Delightfully Grilled Bratwurst (Brats)

A barbecue and Oktoberfest classic! Grill up some bratwurst and pair them with a nice cold beer!

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Bratwurst is a type of sausage made from finely chopped up beef or pork. It is seasoned with salt, caraway, pepper marjoram, nutmeg, and other spices that relate to the region their made. Bratwurst originates from Germany. The term bratwurst can be roughly translated into “finely chopped sausage”. The word is derived from Old High German, brat means finely chopped meat and wurst means sausage. There are many recipes for bratwurst that vary by locality. It has been said that some of the best bratwurst come from the Franconian region, which is situated mainly in northern Bavaria. While other say the best bratwurst comes from Thuringia; the region north of Franconia.

Sausages have a history that go back over 2000 years. They were an efficient way to preserve meat. There is debate between Franconia and Thuringia as to when bratwurst was first established. The Franconian city of Nuremberg has a document from the Nuremberg Council in its State Archives. Which stated that in 1313 the Nuremberg Council said to have defined the recipe for Roastbratwurst. Roastbratwurst means that the bratwurst only uses pork loin in production. While Thuringia has claimed that they have a 1432 Bratwurst Purity Law document that speaks of the strict guidelines for Thuringian bratwurst makers to only use fresh pork. Both versions of bratwurst from Franconia and Thuringia have been recognized and protected by the European Union as regional specialties.

Franconian bratwurst is called Frankische Bratwurst. It is thick, long (10-20 cm), and spiced mainly with marjoram. Other spices in the sausage can include paprika, white pepper, and mace nutmeg, caraway, lemon peel, and garlic. There are some variations that include pork, beef, or veal. Traditionally they are grilled over a beech wood fire.

Thuringia’s bratwurst is called Thuringer Bratwurst. It is lean, thick, long (15-20 cm), and also uses marjoram as its main spice. The sausage is spiced with salt, pepper, garlic, and caraway seeds as well. It is made exclusively from pork. They are traditionally grilled over a charcoal fire.

Brats have always been a favorite food to eat during cookouts for me. I ate hot dogs as a kid, but when I saw the brats I was intrigued. When I tried them I thought they were meaty and flavorful. Now as an adult I try to get brats every now and them from local farmers markets and delis. I love having them for barbecues and eating them for Oktoberfest. I hope you find some local bratwurst and enjoy them with your friends and family!

Delightfully Grilled Bratwurst (Brats)

Yields 4 servings

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 16 to 21 minutes

Specialty Tool: Gas grill or charcoal grill

Beer Pairing Suggestion: Marzen or Pilsner

Wine Pairing Suggestion: Riesling


1 pound bratwurst sausages

4 artisan hot dog buns (Brioche or pretzel buns)

Softened Spreadable Butter

Garnishes: Sauerkraut or grilled onions and bell peppers


Preheat the grill to medium heat (about 350 F).

Place bratwurst on the direct side of the grill and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

Turn the bratwurst occasionally to ensure even cooking.

The bratwurst are done when the outside casings are nice and browned.

Place the bratwurst on the indirect side of the grill to keep warm.

Butter the buns.

Place the buns, slit side down, onto the direct side of the grill for a minute.

Make sure the buns are golden and toasty.

Place bratwurst in the buns.

Serve warm with garnishes like Sauerkraut or grilled onions and peppers.

Great sides that go with bratwurst are potato salad and pasta salad.

Brats also go great with beer and potato chips!

Try to buy local! Try to support your community. Many neighborhood delis and farmer’s markets have bratwurst and similar sausages available.

Feel free to experiment with garnishes. Try bratwurst with mustard, horseradish or even relish!


Tag @culinary_cupcake when you upload your photo on Instagram and hashtag #culinary_cupcake


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