The Ultimate Guide on How to Fry Bratwurst

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This recipe for pan-fried bratwurst produces a tender and juicy sausage with a crispy, flavorful crust, and an overall legendary flavor! If you’re wondering how to fry bratwurst, look no further. This is the best way.

how to fry bratwurst 4

Brat Jokes Are the Wurst…

It’s winter here in St. Louis. And that can mean only one thing: grilling season has come to an end. So what do I do when I want brats? Simple. I pan-fry them. 

So what’s the best method for pan-frying bratwurst at home? The internet is filled with different methods. Some call for boiling then frying, some call for boiling the WHOLE time, while others call for random shenanigans.

This recipe is different. This recipe is purely meat + heat.

how to fry bratwurst closeup

Here’s How to Fry Bratwurst in a Pan:

Step 1: Preheat Your Cast-Iron Skillet

First thing: Preheat your large cast iron skillet over medium heat or medium-high heat. Place your bratwurst sausages in the pan once it’s hot. You should hear an immediate sizzle.

I use a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet. Lodge skillets are not only high-quality, but I’ve found them to be easier to season than other, cheaper brands.

Here is a link to the Lodge Cast Iron Skillet I recommend on Amazon.

bratwurst layout in a cast iron skillet
Perfect bratwurst placement (according to Pythagoras).

Step 2: Cook Each Side for 5-6 Minutes

Every 5 or 6 minutes, turn your bratwurst to the next side. You’ll do this for all 4 sides. Think of the bratwurst as having a top, bottom left, and right side (not ends). See my diagram below:

bratwurst infographic

Also, I prefer my brat casings slightly “burnt,” so you’ll see that in most of my recipe images. This was done on purpose. If you don’t like your deeply caramelized meat, simply rotate at 3 minutes or cook at a lower heat.

Note: If you want to speed things up, you can add 1 cup water to the hot pan and cover and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.

how to fry bratwurst

Step 3: Check Internal Bratwurst Temperature

Once you’ve cooked each side for 5-6 minutes, it’s time to check the internal temperature of your bratwursts. This is a crucial step, as raw brats can carry bacteria that make you very sick.

To properly check the temperature, slide your meat thermometer into the end of one of the bratwursts.

If it reads at least 160° Fahrenheit, then you’re good to go.

Bratwurst in buns with mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, and carmelized onions

Once they’re done cooking, eat immediately! I enjoy my bratwurst with a classic hotdog bun or split-top buns for hot dogs. We get ours from Aldi. Regarding what toppings to use…


What Are The Best Toppings For Bratwurst?

The most popular toppings for bratwurst in America are:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Caramelized onions
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard

That said, the world is your oyster when it comes to toppings. You do YOU. Here are a few of my favorite bratwurst condiments:

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is made from fermented cabbage and has a tangy, vinegary bite. I love how the tanginess of sauerkraut compliments the light sweetness and rich umami of the bratwurst sausage.

How to fry bratwurst condiment Sauerkraut

Caramelized Onions

Caramelized onions add a rich and subtle sweetness to your Bratwurst Experience™. I make my caramelized onions by cooking a small onion or two “low and slow” for about an hour.

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To make caramelized onions, finely slice 1 medium yellow or white onion. Add the sliced onions and 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter to a skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Cook for an hour, stirring occasionally.

caramelized onions

How Else Can I Cook my Bratwurst Besides Pan-Frying?

While the traditional pan-frying method is my favorite, there are a handful of other ways you can use to cook bratwurst.

1. Cook Brats Using an Air Fryer

Air Fry brats are simply incredible, and you can cook perfect bratwurst in less than half the traditional methods.

You may see a little smoke coming from your air fryer if you use this method. Don’t fret, that’s just a little oil or fat dripping down from the air fryer tray.

Here’s my personal, simple recipe: How To Cook Bratwurst In an Air Fryer

Bratwurst cooked in an air fryer

2. Cook Brats in the Oven

Cooking brats in the oven is a simple set it and forget it method. First, preheat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Next, place evenly-spaced links on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Test with a thermometer to ensure the internal temperature is at least 160°.

