For an easy and crowd-pleasing dish at your next backyard BBQ party, you can’t go wrong with these very best smoked brats with beer and onion! After simmering in a beer braise, these brats are then smoked until they’re perfectly juicy and flavorful. These brats only require a few minutes of prep time, and then the smoker takes care of the rest.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Serve a crowd of all sizes: This recipe is for six brats, but you can easily scale it up to feed a large party. As long as you have the smoker space, you can smoke as many brats as you need.
Simple for beginners: New to smoking? No problem. Smoking brats is as easy as it gets. Plus, this recipe only calls for three ingredients.
Perfect for easy entertaining: This recipe literally takes just only about five minutes to put together, and then your job is finished. Hosting has never been so stress free.
Bratwurst: Make sure you use uncooked brats. Pre-cooked brats will be way overdone. Fellow cheese lovers are also welcome to use cheddar brats as long as they're uncooked.
Beer: A German-style pilsner is classic for simmering brats. It’s light and crisp and not overly hoppy. The malt backbone is also nice with the pork.
Onion: I typically use a standard yellow onion, but you could also use a sweet onion or white onion if that’s what you have on hand.
Step 1: We add the beer, onion and brats to a large cast-iron skillet and bring the mixture to a simmer (photo 1). You can do this indoors or outdoors if your grill has a side burner.
Step 2: Once it reaches a simmer, we put the skillet in a 225-degree F smoker, close the lid and let the brats braise in the beer bath for 15 minutes (photo 2). We then flip the brats to allow the other side to braise in the beer mixture.
Step 3: Now we move the brats from the beer and onion bath and place them directly on the grill grates with low indirect heat to finish smoking (photo 3). The brats are ready when they reach an internal temperature of 160-165 degrees F.
I experimented and let the brats sit in the beer during the entire smoking process. While they came out incredibly moist, I thought the flavor was better when they had time to fully smoke outside of the beer but know that is an option if you’d like to try that method as well.
And that’s it! After three easy steps, your smoked beer brats are ready.
Note: I tested this recipe on a vertical pellet grill, but you can make smoked bratwurst on any kind of smoker, whether it’s another type of electric smoker or a more traditional offset smoker or charcoal smoker. If you don’t have a dedicated smoker, you can even use a grill with a smoker box.
How to Serve
You can add the brats to a German sausage board with some soft beer pretzels for a little Oktoberfest fun, or you can serve these on brat buns with your favorite condiments. I'm especially partial to this pepperoncini relish, but some other favorite toppings are:
- Mustard — whole grain, spicy brown and Dijon are my favorites
- Caramelized onions
- Sautéed bell peppers
And, of course, you may want some additional dishes to serve with these juicy brats. Start your cook-out with some smoked jalapeño poppers and smoked cream cheese, and then serve some potato salad, smoked baked beans and smoked macaroni and cheese on the side for a true summer feast.
How to Store Leftovers
If you have any leftover brats, they keep well in the refrigerator. Store them in an airtight container, and they’ll stay fresh in the refrigerator for three to four days.
When you’re ready to enjoy those leftovers, you can reheat them on the stove over medium heat or warm them on the grill. Since they’re already cooked, we’re just looking to heat them. You can also put them to good use in this sausage casserole for some serious comfort food.
Freezing is an option as well. They’ll be at their best if consumed within three months. To thaw them, you can simply place them in the refrigerator overnight.
The cooking time when smoking is always more of a guideline since so many factors can affect smoking time, but expect for these brats to take about 1 hour and 15 minutes. The brats simmer in the beer for 30 minutes, and then it should take about another 30-45 minutes to finish smoking.
This estimated cook time is for smoking at 225 degrees F. If you smoke at a higher temperature, the brats will finish faster, but a low temperature allows the bratwurst to better absorb that natural smoke flavor.
We flip the brats once when they’re in the beer, but we otherwise don’t have to worry about flipping.
You want to thaw frozen brats first. A frozen brat wouldn’t absorb that smoky goodness.
Hickory is my favorite. For a more gentle smoke, apple wood, cherry wood, maple wood and pecan wood all work nicely.
Use a meat thermometer: We want to cook our brats to the correct internal temperature, so a meat thermometer is the best way to ensure they come out perfectly. I like to insert a leave-in meat thermometer on the small side of a raw brat.
If you look closely, there should be a small opening in the center where the bratwurst casing doesn’t quite come together. That’s a great spot because you don’t have to split the casing later. If you don't have a leave-in thermometer, you can check it with an instant-read thermometer — just try to get it in that spot where you don't have to break the bratwurst casings.
Let the brats sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking: This removes the chill from the refrigerator and helps the brats cook more evenly.
Reverse sear if you prefer a char on the outside: I love this smoked brat recipe as is, but if you prefer light charring, you can remove them from the smoker a little early and finish them on a hot grill or in a cast-iron skillet with a little olive oil.
Try another beer style: If you can't get your hands on a German pilsner, a pale ale works nicely in its place.
If you’d like a wine, try a dry riesling. Besides its German roots, this wine is great with bratwurst because those acidic, citrus notes liven up the savory, natural spice flavor of the bratwurst.
Fire up your smoker for your next cookout and make these super easy smoked brats. With that deep smoky flavor and super easy cooking process, these brats are sure to be your new summer staple.
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Smoked Brats With Beer and Onion
- 12-inch cast-iron skillet
- Wood chips or wood pellets hickory recommended
- 1 yellow onion peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 bottles of German-style pilsner
- 6 uncooked bratwurst
- 6 buns
- Favorite condiments such as mustard or sauerkraut
- Heat the smoker to 225 degrees F. Meanwhile, scatter the onion slices around a 12-inch cast-iron skillet and pour in the beer. Nestle the brats in the beer bath so that the beer comes up about halfway up the brats. Bring to a simmer — not a boil — over medium heat.
- Once the beer simmers, move the skillet to the smoker and close the lid. Smoke the brats for 15 minutes, and then flip them and smoke for another 15 minutes.
- Leave the beer bath in the smoker but remove the brats from the liquid and place them directly on the grill grates. Continue to smoke the brats until they reach an internal temperature of 160-165 degrees F, about another 30-45 minutes. Remove from the smoker. Allow the brats to rest for about five minutes. Serve on buns with your favorite condiments. Enjoy!
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for three to four days. You can also freeze them for up to three months. To thaw, leave them in the refrigerator overnight.
- To best monitor the internal temperature, a leave-in meat thermometer works well. If you look closely at the circular side area, there should be a small opening in the center where the bratwurst casing doesn’t quite come together. I like to insert the thermometer there to avoid breaking the casing.
- Let the brats sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. This removes the chill from the refrigerator and helps the brats cook more evenly.
- If you'd like char marks, you can remove them from the smoker a little early and finish them on a hot grill or in cast-iron skillet with a little olive oil.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.