As you might imagine, smoking bratwurst is yet another delicious way to enjoy brats.
All you need are fresh brats, a smoker, and a little patience — it will take about two hours to cook your brats in a smoker.
Pretty much any smoker will work, from a fancy Masterbuilt digital smoker all the way down to a homemade smoker you put together yourself.
Smoking bratwurst and other meats is just what it sounds like: you cook at low temperatures and expose the meat to smoke, letting it absorb the unique flavor produced by the wood.
Hickory, oak, mesquite, and pecan are popular woods to smoke bratwurst with.
Picking the Right Brat
Before we jump into smoking bratwurst, first things first.
WisconsinMade is the most popular online retailer that sells and ships genuine Wisconsin bratwurst throughout the U.S.
It’s worth planning ahead and ordering in bulk so that you’ll always have great brats on hand, as the difference in taste can be huge.
If you’re in a hurry and picking from the meat aisle at the local grocery, Johnsonville is usually your best bet but check first at the meat counter to see if they can make fresh brats to order.
Smoking Bratwurst Basics
You’ll be slowing bringing the bratwurst up to a temperature of 155F to 160F, with about two hours of cooking time necessary to do it properly.
If you heat the brats too quickly in the smoker, the casings will rupture and you’ll end up with dry, tasteless bratwurst.
If done correctly, smoking bratwurst slowly keeps all the juicy goodness — which is the whole point of simmering brats before or after grilling in other recipes — and adds a delicious smokey tang.
While not necessary, a digital smoker such as a Masterbuilt can be invaluable when you’re first getting started with smoking brats, as it gives you much finer control over temperature levels than traditional smokers.
How to Smoke Bratwurst Steps
Actually smoking bratwurst is simple and straightforward.
Get your smoking going and aim for about 200F as far as the temperature. Some people cook at up to 250F but 200F to 225F generally works best and makes it easier to avoid overcooking your brats.
A minority of bratwurst smoking fans recommend starting for an hour at a much lower temperature of 100F for an hour, then 125F, then 150F as they slowly step up the heat to get the brats to the optimal internal temperature of 155F to 160F.
If you do start at temperatures well below 200F and are using fresh, uncured brats, be aware that most food safety recommendations for uncured meats warn to not cook at temperatures below 200F.
It’s up to you but we’ve had more success simply setting it at 200F and letting the smoker do the rest.
Use tongs when loading the bratwurst into your smoker and take care to not puncture or tear the casings.
If you use a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature, always use the same bratwurst when checking.
Puncturing it will let the juices escape so don’t inflict that terrible fate on more than one poor soldier when smoking bratwurst.
Smoke your brats for about 2 hours to 2.5 hours and you’ll be good to go.
Like many things bratwurst-related, there’s no one right or wrong way to cook a brat so if you’re curious about smoking brats, definitely give it a whirl.