Whether you’re enjoying them at a German Christmas Market, purchasing them from your local Aldi, or ordering online from a German food retailer, Bratwurst is a culinary delight that will never disappoint. With countless cooking options available, let’s explore the best ways to prepare and savor this mouthwatering sausage.
I have a soft spot for all types of sausages. They are incredibly versatile, allowing you to whip up anything from a simple sausage sandwich to a hearty family casserole. Sausages are not only cost-effective but also kid-friendly, making them perfect for those quick midweek dinners.
However, Bratwurst takes the crown as the king of sausages. These hearty and meat-filled delicacies are both delicious and easy to cook. In this article, I’ll guide you through the various methods of cooking and enjoying Bratwurst.
What Makes Bratwurst Special?
Before we dive into the cooking techniques, let’s take a closer look at what sets Bratwurst apart from other sausages. Bratwurst is a traditional German sausage typically made from pork, but sometimes veal, beef, or a combination of meats. With higher meat content than cheaper sausages, Bratwurst boasts a unique blend of spices such as nutmeg, mace, ginger, and caraway.
Interestingly, the term “Bratwurst” has evolved over time to encompass a wide range of sausage flavors, including Currywurst, Coburger Bratwurst, Bockwurst, and Rote Wurst. Despite their differences, they all share one thing in common: undeniable deliciousness. Bratwurst has a distinct heaviness due to its coarse meat texture, setting it apart from the lighter and smoother frankfurters.
Traditional German Cooking Methods
In Germany, Bratwurst is traditionally boiled in water or beer before being finished on the grill to infuse a delightful smoky flavor. Alternatively, they can be cooked on the stove in a cast-iron skillet or pan with a bit of butter and water for about 40 minutes. To ensure they are thoroughly cooked, it’s essential to reach an internal temperature of at least 72 degrees C for a minimum of 2 minutes.
While you can also cook Bratwurst in the oven, boiling and grilling or using the stovetop are the most common methods in Germany.
Can You Cook Bratwurst from Frozen?
The cooking method for Bratwurst depends on whether you have pre-cooked or raw sausages. If you purchase pre-cooked Bratwurst, like the ones I love from The Sausage Man, which arrive frozen, you can simply reheat them in the oven for about 15 minutes.
However, if your Bratwurst is fresh and raw, it’s best to thaw them gradually in the freezer before cooking. If you’re in a rush, you can cook raw Bratwurst from frozen by either baking them in the oven for approximately 1 hour or boiling them for about 20 minutes before grilling or frying to achieve a golden brown exterior.
How to Reheat Precooked Bratwurst
In England, many Bratwursts available for purchase are pre-cooked. Always check the label to determine whether you’re buying pre-cooked or raw sausages to ensure you cook or warm them up accordingly.
Cooking Precooked Bratwurst on a BBQ
When reheating pre-cooked Bratwurst, your BBQ or grill is an ideal option. Grill them for approximately 2 minutes on each side, ensuring they are browned and cooked through. Before serving, check that the center is piping hot.
Frying Precooked Bratwurst
Frying is another fantastic method for reheating pre-cooked Bratwurst. In a little butter or oil, fry the sausages over low to medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, ensuring they are browned all over and piping hot in the center.
Baking Precooked Bratwurst
For a delicious family dinner, you can bake your pre-cooked Bratwurst in the oven. Simply place them on a tray in the oven for 15 minutes or longer if preferred. You can also add sliced potatoes and vegetables for a flavorful twist.
Fresh Bratwurst Cooking Options
If you have fresh, raw Bratwurst, there are several ways to cook them. However, unlike pre-cooked Bratwurst, fresh sausages require longer cooking times to ensure they are thoroughly cooked.
Baking Bratwurst in the Oven
One convenient option is to bake your raw Bratwurst in the oven. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, place the sausages on an oiled baking tray, and bake for about 45 minutes, turning them halfway through. Before serving, check the center with a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches at least 72 degrees C. If needed, return them to the oven for an additional 15 minutes.
Boiling Bratwurst in Beer
Many people prefer to boil raw Bratwurst before frying or grilling to minimize the risk of eating undercooked sausages. Boiling in beer adds extra flavor to the Bratwurst. To achieve a delicious beer flavor, follow these steps:
- Place finely sliced onions and a few knobs of butter in a deep pan or skillet.
- Nestle the Bratwurst on top.
- Pour enough German beer over the sausages to cover them.
- Heat over medium flame until the beer reaches a boil.
- Reduce the heat and let it simmer gently for approximately 15 minutes, adding more beer if needed.
- Remove the Bratwurst carefully using tongs and finish by grilling or frying them for a few minutes on each side until browned.
- Ensure the sausages are piping hot in the center and that the meat is no longer pink before serving.
Frying Bratwurst on the Stove
If you prefer frying as your cooking method, you can either boil the raw Bratwurst beforehand or fry them directly. To fry them without prior boiling, follow these steps:
- Preheat a cast-iron skillet or large non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
- Add a splash of oil or cooking spray.
- Place the sausages in the pan, ensuring they don’t overcrowd it (if necessary, fry them in batches).
- Cook for approximately 5 minutes before turning them.
- It should take around 20 minutes to fry raw Bratwurst, depending on their size.
- Check the center to ensure it’s piping hot and that there’s no pink meat. If needed, fry for a few more minutes.
Grilling or BBQing Bratwurst
Grilling or barbecuing Bratwurst is another delightful option. To preserve their flavors and avoid splitting or burning, grill them slowly over medium heat. If your Bratwurst are raw and haven’t been pre-boiled, expect them to take around 20 minutes with regular turning. However, for BBQing, it’s highly recommended to boil them for at least 10-15 minutes beforehand, ensuring the sausages are thoroughly cooked without burning the outside.
Cooking Bratwurst in an Air Fryer
While I’m not personally familiar with air fryers, it appears that cooking Bratwurst in them is relatively simple. Just spray the tray with a little cooking spray, place the sausages inside, and cook for about 15 minutes. As always, make sure they are piping hot before serving.
Top Tips for Cooking Bratwurst
To make your Bratwurst cooking experience even more enjoyable, here are some handy tips to keep in mind:
- Always check whether your Bratwurst is pre-cooked or raw before cooking.
- Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches over 72 degrees C. If you don’t have a thermometer, make sure the center is too hot to touch and that there’s no pink meat visible.
- Avoid piercing the skin of the sausages, as it releases flavor and moisture.
- Raw Bratwurst should not be cooked in the microwave.
What to Serve with Bratwurst?
Bratwurst pairs wonderfully with sauerkraut, served in classic hot dog buns or on a plate with ketchup, German potato salad, and onions. The possibilities are endless, and no matter how you choose to serve them, Bratwurst always tastes amazing.
Save this recipe for later, and remember that Ekilove offers a fantastic selection of Bratwurst from The Sausage Man (affiliate link). Happy cooking!