Being born & raised in Wisconsin, this Wisconsin Beer Boiled Brats recipe is a total summer staple at the PWWB house! Juicy bratwurst sausages first simmer in beer with onions for extra flavor, then finish over direct flame for a char-grilled crispy & crusty exterior. This post will teach you how to cook beer brats the easy way – you need just 3 ingredients, & I’m sharing my entire grilled brats method, including a secret step to keep them extra juicy & flavorful!
Beer brats are a summer staple, especially at the PWWB house! You can always count on them being served at our family gatherings & grill-outs. But – & there’s a major BUT! here – making beer boiled brats doesn’t have to be saved for weekend cookouts. Beer brats are great for summer parties, sure, but they’re also super low maintenance, meal prep friendly, & budget-friendly – a weeknight cooking trifecta! Chris & I have them for dinner at least once a week during the summer months.
…maybe that’s just the kind of thing that happens when you’re both born & raised in Wisconsin, but I’m thinking that as soon as you try this beer brats recipe, you’ll be doing the same!
Wisconsin-Style Beer Brats Recipe Highlights
These beer boiled brats are (click for shortcuts within this post!)…
- SIMPLE. This beer brats recipe is made with just 3 simple ingredients.
- EASY. These grilled brats take less than 10 minutes to prep, & most of the cooking time is totally inactive.
- JUICY & FLAVORFUL. Nothing’s worse than a dried-out or bland brat. I’m sharing all my tips & tricks for the juiciest, most flavorful beer brats every single time!
- GRILLED TO PERFECTION. You don’t have to worry about firing up the stove for these beer boiled brats – they’re made entirely on the grill, meaning clean up’s a breeze!
Fire up that grill, because these will be the best grilled brats you’ve ever tried! ♡ Read on to learn more about this beer brats recipe, or jump straight to the recipe & get grilling!
This beer brats recipe is made with 3 simple ingredients!
You’ll need 3 simple ingredients to make this beer brats recipe:
- Bratwurst – Use whatever brats you love most. If I can’t get to my favorite butcher shop back in my hometown, I actually prefer the brats from ALDI the most! They have an awesome consistency, & they’re totally juicy & flavorful. During the summer months, ALDI sells party packs of brats, which are especially handy if you’re grilling for a crowd.
- Onion – Pretty straight-forward! I typically just use yellow onions, as that’s what I keep stocked in my pantry, but sweet onions would be awesome too.
- Beer – They wouldn’t be beer boiled brats without it, right??
What’s the best beer for beer brats?
The best beer for beer boiled brats is whatever beer you love most. Seriously!
I prefer a Wisconsin lager or ale, such as New Glarus Spotted Cow, Miller High Life, or PBR. I find the lighter flavor doesn’t overpower the flavor of the brats themselves. If you prefer a heavier or darker beer, feel free to use whatever you love, noting that more intensely flavored beers will more intensely flavor the beer boiled brats.
How to cook beer brats on the grill:
Fresh sausage is a little tricky to grill in general. If not grilled properly, their casings can easily burst well before the center of the sausage is cooked through. Once that happens, their juices will cause flare-ups as they drip down into the flames, ultimately creating a big, burnt mess. Not good.
Lucky you, I’ve totally been there but I’ve figured out how to avoid many of these common problems! If you want to learn how to cook beer brats perfectly every single time, you’re in the right place! (& if you’d like to learn how to grill other fresh sausages perfectly, be sure to check out this post!)
The 2 secrets to grilling up juicy, flavorful beer boiled brats every time:
- Soak the brats.
- Create temperature zones for even grilling.
First, soak the brats in beer.
The secret for the most flavorful beer brats soaking them in advance. Yep, you heard that right! Not only are these beer boiled brats, but they are also beer marinated brats. Absolutely delicious!
The first step in this Wisconsin beer brats recipe is to marinate the brats in beer. Essentially, you do all the prep work for this beer brats recipe ahead of time, which takes no more than 10 minutes, & pop ’em in the fridge to marinate in the beer & soak up all the flavor.
Ideally the brats soak for 24 hours, but 6-12 hours is totally sufficient too.
Next, fire up the grill at dinnertime.
The other special part of this beer brats recipe is that they’re made entirely on the grill. Typically Wisconsin-style brats are boiled on the stovetop, then finished on the grill, but I prefer to make these beer boiled brats entirely on the grill. It’s nice to keep the entire cooking process outside, especially during the hot & humid summer months – nothing’s worse than a steaming hot boiling pot on the stove in the middle of July!
The secret to cooking beer boiled brats entirely on the grill lies in zone grilling. By creating 2 zones of heat on your grill, you can boil the brats with really gentle, steady direct heat before grilling them over strong direct heat for a deliciously charred finish.
If you’ve never grilled with indirect heat before, don’t panic. It’s the simplest thing:
- Zone grilling on a gas grill – Prepare your gas grill for zone grilling by turning 1-2 burners on to their highest heat setting & 1-2 burners on their lowest heat setting. This creates a zone of strong direct heat (directly over the “high” burner flames, pictured above on the right) & a zone of gentler direct heat (directly over the “low” burner flames, pictured above on the left).
- Zone grilling on a charcoal grill with zone grilling – Prepare your charcoal grill for zone grilling by lighting charcoal and arranging the majority of it on one side of your grill. This creates a zone of strong direct heat (directly over the majority of the charcoal) & a zone of gentler direct heat (the area of the grill that doesn’t have as much charcoal).
First, boil the brats with indirect heat.
Place the beer-soaked brats, along with the beer & onions they marinated with, in a heat-safe cast iron skillet or dutch oven. Set the skillet directly on the grill grates in the low heat zone.
How long to boil brats in beer?
