Want to know the secret to the absolute tastiest quick and easy brats? It's right on your stove and only requires 3 ingredients and about 20 minutes to a comforting and satisfying meal. So much flavor, perfectly cooked through. Seriously, perfection every time! This is my go-to recipe when time is short, and it will probably become yours, too! Everyone will be asking how you did it.
So What Are Brats, Anyway?
Bratwurst (brat for short) is a German sausage. The German word is a combination of the word "brat," which translates to ground, and "wurst," which translates to sausage. Brats are commonly made with ground pork, and sometimes veal, beef or a combination. They are seasoned with marjoram, ginger, sage, cumin, nutmeg, coriander and caraway.
What You'll Need
- Brats — Start with a high-quality brat sausage for the best results.
- Onion — Red onion is preferred, but really any type will work great, even shallots.
- Water, beer or stock — If you do go with beer, I like to use something lighter that isn't too hoppy, like a lager or pilsner so the sauce doesn't become bitter.
- Oil — A little fat in the pan helps beautifully brown the brats and caramelize the onions. I usually use canola oil, but you can definitely use butter or olive oil.
- Pan with a lid — A cast-iron skillet is my go-to, but a stainless-steel pan, carbon steel or even nonstick will also work great. Tip: If you don't have a lid for your skillet, you can use a sheet pan to cover it.
- Instant-read thermometer — comes in super handy to quickly check the internal temperature for doneness.
See the recipe card for quantities.
The Best Way to Cook Bratwurst
There are many ways to cook Bratwurst sausage: You can grill, boil, roast or even air-fry them. After trying all the ways, the best method is definitely on the stove. The key is to brown the brats first and then add liquid, so they gently steam and cook on the inside. That's exactly what we're going to do with this recipe.
After the brats finish cooking, there will be some liquid left in the skillet, which can be made into a delicious oniony sauce. Just simmer down the liquid with the onions and make a nice natural sauce while the onions finish cooking.
How to Cook Brats on the Stove
Let's go step-by-step for making bratwurst sausage with onions in a skillet.
Step 1: Heat a 12" cast-iron skillet over medium heat with a drizzle of canola oil until it just starts to smoke.
Step 2: While the skillet heats, prep the brats by poking a few holes on each side to allow steam to escape so they don't burst during the cook.
Tip: Peel and then slice the onion lengthwise so the slices maintain their shape as they cook.
Step 3: Place the brats in the skillet and stir in the onions around them.
Step 4: Once the brats are browned on the first side (3 to 4 minutes), use tongs to turn them over and carefully pour in ½ cup water, beer or stock and immediately cover with a lid and reduce the heat to medium-low.
Step 5: Continue to cook for about 10 more minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 160° F (71° C), verified with an instant-read thermometer.
The total cook time will be about 13 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the brats.
Step 6: Remove the sausages from the skillet and increase the heat to reduce the liquid for a few minutes until a sauce consistency is reached, stirring frequently. Taste and season. Serve the brats topped with the onions and sauce. Enjoy!
Tip: The leftovers are amazing! Just reheat them in the microwave for about 1 minute.
What to Serve It With
You can serve the brats in a bun if you prefer, but I like to leave the carbs to the sides and serve them with German potato salad, mashed potatoes, a simple and bright arugula salad or a cucumber salad. A little German-style mustard is also great for dipping. Serve it with an Oktoberfest beer, German-style lager or any malty beer that will play off the caramelized onions.
Watch the 90-Second Video: How to Make One-Skillet Bratwurst
How to Cook Brats on the Stove
- Canola oil
- 4 bratwurst sausages
- 1 red onion, sliced
- ½ cup water, beer or stock
- Kosher salt
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet with a drizzle of canola oil over medium-high heat until it just starts to smoke.
- With a fork, poke a few holes on each side of the bratwurst sausages to keep them from bursting while they cook.
- Place the brats in the hot skillet, then place the onions around them.
- Stir the onions to spread them around and coat with oil.
- Cook the brats for about 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until they are nicely browned.
- Carefully pour ½ cup of water into the skillet, then immediately cover and reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Continue to cook with the lid on for about 10 more minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160° F / 71° C
- Remove the lid and the brats from the skillet.
- Increase the heat and season the onions with salt. Continue to cook the onions for a few more minutes to reduce the liquid.
- Serve the sausages topped with the onions and your favorite mustard.
- You can substitute beer or stock for the water if you prefer, but it's not necessary.
- Reheat leftovers in the microwave for about 1 minute.
This post was originally published on October 14, 2017, and was updated on September 19 2022 with new and useful information.
I have tried many recipes for my husband Elk brats and this was by far the best. It was so simple to cook too and as a busy Mom I loved this quick and easy meal. I like that is uses water too for a healthier option.
