my dad is always happy to throw on the electric skillet, fire up the grill, and give me a taste of home. The rest of the year, I have my apartment- friendly recipe to fall back on, so that at any given moment, we can invite our Brooklyn community over to sit around the living room and share a meal. 

The Key to Beer Brats Starts with the Bratwurst Itself

Raw bratwurst is a must. If you are lucky enough to live in Wisconsin, you can usually find raw brats at any grocery store. But if you are anywhere else and can’t seem to find them locally, you can always order them from places like Johnsonville or Usingers. I don’t recommend making beer brats with precooked brats. They just don’t take on the same flavor as doing it from scratch. 

Credit: Photo: Linda Xiao; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

Let’s Talk About Beer

This is a bit like cooking with wine. Keeping in mind that the beer is going to impart a good amount of flavor. My dad always uses a light lager, which never overpowers the flavor of the brats themselves. Avoid beers like IPAs or anything that is too citrusy or flavored. Those may be nice to sip on while you eat your brats but would just be too overpowering to actually cook them in. As I’m writing this, wondering how to use any leftover braising liquid, I am thinking about how delicious this brat-flavored beer would be in a beer cheese soup, perhaps garnished with a few pieces of crispy brats? But I digress. That might have to be the next recipe. 

Beer Brats Recipe

The crowning jewel of any good Wisconsin tailgate party.

Prep time 5 seconds

Cook time 25 seconds to 35 seconds

Serves 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2

    large yellow or Spanish onions

  • 1 tablespoon

    vegetable oil, plus more for the pan

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 8 links

    raw bratwurst sausage (1 1/2 to 2 pounds total)

  • 2 (11 to 12-ounce) bottles

    light lager or pilsner beer, such as Stella Artois

  • 8

    potato, hard, or pretzel hot dog rolls, split

  • Spicy German mustard or other favorite condiments, for serving

Instructions

  1. Halve and thinly slice 2 large yellow onions (about 7 1/2 cups).

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant and beginning to soften and brown, about 4 minutes.

  3. Add 2 (11 to 12-ounce) bottles light beer and stir to combine. Nestle 8 links raw bratwurst into the onion and beer mixture and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover and cook until the brats are just cooked through, about 10 minutes.

  4. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Oil the grill pan lightly with a paper towel dipped into vegetable oil. Using tongs, transfer the brats to the grill pan in a single layer. Cook until deeply browned all over, about 2 minutes per side. Meanwhile, using tongs, add about half of the onions to the grill pan as well to char slightly. (If your grill pan is not large enough, brown the brats first and then cook the onions.)

  5. Return the brats and the onions to the beer mixture. Cover and let simmer over low heat for at least 5 minutes or up to 1 hour. Taste the onions and liquid and season with kosher salt as needed. To serve, spread a split hot dog roll with spicy mustard or your favorite condiment. Place a brat in the bun and top with a generous amount of the onions.

Recipe Notes

Other cooking methods: Instead of a grill pan, the bratwursts can be seared in a normal skillet or grilled on an outdoor grill. Just make sure to use a little oil if using a pan and really preheat the grill grates if using an outdoor grill. If using an outdoor grill for the bratwursts, skip charring the onions.