Brats: What Are These Bratwurst Sausages?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 3, 2022

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A bratwurst (), also known as a brat in American English, is a sausage usually composed of veal, pork or beef. The name is derived from Old High German Brätwurst, from brät-, which is finely chopped meat and Wurst, or sausage. Though the brat in bratwurst described the way the sausages are made, modern Germans associate it with the German verb “braten”, which means to pan fry or roast. Bratwurst is usually grilled or pan fried, and sometimes cooked in broth or beer.

Bratwursts are sausages made from meat, usually pork, beef, or veal. They’re known for being very flavorful and somewhat spicy, and are perfect for grilling or frying. They’re called Bratwursts, and they’re delicious.

What is bratwurst

What is Bratwurst?

The Sausage with a Rich History

Bratwurst is a type of sausage that has been around for centuries. It’s made with a variety of spices and seasonings, like nutmeg, ginger, caraway and sage, and usually comes in a natural casing made from animal intestines. It’s a popular choice for barbecues, tailgates, and other gatherings.

What’s Inside?

Bratwurst is usually made with pork, but you can also find it with beef or veal, or a combination of the two. It can be grilled, steamed, broiled, or cooked in some other way.

The Versatility of Bratwurst

Bratwurst is a great choice for a variety of meals. You can make sandwiches, like hot dogs, or use it as an ingredient in recipes like beer bratwurst skillet dinners. It’s also delicious with sauerkraut, or as a dip like beer cheese dip. Plus, you can fill it with different things like cheese or peppers, or cook it in beer.

The Bottom Line

Bratwurst is a tasty, versatile sausage that’s been around for centuries. It’s great for sandwiches, recipes, dips, and more. So if you’re looking for a delicious way to spice up your next meal, grab some bratwurst and get cooking!

Everything You Need to Know About Bratwurst

The History of Bratwurst

Bratwurst has been around for centuries, and it’s said to have originated from the Old High German words, “brat” and “wurst”. The word “brat” means “without waste” and “wurst” means “sausage”, and it makes sense since the Bratwurst is a sausage made with leftover scraps of meat to avoid wasting it. Some etymologists, however, believe that the word “brat” means “finely chopped meat”.

The origin of bratwurst is still up for debate, with the people of Franconia and Thüringen arguing over who started it all. Even a 600-year-old bratwurst recipe from Thüringen couldn’t settle the argument! Historian Heinrich Hollerl believes that the bratwurst is a Celt invention, which was passed down to Franconians and Thuringians later on.

Types of Bratwurst

Bratwurst comes in different varieties, depending on the texture of the meat. You can get it in either very fine (fein), rough (groß), or mittelgroß (somewhere in the middle).

Bratwurst in the US

Bratwurst is popular in the US, especially in Wisconsin. German immigrants brought the brats to the US in 1954, and they were first introduced in a baseball game at the Milwaukee County Stadium. Nowadays, you can find brats at sporting events, tailgates, barbecues, and even at home.

Sheboygan is the self-proclaimed “Bratwurst Capital of the World”. The locals have a very specific way of preparing and eating their brats. They grill them over charcoal and eat them on top of a semmel – a special roll with a tough crust and soft crumbs. They season their brats with brown German mustard, dill pickles, and sometimes diced onions. And never, ever eat brats in a hot dog bun!

National Bratwurst Day

August 16th is National Bratwurst Day! It’s the perfect day to indulge in brats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So get your grills ready and get ready to celebrate!

The Rise of Bratwurst in the USA

The Germanic Influence

In the mid-1800s, a whopping one million Germans made their way to the US, with many of them settling in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Minnesota. And they brought with them a tasty tradition: bratwurst! This savory sausage was the perfect way to preserve meat trimmings.

Bratwurst and Baseball: A Match Made in Heaven

By the 1920s, Sheboygan, Wisconsin was a bratwurst mecca, with butchers churning out fresh bratwurst every day. Then, in the 1950s, bratwurst and baseball were brought together, and the rest is history. This delicious sausage quickly became a favorite at the ballpark and beyond.

Chorizo: The New Kid on the Block

As the Latino population in the US has grown, so has the popularity of chorizo. This spicy pork sausage is a tasty addition to any grill or smoker. So, if you’re looking to spice up your next cookout, chorizo is the way to go!

What’s the Scoop on Bratwurst?

