How to Grill Brats Like a Wisconsinite

Yes, there's beer involved.

If you’ve ever spent time in the Dairy State—especially during the summer—you know that there is nothing better than a freshly grilled brat. Submerged in beer, browned on the grill and nestled into a bun—a Wisconsin brat is truly one of a kind. (So are these other recipes from our fair state.)

As a kid, I vividly remember watching my dad grill—something Wisconsinites do in all seasons. He’d make chicken, veggies and burgers, too, but brats were his specialty. That’s why when tasked with writing this article, I went straight to the source. My dad walked me through his process for prepping the brats, manning the grill, and making sure the sausages don’t explode.

Ready to make brats like a Wisconsinite? Let’s grill!

In addition to brats, you’ve got to try these other grilling recipes.

How to Grill Brats

What You’ll Need

  • Uncooked bratwurst links
  • Beer, for soaking brats (plus a little extra for drinking—we won’t tell).
  • Brat buns
  • Optional toppings: Onions, sauerkraut, mustard

Step 1: Light the Grill

Get started by lighting your grill. A charcoal grill is more traditional (bonus points if you’re using a portable grill to tailgate before a Packers or Brewers game), but a gas grill works, too. Let the grill preheat for 20 minutes or so until the fire is medium-hot.

Here’s how to clean your grill like a pro.

Step 2: Give the Brats a Bath

While the grill is preheating, submerge your brats in a beer bath (Miller High Life is my dad’s beer brand of choice). Simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes. This step helps to par-cook your brats so they don’t have to spend as much time on the grill.

Editor’s Tip: If you’re using frozen brats, make sure they’re completely defrosted by this step. Placing frozen sausages on a hot grill all but guarantees that the brats will split.

More delicious recipes that call for beer. 

Step 3: Place Around the Fire

When your grill is ready (the coals should glow a bright orange), arrange the brats so that they’re indirectly over the heat. If you’re using a round grill, for example, place them in a circle around the edge of the grate. Putting the brats directly over the charcoal can cause them to heat too quickly and burst, ultimately leading to a dry brat.

Step 4: Cook with Care

Cook your brats for 10-20 minutes (the exact time will depend on how long you let them bathe in beer). You’ll need to turn the sausages frequently to achieve an even color—so don’t walk away from the grill. The brats are done when they’re browned on all sides and a meat thermometer reaches an internal temperature of 160°F.

Editor’s Tip: If you’re cooking brats for a crowd, you can keep them warm in a bath of beer and onions. Just make sure that you use fresh beer—the bath from before is full of raw meat germs.

Learn more about food-safe cooking temperatures here.

Step 5: Get Ready to Eat

Now comes the best part—eating the brats! Nestle those sausages straight off the grill into a brat bun. Top ‘em off with onions (either grilled or raw), mustard, sauerkraut or all of the above. Your brat is best enjoyed with a cold beer—Spotted Cow, anyone?

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Katie Bandurski
Katie is an Associate Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in writing and email newsletters. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and combing through antique shops.