Grilled Wisconsin beer brats should boil for 10-15 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of about 145 degrees F. Between the time it takes to bring the brats to a boil & boiling the brats, this will take about 20-25 minutes total. Be patient & keep the grill lid closed as much as possible so you don’t release unnecessary heat from the grill – it’ll only make things take longer!
Finish the brats over direct, high heat.
Once the brats have boiled, it’s time for the fun part: grilling them off!
Use grilling tongs to carefully transfer the brats from the cast iron skillet to the grill grates in the high heat zone. Let them grill, turning them every few minutes until they’re as crusty & charred as desired. The beer brats will be ready to serve once they’ve reached internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.
Don’t forget: a perfectly grilled beer brat needs a perfectly toasted bun!
Let’s chat buns real quick. A good grilled brat neeeeeeds a good bun. Period.
What makes a bun a good bun? If you ask me, a good brat bun needs to have the perfect balance of softness + sturdiness. A pillowy, soft bun will sort of wrap itself around the brat as you eat it, but it also needs to be sturdy enough that it won’t break apart at the seam.
Brioche buns are my personal favorite for brats or any grilled sausages since they are pillowy soft & they don’t break apart easily. Brioche buns are more & more readily available these days – I find them easily at ALDI during the summer months.
If you want to take your brat buns to the next level, brush them with a little oil (or spritz with a little cooking spray) & pop them on the grill grates to toast up for a minute or two as the brats finish cooking. The buns get toasty & slightly crisp – SO GOOD!
The best toppings for beer-soaked brats:
There are two kinds of grilled brat people: those who leave toppings very minimal & those who go ALL out. I know which kind of beer brats person I am…but you do you!
A few of the toppings we love at the PWWB house:
- Beer-braised onions – Do NOT underestimate the deliciousness of the onions that boil alongside the brats. They are tender, full of flavor, & so good. A must-have topping for grilled brats!!!
- Mustard – Chris always opts for spicy brown mustard, but I’m more of a whole grain Dijon gal myself. Grab whatever you love!
- or try Dijonnaise! Fancy speak for mayonnaise + Dijon mustard. My personal favorite! Mix about 1/3 cup mayo with 1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard. Add some garlic for aioli vibes, or a hint of honey for some honey-mustard vibes, or a dash of your favorite spice blend. YUM.
- Sauerkraut – Not typically my favorite, but Chris loves it & it’s a pretty traditional/typical beer brats topping.
What to serve with this Wisconsin beer boiled brats recipe:
A good beer boiled brat dinner doesn’t need much else besides an icy cold beverage & a side or two!
Here are a few summer side dish ideas to get you started:
I can’t wait for you to try this beer brats recipe this summer! We love it so much, & I know you will too. If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!Print
Being born & raised in Wisconsin, these Grilled Wisconsin Beer Boiled Brats are a total summer staple at our house! Juicy bratwurst sausages first simmer in beer with onions for extra flavor, then finish over direct flame for a char-grilled crispy & crusty exterior. The easiest & best grilled beer brats recipe!
- 1 pound bratwurst (4-6 sausages)
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
- 24 ounces beer of choice (See Recipe Notes)
- for serving, as desired: toasted brat buns or brioche buns, beer-braised onions, sauerkraut, mustard or Dijonnaise, etc.
- Marinate the brats: At least 12 hours before grilling your beer brats, marinate the brats. Add the bratwurst sausages, sliced onion, and beer to a large airtight container or resealable bag. Shake to combine. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, or for up to 24 hours.
- Prepare your grill for zone grilling, creating a zone of direct high heat & a zone of direct low heat. If using a gas grill, begin preheating at least 15 minutes prior to grilling. If using charcoal, light the charcoal at least 30 minutes prior to grilling. (To learn more about zone grilling, be sure to check out this post.)
- Boil the beer brats: Transfer the brats (& onions, & beer) to a medium cast-iron skillet or a heat-safe Dutch oven. Transfer the cast iron/Dutch oven directly to the grill grates over the low heat zone. Close the grill. Bring the brats up to a boil, then boil for 10-12 minutes or until they reach about 145 degrees F. Between the time it takes to bring the brats to a boil & boiling the brats, this should take about 20-25 minutes total. Be patient & keep the grill lid closed as much as possible so you don’t release unnecessary heat from the grill – it’ll only make things take longer!
- Charbroil the beer brats: Once boiled, use grill tongs to carefully transfer the beer boiled brats directly to the grill grates. Grill 2-3 minutes per side, until charred as desired & the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Transfer to a plate to rest & cool slightly before serving.
- Serve the beer brats, atop a toasted bun, topped with the beer-braised onions, sauerkraut, &/or mustard as desired. Enjoy!
- Best beer for beer brats: I like to keep it simple & use a light Wisconsin lager or ale (PBR, Miller Lite, Spotted Cow, etc.). I find the lighter flavor doesn’t overpower the flavor of the brats. Feel free to use your beer of choice!
- Boiling the brats: This recipe is written to boil the brats directly on the grill grates. If you’d prefer, you can, of course, broil the brats on a burner on your grill, or on the stovetop in your kitchen!
Keywords: beer brats recipe, grilling recipe, easy recipe, weeknight dinner
Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.
Ready to Hit the Grill?
If this all still feels new to you, I encourage you to head over to Grilling 101, a compliation of tips & tricks for all of the grilling basics – everything from how to light your grill to how to clean your grill.
All this talk about grilling have you feelin’ ready to hit the grill? Me too! Be sure to check out this post for my 15 go-to marinades you need this grilling season. At our house, a good marinade is at the heart of grilling season. I’m positive these marinades will be on repeat at your house this summer! For even more grilled goodness, be sure to check out all of our Grilling & Smoking recipes.
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