Wisconsin Beer Brats Recipe (Grilled Beer Boiled Brats)

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Being born & raised in Wisconsin, this Wisconsin Beer Boiled Brats recipe is a total summer staple! Juicy bratwurst sausages marinate overnight in beer before simmering again in beer on the grill, with onions for extra flavor. Finish over direct flame for a char-grilled crispy & crusty exterior.

Learn how to boil and grill beer brats the easy way with just 3 ingredients & 10 minutes of prep!

Featured In Grilling Series
Grilled Wisconsin Beer Brats arranged on a small Nordicware baking sheet. The brats sit on toasted brioche buns, topped with mayonnaise, mustard, braised onions, sauerkraut, etc. The baking sheet sits atop a light blue surface, next to some Miller High Life bottle caps & a small black plate of grilled onions.

Our Favorite Low Effort, High Reward Dinner: Juicy and Flavorful Grilled Beer Brats!

Growing up in Wisconsin, beer brats are a total summertime staple! You’ll find them at almost any weeknight cookout or game day tailgate – they are a celebrated part of the Wisconsin food culture.

While most Wisconsin-style brats are simply boiled once on the stovetop in beer, and then finished on the grill, these beer-boiled brats are first soaked in beer (up to 24 hours!) before being gently boiled in beer on indirect heat and then grilled on high heat to finish.

The result is incredibly flavorful brats with an always juicy interior and a perfectly char-grilled exterior. No dry, bland, burst, or burnt brats here! 😋

Juicy bratwursts with a char-grilled exterior are a summertime staple. Keep them plain or load them up with beer-braised onions, mustard, or sauerkraut for the ultimate quick and easy grilled dinner!

They’re the kind of brats you’ll be proud to serve at your family gatherings and grill-outs but also ideal for weeknight cooking in the warmer months.

Not to mention, they’re super low maintenance (made entirely on the grill), meal prep friendly (just 10 minutes of prep work), and budget-friendly too (only 3 simple ingredients) – a weeknight dinner trifecta!

Love quick and easy grilled meals? Be sure to try my Ultimate Grilled Italian Sausage, Spiralized Grilled Hot Dogs, or Perfectly Grilled Sausage recipes. Perfect for the summer months – no oven necessary!

Soaking Your Brats in Beer = The Juiciest Brats Ever!

The first secret for making the most flavorful beer brats is soaking them in beer (and sliced onions) before they even hit the grill!

This step infuses the brats with extra flavor while also adding moisture to help keep them from getting dried out on the grill. A win-win!

Grilled beer brats ingredients arranged on a light blue surface: Bratwurst from ALDI, Miller High Life, & a bowl of thinly sliced onion.
You need just 3 simple ingredients to make the best beer brats: your favorite bratwurst sausage, onion, and beer!
How to Grill Beer Brats, Step 1: Brats, sliced onion & beer marinating in a glass dish atop a light blue surface next to a bottle of Miller High Life & some bottle caps. A bottle of Miller High Life is shown pouring beer into the brats.
Marinating your brats before grilling in beer and onions keeps them extra juicy!

The best beer for beer boiled brats is whatever beer you love most. 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. 🍻

A longer marinate time = more flavor! Be sure to prep this step ahead of time and pop ’em in the fridge to give the brats enough time to marinate in the beer and soak up all the flavor. Ideally, you’ll want to soak the brats for 24 hours but 6-12 hours is totally sufficient too!

How to Grill Beer Brats

Grilling fresh sausage can be a little tricky. 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 and dried-out bratwurst sausage. Not good!

I’ve found the secret to perfectly grilled beer-boiled brats lies in zone grilling. By creating 2 zones of heat on your grill, you can first boil the brats with really gentle, steady direct heat before grilling them over strong direct heat for a deliciously charred finish.

Learn more! ⇢ Be sure to check out our comprehensive guide to 2-zone grilling for tips on how to set up zone grilling on your gas or charcoal grill.

Brats, sliced onion, & beer in a large black cast iron skillet placed on the grill grates.
Gently boil the brats on the grill over indirect heat for a perfectly juicy and cooked interior.
Grilled beer brats over direct heat, charring on grill grates. Grilling tongs peek into the frame, flipping one of the brats.
Then place the brats over direct high heat for a signature char-grilled finish.

Here’s what you’ll do…

1

Boil the brats on indirect heat. Place the beer-soaked brats, along with the beer and 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. Bring the brats to a boil and boil for 10-15 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of about 145 degrees F. Be patient! ⇢ This entire step can take about 20-25 minutes total. 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!

2

Finish grilling over direct, high heat. 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 and charred as desired. The beer brats will be ready to serve once they’ve reached internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.

Toast Your Bun!

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) and pop them on the grill grates to toast up for a minute or two as the brats finish cooking. The buns get toasty and slightly crisp – SO GOOD!

