Home » Entrées » Sausage Recipes » Pan-Fried Beer and Onion Bratwurst

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 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 10 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


  • 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)


  • Preheat a cast iron pan over 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.


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


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



Leave a Comment



Dave Nichol.s. October 5, 2019 - 8:57 pm

Someone apparently from Germany posted earlier that they don’t use beer for cooking the brats, but to drink along with them! I agree having lived in Germany (non-Military) for 14+ years. Betcha she never had pizza with Sauerkraut either! Yum!

Bruce D Terry September 28, 2019 - 4:53 pm

Thank you for the recipe! Being a southerner, I’m not really up on cooking brats, and unlike most southerners, I don’t have a grill at this time. Your recipe was PERFECT! I shall keep an eye out for your next recipe. Please keep up the great work and thank you again!

victor September 29, 2019 - 3:29 pm

Thank you for the kind words, Bruce and you are very welcome for the recipe. More are coming.

David September 24, 2019 - 9:56 pm

I use water instead beer

victor September 25, 2019 - 6:54 am

David, I haven’t tried using water but I’ve used beef broth with great results as an alternative to beer.

Roxanne September 4, 2019 - 1:55 pm

Don’t have a cast iron skillet

victor September 5, 2019 - 10:19 am

Just use your favorite pan that you know well. I supposed you can use different tools to get the same result if you know how to use them.

Holly August 24, 2019 - 10:45 pm

Tasted extremely close to the real thing! (If you don’t have a grill). Wasn’t disappointed.

victor August 27, 2019 - 12:26 pm

Happy to hear that, Holly. Thank you for your feedback.

Stephen Hartle August 10, 2019 - 7:41 pm

I used your instructions and the brats were fantastic! Thank you!

victor August 13, 2019 - 11:42 pm

You are very welcome!

Rath June 30, 2019 - 4:38 pm

Thank you for taking the time to share this. It was awesome and I can’t wait to try the beer.

Fantastic method .


Nikki May 19, 2019 - 12:01 am

I made this with Guiness, and OH MY GOODNESS IT’S SO GOOD. Only complaint, I should have bought 2 onions. I normally hate onions, so I thought 1 would be enough. I am sorely mistaken. THANK YOU!

Bockwurst - Taste of Artisan April 28, 2019 - 10:09 am

[…] or pre-smoked bockwurst can also be pan-fried and grilled instead of poaching. If frying or grilling, you can slit the casing in several spots to […]

Kathy April 6, 2019 - 5:01 pm

Used your instructions for Italian sausage. Came out perfect! Thank you!

victor April 6, 2019 - 5:48 pm

You are very welcome, Kathy. Glad my instructions helped.

Michelle Dicken February 14, 2019 - 8:59 am

Thanks for taking the time to post these gorgeous pictures and perfectly yummy directions! I’m known for my cooking… only I’m the FIRST one to tell you that I cant do simple recipes or make simple food that everyone loves! It’s frustrating to be able to wing my own recipes for very complicated meals OR follow a list of ingredients that’s 195 items long and yet NOT be able to make a good meatloaf and in THIS case, brats. Ugh. I mean I can grill anything and make it taste delicious but stovetop brats? Nope. Not until I came across YOUR recipe! Oh and you’re right, both the stovetop and grill are delicious in their own right. Not one better than the other… just different! Anyway, thanks for making me excited about brats again! I’ve avoided them for TOO long!

victor February 14, 2019 - 10:24 am

You are very welcome and thank for your detailed feedback. Glad I could help.

LLN November 25, 2018 - 4:37 pm

I made this yesterday and they turned out great! Thank you for explaining the correct temperatures and all, it was very easy to follow.

victor November 26, 2018 - 8:24 pm

No problem. Glad my post helped.

Carrie October 18, 2019 - 8:37 am

It’s October in Minnesota so hearty German food is what’s on the menu. I thought I didn’t really like brats, I eat them but once a year. That is….until now. This simple recipe is fantastic and there is no need to fire up a charcoal grill on a chilly evening, the cast iron and butter with some good strong ale worked perfectly. Off to read your blog and see what else you have up your sleeve.

Thanks for the recipe, it’s a keeper!

victor October 18, 2019 - 7:12 pm

You are very welcome, Carrie. Thank you for your feedback, it’s greatly appreciated.

Babs! November 7, 2018 - 7:51 pm

awesome way to cook brats, i love them i the summer on the grill, but when weather sets in, this is equally awesome!

Jake October 11, 2018 - 6:35 pm

I am very curious to try your beer method for cooking brats. Those brats look delicious.

Amy September 13, 2018 - 10:18 pm

Thanks so much for these instructions. Your way is much simpler, and tastier, than my old way.

victor September 14, 2018 - 5:51 am

No problem at all. Enjoy!

Simon September 1, 2018 - 1:54 pm

Gorgeous shots!

Mike April 22, 2018 - 8:43 pm

Holy moly those brats look so mouthwatering!