A Hot Trend to Try: Smoked Brats

September 17, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

You may be used to grilling this German sausage, but I have to say that smoked brats are the way to go!

One of my Pitmaster friends introduced me to this method of cooking, ensuring me that this was the best way to prevent the casing from bursting.

Since then I have played around with various factors until I created the recipe I now want to share with you!

Smoked brats

Smoked Brats Recipe


  • 1 package of bratwursts
  • Corresponding number of buns
close up of smoked bratwursts


Step 1

Preheat the charcoal smoker or pellet grill to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2

Place the brats on the grates and smoke brats until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This should take about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Take off the heat and place brats hot dog style in buns. Top with desired toppings.

Using a Beer Bath

You may have heard of some people using a beer bath to keep brats warm for an extended period of time. This can be a useful trick if you are having a cookout, want to smoke brats and keep them out of the way, but still ensure that they are the right temperature to enjoy.

There are also those who use this method to ensure that they don’t go overboard when smoking brats. Here, they cook the brats until they are 145 degrees and then place it in the beer bath. Not only does this keep the brats warm, but it allows the sausages to continue to slowly cook.

It isn’t something that I use, but I will provide some instructions on how to make your own:


  • 2 cans of beer
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, sliced


  1. Pour the beer into an aluminum pan. Add the onions and the beer.
  2. Add the beer bath into the smoker at the same time as the brats.
  3. Take out at the same time.
  4. Place the cooked brats in the bath for up to 30 minutes.

Setting Up Your Smoker or Grill

Here are some tips for setting up your smoker or grill:

Using a Charcoal Smoker

If you are using a charcoal smoker or grill, then you have to follow a slightly different method. Here, you have to set up two cooking zones – direct heat and indirect heat.

To do this, pile all the charcoal under one end of the grill. The heat will be concentrated here. Once the grill has heated up enough, place the brats on the opposing end, away from the direct heat.

The rest works the same as with a pellet grill.

The Wood Chips

If you are using a pellet smoker or grill, then you will need to think of the wood chips that you are going to use. You have quite a variety to choose from.

For instance, a little bit of hickory can actually work here since you will not be cooking brats for too long. I would still go easy on how many wood chips you use and balance it out with some oak chips as well.

Or, you can opt for something a bit sweeter such as cherry or apple wood chips. It can be delightful if you are pairing your smoked brats with sweet onions.

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bratwursts on a charcoal grill

The Cooking Temperature

If you are using a grill, then you will need to set it to indirect heat. Make sure to place brats well away from the coals or direct heat. Fail to do this and the brats may burst, causing all the juices to pool out.

When it comes to a smoker or pellet grill, then set the temperature to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and don’t budge from this. If you want, you can go lower but it will take longer to smoke brats at this temperature.

Whatever you do, though, don’t go any higher than the recommender smoker temperature. After all, these smoked brats are done fairly quickly and so you will not need to wait for too long.

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The Brats Internal Temperature

I know that a lot of people don’t understand why you need a thermometer to take the internal temperature of sausages – after all, they are so small!

Be that as it may, it is still the best way to ensure that your smoked brats are truly done. Particularly when smoking, it isn’t easy to judge using the outer appearance alone.

I also like this method because it is a lot more precise – you simply can’t go wrong!

The only tricky thing is that unlike with other smoked meats, you only get one or two shots with smoked brats. Whenever you insert the thermometer inside the sausage, you are puncturing the casing. This can cause the juices to flow out.

It is due to this that you should wait until the last moment to test the temperature. This way, you reduce the risk of having to create more than one puncture.

As mentioned, this should take about an hour and forty five minutes. Thus, I would check the temperature about five or ten minutes before they are done.

Remember, if you are using a beer bath then you will only need to smoke the brats until they have reached 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Thus, you may want to check the temperature at the one hour and fifteen minute mark.

I would also suggest checking the temperature of the sausages in the beer bath after fifteen minutes or so. After all your hard work, you don’t want to overcook the brats, do you?

Another key to ensuring perfectly smoked brats is to keep track of the temperature inside the cooking chamber. If your smoker or pellet grill is equipped with a hood thermometer, then check this to ensure that the temperature is being maintained. Alternatively you can get your own and track it this way.

You can also examine the ends of the brats. Do you notice a natural opening or hole there? It may be quite small so look carefully. If you notice one, then you can insert the thermometer here. This would avoid puncturing the casing.

The only issue with this method, though, is that you have to push the thermometer quite deep into the sausage, sideways. Once again, you risk expelling the juices. Thus, you will need to proceed with caution.

brats on a grill

Serving the Smoked Brats

There are lots of different ways to serve up smoked brats. Many like to top it with classic yellow mustard, chopped onions, cheese, or sauerkraut. These all sound great and as long as you enjoy the combination, you should definitely go for it!

I would like to suggest one particular topping, though – beer braised onions.

For this you will need:

  • 2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1 tbs. of brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. of pepper
  • 3/4 cup of beer

Heat the butter in a pan and then add the onions. Once they have turned golden brown, add the seasonings and stir. Next, add the beer and cook until all of it has been absorbed.

How to Store Smoked Brats?

You can store your smoked brats either in the refrigerator or the freezer. Either way, make sure to keep the sausages in an airtight container. This helps to maintain that gorgeous smoky flavor and to ensure that no other odors interfere with it.

If you are freezing the smoked brats, I would suggest wrapping it in plastic wrap first. This will ensure that they don’t get freezer burn.

In a fridge, the brats will last up to seven days and in the freezer they will be good for up to two months.

Reheating the Smoked Brats

If you want to reheat the frozen smoked brats, start by defrosting them first. Leave them in the refrigerator or keep them covered, on the countertop. Don’t leave the brats unrefrigerated for more than an hour, though.

As for reheating them, I have found that the stovetop is the best option here. This is because you are able to protect both the flavor and the texture. Reheating it in the oven can work just as well, though.

It is best to reheat the sausages without adding anything to the pan. If you don’t mind the sausages being a bit more steamed, then you can add a little bit of broth or water to the pan.

Wrapping It Up

There you have it – your guide to easy smoked brats. Armed with the right tools and instructions, whipping up this dish is going to be a breeze for you. And, once you figure it out, it is sure to become a regular feature at your cookouts.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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