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Home Recipes Smoked Bratwursts with Beer-Braised Cabbage and Onions

Please don’t pop open a can of sauerkraut. You’re better than that. You, my friend, are a backyard BBQ genius. At least that’s what people will think when they taste this Smoked Bratwurst Recipe.

platter of smoked bratwursts.

What are bratwursts

Bratwursts are German-style sausages. They are traditionally made with ground pork that is blended with classic spices like salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and sugar. Then, those flavors are accentuated with herbs like marjoram and caraway seeds, which give them their unique flavor.

The flavored meat is stuffed into sausage casings and twisted into 6-inch long brats.

You can find pre-made, uncooked bratwursts in the meat section at your local grocery store. They’re usually near the Italian sausages and ground meat.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can also make Homemade Bratwurst.

Bratwurst, sauerkraut and beer go hand in hand. This recipe involves making a quick smoked, beer soaked sauerkraut that gets piled right on top of the best smoked brats with spicy mustard. It’s out of this world.


  • Coleslaw Mix: Grab a bag of pre-shredded cabbage and carrots. It will save you lots of time.
  • Yellow Onion + Garlic: I like yellow onion for this recipe. The sweetness goes great with the beer.
  • Beer: Use a dark or amber. It will provide more depth and richness to the cabbage.
  • Spicy Brown Mustard: The mustard will get mixed into the cabbage and added on top. If you don’t like spicy mustard, use yellow mustard.
  • Honey: For just a touch of sweetness.
  • Caraway Seeds: This provides the authentic German flavors that you find in sauerkraut.
  • Salt + Pepper
  • Bratwursts: Buy a pack of pre-made, uncooked brats or make your own.
  • French Sandwich Rolls: These are my favorite rolls for brats. They’re larger than hot dog buns so they hold the large sausage and toppings great.
bottles of BBQ rubs on black background

How to smoke bratwurst

For the best results, this recipe works really well on a pellet smoker that has multiple racks or a vertical smoker, like a Barrel House Smoker, Weber Smokey Mountain, Hunsaker Smoker or Gateway Drum Smoker.

The multiple layers of grill grates allow you to smoke the brats on a grate right over the cabbage, which allows the drippings to add so much flavor the kraut.

If you don’t have a vertical smoker, you have a couple other options. You can simply smoke the cabbage on one side of the grill and the brats on the other. Or, place the cabbage in a bowl or pan and then place a wire rack on top of the bowl or pan. And add the brats to that rack.

No matter which smoker you have, heat the smoker temperature to 275F degrees with an indirect heat zone.

Add a wood chunk to your charcoal smoker. If you’re using a gas grill, add a Foil Pouch with wood chips to get the smoke flavor.

  1. STEP ONE: Let’s start with the easy stuff. Grab a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw mix. The cabbage and carrots are already combined and uniform in size. Toss it in a bowl with some onion and spices and a bottle of beer. The darker the beer, the more flavor you’ll get. Place the bowl on the preheated smoker.
bowl of cabbage mix on girll.
  1. STEP TWO: Add the German sausage in a single layer to the hot grill over the cabbage mix. Close the lid and smoke for 1 hour.
bratwursts on grill over bowl of cabbage.
  1. STEP THREE: You’ll see the color of the smoked bratwurst transform, and the cabbage will be soft and smokey. After 1 hour, the internal temperature of the bratwursts should surpass 165F degrees, which is the safe temp for ground meat.
plump smoked bratwursts on grill.

How to serve smoked bratwursts

Remove the bratwurst sausages and cabbage from the grill.

Tuck the bratwurst in a bun and top them with that smoked cabbage and some spicy brown mustard. The brats will still have that signature snap with juiciness that runs down your face.

It’s that easy to smoke a perfect brat for a weeknight dinner or tailgate party.

bite taken out of smoked bratwurst in bun.


You can store cooked bratwursts in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Store the cabbage and brat buns separately. When you’re ready to assemble, heat the brats and cabbage separately and load them in a bun with mustard.

You can also freeze the smoked bratwursts for a few months. The cabbage however doesn’t freeze well.

GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips

  • Start with a bag of pre-shredded cabbage to save time
  • Use dark or amber beer for richer flavor
  • Smoke the brats over the bowl of cabbage for 1 hour

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to smoke bratwursts?

With this smoked bratwurst recipe, the German sausages take about 1 hour of cooking time at 275F degrees until the temp of the brats reaches the recommended temperature. If you smoke them at a lower temperature, plan to add more time.

What internal temperature should you cook smoked bratwursts?

Per the USDA, the safe internal temperature for all ground meat is 165F degrees. You can test this by using an instant-read digital thermometer. Pierce the meat thermometer into the bratwurst from one end.

What is the best wood for smoking bratwurst?

Pecan wood, apple wood and hickory wood are all great choices for smoking bratwursts.

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4.50 from 4 votes

Smoked Bratwursts with Beer-Braised Cabbage and Onions

Every tailgate party needs a cooker full of smoked bratwursts. These are made even better with smoked beer-braised cabbage and onions.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 10


  • 14 oz bag coleslaw mix
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bottle dark or amber beer
  • 2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 10 bratwursts
  • 10 French sandwich rolls
  • Spicy brown mustard


  • Heat Smoker: Heat your smoker to 275F degrees with an indirect heat setting. If using a charcoal grill, add 1 wood chunk. If using a gas grill, add a wood chip foil pouch.
  • Mix: In a large metal bowl, combine the coleslaw mix, onion, garlic, beer, mustard, honey, caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Place the bowl on the lower rack of the smoker.
  • Smoke: Add the brats to the top grill grate. Close the lid and smoke for 1 hour or until the internal temperature reaches at least 165F degrees. If your grill only has one level, smoke the brats next to the cabbage or place a wire rack over the bowl of cabbage.
  • Assemble: Remove everything from the grill. Toss the cabbage and onions. Serve the brats on French sandwich rolls with beer-braised cabbage and onions and spicy brown mustard.


Coleslaw mix is a combination of shredded green cabbage and carrots. If you can’t find it in your grocery store, you can shred it yourself. For this recipe, use a combination of 6 cups shredded cabbage and 3/4 cup shredded carrots.
Caraway seeds will give the cabbage and onions the quintessential taste of Germany. If you’re not familiar with caraway, it’s the signature flavor of rye bread.


Calories: 402kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 15gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 48mgSodium: 1136mgPotassium: 319mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin C: 1.6mgCalcium: 81mgIron: 2.3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, German
Did you try this recipe?Be sure to rate it, leave a comment and save it so you can make it again. Show off your awesome results on social by tagging @girlscangrill

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christie vanover standing against wood wall.

Hey BBQ Family

Hi. I’m Christie, the head cook and award-winning competitive pitmaster for Team Girls Can Grill. I have won multiple grand championships and have dozens of top ten category finishes. People know me as the girl who is forever hovering over a grill, smoker or campfire with tongs in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.

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