Grilled beer brats arranged on a small baking sheet. The brats sit on toasted brioche buns, topped with mayonnaise, mustard, braised onions, sauerkraut, etc. The baking sheet sits atop a light blue surface. In the foreground, a small black plate of grilled onions. In the background, 2 bottles of Miller High Life beer are visible.
This classic grilled recipe is perfect for feeding a crowd at a backyard cookout and simple enough to serve any night of the week!

Serving Suggestions and Brat Toppings

A good beer boiled brat dinner doesn’t need much else besides an icy cold beverage and a summer side dish or two! You can even set up a build-your-own toppings station that is perfect for entertaining.

Here are a few of the toppings we love at the PWWB house to get you started…

  • Beer-braised onions – Do NOT underestimate the deliciousness of the onions that boil alongside the brats. They are tender, full of flavor, and 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, 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 and it’s a pretty traditional/typical beer brats topping.
An overhead shot of grilled beer brats arranged on a small baking sheet. The brats sit on toasted brioche buns, topped with mayonnaise, mustard, braised onions, sauerkraut, etc. The baking sheet sits atop a light blue surface, next to a small black plate of grilled onions and an open jar of whole grain mustard.
Load up your brats with toppings or keep them simple and eat as-is. You can’t go wrong with this beer boiled brats recipe!

Whatever you choose, I can’t wait for you to try this Grilled Wisconsin Beer Brats recipe this summer! We love it so much, and 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 and tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! Happy grilling! ♡

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Grilled Wisconsin Beer Brats arranged on a small Nordicware baking sheet. The brats sit on toasted brioche buns, topped with mayonnaise, mustard, braised onions, sauerkraut, etc. The baking sheet sits atop a light blue surface.

Grilled Wisconsin Beer Boiled Brats Recipe

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 13 hours (includes inactive time)
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Sandwiches & Burgers
  • Method: Grilling & Smoking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Being born and 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 and crusty exterior. The easiest and best grilled beer brats recipe!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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.Grilled beer brats ingredients arranged on a light blue surface: Bratwurst from ALDI, Miller High Life, & a bowl of thinly sliced onion.

Instructions

  1. 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.An overhead shot of a glass container full of brats marinating in beer with onion slices. The glass container sits alongside a bottle of beer on a light grey surface.
  2. Prepare your grill for zone grilling, creating a zone of direct high heat and 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.) A woman's hand shown above an open Weber Genesis II, prepared for 2-zone grilling with one side of burners all the way open and the other side only part way open.
  3. Boil the beer brats: Transfer the brats (and onions, and 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 and boiling the brats, this should take about 20-25 minutes total. Be patient and 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! A side angle shot of brats and onions in a black skillet on a grill.
  4. 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 and the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Transfer to a plate to rest and cool slightly before serving.Five brats are arranged over direct flame on the grates of a grill.
  5. Serve the beer brats, atop a toasted bun, topped with the beer-braised onions, sauerkraut, and/or mustard as desired. Enjoy!Grilled beer brats arranged on a small baking sheet. The brats sit on toasted brioche buns, topped with mayonnaise, mustard, braised onions, sauerkraut, etc. The baking sheet sits atop a light blue surface.

Notes

  • Best beer for beer brats: I like to keep it simple and 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!
  • Best brat buns: I love using brioche buns because they’re a pillowy, soft bun that will sort of wrap itself around the brat as you eat it, but also sturdy enough that they won’t break apart at the seam. Brioche buns are more and more readily available these days – I find them easily at ALDI during the summer months.

Keywords: beer brats recipe, grilling recipe, easy recipe, weeknight dinner

Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.

Grilled beer brats sit atop beer braised onions on a black plate. The plate sits atop a light blue surface, next to a small black plate topped with grilled onions & a jar of whole grain mustard.
Grilled Wisconsin Beer Brats arranged on a small Nordicware baking sheet. The brats sit on toasted brioche buns, topped with mayonnaise, mustard, braised onions, sauerkraut, etc. The baking sheet sits atop a light blue surface.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest for more unfussy recipes that pack a big punch of flavor!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 9.7.23

    your receipe for par boiling brats, spot on. Added comments: I often par boil then let brats marinate in beer solution for a day in fridge, grilled following day camping. Served with Boetje Mustard from Quad Cities, Iowa. Best mustard for brats..PERIOD!

    • 9.8.23
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      That sounds delicious, David!! Thanks so much for the review!

  2. 6.3.23
    Kristin Ann Maxon said:

    Excellent! Thank you, my Wisconsin neighbor!

    • 6.5.23
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      You are so welcome!! 🙂

  3. 4.16.23
    Ruth T said:

    I’m so glad grilling season is back because these are gonna be on regular rotation. So flavorful and so good! Love when you use ingredients easily found at my Aldi!

