How to Grill Brats Like a Pro from Wisconsin

Let us show you how to grill brats the right way so they're juicy on the inside and snappy on the outside.

If you’re tossing your brats straight on the grill, you’re probably cooking them wrong.

You’re not alone—many people don’t know how to cook brats and end up with a charred exterior and undercooked interior. Learning how to grill brats properly will help you serve up brats that are full of flavor, crisp on the outside and perfectly cooked on the inside. Plus, you can use your brats to create an endless amount of bratwurst recipes.

How to Grill Brats the Right Way

Step 1: Parboil the Brats

how to grill brats Brats Simmering In BeerApril Preisler for Taste of Home

Before grilling the brats, parboil them on the stove or in a cast-iron skillet on the grill. This will help to precook the inside of the brats and make sure that they don’t burst open on the grill, releasing all of the flavorful juices. Place the brats in a skillet and add a cold liquid 3/4 of the way up the brats. You can use water, broth or for extra flavor, beer. Slowly simmer the brats until they reach an internal temp of 150°F on an instant-read thermometer.

“You see, sausage is basically a pressure-stuffed casing filled with a high-fat-content mixture of ground meat and seasonings,” says Lindsay Mattison, a former farm-to-table chef. “When the mixture heats, all that fat renders and releases its juices inside the casing. If the juices expand too quickly, that pressurized container will likely pop! The solution is to cook your sausages low and slow first.”

If you want to keep all of the mess outside, use a cast-iron skillet or aluminum pan on your grill. Place your pan on the indirect heat side of the grill to keep the liquid from boiling and cover the grill to lock in the heat.

Step 2: Sear the Brats to Finish Them

Searing Brats On Grill how to grill brats April Preisler for Taste of Home

While the brats are parboiling, prepare your gas or charcoal grill for finishing. Using an instant-read meat thermometer, check that the brats have reached an internal temperature of 150°. Then, remove them from the cooking liquid and place on the direct heat side of the grill. Give the brats a light sear on all sides, which should take around 5 minutes.

“You don’t want to fully char the casing,” Lindsay says, “but you do want to give them a golden appearance and a nice, snappy finish.”

How can you tell if brats are done? The sausages are fully cooked once they reach an internal temp of 150°. The grill step is only to add some color.

Brats Cooked Closeup how to grill brats April Preisler for Taste of Home

Tips for Grilling Brats

Don’t Buy Precooked Brats

Buying precooked brats will likely mean you’ll end up with less flavor. Many precooked brats feature added flavorings such as smoke to create the effect of coming right off the grill. You’ll achieve a much better flavor by parboiling and grilling them at home.

Avoid Poking Holes in the Casing

Poking holes in the casing of the brat will result in a release of all of the juices and flavors. You’ll also end up with overcooked meat because all of the juices have been released.

Cook the Brats Over Medium Heat

Cooking your brats over too high of heat means that the outsides will cook much faster than the insides. If you boil them in too high of heat, the casing will burst and release all of the juices. Grilling over too high of heat will result in a casing that is burnt to a char. So stick with medium heat.

Prep Brats Ahead of Time

You can simmer your sausages ahead of time and hold them warm until guests are ready to eat. Then, pop ’em on the grill and they’ll make perfect made-to-order sandwiches. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Sides to Serve with Brats
1 / 70

April Preisler
April is a food writer and photographer who launched her food blog, Food n' Focus, after a trip to Paris in 2011. She ran it from 2012 to 2021, developing recipes, writing about her travels and photographing both. She eventually relocated to Paris, where she told the stories of local chefs and wrote about local markets, foods and products unique to the regions where she traveled. Now, April lives in California with her family and works in marketing and sales. For Taste of Home, she writes about food and develops all kinds of recipes, from healthy pancakes to copycat cookies.