How to Know When Brats are Done

Many people love to grill brats (short for bratwurst), but grilling them and know when brats are done takes some experience and know-how.

It gets even trickier if you’re grilling a whole bunch of brats all at once on the grill!

This article will teach you how to know when a brat is done. This can save people from having raw or overcooked brats.

First, let’s make sure we know what they are first.

What is brats

Know when brats are done when grilling them
Source: Michael Newman (Flickr)

Brats are typically a German sausage made of beef and pork with added spices such as marjoram, caraway seeds, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, coriander, nutmeg, and allspice.

They get their name because they were originally made in Germany but brought over to America by German immigrants around 1850-1900.

The sausage color is typically a bright pink, and they are about 10-14 inches long and very thin.

This type of sausage links up like a hot dog, and you can find them in the refrigerator section at your local grocer.

They go well as part of any barbecue or as part of an appetizer spread with cheese, mustard, veggie tray, pickles, etc.

What is the difference between brats and sausage

Even though these are both types of sausage, brats have some distinctions from sausage, typically made with beef or pork, whereas bratwurst is a type of pork sausage with German origins.

Although there really aren’t any clear-cut differences between how they taste, look or cook. Let’s just say that each one can be a little different on its own depending on what you’re looking for in your sausage preferences.

Before discussing when you should take the brats off the grill, let’s talk about what makes them done.

How to cook brats

Brats are already cooked inside, so it is mostly just about heating them up to the right internal temperature. This eliminates any bacteria that may be present and give that nice cooked look and taste to the meat.

How much cooking is required depends on who you ask, but many people say 160F.

160F is the temperature that the FDA requires to claim a product has been thoroughly cooked.

So it’s really up to you if you want them hotter or not.

The best way to know for sure at what temperatures your bratwurst is cooking is to get a grilling thermometer.

Once you’ve set the grill to a specific temperature with the help of the thermometer, it’s time to wait for it to cook.

After some time, if you feel it might be fully cooked, make a thin slice on the brats. This is the best way to look for doneness and to make sure there are no raw, pink juices inside.

How to know when brats are done

Use a thermometer when grilling bratwurst
Source: Aaron Hockley (Flickr)

You can use an internal thermometer.

There are two types of thermometers that work well.

One goes inside the brat and reads temperatures from within, which is best for steaks but may have issues with sausage because the area being measured may be closer to the edge. This could show higher readings than if it was measured in the middle of the patty.

The second type rotates and takes the temperature from 4 different parts of the sausage.

This is why it’s best for brats, as you can get readings from several different areas, and with a thin sausage like this, the reading will be more accurate.

Just note that most people recommend around 160F to 165F. It’s what they consider safe cooked internal temperatures for food safety. This means that that much heat has killed off any bacteria that may be present.

Some people go up to 180F or even higher to get an extra crispy bite, so it really comes down to personal preference at the end of the day.

Best way to know if brats are done without a thermometer

It’s effortless, just cut them open and check the color of the inside juices.

If it has an orange-tinged look, then that’s typical with brats as this is one of their signature colors. It means they are not overcooked yet, so don’t worry about it being too rare for your taste.

On the other hand, if there is a grayish color to any juices inside, then these have been overcooked. So keep on checking every few minutes until they reach desired doneness or remove them from heat altogether.

Another thing worth mentioning is that many people will place brats in beer during the cooking process, making them very flavorful.

How to know when brats are done on the grill

Just like with steaks, medium rare is the most desired doneness when it comes to brats.

So if you want them at medium rare, then this means they will be done in about 10 minutes or so on medium-high heat (not too hot that it burns them).

Because of their thinness, remember they may cook a little faster than other meats and could need anywhere from 8-10 minutes depending on your grill type/temp and thickness of meat itself.

If you know the sausage is already cooked inside, then all you have to do is get that nice browned look going. It happens quickly because these are pre-cooked anyway before placing on the grill. This means less time compared to brats that need to be fully cooked before going on the grill.

How to know when brats are done cooking on the pan

Another quick way of knowing when brats are done is by cutting them open, but this time from the side or top.

There should be no pink juices coming out, and it shouldn’t look grayish either if they were just finished cooking on a pan.

As far as doneness goes, it’s also typical with brats that some will never turn brown. Others may cook up quickly and easily become overcooked, so there is no right or wrong answer here.

If you’re not familiar with brat coloration, then I’d recommend cutting one in half and checking. But otherwise, practice makes perfect, as I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it quickly.

Having said that, many people will also cook these in beer or other liquids to ensure they have a nice moist bite and just provide flavorful brats overall.

Can brats be boiled

Yes, brats can be boiled, but they are typically always first cooked on a pan or grill before being placed in boiling water which is why it’s not necessary to boil them.

If you decide to cook or boil them, this will ensure that any added flavorings are forced into the meat itself. It makes for very flavorful results at the end of the day.

This way, if your brats have no flavorings already, then cooking them in water would be ideal. Chances are there’s nothing but salt and pepper added inside already, which doesn’t make for delicious results overall.

Also, don’t forget those essential grilling ingredients like onions and peppers. They should go directly onto the grill for optimal taste rather than boiling them, as they will lose a lot of their flavor if boiled first.

I hope you enjoyed this article and got a bit more perspective on how to cook bras at home.