Drunken Brats and Caramelized Onions

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Add an extra layer of flavor to your bratwurst by simmering them in beer or ale and then finishing them on the grill.

Drunken Brats and Caramelize Onions - Add an extra layer of flavor to your bratwurst by simmering them in beer or ale and then finishing them on the grill.

I don’t recall my parents every serving bratwurst. We were a hot dog family. Hot dogs that my dad burned beyond recognition on the grill.

That’s one of the many things that I love about my husband. He can grill hot dogs without their looking like they were in a blazing inferno.

But, I didn’t meet bratwurst until I went to Minnesota at age 8. My mom had been busy having babies, four of them, so we hadn’t gone back to her home state until I was 8. Then I spent the next eight summers except for one, driving with my family to the Midwest. I loved spending time with my Gramma John who was an excellent cook and baker.

I remember walking the streets of some small Minnesota town with Gramma John and heading to a butcher shop for “the best bratwurst”. And history was made. I loved the flavor of bratwurst, so much better than a hot dog.

The rest of the family is divided on the issue. FishPapa and the big kids love brats. The littles still go for hot dogs. (We like Hebrew National as well as Trader Joe’s and Simple Truth brands.)

I buy bratwurst whenever I see a good sale. My target price is $2.99/package. I buy as many as I can and stash them in the freezer. They make for a good cheap eat that can be easily dressed up.

Drunken Brats and Caramelize Onions - Add an extra layer of flavor to your bratwurst by simmering them in beer or ale and then finishing them on the grill.

Precooking the brats allows you to do a couple things: you make sure that they are cooked through and you get to add flavor. These brats are drunk. Simmered in beer or ale and then finished on the grill, they’ve got a little extra flavor and caramelization going.

If you don’t purchase alcohol or live in a dry county, you can use chicken broth. It won’t have quite the same flavor, but will still be good. Be sure to finish caramelizing the onions for a tasty topping.


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Drunken Brats and Caramelized Onions
Prep Time
2 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
17 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: brats, drunken brats and carmelized onions
Servings: 4
Calories: 545 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 1 pound bratwurst sausages
  • 12 ounce bottle of beer or ale
  • 1 onion sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • hot dog buns and mustard for serving
  1. Preheat an outdoor grill.
  2. Place the bratwurst, beer, and onion in a large skillet. Season with pepper. Simmer, slightly covered, until the brats are cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  3. Drain off the beer. Place the brats on the grill and cook until the skins are crisp, about 5 minutes. (If you've got inclement weather, brown the brats in the pan.)
  4. Meanwhile, saute the onions in the skillet, stirring in the thyme and paprika. Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar, scraping up any browned bits. Adjust seasonings.
  5. Serve the brats in buns with the onions and your favorite condiments.
Recipe Notes

Nutritional values are approximate and are based on 1/4 of the recipe. Refrigerate leftovers promptly and use within 4 days.

Nutrition Facts
Drunken Brats and Caramelized Onions
Amount Per Serving
Calories 545 Calories from Fat 315
% Daily Value*
Fat 35g54%
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Cholesterol 84mg28%
Sodium 1177mg51%
Potassium 512mg15%
Carbohydrates 30g10%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 20g40%
Vitamin A 62IU1%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 115mg12%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Yes yes yes this is THE way to cook brats in the summer!! My in-laws have been doing it this way for years. We will often heat a little more beer and water in a slow cooker and put the grilled brats and onions back to soak, especially if we’re having a party where people come and go at the food table.

  2. Trish says

    interested in those delicious looking beans you served with the brats (which sound fabulous!!) – any chance of a recipe for them, or have you already shared that?

    • That’s a white bean salad we tried this weekend. Still in the testing phase. Soon. 🙂

  3. Jennifer says

    As a child, that simmering beer was so stinky! Now it makes my mouth water. Love bratwurst!

  4. Jenny S says

    Definitely a minnesota summer classic here. We love getting in all the grill time we can!

  5. I could taste these brats already. Definitely hitting the grill with them this weekend.

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