Taste Test

If you’re a fan of pork sausage, you’ll love bratwurst! It has a similar flavor, but with a bigger, bolder herb kick. Plus, cooking it up can really bring out the flavor. So if you’re looking for something a little more exciting than your average hot dog, bratwurst is the way to go.

What’s the Difference?

When it comes to bratwurst and hot dogs, they may look similar, but they’re actually quite different. Hot dogs are usually made from a mix of ground meats, while bratwurst is typically made from pork. Plus, bratwurst has herbs and spices added to give it an extra flavor boost.

The Final Verdict

So if you’re looking for a tasty treat that’s a little more exciting than your average hot dog, bratwurst is the way to go. It’s got a unique flavor and a delicious herb kick that will have you coming back for more. So go ahead and give it a try – you won’t be disappointed!

Cooking Bratwurst: A Guide for the Average Joe

The Best Way to Cook Bratwurst

Cooking bratwurst is a lot like art: it’s all about personal preference. Whether you like ’em crispy, soft, or somewhere in between, there’s a way to make it happen.

Grill ’em up on medium heat for a nice char on the outside. Or, if you want to take it up a notch, use a charcoal grill to really bring out the flavor.

If you’re looking for a quicker option, you can parboil your brats before throwing them on the grill. This will help them reach the perfect internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

Tips for Cooking Bratwurst

  • Don’t break the casing before cooking your brats. This will let all the delicious juices escape, leaving your brats dry and flavorless.
  • Grill your brats on medium heat for a nice char on the outside.
  • Parboil your brats before adding them to the grill. This will help them reach the perfect internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, try using a charcoal grill to really bring out the flavor.

Safety First

No matter which way you choose to cook your bratwurst, always make sure it’s cooked thoroughly. The internal temperature should reach 165°F (74°C). Check out this guide on sausage internal temperatures for more info.

What’s the Difference Between Sausage and Bratwurst?

What is Sausage?

Sausage is a type of ground meat, usually pork, veal, beef, or chicken, that is seasoned with salt, fat, herbs, and spices. It can be found in dried, smoked, or fresh varieties, and is often sold in casings as links or in bulk.

What is Bratwurst?

Bratwurst is a type of fresh link sausage that originated in Germany. It is usually made from pork and veal, and is seasoned with ginger, nutmeg, coriander, or caraway. Traditional recipes also call for cream and eggs in the preparation.

What About Hot Dogs?

Hot dogs are a type of sausage, made from meat trimmings, spices, and a thin casing. They are usually sold fully cooked, as they are steamed in the factory before packaging.

So, what’s the difference between sausage and bratwurst?

  • Sausage is a preparation of ground meat that can be found in dried, smoked, or fresh varieties, while bratwurst is a specific type of fresh link sausage made with pork or veal.
  • Dried sausages are rarely found with a casing, while smoked sausage is sold cooked and fresh sausage is sold raw in both bulk form and as links.
  • Bratwurst is a type of fresh link sausage that originated in Germany, and is usually made from pork and veal, and seasoned with ginger, nutmeg, coriander, or caraway.
  • Hot dogs are a type of sausage, made from meat trimmings, spices, and a thin casing, and are usually sold fully cooked.


Bratwurst Vs Currywurst

Bratwurst and currywurst are two sausages that are quite different. Bratwurst is a fresh sausage made with pork, veal, or beef, while currywurst is a lightly cured and smoked pork sausage. The difference in preparation makes for a big difference in taste. Bratwurst is juicy and savory, while currywurst has a smoky flavor and a slightly dry texture. So if you’re looking for a juicy, savory sausage, go for the bratwurst. But if you’re after a smoky, dry sausage, the currywurst is the one for you.

Bratwurst Vs Hot Dog

Hot dogs and bratwursts may look similar, but they have some major differences. Bratwursts are made with pork or beef, while hot dogs are made with pork, beef, chicken, or turkey. Bratwursts are richer in vitamins, with five times more Vitamin B1 than hot dogs. They also contain less sodium and saturated fats. On the other hand, hot dogs have more minerals and folate, less sugar and cholesterol. So if you’re looking for a healthier option, go for the bratwurst. But if you want something with more flavor, the hot dog is your best bet.


Bratwurst sausages are a delicious and versatile meal that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Whether you’re grilling them up for a summer picnic, making a dip with them, or using them as the main ingredient in a recipe, you’re sure to enjoy their unique flavor. Just remember to use your NOSE when cooking them – you don’t want to OVERDO it! So, get your grill ready and get your BRATS on – you won’t regret it!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.