The challenge with bratwurst is knowing how long to cook it so it’s just right. You want a juicy sausage that’s fully cooked with a crisp skin that snaps when you bite into it! There are a few tried and true methods to cook bratwurst so it comes out perfect every time. We’re sharing some tips on the proper internal temperature of cooked bratwurst and the best methods to cook it to perfection.
What Is a Bratwurst?
Originally from Germany, bratwurst is a fresh sausage that’s traditionally made with a mixture of pork, beef, veal and seasonings. Most of the bratwurst sold in today’s supermarkets is made with ground pork seasoned with coriander, caraway, ginger, and nutmeg.
What Internal Temperature Should Bratwurst Be Cooked To?
According to the USDA, the internal temperature of sausages made with ground pork is 160°F. At this temperature, the sausage is safe to eat. The best way to check the internal temperature of sausage is to use an instant-read meat thermometer.
How Long to Cook Brats on the Grill
The cooking time varies based on the size and weight of the sausage.
As a guideline, check the internal temperature of the sausage after it has cooked for about 20 minutes. If the temperature is between 150-160°F, it can be removed from the heat. Allow it to rest for about 5 minutes.
Note: The temperature of the brat will continue to increase after being removed from the heat. Check the sausage again to ensure that it has reached an internal temperature of 160°F.
How to Tell When Brat is Done
The best way to determine if bratwurst is fully cooked is to use an instant-read meat thermometer. Insert the probe at a 30° angle near the end of the sausage and aim for the middle of the sausage. This will give you a more accurate reading of the entire temperature of the sausage. The internal temperature should be 160°F.
How to Tell if Brat is Done Without a Thermometer?
An instant-read thermometer is the best way to gauge the doneness of sausage, but if you don’t have one available, use the following methods instead:
- The touch method: Lightly press your fingertip on the sausage. If the sausage is firm and springs back, it’s likely done. If it feels jiggly, it needs more time to cook.
- The wiggle method: Use tongs to pick up the sausage and slightly wiggle it up and down. A firm and bouncy sausage is an indication that it’s cooked.
- Use a cake tester: Insert the tester into the sausage at an angle and then remove the tester and place it against your wrist. If it’s hot, the sausage should be cooked but if it’s warm or cool, the sausage should continue to cook.
How to Cook Brat
Method 1: Cooking Bratwurst on the Grill
Set one side of the grill to medium-high and the other side to low. Place the sausages on a foil pan along with the liquid you’ll use for poaching on the cooler side of the grill and cover the lid. Check the temperature of the brats at the 15-minute mark. When the sausages reach 150°F they can be browned for 1-2 minutes on the hotter side of the grill and then removed and set aside. The internal temperature of the sausage will continue to increase but must reach 160°F before it is eaten.
Method 2: Cooking Bratwurst in the Pan
Start by adding ½ inch of cold water to a pot or a skillet. Add the bratwurst and cover the pot with a lid. Set the heat to medium-low on an electric stovetop, or to low if using a metal or cast iron pan, or if cooking with gas. Simmer the sausages for about 10 minutes to partially cook, and then sear them in oil until golden brown.
Method 3: Cooking Bratwurst in the Oven
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet or a pan with parchment paper or foil. Place the sausages in the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Flip the sausages and continue to bake for another 5 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the sausages after they have baked for about 17 minutes. The sausages can be removed from the oven when they reach an internal temperature of 160°F.
Tips and Tricks for the Best Grilled Bratwurst
- Preheat the Grill: Before placing the sausages on the grill, ensure that the temperature of the grill is between 300 – 350°F.
- Don’t crowd the grill. There should be ample space between the sausages to allow them to cook evenly.
- Use an instant-read meat thermometer to determine when the sausages are cooked.
Frequently Asked Question
Should I Leave the Lid On?
The lid can remain open or closed. Just be sure to turn the sausages every 2 minutes or so to ensure they cook evenly.
Should I Boil Brats Before Grilling?
Partially boiling bratwurst before grilling adds flavor to the sausage and helps it cook more evenly. It can also prevent the bratwurst from bursting and losing flavorful juices on the grill.
Why Poaching Bratwurst Works?
Poaching the bratwurst in liquid adds flavor to meat and helps the inside of the sausage cook more evenly. Adding sliced onion or using beer is a great way to inject flavor into the sausage.
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Grilled Bratwurst with the Perfect Internal Temp
- 5 bratwurst sausages
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Optional condiments and buns for serving
- Light the charcoal and spread it evenly across one side of the grill. If using a gas or propane grill, light the burners on one side of the grill.
- Add some oil to paper towels and use it to grease the grates of the grill to prevent sticking.
- Place the sausages over the hot side of the grill and cook until browned, turning often. If the casings begin to burst, move the sausages to the cooler part of the grill and reduce the temperature of the heat.
- Cook the sausages for 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature has reached 160°F. If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, the brats should feel firm to the touch.
- Keep the sausages warm until ready to serve.
- Enjoy them on buns with your favorite toppings.