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Smoked Brat Burgers

by Brad Prose

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Smoked Brat Burgers are simple to prepare and ready for sauerkraut, mustards, pickles, and melty cheese. Formed into brat patties, the seasoned pork is smoked and seared on the grill. Grab your favorite buns and beer, it’s time to grill.

These brat burgers are smoked and seared on the grill.

Classic grilled bratwurst flavors hit the burger bun, unpeeled and formed into brat patties before being smoked and seared. Smoked brat burgers are so simple to prepare and loaded with the sausage flavors you’re craving.

Pile on the sauerkraut, spicy mustard, caramelized onions, or anything else you enjoy on a brat. Try out the Smoked Dijon Mustard and Smoked Pickled Jalapenos for a spicy combo.

You probably would love traditional beef burgers cooked this way too! Check out the guide for Juicy Smoked Burgers.

Smoked brat burgers are simple to prepare and pair with all classic condiments for bratwurst.

Why You’ll Love Smoked Brat Burgers

  • Smoke and char – Grilled brats are packed with juicy flavors, but they need a tender touch for cooking. Opening up the meat provides more surface for wood-fired smoke flavor and char.
  • Bratwurst flavors – These brat burgers are exactly that, the meat from the sausage formed into brat patties. You’re getting what you’re looking for.
  • Incredibly juicy meat – Slowly smoking doesn’t dry these burgers out. The seasoned pork inside is fatty and juicy, giving you the bite you’d expect when biting into a bratwurst.
  • Easy to prepare – Don’t worry, you don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of ingredients. Purchase uncooked brats, form patties, season, and smoke.

What Are Brat Burgers?

These brat burgers are exactly what you’re thinking: bratwurst meat.

Yes, there are some great recipes out there that teach you how to make your own sausage meat for bratwursts. You certainly can, and should try some of those as well!

This recipe is meant to be simple and delicious. We are using uncooked bratwurst in casings, splitting them open, and forming them into brat patties. The meat is already seasoned and measured, the only thing we need to do is cook. Using prepared bratwurst meat also gives you the ability to try many different flavors at an affordable cost.

Use the bratwurst that tastes good to you. Typically bratwurst in the US is pork, but that isn’t the only meat that is used. Traditionally these German sausages can be a combination of pork and veal, or even sometimes beef. You may find and use any of these styles of bratwurst to make smoked brat burgers.

Use a sharp knife to slice open the bratwurst and remove the meat for patties.

How to Prepare Brat Burgers

Looking at the photo above will give you a big clue on where to start!

There are only a few steps for the preparation before we start to smoke and sear, so let’s walk through the simple process:

Step 1: Slice Open the Bratwurst

Take a sharp knife and run it down the casing lengthwise. Open up the meat and remove it from the casing. You may form this into a brat pattie (as shown above) or add it to a mixing bowl, creating a slightly larger pattie. I’ve found that about 1 1/2 brats typically make an ideal brat pattie for 1 serving.

You’ll need about 6 bratwursts for 4 people, depending on their size of them. Typically this provides around 1/3-pound per uncooked brat pattie. Most bratwurst is a similar size, especially those which are made by brands such as Johnsonville. Don’t forget to check with the butcher, you might find some crafty unique flavors.

Chill the brat patties in the fridge for about 20 minutes or until you are ready to use.

Step 2: Form & Chill Brat Patties

Consider the size when forming the patties. Generally, 6 brats will be around 24 ounces, giving you a 6-ounce brat pattie if you make 4 of them. To simplify it, 1/3-pound per brat burger, pre-cooked.

Form the brat patties and place them on wax or parchment paper, lined on a baking sheet. The brat patties should be about 1/4″ thick or slightly thicker, with a small indentation pressed in the center. Doing so will prevent the brat burgers from swelling in the middle during the cooking process.

You’ll notice the brat patties warm up quickly while working with your hands, and they are not firm. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes while the grill preheats. This will help them maintain their shape and also will give them a nice red color from the smoke.

Do I need to season brat patties before cooking?

This largely depends on the bratwurst you purchased. Most brats are already seasoned and ready to eat. Personally, I like to grind fresh black pepper on the patties right before they hit the grill, otherwise, that’s it.

Smoke the brat burgers before searing

How to Smoke Brat Burgers

Now it’s time for the fun part, firing up the smoker. Since we’re going to smoke and sear, it’s best to use a grill or smoker that allows you to finish the burgers with a kiss of flame. I highly recommend cooking these in a charcoal grill if you’re able to, due to the flexibility.

Cooking with Different Grills or Smokers

Using the Pellet Smoker

  • Make sure your hopper is filled with pellets.
  • Preheat your grill or smoker to 275-300°F. Make sure your grates are clean.
  • Place your burgers onto the grates and close the lid.

Using a Charcoal Grill

  • Prepare your charcoal grill for 2-zone cooking, aiming for about 275-300°F. This means you are going to bank your charcoal to one side of the grill creating a hot zone and cool zone.
  • Add a handful of wood chips over the top of your charcoal, making sure to evenly distribute them. This will prevent any flare-ups.
  • Place your burgers on the cooler side, making sure to monitor the ones closest to the coals.

Using a Gas Grill

  • Create a foil pack. Tear off a piece of foil large enough to accommodate about 1 cup of wood chips that are spread out. Fold all the sides over to create an envelope. Use a fork or knife to carefully pierce 2-3 holes in the top of the foil pack so the smoke can escape. Be careful not to pierce all the way through both sides of the foil, and also don’t create too many holes.
  • Preheat your grill to 275-300°F. Place the foil pack on top of a burner turned to high heat. Allow the wood chips to smolder as it comes to temperature. 
  • Place the prepared burger patties on the cool side of the grill and close the lid.
Pot of sauerkraut is smoking alongside the brat burgers.

