Bratwurst is a popular food at tailgating parties this time of the year when football is in full swing. Brats are often grilled on portable kettle grills and served with onions and sauerkraut. Traditional bratwurst recipes tend to use lots of different spices and herbs to give the sausage a unique flavor, but these days, most of the bratwurst out there is loaded up with preservatives, artificial colors, and unnecessary ingredients.
With a few supplies and a little help from the Bearded Butchers, you can make authentic-style bratwurst in your home kitchen. The process is pretty easy and we will walk through every step along the way so that even if you've never attempted to make sausage before, you'll be able to make delicious bratwurst.
Equipment You Need to Make Bratwurst
There are a few tools that are important for making homemade bratwurst. The first thing you'll need is a meat grinder. You'll need one that offers both a coarse grind and a fine grinding plate. If you are grinding small batches of meat at a time, a manual hand grinder is an inexpensive device that will get the job done. If you are planning on doing larger amounts of 25lbs or more at a time, we recommend that you invest in a proper electric meat grinder.
You'll also need a mixer. There are commercial sausage mixers available that work well to mix the ingredients without overworking the protein. A mixer will improve the texture of your bratwurst and ensures that you get all of the seasonings mixed evenly.
You'll also need a sausage stuffer. Many manual and electric meat grinders have a sausage stuffing feature that uses a funnel in place of the grinding plate. There are also manual stuffers that look like those pool toy squirt guns.
If you are dead set on sausage making at home but don't have any of this equipment, there is an old-fashioned workaround.
You can use a very sharp knife or a cleaver to finely chop cold meat until it has the consistency of ground meat. Make sure to keep the meat cold during the process to prevent the proteins from separating from the fat. If the meat gets sticky, it is too hot.
No mixer? Use a large stainless steel bowl or a plastic tub. You can add ice or ice-cold water during the mixing process to help limit protein separation. This method works best if you add the spice mixture a little at a time, then mix a little. Again, if the meat gets sticky, it is too warm.
Our Homemade Bratwurst Recipe
One of the most popular items at Whitefeather Meats is our homemade bratwurst. In fact, it is so popular that we decided to make all of the sausage-making ingredients that we use available in a kit.
So right now, we are going to show you how to make bratwurst using our kits.
Bratwurst is meant to be fresh so we're excited to finally share our great bratwurst recipes with people outside of Ohio.
- 1 package Bearded Butchers Bratwurst Seasoning (9oz seasons 25lbs)
- 25lbs pork, beef, or veal, cut into golf ball size chunks (We use pork butt roast and a 70/30 or 75/25 meat-to-fat ratio)
- 32mm sausage casings, synthetic or natural
- Optional: Add additional flavors like jalapeño flakes, dried fruit, or high temp cheese
- If you are using natural casings for your sausage, first prepare them by soaking them in water to remove the salt. There is no need to soak collagen casings like the ones in our kits.
- Next, mix the meat chunks with the preferred seasoning so they are evenly coated. Set up your meat grinder with a medium grinding plate. Feed the meat, fat and seasoning into the grinder ensuring that the meat stays cold during the grinding process.
- If you are only using meat and seasoning, skip step 4.
- If you ARE adding additional ingredients (like high temp cheese, jalapenos, fruit, etc), place the ground meat in a sausage mixer or in a large tub or container. Add the additional ingredients into the ground meat. Working quickly, mix from the bottom to the top, ensuring that the ingredients are fully incorporated. *It’s always best to work quickly so your mixture stays cold.*
- If your mixture starts to feels like it’s tightening up, sometimes due to overworking it, you can add 1-2 cups of ice cold water (or more as needed depending on fat content, meat type and consistency) to make it easier to run through the stuffer.
- Next, you'll fit a sausage casing to the sausage stuffer by sliding it almost all the way onto the nozzle so that about three inches remain. This can be a one-person job, but it is better with an assistant. That way, one person will operate the stuffer while the other makes sure the meat is pressed evenly into the casing without air bubbles.
