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Learn how to perfectly grill brats two different ways! All the tips and tricks you need for juicy and flavorful grilled bratwurst every time. From backyard BBQs and summer cookouts to tailgating parties and Oktoberfest celebrations, these grilled brats are sure to be a crowd pleaser! Easy to make in just 20 minutes so they’re also great for weeknight dinners too!

Wooden board covered with grilled brats in buns and small bowls of various toppings.

What Is Bratwurst

Bratwurst is a type of fresh German sausage most commonly made from pork. They are typically mildly spiced with numerous regional variations. Bratwurst is often referred to as a “brat” or “brats” for short.

Grilling bratwurst is a simple yet super delicious way (my favorite way!) to cook them. I will walk you through two different techniques to grill this German sausage.

Bratwursts cooking on the grill.

Here’s Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Quick and easy to make: Grilling brats is super simple! Ready in just 20 minutes which makes them perfect for a weeknight dinner or an easy way to feed a crowd.
  • Juicy and flavorful: Choose from 2 different bratwurst grilling techniques. Both are delicious and the grill gives the brats that perfect caramelization and smokiness.
  • Crowd pleaser: The sizzling sound and mouth-watering aroma – grilled bratwurst are always a hit! They are a summertime classic making them perfect for backyard BBQs and summer cookouts. Also perfect for Oktoberfest, game day and tailgating parties!
Three grilled bratwurst in buns with different toppings on a plate with a small bowl of German mustard.

Ingredient Notes

For this recipe, all you need is fresh, uncooked brats. For the best tasting, quality made bratwurst, I recommend purchasing from a local butcher.

I like to serve them with crusty buns (like German brötchen) and a variety of toppings such as German mustard, grainy mustard, ketchup, caramelized onions and sauerkraut. Look for crusty buns that are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. If you can’t find any, baguette also works cut into bun size pieces.

Labelled photo of grilled bratwurst ingredients.

Detailed ingredient list and directions located in the recipe card below.

How To Cook Brats On The Grill

Grilling brats is really easy and relatively quick. Here are 2 different methods for delicious grilled bratwurst. Give both a try and see which one you prefer!

Two Zone Grill Method (Reverse Sear Method)

This method is super simple! The reverse sear method allows the brats to first cook slowly and gently over indirect heat to prevent the casing from bursting. Then near the end they are placed over direct heat to brown and crisp up the exterior. The result is juicy and flavorful brats!

Numbered photo collage showing the two-zone grill method for grilling bratwurst.

Prepare your grill for two zone grilling (preheating to medium) and oil the grates. If using a gas BBQ, light the burners only on one side of the grill (heat one side to medium and leave the other side off). If using charcoal, light charcoal and spread it evenly across the bottom of one side of the grill.

  1. Place brats over indirect heat: Begin by cooking the bratwursts on the indirect side of the grill until the internal temperature reaches 145-150F (about 15 minutes). Turn occasionally to evenly cook the bratwurst.
  2. Grill brats over direct heat: Transfer the bratwursts to the direct heat side of the grill and grill for about 5 minutes, turning often until the exterior is browned and crisp and internal temperature hits at least 160F.

Simmer (Poach) and Grill Method

For this method, the sausages are slowly simmered first so that they cook through evenly and then are finished off directly on the grill to brown and crisp up the outside.

Numbered photo collage showing the simmer and grill method for cooking brats.

Preheat one side of your grill to medium heat and the other to low and oil the grates.

  1. Poach the brats: Place the bratwursts in a small roasting pan, cast iron skillet, Dutch oven or disposable aluminum pan along with a flavorful liquid (enough to cover them). Think something flavorful like beer or broth and seasonings like sliced onions, sauerkraut, herbs, etc. Place over the low heat side of the grill, close lid and simmer until internal temperature is around 150F (about 10-15 minutes). You could also poach them on the stovetop but I feel that if you are already using the grill, you might as well just do it all there.
  2. Grill: Using tongs, remove the brats and place directly on the medium heat side of the grill, turning frequently until well browned and internal temperature hits at least 160F (about 5 minutes).
Grilled bratwurst on a wooden board with a pile of crusty buns and small bowls of toppings.

How Long Does It Take To Grill Brats

Regardless of which method you use, it will take about 20 minutes. However, it can vary depending on the thickness of the brats.

Bratwurst Internal Temperature

The best way to ensure that the grilled brats are fully cooked is to use an instant-read digital meat thermometer. My favorite is the Thermapen. The internal temperature should reach at least 160F.

Which Method Is Better?

So which way is better? That comes down to personal preference. I highly recommend trying out both and making up your own mind.

I prefer the two-zone grill method since it is really simple and I find that cooking them directly on the grill from start to finish gives them a delicious taste and texture that I really enjoy. However, some other members of my family like the ones that are poached first. They are both delicious though so you really can’t go wrong with either method!

Hand holding bratwurst on a bun topped with mustard and sauerkraut.

Helpful Tips For Grilling Brats

Here are a few helpful tips for perfectly grilled bratwurst!

Bring to room temperature

The brats cook more evenly if allowed to come to room temperature before grilling. Pull them out of the fridge 1 hour before grilling.

