Grilled brats are one of America’s favorite summertime classics. Tailgating parties, birthdays, and celebrations aren’t the same without the smell of smoky, juicy brats finding your nose through the summertime air.
Grill masters everywhere take at least one stab at brats each grilling season, but the results depend on the technique. If you’re new to grilling or want some extra tips, we have a complete guide to perfectly cooked brats on your grill.
Preparing Brats for the Grill
Brats require little to no prep time, depending on the recipe you’re following. Most brats purchased at the local grocery store are pre-cooked, much like a store-bought hot dog. You can also head to your local butcher for brats with different flavors and seasonings.
If you’re working with fresh, raw brats, you want to make sure the meat is fully cooked before biting in. Part of the preparation time can be devoted to parboiling your brats to ensure they’re thoroughly done before they even meet the grill grates.
For this method, just heat up a pot of lightly boiling water and pop your bratwursts in for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
If you decide to skip the parboiling technique, or you’re working with pre-cooked links, you can grill them entirely from start to finish. In the next section, we go into the details of grilling them perfectly. But, before getting into those details, one important tip is to start by adding a light layer of oil to your grilling surface to help prevent sticking. We recommend peanut or sunflower oil because they have a relatively high smoke point.
How to Cook Brats on a Gas Grill
Learning the art of how to expertly grill brats is fairly simple. First, select the type of bratwurst you want to eat. German sausage, pre-cooked bratwursts, and fresh butcher brats are all good options. In our opinion, you simply can’t beat meat from a local butcher.
Once you have your bratwursts, then you can prepare your grill for cooking. Heat one side of your grill to medium-high heat (around 325-350 degrees), then the other side to medium-low heat. This is called the two-zone method, and trust us, there’s a method to this madness.
Prep the cooking surface by spraying the grates with a light coating of oil. Avoid adding too much oil and try to use an oil with a high smoke point. You want to enjoy the smell of the brats cooking, not a plume of smoke in your face.
If you’re using fresh, uncooked brats, go ahead and place them on the grill first on the indirect heat side until they reach an internal temp of about 150 degrees.
Then transfer your meat to the direct heat for about 1-2 minutes until beautifully grilled on the outside. Why the two different temps? You want to avoid allowing your brats to stay in the direct heat for too long, or else the casing could burst from the fat rendering under high heat.
At this point, you can crack open a cold one and enjoy this huge hit of summertime cuisine, or if you are waiting to serve your food, use the simmering method (you can use water, but beer works great, too) after the brats are grilled to keep them warm.
How Long to Grill Brats
So, now you know the basics of cooking brats on a propane grill, but how long does it take to reach that desired internal temperature?
First, always use a medium heat grilling surface for brats. This is important for an even cook and to avoid having the casing rupture on you. If you’ve fired up your grilling surface completely, cook for 18-25 minutes until fully done.
If you’re working with the two-zone method of grilling, set your brats in the indirect heat for 15-18 minutes, then finish cooking them in direct heat for only 1-2 minutes. This is best for ensuring the inside is juicy and cooked through but still gives you that nice crispy-skin sear that has a bit of a “pop” when you bite into it.
Ideal Grilled Bratwurst Temperature
If you don’t already have a meat thermometer, now is an excellent time to get acquainted with one. The grilled brat should reach an internal temperature of 160-degrees F and be free of any remaining pink color. Think golden brown, crisp exterior with stunning grill marks. Luckily brats are fairly simple to make and don’t require hours standing over the heat.
If you parboil brats initially, you’ll want an internal temp of 150-degrees F before transferring them to the hot side of the grill. This allows the sausage to become fully cooked, so when you place them on the grate to sear, they only cook for 1-2 additional minutes.
A thoroughly cooked brat should reach 160-degrees F when you stick a meat thermometer right in the center. Be aware that cooking with raw, uncooked sausages, you’ll have to be more cautious with their overall doneness.
When you grill pre-cooked sausages, you’re essentially just heating them. Pre-cooked bratwurst might require slightly less time, right around 10-12 minutes, to reach the perfect temp.
Should You Boil Brats Before Grilling on a Gas Grill?
In the world of grilling, this seems to be the million-dollar question. Boiling before grilling is a method that creates mixed feelings from grill enthusiasts and meat lovers. This trick is used because brat casing bursts at high heat. Boiling can help render fat slowly, circulate the juices, and make sure the brat does not split open when it hits the grill.
Some believe parboiling at a medium heat can extract the natural flavors and juices out of the meat, while other hungry eaters believe it creates a partial cook that leads to perfect brats.
So should you boil bratwursts first? We recommend giving it a go. Grilling recipes vary in their recommendations, but as long as your boil is low and slow, you’re not going to compromise any flavor.
If you parboil your bratwursts, make sure the internal temperature reaches 150-degrees F before you pop em on the direct heat of the grill. When the color is no longer pink, place the brats directly on your hot surface to achieve a quick sear (about 5 minutes) and enjoy a bratwurst sausage that’s bursting with flavor!
There is simply nothing tastier than a juicy brat with a crispy exterior packed with flavor. This grill master favorite is delicious and so much better than plain old hot dogs. Another benefit to grilling brats is how simple and quick you can get your food from the grate to the table and then into your belly!
We recommend trying different sausages, different toppings, and different grilling methods. The possibilities are endless. But, with a grill, you’re going to produce mouthwatering meat regardless!