- To separate the long sausage into links, there are different methods. With natural casing, we like to simply grasp the sausage and pinch the casing, then turn it several times and flip the link over. It does not matter which direction you go – this makes a twist in two directions that will hold up.
- With our collagen casing, pinching and twisting will not stay in links, so it’s better to cut the collagen casing bratwursts into individual links.
- At this point, you can cut the links into individual sausages or cut them into smaller links. You'll want to either cook them right away or freeze them until you are ready to use.
Tips & Tricks for Making Bratwurst
Bratwurst typically uses a thicker grind than many other types of sausage, and as such, you don't want to overwork the meat and lose the benefits of the coarse grind. There are a few ways that you can keep the texture while ensuring good flavor.
Tip 1: Place the blades and plate for the grinder in the freezer the night before. This will ensure they are very cold when you start grinding. It isn't a bad idea to have a second set on hand in the freezer so that when the blades begin to warm up, you can just swap them out with frozen ones.
Tip 2: Add the seasonings after the first grind, but reserve the liquid and add-ins until after the last grind. This tip lets the grinder do some of the hard part and mix your seasonings into the sausage mixture. But keep things like jalapeno flakes, dried fruit, and cheese until the end since you don't want those flavors pulverized throughout the meat.
Tip 3: You can use the back side of a butter knife to gently tap the nozzle and break up air pockets to reduce the amount of air that goes into the sausage.
Tip 4: You should check the flavor of your sausage before stuffing the casings. Simply take a small amount of the sausage mixture and fry it in a hot cast iron skillet. That way you can check the flavor before stuffing the sausages.
Tip 5: As you are stuffing the sausages, use a large cookie sheet with a very small amount of water on it to catch the stuffed sausage. This will prevent the homemade bratwurst from sticking to the pan or to itself.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: How are bratwurst sausages traditionally cooked?
A: Bratwurst is traditionally cooked over an open fire until crispy. In the Upper Midwest, bats are often boiled in beer, then grilled. We prefer to cook our homemade bratwurst over indirect heat using the smoker to add flavor.
Q: Should you boil brats before grilling?
A: It isn't always important to boil brats before cooking. There are two schools of thought on this topic. One is that boiling adds flavor and partially cooks the sausages before they are grilled. Others think that boiling the bratwurst will leach out flavors. If you are smoking the brats, it isn't important. Parboiling before grilling remains a popular technique.
Q: How do you cook raw bratwurst?
A: The best way to cook fresh bratwurst is to cook it low and slow. We like to use our smoker for a little less than two hours to get the internal temperature up, then we will sear them on a hot grill to add some color.
Q: How do you prepare bratwurst?
A: Traditional German bratwurst recipes use salt, pepper, garlic, marjoram, and other seasonings. Most German sausage is made from pork or pork and veal. In the US, bratwurst recipes often use beef, bison, or even chicken. Bratwurst is prepared by stuffing ground and seasoned meat into a sausage casing, then cooking the sausage.
A Note About Our Brat Kits
Our brat kits are the easiest way to make great bratwurst at home. We include the correct amount of seasonings and spices, the highest quality casings, and the ideal additions to make 25lbs of sausage.
Each of our kits includes one package of base seasoning in your choice of flavors, one package of collagen casings, and any other additional ingredients that you'll need to make great-tasting bratwurst at home.
We are also now selling the individual ingredients for all of our most popular flavors, including add-ins, high-melt cheese in lots of flavors, and various different sizes and styles of casings so you'll be able to get the ingredients you want in one place.
The Bearded Butchers are dedicated to providing as much information as we possibly can to help you understand how to best process and prepare meats of all kinds. To help you, we maintain a blog and YouTube channel with lots of free, high-quality information. The Bearded Butchers and Beardedbutchers.com are also a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products we love. This means that The Bearded Butchers may receive a commission if you click on a link above and make a purchase using one of our codes.