Use a meat thermometer

Use an instant-read meat thermometer to ensure your brats are cooked through. The internal temperature should be at least 160F.

Tip: Instead of poking the thermometer into the center of the bratwurst and piercing the casing, poke it through the end where the casing is slightly open. This way you won’t let all the delicious juices run out!

Use medium heat

Both methods finish off by grilling the brats over medium heat (350-375F) to brown and crisp up the exterior. Don’t try to rush the process by using high heat or you could char the outside and cause the casing to split open which will allow all the delicious juices to spill out. Use medium heat to get the perfect texture on the outside while keeping the inside juicy and tender.

Don’t poke holes

Never poke holes in a bratwurst or the delicious juices will leak out and leave the brats dry.

Never boil brats

If using the poach and grill method, make sure to only simmer the brats in the liquid. Boiling them will actually leach the flavor out.

Use a brat bath for parties

The best texture in my opinion is directly off the grill. However, if you are throwing a party or cooking for a crowd, you might need to keep the brats warm until people are ready to enjoy them. In this case, transfer the grilled brats to a brat bath (e.g. pan with hot beer and onions or sauerkraut) and keep it on super low heat until ready to serve.

Bratwurst Toppings

Let’s talk toppings! If you’re going traditional, top your bratwurst with German mustard. Or elevate your grilled brats with any of these topping ideas:

  • Mustard: German mustard, whole grain mustard, Dijon, yellow, etc.
  • Sauerkraut
  • Onions: Beer-braised onions, caramelized onions, pickled onions
  • Ketchup
  • Peppers: Spicy pickled peppers or grilled peppers
  • Coleslaw
  • Relish
  • BBQ Sauce
Platter of bratwurst in buns with various toppings.

Ways To Serve Bratwurst

Bratwurst can simply be served on a crusty bun with your favorite toppings or plated with side dishes and a dollop of German mustard for dipping. Some fantastic side dishes to serve with bratwurst include:

  • Salad: potato salad, German cucumber salad, coleslaw or simply a fresh green salad
  • Other veggies: sauerkraut, red cabbage, grilled vegetables, green beans
  • German pretzels
  • Potatoes: boiled new potatoes, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes or fries

For social gatherings like a backyard BBQ or game day party, you can create a build-your-own-brat bar or fun brat board with various toppings available for guests to customize their bratwurst. It’s simple to put together and your guests will love it!

A build-your-own-brat board.

FAQ: Grilled Bratwurst

Do you have to boil fresh brats before grilling?

Nope! The two-zone grill method cooks them completely on the grill and starts them over indirect heat to ensure that they do not burst. If you decide to use the poach and grill method, make sure to only simmer the brats in liquid. Boiling will leach the flavor out.

How long do you cook brats on the grill?

It takes approximately 20 minutes. However, the exact cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the brats.

How do you tell when brats are done?

The easiest and best way to ensure that the brats are cooked through is to use an instant-read digital meat thermometer. My favorite is the Thermapen. The internal temperature should reach at least 160F. You will also notice that the brat firms up when fully cooked.

How long can you store leftover bratwurst?

You can store leftover grilled bratwurst in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Grilled brats on buns with various toppings like mustard, beer braised onions and sauerkraut.

I hope all these tips and tricks help build your confidence to go and grill the perfect bratwurst! Let me know which cooking method you prefer! Please leave me a comment below if you give them a try!

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Three grilled bratwurst on buns with different toppings sitting on a plate with a small bowl of German mustard.

Grilled Bratwurst (How To Grill Brats 2 Ways)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 9 reviews
  • Author: Vanessa | Maple + Mango
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 20 min
  • Total Time: 25 min
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: German

Description

Learn how to perfectly grill brats two different ways! All the tips and tricks you need for juicy and flavorful grilled bratwurst every time. From backyard BBQs and summer cookouts to tailgating parties and Oktoberfest celebrations, these grilled brats are sure to be a crowd pleaser! Easy to make in just 20 minutes so they are also a great weeknight dinner idea too!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 6 fresh, uncooked bratwursts
  • To serve: crusty buns and desired toppings
  • For simmer and grill method: flavorful liquid like beer or broth and seasonings like sliced onions, sauerkraut, herbs, etc.

Instructions

Two Zone Grill Method (Reverse Sear Method)

This method allows the brats to first cook slowly and gently over indirect heat to prevent the casing from bursting. Then near the end they are grilled over direct heat to brown and crisp up the exterior. The result is juicy and flavorful brats!

  1. Bring bratwurst to room temperature: Let the bratwurst come to room temperature first to ensure even cooking.  Remove from the fridge about 1 hour before grilling.
  2. Prepare grill: Prepare your grill for two zone grilling (preheating to medium 350-375F) and oil the grates. If using a gas BBQ, light the burners only on one side of the grill (heat one side to medium and leave the other side off). If using charcoal, light charcoal and spread it evenly across the bottom of one side of the grill.
  3. Cook brats over indirect heat: Begin by cooking the bratwursts on the indirect side of the grill until the internal temperature reaches 145-150F (about 15 minutes). Turn occasionally to evenly cook the bratwurst.
  4. Grill brats over direct heat: Transfer the bratwursts to the direct heat side of the grill and grill for about 5 minutes, turning often until the exterior is browned and crisp and internal temperature hits at least 160F.