Elk brats sound absolutely amazing. We have some elk and moose in the freezer from someone in the family. If we happen to have sausage I'm going to try them with this method too!
Laurie O'Neill says
We have a great German-sausage maker nearby and I was looking for a stovetop recipe to cook bratwurst. This was really simple and delicious. The onions became very tender and saucy. Thanks for such a great indoor method for cooking bratwurst!
William Halpin says
These were the best brats I have ever had
I was craving Bratwurst this recipe popped up. So glad I tried it came out perfect, juicy tender brats, I used 5 brats and 1 half purple 1 half white onion cooked as directions said. Served with deviled egg potato salad . My go to recipe. Thank You
Tried it the first time without the onion because I didn't have any on hand. DO NOT DO THIS AS IT WILL BECOME A GREASE/WATER BOMB.
Tried again and actually followed the recipe (sub-ed water for beer) and it was excellent. Added some hot horseradish on the side.
Brad, I think you are on to something with your suggestions!! And darn it, as there will be some German bier left after using only 4 ounces, I guess I'll have to drink that.
Bob Thompson says
Best & most juicy Brats I’ve ever made thanks!
Wahoo! That's what I like to hear, Bob! Thanks for the comment.
Made this for a lovely 89 year old woman from Berlin and she loved them. Can't argue with that!
Wow! That is so great to hear. Thank you for sharing. 🙂
This was delicious. Thanks for the recipe. The onions were so good that next time I will add another whole sliced one to the skillet!
Janna R. says
This was AWesome! Easy and filling! Will be making again, sharing too!
Fantastic! Definitely one to keep coming back to for a quick weeknight meal that is so satisfying. 😛
Mike Farley says
Hi Justin, This is the first time we tried your recipe and it was delicious! We doubled the onions, and used beer instead of water. With home made home fries and cole slaw it was fantastic! A slice of warm apple pie for dessert was a perfect ending! We plan to make it again! Thank you. Mike F.
Hey Mike! Thanks so much for lettimg me know that it came out delicious. This is one of my all time favorites that we like to have a few times a month. Oh man. Apple pie for dessert sounds amazing. Cheers!
Ashley Reynolds says
This is HANDS DOWN the BEST brats recipe ever! I like to mix both yellow and purple onion and use beer in place of the water - preferably Shiner Bock, which is a Texas brewed beer. Thank you so much for sharing! This one is becoming a quick-dinner staple in our home!
That's fantastic, Ashley. I bet it was beautiful! I hope you drank the beer with it too. Sounds so delicious!
Fantastic way to make brats. 5 brats - no holes. Used beef broth from a boulion cube. White onion. Soooo good! New family favorite. Next time 2 onions they were that good.
Sounds wonderful, Eric! This is definitely one of my favorite go-to easy recipes that is so satisfying. I love the onions too. Though if you do use two, they might not pick up as much flavor. If the brats are done before the onions, just remove the brats and continue to cook the onions until they are perfecto!
Just made these. Best Brats I ever made! Delicious! Thank you!
Yay! So glad to hear it, Ellie!
I just made it tonight (with beer) and YUM! I was worried I'd mess it up, but my dad and husband enjoyed it thoroughly. Thanks for a simple and delicious recipe for bratwurst! ☆☆☆☆☆
I used white onion instead of red, because it was what I had on hand. Before the bratwurst even browned, the onions were burning.
Sorry to hear that, Hannah. How much oil did you use in the skillet and how high was the heat?
Water or stock are fine. A 1/2 cup of nice beer is even better!
You are so right, Chris! Though I have had some beers turn a bit bitter when cooked down, so you have to be careful of that.
It was fine and simple but it could be more unique in a dish for a sauce or something to place with the bratwurst.
I never poke holes in the brats, and it isn't recommended by anyone(but I tried it anyways). Tried this way, and they were so dry i couldn't even finish it. Did it again without poking holes and they were just like they are supposed to be.
Doug Calvin says
Where is the video one commenter mentioned?
The video is right above the recipe. Let me know if you have any trouble viewing it.
I won’t cook mine any other way again. So good! Did them for the second time tonight and they were perfect both times. I doubled the onions the second time because they shrink and we love them.
That makes me so happy to hear! This is probably my favorite go-to weeknight dinner when I want to cook and eat something delicious and want it quick and easy. Cheers!
Just watching this video makes me hungry again! This is one of the absolute best ways to cook Brats. Simple and fast with every bite full of absolute goodness.
I think it deserves to be on the menu every week. 🙂
Love this one, probably my favorite way to make bratwurst now! I used to just grill them but they would always come out way too dry and loose a lot of the flavor in the process. These have been a hit with the family and friends every time.
Vanessa Gonzalez says
How can a recipe with these these german dogs not call for garlic. add three cloves you wont regret the flavour.