    • 4.17.23
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hey Ruth!! We couldn’t agree more, grilling season is the best!! We love Aldi, too!!

  4. 3.16.23
    Scott Gorski said:

    While most people boil the brats in beer and onion before grilling, I found out years ago that’s really the reverse order. I was the brat cook for years at the annual church picnic attended by mostly older German folks. First you need a charcoal grill for that extra flavor kick. Grill the brats until the skin just starts to split and the juices begin to flow. People would always say; STOP you’re going to make them dry. Here’s the trick. When the brats are at this point take them off the grill and put them in the heated beer and onion bath and let them soak for at least 20 min. They swell back to the original size. Some people would want them right off the grill until they tried one that had soaked. These days I cook brats for the annual July 4th festival for the local American Legion post. Our food stand outsells the rest. Don’t worry any alcohol is long gone from the beer after it’s been heated for awhile. I prefer a lighter beer so it doesn’t overpower the natural flavor of the sausage.

    • 3.16.23
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thanks for sharing, Scott! Your brats also sound delicious – can’t really go wrong with beer brats!

  5. 7.25.22
    Danette said:

    They are AMAZING 😋

    • 7.26.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thank you, Danette! So so glad you enjoyed – they are truly a summertime staple!

  6. 9.9.21

    OMG you guys…These are off the hook for sure. I made these for our dinner and we ate until we fell out. Coudn’t stop eating them. These are the best way ever to cook them. We loved and enjoyed them very much. Thank you for the delicious recipe. I will use it often. You really ROCK in your cooking.

    • 1.17.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thank you Donna! Haha they are a crowd pleaser for sure – so glad you loved them!

  7. 9.9.21
    Kym said:

    We always added a stick of butter (or two!) to ours. Very flavorful.
    Also, for a large group or to prep, I have put the beer, onions, brats in the crockpot in the morning (on high for a couple hours, then turn down to low), grill when people are ready to eat. You can also do this, then freeze them (ungrilled), for that party you didn’t plan!

    • 2.22.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Kym! Love your prep tips – can’t go wrong with making entertaining easier! Thank you for sharing!

  8. 8.8.21
    Kent said:

    Perfect! Especially with the onions on top and some Milwaukee Stadium Sauce !

    • 12.27.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      That sounds delicious, Kent! Thanks for leaving a comment!

  9. 5.27.21
    Doug said:

    Blast from my childhood and friends who’d visit family in Sheboygan and bring back Ussingers brats. This is exactly how they made them, with German potato salad (classic bacon grease & vinegar dressing) and roasted corn and potatoes.

    Now, you’ve got me HUNGRY!

    • 5.28.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thanks so much for sharing Doug! That all sounds delicious & like the perfect Memorial Day weekend grilling plans!! 🙂

  10. 3.18.21
    Amanda said:

    I’ve made these twice. Definitely worth the extra time to get the brats prepped to be grilled to perfection. So juicy!
    Even delicious as leftovers 🙂

  11. 3.16.21
    Ellen said:

    This is just a great beer brat recipe. Quick, easy and totally delicious!

  12. 8.30.20
    courtney s said:

    I never had brats growing up because my mom didn’t like them.. well, now I am marrying a midwesterner, so I knew I had to make them. these were so easy and delicious! we make them all the time now

    • 5.24.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Courtney! So glad you found this recipe & that it has become a new favorite! We love this recipe too, thank you so much for sharing!

  13. 7.30.20
    702pow said:

    Do you Peel them?

    • 3.10.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi there! No need to peel the brats/sausage casing! You would only need to do this if you are using in a recipe that would require breaking up the sausage – hope this helps!

  14. 7.5.20
    Cindy said:

    These were great! I grew up eating brats but always overcooked them. Using the zone grilling method and the beer left mine so juicy! Even leftovers the next day were great!

  15. 6.17.20
    Megan said:

    These were a huge hit! So tasty, so easy, and very little clean up- a win all around! I used a stronger beer and the flavor definitely comes through, so I would echo Jess’ recommendation to use a light beer if you want a subtle flavor.

  16. 6.11.20
    Heather said:

    These look amazing! Can you pre-boil them and grill them later? I’d love to prep them before a party next weekend and only have to grill to finish them. Can’t wait to try!

    • 6.24.20
      jess said:

      Hey Heather! Yes, you can definitely pre-boil to grill them later – I’d say up to 2-3 days in advance. Just keep the boiled brats in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to grill them off. They’ll be a hit!!

    • 7.30.20
      702pow said:

      Do you Peel them?

      • 3.10.21
        Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

        Hi there! No need to peel the brats/sausage casing! You would only need to do this if you are using in a recipe that would require breaking up the sausage – hope this helps!