Beer braising can easily become your favorite way to cook bratwurst with this easy recipe for brats in beer sauce.
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- Read on for relevant information and step by step pictures (2 mins)
Enjoying brats and beer is one of life’s quintessential culinary pleasures, but brats simmered in a malty beer sauce with soft, nearly caramelized onions taste that much more delicious.
In this post we show you how easy it is to recreate this German beer garden menu classic. You’ve got to try them – whether you choose to cook the beer brats on the stove top or the grill.
To Make Skillet Braised Beer Brats You Will Need
- Brats. The type of bratwurst is up to you. This recipe works with pre-cooked or uncooked brats, small or big links, very finely ground or coarser grinds, brats made with beer or cheese already in them or not, heavily spiced or less so, all pork or mixed meat, Bavarian or not, store-bought or home made. Simply choose your favorite.
- Beer. See below.
- Onions. Go with a milder type such as red or sweet onions.
- Brown sugar. Just a bit, to sweeten the softened onions.
- Thyme. You can use fresh or dried thyme in the beer onion sauce. A few sprigs of the fresh herb make for a very fragrant savory garnish.
- Beef stock. To add meaty umami to the beer and onions flavors.
- Oil & butter. Only a tablespoon of each.
- Salt, pepper and paprika. Just to season the onions and balance the beer sauce. Use smoked paprika if you’d like to impart some smokiness.
- Skillet. Heavy bottomed skillet that can be used on the stove top or the grill – a cast iron one is perfect, 10-12 inch diameter will work well for this recipe.
Best Beer for Brats
For best results use a flavorful, low-bitterness beer to simmer the brats in.
To that end and since this is a German recipe, we recommend that you select one of their dark lagers – dunkel (what we used this time around), bock, doppelbock, schwarzbier or ales like altbier or dunkelweizen.
The caramely sweetness present in these rich, malty styles will infuse the brats with the most desirable flavors. Other German types of beer that will work well are Munich helles, kolsch, and if in season – definitely Oktoberfest style (Marzen) lager.
Outside the German styles seek out brown ales, porters, stouts.
Cooking Brats in Beer – the Process
Beer Brats on Stove
Place your skillet over medium-high heat stove. In about 2 minutes add the oil and brown the brats, about 1-2 minutes per side, until they get some nice color. Remove them from the skillet and set them aside temporarily.
Lower the heat to medium and melt the lump of butter in the skillet. Add the onions, brown sugar, thyme, salt and pepper and paprika, stir and let cook down until onions are soft and just beginning to caramelize.
Pour the beer over the softened onions, stir, scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add the beef stock and stir. Add the brats back and make sure they are nicely submerged. Simmer until beer sauce has reduced and the brats are fully cooked (160 F). If you worked with pre-cooked brats do not worry about temperature, just make sure the sauce has reduced before you decide to serve.
Finally, present the brats garnished with some fresh thyme for extra savory aromas, serve some beer mustard on the side and enjoy.
Beer Brats on the Grill
Weather permitting you can absolutely use your grill to make these beer brats. Heat it to 350 F and do everything as described above.
Or instead of initially browning the brats in the skillet, mark them on the grill for about 2 minutes per side and set them aside while you cook down the onions. Then add them back to the skillet with the onions and beer to braise just as you would if following the stove top method.
Favorite Ways to Serve
The classic way of course is to place a brat inside a soft, warmed hoagie or soft pretzel roll, top with a bunch of the onions, some mustard, a drizzle of the beer sauce and enjoy.
Our favorite way to enjoy brats in beer sauce is like the Germans often do – along side potato salad or mashed potatoes.
TIP: If you end up with a cup or so of sauce left after using up the onions save it to make a gravy (see recipe card for instructions) or briefly warm some sauerkraut in it, mmm.
Other German Recipes You Might Enjoy with Your Beer
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 24 oz brats (can work out to 8 links or less, depending on the type of bratwurst you buy*)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 3 medium red or sweet onions
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp thyme (fresh picked leaves or dried), more to garnish (optional)
- 1 tsp salt and pepper
- 1 tsp paprika or smoked paprika (optional)
- 12 oz dark, malty German lager (bock, doppelbock, dunkel, Vienna lager, Oktoberfest lager)
- 1 cup beef stock
- Place a 10-12 inch skillet over medium-high heat stove. In about 2 minutes add the oil and brown the brats, about 1-2 minutes per side, or until they are nicely colored. Remove them from the skillet and set them aside temporarily.
- Lower the heat to medium and melt the butter in the skillet. Add the onions, brown sugar, thyme, salt and pepper and paprika, stir and let cook down until onions are soft and just beginning to caramelize (about 6-8 minutes).
- Pour the beer over the softened onions, stir, scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add the beef stock and stir. Add the brats back and make sure they are nicely submerged. Simmer until beer sauce has reduced and the brats are fully cooked (160 F). About 20-25 mins. If you used pre-cooked brats the temperature doesn't matter, just make sure the sauce has reduced.
*You can use pre-cooked or uncooked brats, flavored with beer already or not, all pork or not, finely ground or coarse ground, home made or store bought.
If you have beer sauce left in the pan after you've used up the brats and onions you can use it to make a gravy. Heat a small sauce pan over medium heat and melt 2 tbsp butter. Whisk in 2 tbsp flour. Add the beer sauce from the skillet and continue to whisk. If you need to thin out the gravy add water, 1 tbsp at a time. Taste and if needed season with salt and pepper. Use immediately.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 510Total Fat: 56gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 33gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 1888mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gSugar: 7gProtein: 26g