3. Boil Your Brats

Some people say that boiling brats leeches too much flavor, but I’d beg to differ. While you do get the added benefit of the caramelized casing when you pan-fry, boiling them is perfectly fine.

bratwurst in buns with condiments on top
These are obvi not boiled brats, but I really like this photo I took and it doesn’t fit anywhere else on my recipe post, lol.

To boil your brats, place them in a large skillet and cover them with water. Substitute beer for water if you want to make Beer Brats. Once the water and brats are boiling, reduce heat to a simmer.

Cook them like this for 10-15 minutes until they’re done.

4. Boil And Fry Brats

Boiling and then frying brats is a great way to cook them. Add brats to a pre-heated skillet. Cook for a few minutes and then add a few cups of water. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer.

Once the water has evaporated, remove the lid and add a few tablespoons of butter or olive oil. Fry in the butter for an additional 2-3 minutes until they’re done cooking.

how to fry bratwurst

What’s the Difference Between Sausage and Bratwurst?

Compared to sausage, bratwurst isn’t as coarsely ground as it has more chunks of meat and fat. In addition, the seasoning differs; Italian sausage can be seasoned with salt, pepper, and other spices, while bratwurst is often seasoned with garlic and herbs like parsley and thyme.

Another difference between these two is the size of their casings, with bratwurst being considerably larger than a sausage.

How Do I Know My Brats Are Done Cooking?

You’ll know they’re done cooking by a few key indicators:

First, the internal temperature will be at least 160° degrees. The outer skin is browned and no longer translucent.

cooked bratwurst next to ketchup and caramelized onions

Another, less scientific way to test if your brats are done cooking is to pick them up with your tongs and gently shake them. If they flop around, they’re not ready. On the other hand, if they’re firm and a bit springy, they’re most likely done.

Do Johnsonville Brats Come PreCooked?

Johnsonville brats do NOT come precooked. While most hotdogs and kielbasa come precooked, bratwurst and link sausage are not sold precooked. Therefore, you must cook your brats until the internal temperature reaches 160° degrees Fahrenheit.

How Long Should I Cook My Bratwurst?

For the best results, I cook each side for 5-6 minutes, for a total of 20-30 minutes cooking time. You can cook on medium-low heat for longer if you want.

Is It Safe To Eat Brats That Are a Little Pink Inside?

As long as your bratwurst is evenly cooked to at least 160°F, then it’s safe to eat. However, sometimes your meat will retain a pink color even when cooked to the proper temperature.

It is never safe to eat uncooked brats, or raw bratwurst, whatsoever.

You can read more from this Department of Agriculture article.


The Recipe

how to fry bratwurst

How to Pan-Fry Bratwurst

This recipe for pan-fried bratwurst produces a tender and juicy sausage with a crispy and flavorful crust!
5 from 1 vote
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Cook: 25 mins
Total: 25 mins
Yield: 8 people

Ingredients

  • 1 pack Bratwurst - (8-12 links)

Instructions

  • Preheat Your Cast-Iron Skillet
    Preheat your skillet over medium heat. Place your bratwurst sausages in the pan once it’s hot enough. 
  • Cook Each Side for 5-6 Minutes
    Every 5 or 6 minutes, turn your bratwurst to the next side. You’ll do this for all 4 sides. Think of the bratwurst as having a top, bottom left, and right side (not ends).
  • Check Internal Bratwurst Temperature
    Once you’ve cooked each side for 5-6 minutes, it’s time to check the internal temperature of your bratwursts. This is a crucial step, as undercooked meat can carry bacteria that make you very sick.

Your Own Notes

Nutritional Information

Serving: 1Brat, Calories: 283kcal, Carbohydrates: 2.4g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 8.5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1.2g, Cholesterol: 63mg, Sodium: 719mg, Potassium: 296mg, Vitamin A: 0.1IU, Calcium: 1.8mg, Iron: 2.5mg

The Golden Lamb provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietician.

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Thanks for stopping by! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Are you going to add this to your list of bratwurst recipes?

Till next time, Bon Appetit!

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