Simmer (Poach) and Grill Method

For this method, the bratwursts are slowly simmered first until almost cooked through and then finished off directly on the grill to brown and crisp up the outside.

  1. Prepare grill: Preheat one side of your grill to medium heat and the other to low and oil the grates.
  2. Poach the brats: Place the bratwursts in a small roasting pan, cast iron skillet, Dutch oven or disposable aluminum pan along with a flavorful liquid (enough to cover them). Think something flavorful like beer or broth and seasonings like sliced onions, sauerkraut, herbs, etc. Place over the low heat side of the grill, close lid and simmer until internal temperature is around 150F (about 10-15 minutes). You could also poach them on the stovetop but I feel that if you are already using the grill, you might as well just do it all there.
  3. Grill brats: Using tongs, remove the brats and place directly on the medium heat side of the grill, turning frequently until well browned and the internal temperature hits at least 160F (about 5 minutes).

Notes

  • Use a meat thermometer! The best way to ensure that the grilled brats are fully cooked is to use an instant-read digital meat thermometer. My favorite is the Thermapen. The internal temperature should reach at least 160F.  
  • Don’t poke holes: Never poke holes in a bratwurst or the delicious juices will leak out and leave the brats dry. Tip: When checking the temperature, instead of poking the thermometer into the center of the bratwurst and piercing the casing, poke it through the end where the casing is slightly open. This way you won’t let all the delicious juices run out!
  • Topping Ideas: I like to serve bratwurst with crusty buns (like German brötchen) and a variety of toppings. Look for crusty buns that are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. If you can’t find any, baguette also works cut into bun size pieces. Some delicious topping ideas include: mustard (German mustard, whole grain mustard, Dijon, etc.), sauerkraut, beer braised onions, caramelized onions, grilled peppers, spicy pickled peppers, ketchup, BBQ sauce, etc.

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Photo collage graphic of various bratwurst pictures and a text overlay that reads "How To Grill Brats 2 Easy Ways!".

About Vanessa Gilic

I want to help you make delicious food using real ingredients! Explore a variety of easy to follow, real-food recipes ranging from healthy eats to comfort food. Welcome to Maple + Mango – I'm so happy you're here!

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19 Comments

  1. Marie-Pierre Breton says:

    My German husband’s favourite! I wouldn’t dare to cook his precious Bratwurst, but now I’m less fearful. Thanks for all the excellent info in your blog! Prost! In Bavaria, they call that Brötchen bread: “Semmeln,” which I dig too!






    1. Vanessa | Maple + Mango says:

      Yes the Bavarians definitely have their own words for certain things (I always need to remember that when I visit there haha). Regardless of the name, it is definitely my favorite type of bun with a bratwurst!

  2. nancy says:

    this is a tasty meal with 2 ways to enjoy brats. It was perfect for hosting a kids birthday party ! Everyone loved it






    1. Vanessa | Maple + Mango says:

      I’m so happy it was a hit!

  3. Asha says:

    I bbq grilled brats for the family to make the most the sizzling heat here. They turned out perfectly. Your instructions were very helpful.






    1. Vanessa | Maple + Mango says:

      I’m so happy this was helpful!

  4. Bernice says:

    You have just reminded me that I haven’t had any grilled brats this summer and know that’s all I’m craving. I have just enough homemade sauerkraut for toppings too!

    1. Vanessa | Maple + Mango says:

      Homemade sauerkraut would be delicious with these bratwurst! Don’t worry, still plenty of time to enjoy some! I actually love making them in the fall since the amazing smell carries more from the grill!

  5. Lily says:

    So good! I love how juicy they are now that I’m cooking them correctly (used to always cut into them). Thanks!






    1. Vanessa | Maple + Mango says:

      I’m so happy to hear this – YAY for juicy brats!

  6. Justine says:

    Grilled brats are the best! We love boiling them in beer first and finishing off on the grill – so good!






  7. Cathleen says:

    I needed this! I just bought a grill so I feel like I am so behind. This is perfect, thank you so much for sharing 🙂






    1. Vanessa | Maple + Mango says:

      You’re welcome! I’m so glad it is helpful and have a ton of fun cooking with your grill!

  8. Ali says:

    This grilled bratwurst turned out really well! Will be making this again before rhe end of summer!






    1. Vanessa | Maple + Mango says:

      I’m super happy to here that!

  9. Elisa says:

    This post is really helpful, is easy and the bratwurst look delicious either way they are cooked. Will try them. Thanks for sharing 🙂






    1. Vanessa | Maple + Mango says:

      I’m so happy that you found all the tips, tricks and step by step instructions helpful!

  10. Biana says:

    Brats are perfect for summer! What a great idea for easy sandwiches for summer parties.






    1. Vanessa | Maple + Mango says:

      Such a crowd pleaser for parties especially when you set up the toppings so everyone can build their own perfect bratwurst.