Why You Should Boil Brats Before Grilling Them

Bratwurst can sometimes get overlooked for outdoor cookouts with so many protein options competing for grill space — but it shouldn't be. The savory mix of pork or veal blended with spices like nutmeg, coriander, and ginger delivers a taste that puts hot dogs to shame. However, some folks aren't aware of just how flavorful a grilled brat can be because when they last attempted cooking them, they threw them right on the grill without a second thought. 


They may not look it, but these sausages are somewhat delicate. If a fresh brat hits the grill without any preparation, it can burst open, releasing all its succulent flavor. Conversely, you might achieve a beautiful caramelization on the outside only to discover after the first bite that your meat is still raw in the center.

Before firing up the grill, get some water boiling. Carefully place your sausages in the pot so the water covers them completely. You only want to parboil them, as fully cooking them in simmering liquid might cause them to break open and release all their juiciness into the pot.

After boiling them for 10 to 15 minutes, check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to make sure they are 160 degrees Fahrenheit and remove them from the pot. Now the brats can be kissed by the grill for four to five minutes, giving them a browned exterior that will lock in their natural moist essence and give it a delicious snap when you bite into it.


Add flavor to brats while parboiling

While boiling brats in plain old water will tenderize them and make them grill-ready, you have a prime opportunity to incorporate some extra zing when parboiling by tossing other flavorful ingredients into the mix. Adding some beer to the pot is one way to elevate the savoriness of the meat. Beer can be a powerhouse ingredient for elevating baked goods and making chili, and it is just as effective at enhancing the flavor of tasty German sausages. You can use any beer with a profile you admire, but one commonly used brand is Guinness. The slight hint of coffee mixed with both sweet and bitter notes will take your brat to the next level.


Another way to add some gusto while preparing your bratwurst for the grill is by incorporating some seasonings as it boils. By simply including some humble garlic and onions in the liquid, you can infuse the meat with welcome sweet and spicy notes. If you want to bring some heat, try adding red pepper flakes to the solution, or if you are looking for more of an earthy flavor profile, some oregano or sage will give the brats an herbaceous aroma.

More tips for grilling brats

Parboiling your bratwurst will allow them to cook properly on the grill, but there are some details to consider so all that time preparing them doesn't go to waste. One thing to watch out for is accidentally poking holes into the casing of the sausage, which lets all the juicy flavor escape. You also don't want to use high heat when you grill them as you would to sear a steak. Even though they will stand up to the heat better after being parboiled, high heat can still cause the sausage skin to break if the grill grates are too hot. Go for a medium heat that won't damage the casing but will still allow you to get a nice color.


If plenty of people are coming to your cookout, consider simmering the meat ahead of time. Because they don't take long on the grill once they are parboiled, you can get a suitable amount ready beforehand and keep them warm until guests start to arrive. 

While the sausages parboil, you could grill up some appealing summer fruits and set them out as appetizers before the brats are grilled. Preparing them early also gives you more time to make side dishes that complement the protein, like Dr. Pepper-infused baked beans. However you choose to use the time you can save by prepping earlier, your perfectly grilled brats will impress your guests and have them wishing you had cookouts more often.