Step 3: Smoking the Burgers

Choose your grill or smoker of choice and preheat according to the tips above. Take the brat patties out from the fridge and season them with fresh ground black pepper before placing them in the grill, away from the flames.

This is a time to add wood chips or chunks if you’re looking for additional layers of flavor. I’ve found hickory and maple are very tasty with smoked brat burgers.

If you’re cooking with ground pork bratwurst (the most common), smoke the burgers until they are 145-150°F internal temperature. It’s considered safe to consume these burgers after 160°F, but searing the burgers will finish them off for the last bit.

Searing the brat patties over the open flames adds more flavor and texture.

Step 4: Searing to Finish

Once the smoked brat burgers are to the target temperature of about 145-150°F it’s time to sear. Raise the temperature of your smoker if using one, or place the burgers directly over the coals if you’re using a charcoal grill. Charcoal grills will provide the best sear for brat burgers in my experience.

Bratwurst tends to flare up, given that the fatty pork is dripping into the coals. Don’t go anywhere! Allow the burgers to sear for about 2 minutes per side and then are done. You can rotate burgers by resting these on the cool side of the grill as you sear the rest.

Add your cheese to the brat patties right after searing, allowing it to gently melt.

Ideal Toppings for Brat Burgers

There are no rules for smoked brat burgers, but I would encourage you to use flavors that would taste great with traditional grilled bratwurst:

  • Sauerkraut – Keeping a small pot on the smoker while the brat patties are smoking adds a little flavor and warms up the kraut.
  • Melty cheese – I’ve found that Gouda, pepper jack, or Havarti are my favorite cheeses for these burgers. Add them on at the very end and close the grill lid so they can melt.
  • Pickles – Homemade or store-bought, they definitely work well with these burgers. The rich fatty pork and cheese need that bright crunch. Spice it up with Smoked Pickled Jalapenos!
  • Mustard – Any kind of stone ground mustard or Dijon works well here. Try using the Smoked Dijon Mustard or even the Pickled Mustard Seeds.
  • Mayonnaise or Dijonnaise – Making a quick sauce or spreading mayo on the buns ties everything together. Just that little touch of tang to complete the burger.
  • Cabbage – Braised or fresh, the added crunch can go a long way.

Horseradish Dijonnaise Recipe

This is my favorite sauce for smoked brat burgers, a fresh Dijonnaise. It’s a simple combination of mustard, mayo, and kicked up with horseradish. Mix everything together and taste to adjust:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon pickle juice
  • Salt to taste
Smoked brat burgers topped with dijonnaise, sauerkraut, and pickles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What temperature should I cook brat burgers to?

Most bratwursts are made using ground pork, which you would cook to 160°F. Make sure you know what type of meat you’re using, and check the ingredients.

Do I have to sear the brat patties?

No, but I do recommend it for texture. You can smoke them to 155°F and allow them to rest, which will naturally bring them to a safe temperature.

Will my brat burgers dry out by removing them from the casing?

No, they will not. The high-fat content from the pork will keep them very moist.

Plate of brat burgers on onion rolls.

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Sides to Serve with Brat Burgers

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Smoked brat burgers are simple to prepare and pair with all classic condiments for bratwurst.

Smoked Brat Burgers

Smoked Brat Burgers are simple to prepare and ready for sauerkraut, mustards, pickles, and melty cheese. Formed into brat patties, the seasoned pork is smoked and seared on the grill. Grab your favorite buns and beer, it’s time to grill.

  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves about 5-6 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 6 uncooked bratwurst, about 2024 ounces
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 Onion buns or rolls
  • 1 cup sauerkraut
  • Dill pickles

Horseradish Dijonnaise

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon pickle juice
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Take a sharp knife and run it down the casing lengthwise. Open up the meat and remove it from the casing, adding it into a mixing bowl. Combine all of the meat from the bratwurst and form into patties about 1/2″ thick, pressing a small indent in the center. Place the patties on parchment or wax paper lined on a baking sheet, and chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
  2. Prepare the horseradish Dijonnaise by mixing all ingredients together. Season to taste and chill in the fridge until needed.
  3. Preheat the smoker or grill for indirect cooking. I recommend a charcoal grill if possible, as you’ll be searing the burgers at the end. Set up a cool side with the warm coals on the other, aiming for around 275-300°F internal temperature. Add wood chunks or chips for additional flavor.
  4. Smoke the brat burgers. Sprinkle some ground black pepper on the top and place them on the grill, away from the coals. Cook for about 30-45 minutes until they are around 145-150°F internal temperature.
  5. Sear the burgers. Move them over the coals and sear for about 2-3 minutes per side until done. Be careful of flare-ups from the pork fat. 
  6. Add the cheese if using, and move the burgers back to the cool side to allow the cheese to melt for a minute.
  7. Assemble the burgers with the Dijonnaise, sauerkraut, and pickles. Crack a beer and enjoy!

Notes

  • Use any bratwurst you’d like, just make sure you read the ingredients to know what’s in them.
  • Make sure you’re purchasing uncooked bratwurst, this will not work with smoked or cooked sausages.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 50
  • Category: Pork
  • Method: Smoking
  • Cuisine: Dinner

Keywords: brats, bratwurst, smoked brat burgers, brat burgers, smoked burgers, pork, sausages

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