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Smoked Brats with Spicy Beer Onions

Smoked brats with spicy beer onions and pickled mustard seeds.

Get ready for bold, rich, savory flavors and the juiciest of bites that Smoked Brats with Spicy Beer Onions brings to the party. Raise a glass and shout “PROST” as you pile your buns high with beer-braised caramelized onions and smoky sausages.

Grab a hold of smoked brats, filled with lots of delicious toppings.

This game-day favorite gets a boost of flavor from a simple process that ensures the juices will be dripping down your arms at first bite. Whether you’re looking for a dish to celebrate Oktoberfest with or serve up while watching football, this is it. Combining easy steps with familiar flavors, this family-friendly tray of bratwurst will be on repeat all season long.

Don’t forget to check out Smoked Brat Burgers for another fun recipe!

Line up your smoked bratwurst with all of the different toppings.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Easy Process – There is nothing complicated about the smoked bratwurst or beer onions. Smoking the brats low and slow not only infuses them with layers of flavor but also ensures they remain succulent and juicy without any hassle. Just like the smoked brats cook low and slow, so do the onions and jalapenos. Just give them an occasional stir and sip of your favorite beer.
  • Make Ahead – The beer-braised onions and peppers can be made a day in advance and warmed up prior to serving. You can also smoke the bratwurst, vacuum seal it, and freeze it to enjoy later. They’ll last up to three months in the freezer so go ahead and make extra!
  • Minimal Ingredients – Not only is the process for this smoked beer brat recipe simple but so are the ingredients. All you need are onions, jalapenos, beer, and your favorite bratwurst. Don’t forget to have fun with the toppings!

Additional toppings and variations

Prepping the onions and jalapenos to be caramelized.

Prepare the spicy beer onions

Properly caramelizing onions takes time, so it’s smart to start these before the brats hit the smoker.

NOTE: These can be made ahead of time, with no loss in flavor! Make a double batch and keep them in the fridge.

Prepare your onions and jalapenos. Slice your onions into thin slices. Cut the jalapenos in half and remove the seeds and core for less heat if desired. Cut the halves into thin strips, making them a similar size to the onions. 

Start caramelizing. Heat a wide skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Allow it to fully heat to almost shimmer. Add the onions and jalapenos and season with salt. Give them a strr to spread them out in an even layer over the pan. You’ll want to stir them frequently over the next 30 minutes.

Braise the onions and jalapenos with beer. After the first 30 minutes of cooking the onions and jalapenos, lower the heat in the pan slightly and continue to cook. They will start to stick to the bottom of the pan after about 45-60 minutes.

Scrape them with a wooden spoon, and add some of the beer. Continue to cook, reduce the beer, and add more until it has all reduced and caramelized. Taste and adjust with seasoning.

Seriously, I cannot stress this enough:

MAKE A DOUBLE BATCH!

There’s hardly any extra effort and you’ll simply regret it.

These spicy beer onions can caramelize while the smoked brats are cooking or even the day before. Typically I’ll make them ahead of time so I don’t need to bounce back and forth between the smoker and the stove.

Add the bratwurst to the smoker and start cooking at 225°F.

Smoke the bratwurst

Preheat the smoker to 225°F. Use wood that compliments the delicate flavor of the pork and doesn’t overpower it. Hickory, applewood, pecan, oak, and maple are all great options.

Smoke the brats for around 60 minutes. Place the brats on the smoker and allow them to cook. Feel free to spritz them with dark beer through the smoking process to build another layer of flavor.

These smoked brats were spritzed with beer.

Check the temperature of the bratwurst. Use a temperature probe to check the internal temperature of the beer brats.

PRO TIP: Make sure to stick the temperature probe into the end of the brats, and not go through the casing. This will minimize those glorious meat juices from bursting out.

Do not cook the sausages past 150°F as they tend to dry out. Depending on the size of your brats and how many you’re cooking it should take around 90 minutes.

Smoked bratwurst turn bright red from the smoke flavor.

important tips for smoked brats

  • This is the ultimate tailgate and party dish. To keep your smoked brats warm for an extended period of time pour warm beer into a foil pan and add your smoked brats. Make sure to keep them at 160°F if possible to prevent them from overcooking.
  • The USDA recommends bratwurst should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F which can lead to dried-out sausages. This recipe has you pulling them at 150°F which is safe for consumption while ensuring that succulent bite.
  • When checking the internal temperature of your smoked bratwurst try and use a thin thermometer such as the Thermoworks ThermoPop. Make sure you poke through the ends and not the sides. This will help minimize breaking the casing. You only need to check one after the 90-minute mark.
Have fun with different combinations of toppings for your smoked bratwurst.
  • This is not a recipe for beer-boiled brats. There is no need to boil the brats prior to smoking them. Boiling them will change both the flavor profile and the texture.
  • If your onions seem like they’re browning too quickly, turn the temperature down. Don’t rush the process. 
  • Make sure that you use a beer that you enjoy drinking. As it cooks down and reduces, the flavors will concentrate. An amber or dark beer complements the natural flavors of the brats.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should you smoke a bratwurst for?

You are smoking the brats to temp, not so much time. You want to pull them from the smoker when they reach 150°F which should be around the 90-minute mark.

What temperature are bratwurst done?

For juicy sausage that is safe to consume, pull them once their internal temperature is 150°F.

Do you flip bratwurst when smoking?

You can flip the brats halfway through cooking if desired, especially if spritzing with beer, but it’s not necessary.

What wood works best for making smoked bratwurst?

Hickory and oak are common choices because the bold flavor compliments the rich meatiness of the sausage. Maple, apple, and pecan will add a more delicate, sweet flavor that doesn’t overpower the brats. Avoid mesquite as it can overpower the flavors.

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Smoked brats with spicy beer onions and pickled mustard seeds.

Smoked Brats with Spicy Beer Onions

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Get ready for bold, rich, savory flavors and the juiciest of bites that Smoked Brats with Spicy Beer Onions brings to the party.

  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: About 6-8 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 6 bratwurst, uncooked
  • 6 sausage buns

Spicy Beer Onions

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 large white onions, cut into thin slices
  • 2 jalapenos, cored and sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1 cup beer (Amber or dark recommended)

Instructions

  1. Warm the buns by either setting them in the smoker for a few minutes or toasting them on the grill grates. Assemble with the brats, mustard, and caramelized veggies. Crack open a cold beer.

Notes

  • Slice the jalapenos in half and remove the core for a milder heat. From there, slice the peppers along their length to create a uniform shape to the onions.
  • The beer onions can be prepared ahead of time, even the day before. Slowly caramelizing the onions and jalapenos will add a huge depth of flavor, and should not be rushed.
  • Smoked bratwurst can be prepared and stored in the fridge or freezer. Vacuum-sealing the bratwurst will allow them to be retain their highest quality for up to 3 months in the freezer.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Category: Pork
  • Method: Smoking
  • Cuisine: Dinner, Lunch, Tailgating
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