If you have people coming over to watch the big game, juicy brats that are full of flavor are sure to keep everyone satisfied. But how can you grill them to make sure they’re plump and delicious?
It can take a bit of practice to start grilling meat perfectly, but this guide will be able to help you along the way!
You’ll learn what temperature is best for grilled brats, how to know when they are done, and several tips and tricks to ensure you get brats done right every time.
What Is Bratwurst?
Bratwursts are German sausages that are usually made from pork, although you can purchase veal and beef ones when necessary. The term refers to the German name for sausage, wurst, and shredded meat, brat.
Known more as brats, these sausages are easily identified by their rough texture and natural hull. They are often seasoned with salt and pepper, though sweeter seasonings, like nutmeg, can be used too.
Previously cooked brats can be bought from most grocery stores, but when you’re grilling meat, it’s always best to purchase fresh ones.
Fresh, uncooked brats will taste better off the grill, as they’ll have a plump, succulent consistency.
How Do You Know When Brats Are Cooked?
Everyone has their preferences when it comes to grilling meat, but we’d recommend grilling bratwurst at 300°F. If you’re using charcoal or gas, set the temperature to medium-low.
If you prefer, you can prepare the sausages indoors with a skillet at a medium-low setting, but it’s always better to use the grill.
You can use an instant-read thermometer to check if the bratwurst is done. Sufficiently cooked bratwurst should have an internal temperature of 160°F.
This temperature indicates that the internal temperature of the meat has reached the desired level. The meat shouldn’t have any pink areas. It should be firm and white all the way through.
A thermometer is the best way to ensure most kinds of meat are done, but fresh sausages are the exception.
Poking the casing with the thermometer can make the juices flow out of the meat. This can make the sausage dry, which makes flare-ups more likely.
If you prefer to use a meat thermometer, purchase one with a very thin probe, as this will reduce the amount of injury to the casing.
It’s also better to avoid probing the brat until they look cooked. After this point, you can begin probing each brat every 5 minutes until they read 160°F.
How Long Should You Grill Brats For?
Before you begin grilling, you need to wait until the grill has reached 300°F. A grill that isn’t hot enough won’t grill the meat as efficiently, so it will take longer to grill the meat.
In most cases, brats will cook fully within 15-20 minutes. However, this length of time will depend on the size of the sausages.
Smaller sausages may need less cooking than larger ones. If the sausages are quite dense, cook them for a further 2-3 minutes.
Tips For Grilling Bratwurst
Here are some more tips to help you grill brats perfectly each time.
- When the sausages are on the grill, rotate them every 2 minutes to make sure they cook evenly. Don’t leave a sausage in the same position, as one side may be underdone while the other sideburns.
- Always leave even spaces between each bratwurst on the grill. Crowded sausages can be tricky to cook evenly.
- The grill should always be hot before you place the sausages on it. Once the brats hit the metal, you should hear a distinct sizzling noise. This pleasant sound will indicate that the brats have started cooking.
- If the grill marks are darker than you’d like, or your brats are sticking to the grate, applying a thin oil coating can prevent the meat from burning. If you’d prefer, you can substitute oil for water to keep the fat down. Even beer will work in place of oil, as the brew will infuse the meat with satisfying flavors.
- If you choose to coat the brats with beer, serve the same drink along with the sausages to complement the flavors.
- Once the brats have cooked, let them rest for at least 5 minutes afterward. This will let the juices reshuffle back inside the meat, so the sausage remains plump and juicy. Once 5 minutes are done, serve them as soon as possible to avoid them cooling down.
Should You Close Or Open The Lid When Grilling Brats?
There’s no exact rule on whether the grill lid should be open or closed. You may prefer to leave the lid open, as this avoids opening it each time to turn the sausages over.
Despite this, some people prefer to leave it closed so the brats cook more quickly.
This will depend on your preferences, but remember, never forget that you have to turn the sausages over as they grill. If this goes correctly, the brats should turn a pleasant brown shade, sealing in all of its tasty juices.
Other Ways To Check If Brats Are Done
A thermometer is just one of the ways to check if brats are done. If you don’t have a thermometer handy, try these methods out instead.
Press your little finger and thumb together to make an O shape. The flesh between your fingers should feel firm with a little give. You’ll need to aim for this texture when grilling bratwurst.
Press the end of your fingers against one of the sausages. If the meat’s texture resembles the firmness between
your thumb and little finger, you can take the brats off the grill. If they still feel very soft, you’ll need to cook them for longer.
This process doesn’t need a cake, but it will need a cake tester. These are extended metal needles that have plastic rings on one side.
These are used to check if cakes are fully baked. These are thinner than the pins on thermometers. As they are so narrow, they won’t injure casing on a bratwurst.
To use this method, insert the cake tester inside the sausage at an angle, then withdraw it. Place the metal on the inside of your wrist. If the metal feels hot against your skin, the brat is done.
This method is like the bend test that checks if racks of pork ribs are done. Simply pick a brat up by its end, then wiggle it against the grill’s grate. A cooked bratwurst should be firm, but it should have a light spring.
Can You Parboil Bratwurst?
Some people think you should parboil bratwurst before grilling them, as this makes the brats cook faster. Parboiling can cut down on cooking time, but it’s best not to do so.
The casing on bratwursts is very thin, so it can split easily when brats are boiled. When the casing breaks, the meat flavor escapes back into the water, making the brats taste bland and flavorless.
If you would like to decrease the grilling time, you can simmer the brats in an aluminum pan before grilling them. Unlike boiling, simmering will gently heat the brats, conserving the taste and casings.
To simmer the sausages, place the brats in the pan and add some water. You can substitute the water for a water and beer mix if you prefer.
Set the heat to a medium-high level, then heat the pan until the water is just before boiling temperature. At this stage, turn the stove down to its lowest level, then simmer for 20 minutes.
This step means that the brats only need 5-10 minutes to grill completely.
How To Know If Pre Cooked Brats Have Cooked
While we would always recommend using fresh brats to grill with, there may be times when you will need pre-cooked ones.
The advantage of these is that there’s no danger of food-borne illnesses occurring, as the brats will have already been cooked at a safe heat level. Grilling is just one of the ways you can reheat pre-cooked brats.
You only need 5-7 minutes to grill pre-cooked brats well. A medium-heat level should be good enough, but you can place the grill at a higher temperature than you would for fresh brats.
350°F should be sufficient, but remember to keep turning the sausages every so often so they cook evenly.
The brats may have been precooked, but you should let them rest for a few minutes before dishing up.
Precooked brats can dry out easier than fresh ones, so it’s important to let the meat juices settle. This will keep each brat firm and succulent.
Fresh bratwurst will always taste better on the grill. They’ll normally be done after 15-20 minutes, but make sure that you keep turning them so that they cook evenly.
Their internal temperature should be 160°F when done, but make sure that your meat thermometer has a thin probe. Thicker probes can make the bratwurst’s casing split, allowing the meat’s juices to escape.
If you don’t have a thermometer on hand, make sure there are no pink areas on each bratwurst. The meat should be firm, white, and plump.
The touch, cake tester, or wiggle method described above can help to double-check that the brats are done.