Small Batch

Sheboygan-Style Bratwurst

by • October 8, 2013 17 Comments

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It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Get ready for a project -- Megan Scott of The Joy Kitchen is walking us through how to make brats at home, just in time for Oktoberfest.

Homemade Bratwurst Recipe

Any way you look at it, this recipe is a project. A delicious, delicious project. But you can break it down into stages to make it more doable: 

On day one, get your spice mixture ready.

On day two, grind the meat.

On day three, stuff the sausages.

On day four, grill and poach your brats. 

Homemade Bratwurst Recipe

These homemade bratwurst, finished off Sheboygan-style in a beer-butter-herb bath with braised onions, are completely worth the time investment. The beauty of the beer bath method is that you get all the charred flavors and browning of grilling, but you don't have to rush to have all the brats grilled off at the same time. Keeping them in the beer bath not only adds flavor, but it also keeps the brats moist and warm while you grill the brats in batches if you need to. This gives you more leeway in terms of cooking time and ensures that all your guests get the brats at their peak. The beer and butter-braised onions are a bonus.

Sheboygan-Style Brats

Makes about twelve 4-inch sausages

For the Brats 

1 1/2 pounds pork butt, fat trimmed and discarded
1 pound veal shoulder or beef hanger steak, fat trimmed and discarded
1/2 pound pork fatback
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground white pepper
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic, optional
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, optional
One 5-foot piece natural sausage casing

Cut the pork butt, veal or beef, and fatback into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes and chill thoroughly. It helps to have the meat partially frozen to prevent the fat from smearing.

Grind the meat in small batches using a meat grinder fitted with a 3/16-inch plate.

Combine the meat in a bowl with the spices. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate.

Homemade Bratwurst Recipe

If the sausage casings are salt-packed, rinse and soak them for 30 minutes. Slide the casing onto your sausage stuffer's tube. Put the beef-pork mixture into the stuffer and run the motor (or press the mixture, if using a manual stuffer), pushing the mixture until it begins to emerge from the sausage stuffer. You want to start pushing meat into the casing before tying off the end to make sure no air is trapped in the casing.

Tie the casing into a knot and start extruding the meat into the casing, slipping more casing off as necessary. You want the casing to be tightly packed with the sausage mixture, but not so full that it bursts. At first, this can seem tricky, but as you go you'll get the hang of it. Now you have one long sausage. Gently twist it into 4-inch lengths. Cut apart or leave in a string and refrigerate until ready to cook, no more than two days. To store longer, freeze in zip-top bags with as much air squeezed out as possible.

Homemade Bratwurst Recipe

For the Beer Bath

6 cups beer, preferably a German lager, pilsner, or ale
1 cup butter
1 large onion, grated
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, optional
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

Homemade Bratwurst Recipe

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine all the ingredients for the bath and bring to a low simmer.

Prepare a medium grill fire. Brown the brats evenly, off to the side of the coals, turning frequently. When the brats are browned, remove to the barely simmering beer bath and let sit for 15 minutes or longer.

Serve the brats in good crusty buns with the braised onion slices on top. Have sauerkraut, whole-grain mustard, and ketchup on hand.

Homemade Bratwurst Recipe

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Megan Scott

Topics: How to Cook, DIY Food, Beer, German Cooking

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Comments (17)


about 1 month ago Patti

Made these brats per recipe with only the following changes- omitted the fat back and used all the fat in the pork butt (I hate to waste anything when making sausage). Added an extra tsp salt to make up for no fat back (about 500mg sodium per 2 oz fat back and there's about 2,000 mg sodium in a tsp salt). WOW! My best sausage-making adventure to date. I'm wondering if the beer variety really matters since the beer is blended with strong-flavored onions, garlic, spices, butter, and then boiled. I hate to ruin high-quality beer so whatever is on sale is my "cooking beer". I do see how the beer bath keeps them tender and juicy though. Now I need to work on making the perfect bun to go with them. Anyone got a recipe?


6 months ago Lefty

I might be the first commenter who has actually made this recipe... :)
The spices were balanced aside from the nutmeg and red pepper flake, I cut both down a bit for my 2nd batch which came out nicely. Instead of garlic I opted for dark, almost burnt chopped onion which was fried in butter. I also added a splash of craft brown ale, a handful of golden raisins and minced Medjool dates. All seemed to add a pleasant, maltiness to the final product.


12 months ago Boone Beausoleil

Allen, there are top and bottom ale yests. Pilsner is a malt used in both ales and lagers. The majority of yeasts are ale yeasts. At least get your facts right if you'regoing to be smart about things.


about 1 year ago Allen J. Smith

You recommend serving it with ale, lager or Pilsner, but All beers are either ale or lager, defined, respectively, by whether top- or bottom-forming yeast is used. Whatever beer you choose will be one of those.

Pilsner is a lager.


about 1 year ago David Hughes

What a lovely site - I was looking for Bratwurst guide and finally found you.
I put together a Thuringian based recipe with my local butcher's help:


over 1 year ago Cris Tailor

Thanks for the recipe buddy. Being an Indian I have always been a fan of the german food especially bratwurst. I have tried the same recipe with authentic German bbq sausages available here from AFC. Thanks to Arthur‘s Food Company that had brought the delicious German sausages and gourmet delicatessen to India.I just love the awesome taste of their products,which provokes me to taste them again and again.


almost 2 years ago Aya

This looks way better than any hot dog I've ever had! Especially love that drizzle of grainy mustard . . . that stuff's like gold!



almost 2 years ago Beehive Alchemy

Sheboygan native here... Can't wait to try making my own brats.
To me, the Hard Roll to serve it up on is key. A soft hamburger bun just doesn't cut it!


almost 2 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

i normally order my Brats from Nueske's, but this certainly looks like a fun project for a cold January weekend. :)


almost 2 years ago Gmarkb

I live just down the road from Sheboygan. There are many little butcher shops in the Milwaukee area, north to Sheboygan that pride themselves on making great bratwurst. Those of us who have grown up and live in Wisconsin take for granted the abundance of great sausages - brats, Italians, Hungarians, Polish -- until we travel to other parts of the country and find out how unique it is. Brats grilled,steeped in beer-soaked onions, then slathered in grainy mustard is a staple around here, which partially explains our girth, I suppose. If you're ever in Milwaukee be sure to stop in to the Usingers factory store downtown.


almost 2 years ago savorthis

Ha! I remember stopping in Sheboygan on a camping trip across country and loving the toasty buttered buns. We missed the Friday fry-out but the brats and cheese curds were great. And for some reason the restaurant owner gave us a "wink-wink nudge-nudge" when we told him we were from San Francisco. We still don't know exactly what he was getting at but it was pretty funny. Made my husband and me feel like exotic world travelers.


almost 2 years ago arcane54

Just saying Sheboygan makes me smile. Can't wait to have a brat party! I wish we could get Schlitz out here... Now that would bring back some good memories!


almost 2 years ago petitbleu

Nice! My grandfather used to work at a Stroh's brewery, and I distinctly remember Schlitz. I wish we'd had one when we were taking photos of the brats!


almost 2 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I grew up about 10 minutes north of Sheboygan! This recipe rocks!!


almost 2 years ago petitbleu

Thanks, hardlikearmour! Hope you get a chance to try it out.


almost 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

You had me at "Sheboygan." Totally. ;o)


almost 2 years ago petitbleu