How To Cook Brats on a Pellet Smoker

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How to cook brats on a pellet smoker on a bed of carmelized onions with a sprig of rosemary

Whether you’re a grilling enthusiast or just getting started, there’s no denying that smoking meat yields some of the best results. And when it comes to smoked meats, brats are definitely near the top of the list. While cooking brats on a pellet smoker may seem like a simple task, we have some ideas for you that will make them fool proof. Plus, there’s nothing quite like biting into a perfectly cooked brat fresh off the smoker!

So if you’re ready to up your grilling game, read on for our step-by-step guide on how to cook brats on a pellet smoker. You won’t be disappointed. Keep in mind though, this is not a smoked brats recipe. This is a guide to help you find your perfect smoked brat.

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If you’ve never cooked brats on a pellet smoker before, don’t worry – it’s easy!

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something new in your backyard grilling repertoire, cooking brats on a pellet smoker is an easy and delicious way to change it up! It’s basically like hot dogs on a charcoal grill but with a unique smoky flavor that will leave your friends wanting more. Pellet smokers offer a great combination of convenience and simplicity when it comes to grilling, making them the perfect choice for busy families looking for fast, effortless meals. Once you master the art of using a pellet smoker for brats, you won’t feel intimidated to try other types of food – steak, chicken, vegetables – the possibilities are endless!

Looking to upgrade or add on to your smoking and grilling arsenal? Best Vertical Pellet BBQ Smokers of 2022 Reviewed {updated 2023}

Low and Slow or Hot and Fast?

When it comes to low and slow versus hot and fast, there’s no one size fits all solution. Cooking low and slow at low temperatures gives food a great smoke flavor, but cooking at high heat fast can give food a more tender texture. The key is finding balance – low enough temperature for long-enough to get great flavor, but high enough temperature for short-enough time to ensure tenderness.

I personally like to smoke my brats on the Traeger using the lower temperature and indirect heat methods. It helps dry out the brat casing without burning it. This gives the sausage the perfect snap when you bite into it. On the other side of the spectrum, my buddy likes to cook his brats on Traeger, 375 to 425 for 10-15 minutes. He scores them like the image below because he likes the extra crispness that comes with the hotter faster cook.

Do Brats Need a Beer Bath

If you smoke brats, everyone knows there’s nothing like that perfect brat. But how do you make them perfect? Ask any German, and they’ll tell you it’s all about the beer bath. After the slow smoke over indirect heat, the brats get a dunk in some good old beer to impart a rich flavor punch and moisture. It’s true – a good brat doesn’t come without its beer bath! So whether your spirits call for a light Pilsner or an Oktoberfest Marzen, don’t forget to give your smoked brats the bath they deserve before serving them up masterpiece-style.

Quick Note on the Beer Bath: If you are using pre cooked brats on the pellet grill they just won’t take the flavor of the beer bath like you want. So go ahead and skip the bath if you are using pre cooked brats.

What to Serve with your Smoked Bratwurst Sausages

For real sausage aficionados, you simply can’t beat the unique flavor of smoked bratwurst sausages. But if you really want to do it justice, it’s important to enjoy them with the right accompaniments. To that end, spicy brown mustard – not the yellow mustard stuff – is an absolute must. Peppers and onions are a great addition for added texture, and real gourmands will also use butter in order to add a real touch of indulgence. Of course no sausage would be complete without its bun; when it comes to smoked bratwurst sausages, brat buns are best! Don’t try and use hot dog buns.

Here is a quick list of my bratwurst essentials:  

  1. Great sauerkraut
  2. Caramelized onions
  3. Pepper & Onion Mix
  4. Spicy Brown Mustard or Whole Grain Mustard
  5. Horseradish pickles
Smoked Bratwurst on a bed of peppers and onions inside a hoagie roll

What Makes a Great Brat?

A great beer brat is all about the quality of the sausage. High-quality beer brats have a distinctly bold taste, made from pork that has been mildly spiced mace, coriander and sometimes caraway. The casing should be natural and not an artificial casing. The flavor of the brat should be slightly understated allowing the harmony of the pork and the warming spices to stand out.

Make sure you get your beer brats from a butcher who really knows what they’re doing — that way you can trust the flavors are top-notch and will make for an unforgettable beer brat experience. If you do not have a local butcher than Johnsonville brats are a good option to go with.

What Wood Should I Use To Smoke Bratwurst?

Honestly, it won’t matter all that much. Sausages don’t really pick up the subtle characteristics of the different types of hardwood used for smoking meats. You will pick up some smoke but not like you would a brisket or turkey. Use what you have.

Smoked brats on grill grates

2 Cooking Methods – Try them both and develop your own style based on your personal preference

The cooking process I use:

  1. Heat your pellet smoker to 250 degrees f
  2. prepare a small aluminum pan large enough to hold the brats with your beer mix
  3. 2 lagers to 1/2 a yellow onion sliced thin – heat this up on the grill allowing it to absorb some smoke as well
  4. place the raw brats directly on the clean grill grates once your smoker reaches temp
  5. smoke for roughly 15 minutes.
  6. transfer your brats to your beer mixture and close the lid.
  7. Turn the temp down to 180 degrees and let your brats hang out for about 20-25 minutes. This is a good time to get your favorite toppings ready to go.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

More Traditional Beer Brat Method:

  1. Heat your pellet smoker to 225
  2. Heat a cast iron pan over a high flame.
  3. Sear the uncooked brats in the cast iron until dark golden on both sides.
  4. Add in some sliced yellow onion, a knob of butter and a pilsner or two.
  5. Move the cast iron with everything inside to the smoker and smoke for 45 minutes.
smoked brats on a bed of carmelized onions with a sprig of rosemary

If you are a stickler for making sure your brats are cooked through you can use a digital thermometer to verify the internal temperature of the brats. They are ready when the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Also the cooking times are not hard rules. Once these are in the liquid, the beer, they buy you time to do whatever else you need to do. It is also a great way to have your brats ready and slowly smoking when the party shows up.

Looking for a great thermometer to compliment your smoker and grill? The Ultimate Thermometers

To wrap things up, cooking brats on a pellet smoker is an easy and straightforward process – even if it’s your first time. The key is finding the best method for your own personal tastes, whether that be low and slow or hot and fast. Though not necessary, a beer bath can give your brats added flavor and juiciness.

However you choose to prepare it, be sure to serve your brat with accompaniments like sauerkraut, grilled onions, roasted potatoes or peppers to really make the dish stand out!

Remember that in order to create an exceptional brat every time, quality ingredients and patience are key. Now that you’ve gotten all the tips and tricks on how to smoke brats perfectly every single time, get cookin’!

More ideas on what to smoke? Best Meats to Smoke in Electric Smoker for Beginners

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Chad Kelley
Hi!! This is Chef Chad. I'm a former restaurant chef and turned stay-at-home dad. My wife Yvette and two amazing kids live in North Dallas and are Huge FC Dallas fans.

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