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Pan-Fried Beer and Onion Bratwurst

by victor

Pan-fried brats, browned and juicy, on a black cast iron pan.

As I was writing about grilling bratwurst, I couldn’t help but think about the best way to cook brats when you don’t have a grill. How do you cook brats without a grill and still get exceptional results?  For me the answer is quite simple: you pan fry them. Hence this new post on how to cook brats on the stove.

Don’t get me wrong, oven roasting works on bratwurst as well, but there is no way to get the same flavors, the same browning and caramelization in the oven. Baking takes a bit longer as well, tends to dry out the sausages more, and it takes time to pre-heat the oven.

How to cook bratwurst?

Just like a great tasting steak, bratwurst needs to be seared first over a fairly high heat, then cooked to doneness. Searing adds an immense depth of flavor to any sausage, like bockwurst, or Italian sausage. This step must no be skipped. Once the sausage is well-browned and aromatic, cook it on a lower heat until done. It’s that simple!

Step 1 – melt some butter

Butter makes food flavorful. Brats are no exception. You can use olive oil, vegetable or corn oil, but none of them will come even close to the flavor that real butter provides. This is one of the secrets to the best tasting bratwurst.

Preheat a cast iron pan over medium high heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of butter. Let it melt and start to turn light brown. If you are using an IR thermometer, the temperature should be about 325-350F.

Melting butter in a black cast iron pan.

Step 2 – pan sear your brats

Like any raw meat and sausage, bratwurst will greatly benefit from searing. It will get a nice color and mouth-watering flavor. Sear your brats about 3 minutes per side, until deep golden brown color. If you did not overheat your cast iron pan the brats will not burst and will be perfectly fine.

Top down view of four brats in a cast iron pan.

Step 3 – cover and continue cooking until done

When searing on the second side is done, flip the brats one more time, turn the heat down to medium-low. Cover the pan with a lid and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Flip the brats one more time, cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 160F.

Covering the brats after searing is very important. The hot steam inside the pan will keep the brats moist. That same hot steam will promote faster cooking. In an open pan the top of the sausage will lose heat and the overall cooking time will be longer before the sausage reached 160F internal temperature. This is the same approach that I have been successfully using to fry chicken wings.

Brats cooking in a pan closed with a lid.

This is it folks, brats perfectly cooked on the stove in about 10-12 minutes.

Close up view of browned and juicy bratwurst sausages.

You can let the brats rest for 5 minutes so the meat can reabsorb some of the lost liquid, otherwise all those juices will gush right out when you slice the sausage. I never wait. These brats are super juicy no matter when you cut or bite into them.

A more sophisticated way to cook bratwurst

If you are craving that malty, onion-y flavor, add one sliced onion and one cup of your favorite dark, malty beer right after you are done searing your brats.

Pouring beer over brats and onions in a cast iron pan.

The beer will need to come to boiling temperature so the cooking time will be a bit longer if you do it this way. You may or may not cover the pan when using beer and onions. I don’t as I like the beer to reduce and use it as a dipping sauce.

Brats cooking in beer with onions on the stove.

An here they are, fully cooked, in all their glory.

Top down view of brats with beer and onions, fully cooked.

Brats dipped in this malty goodness, topped with caramelized onions are friggin’ delicious!

I can’t easily tell which brats I enjoy more, the grilled ones or these ones cooked on the stove. Especially the ones with Belgian ale and chopped onions. Both are exceptionally good, very juicy and very flavorful. Neither are better than the other. Just a little bit different.

Interested in making your own bratwurst? Check this out:

A step by step on how to cook brats on the stove. A simple yet very effective recipe that results in super flavorful and juicy bratwurst. | ifoodblogger.com

Pan-Fried Beer and Onion Bratwurst

5 from 11 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, German
Keyword: brats, bratwurst, sausages
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 322kcal
Author: Victor

Ingredients

  • 4 bratwurst sausages
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (or use olive oil, vegetable or corn oil)
  • 1 sweet onion (cut in halves or quarters and sliced)
  • 1 cup Belgian ale (or any dark, malty beer of your choice)

Instructions

  • Preheat a cast iron pan over a medium-high heat. Add the butter and let it melt and start to turn light brown. The temperature should be about 325-350F at this point.
  • Sear bratwurst for about 3 minutes per side, until it achieves deep golden brown color. 
  • Add the onions and the beer, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
  • Once the liquid is boiling, reduce heat and continue cooking, flipping the sausages and stirring the onions, until the internal temperature of the sausages reaches 160F. Cook uncovered to let the liquid reduce and intensify its flavor.
  • Remove bratwurst from heat and serve hot, on a bun, or with you favorite side dish.

Notes

For a non-alcoholic version of this recipe, substitute beer for beef or chicken broth.

Nutrition

Calories: 322kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 568mg | Potassium: 344mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 175IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 0.6mg