Hard Apple Cider Grilled Brats

Having lived in Wisconsin for a dozen years, I know how to grill a brat.  Boil it in beer and onions and then grill it to crisp up the casing.  Put it on a bun with some mustard, ketchup and kraut, if you’d like.  Easy.

Wisconsin Hard Cider Bratwurst

Wisconsin Hard Cider Bratwurst

I discovered that we were out of beer, so I had to improvise.  What could possibly take the place of beer in a beer brat?  Then it struck me — I had plenty of Maiden Rock Honeycrisp Hard Cider.  Why not give that a try?  Chicken and apple sausage is good.  How could pork and apple sausage not be at least as good?

The results were outstanding!  The hard cider gives the brat a slightly sweet flavor to compliment the traditional seasoning of a Wisconsin bratwurst.


  • 1 package of your favorite bratwurst (My favorite is Johnsonville.  Oh, and go with the party pack.  They won’t last long.)
  • 1/2 of a medium white or yellow onion, diced or cut into rings – your choice
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 12-ounce bottle or can of your favorite hard cider.
  • Hot dog or bratwurst buns


  • Grill set to medium heat
  • Disposable foil pan for the bratwurst hot tub (completely optional, but fun to say)


Diced OnionsHeat a skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the oil and onions.  Saute slowly until soft and starting to brown.

Browned OnionsThey’ll look something like this.  You can turn the heat to low and keep cooking slowly almost as long as you want until you end up with caramelized onions.  It depends on how patient you are.  :)

Onions simmering in hard ciderAdd the hard cider and bring to a simmer.

Bratwurst boiling in Hard CiderAdd the brats to the skillet in a single layer.  Simmer for 12 minutes, turning once to make sure they are cooked through.

Grilled Hard Cider BratwurstPlace the bratwurst on the grill and pour the cider and onion mixture into the foil pan and place on the grill.  Once the brats are satisfactorily grilled, place them in the foil pan — the bratwurst hot tub.  They can stay in there for quite a while.  Just know that the longer they are in there, the softer the casing will get.  If you like really crisp casings, skip the hot tub.

Hard Cider Grilled Bratwurst with Baked Beans and Cole SlawAdd your favorite side dishes like baked beans, cole slaw or potato salad and enjoy!

What’s your favorite way to prepare bratwurst?  What’s your favorite grilled sausage?  Leave your comments below.

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About Raun Lauterbach

Optimistic realist, life enthusiast, outdoor cook, Midwest traveler, husband, father... Follow me: Twitter | Facebook | Get updates in your email
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  • Barbra Lauterbach

    MMMM MMMMMM Good!  Wish I had one right now!  I made 10 lbs of potato salad last week for Therese as she was having a grad gathering for her son.  Thought of you……..

  • http://www.backyardlifeblog.com Raun Lauterbach

     A little tater salad would have been good with the brats.  :)