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.
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!
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
- Pour on Beer Cheese Sauce!
- Swap the beer for hard cider for a sweet, seasonal flavor profile.
- Have fun mixing up the peppers. Instead of spicy and grassy jalapenos try earthy poblanos or sweet red bell peppers.
- Top with Pickled Mustard Seeds.
- Add sauerkraut. For additional flavor put your sauerkraut on the smoker along with the bratwurst.
- Smoked Pickled Jalapenos
- Homemade Smoked Dijon Mustard
- Smoked Bacon Crumbles
- Spicy Brown Mustard
- Swap the sausage buns for pretzel buns.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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.
For juicy sausage that is safe to consume, pull them once their internal temperature is 150°F.
You can flip the brats halfway through cooking if desired, especially if spritzing with beer, but it’s not necessary.
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.
- 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)
- Preheat the smoker to 225°F.
- Start the caramelized onions and jalapenos while the smoker is warming up, as they will take some time. Coat the bottom of a wide saute pan with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, heating the pan on medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion and jalapeno slices and stir to coat with oil. Sprinkle some kosher salt and spread them out evenly over the pan, stirring very occasionally.
- Smoke the brats for around 60 minutes. Place the brats in the smoker and allow them to cook. NOTE: You may spritz them with dark beer along the way for additional flavor.
- Check the temperature of the bratwurst. Use a temperature probe and carefully poke into the end of the sausage, attempting to prevent the juices from pouring out. Do not cook them past 150°F or they will tend to dry out. This make take 90 minutes or more depending on the size and quantity of bratwurst.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Category: Pork
- Method: Smoking
- Cuisine: Dinner, Lunch, Tailgating
Keywords: smoked brats, smoked bratwurst, smoked sausage, Oktoberfest recipes, beer onions, beer braised onions