Baked brats in caramelized sauerkraut is a wonderfully easy sausage casserole that feeds the family on a cozy weeknight. It’ll satisfy an Octoberfest or game day crowd, too ~ you decide. It’s a classic German recipe that everybody adores!
baked brats in caramelized sauerkraut
Rarely does a recipe tick so many boxes: it’s quick, easy, unusual, and utterly scrumptious. And it gets bonus points for being so on point for fall. We loved it so much I’ve already got plans to make it again for company.
If you love sauerkraut I probably don’t need to convince you to try this (the caramelized part? A-mazing), but even if you’re on the fence you’re going to want to make this ~ it’s sauerkraut like you’ve never had it before.
what you’ll need for baked brats
This is a short list of ingredients which means you can easily throw this together on a weeknight. Save carbs and enjoy it casserole-style, or break out the buns and fixings, both ways are delicious.
- bratwurst sausage ~ brats are a type of German pork sausage made from very finely ground meat, so the sausage has a very smooth texture. Look for them in the meat case at your supermarket. You want raw sausage for this recipe, not pre-cooked.
- sauerkraut ~ use fresh if it’s sold in your area, or jarred. I used a Polish brand that is light and fresh tasting.
- olive oil
- apple ~ any variety but I used a Granny Smith.
- apple cider ~ the fresh (refrigerated) stuff in the jug is best.
- brown sugar
- caraway seeds
- mustard seeds
how to cook a brat
Brats can be cooked in a few different ways, each of them yielding slightly different results. The one through line is that you want to grill or brown them off at some point, either on a charcoal grill or on the stovetop, to get nice color on the sausage.
GRILL/BRAISE COMBINATION The way I usually do it is to brown the sausage on both sides, then drop them in gently simmering broth to finish cooking. This is a good method if you’re feeding a crowd and need the brats to stay ready to eat over a period of time. They can remain in the broth almost indefinitely!
BRAISE/GRILL METHOD Some prefer to simmer the sausages first, and finish on the grill. That way they get that ‘snappy’ skin that everybody loves.
GRILL ONLY Some like to grill brats on a charcoal grill, or on a grill pan on the stove top. This method tends to dry the brats out a bit so be sure you don’t poke or prick the sausages or the juice will run out.
GRILL/BAKE Brown the sausage in a cast iron skillet, then bake to finish cooking. Baking the brats in cabbage is a nice idea because the brats stay moist, and the oven does all the work, no need to babysit anything.
baked bratwurst and cabbage faqs
While you could substitute Italian sausage or Polish kielbasa for the brats, I don’t recommend it. Try to track down bratwurst for this authentic dish.
This recipe can be served casserole style, with some mashed or roasted potatoes and a green veg or salad. Depending on the season, go with corn on the cob or a cooling corn salad. It can also be served in buns, with potato salad on the side.
Don’t do it! Pricking the skin will allow the juices to flow out and can make the sausage tough. Gentle cooking will prevent the sausage from exploding.
Yes, replace the cider with beef or chicken broth and omit the brown sugar and apple. You may want to increase the spices.
Cooking them in the oven for 45 minutes will cook them thoroughly. You want to make sure the internal temp is 160F. When fully cooked the brats may still look slightly pink inside, that’s ok.
You can use beer, or broth.
You can use fresh cabbage, try my Fried Cabbage and Bacon Slaw (below) as a delicious base.
why this dish works
THE EASE for one thing. After browning off of the brats, and a quick sauté of the onions and apples, it heads straight to the oven.
THE FLAVOR! The savory sausage juices seep down into the kraut as they bake, and the sweet sugar, apples, and cider balance out the cabbage, caraway seeds, and mustard. The sauerkraut slowly caramelizes as it bakes, helped along by the brown sugar.
THE VERSATILITY It’s a sit down dinner as is, just add a side of roasted potatoes and a green veg or salad. It can also be a make your own brat bar when you double or triple the recipe and set it out for people to assemble with buns and mustard.
more brat and sausage recipes
- Sheet Pan Peppers and Brats
- Slow Cooked Cider Brats with Apple Onion Relish
- Homemade Chicken Apple Sausage
- Jamie Oliver’s Easy Sausage Carbonara
- Brats with Spicy Cranberry Relish
- Italian Sausage and Bean Soup
Baked Brats in Caramelized Sauerkraut
- 9-10 inch oven safe skillet or grill pan
- 4 raw bratwurst sausages
- olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 green apple, peeled and chopped
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 3 cups lightly drained sauerkraut
- 1 cup apple cider
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Brush the brats lightly with olive oil.
- Brown them in a hot pan for a few minutes on each side, until they take on some nice color. Note: I do this right in the same pan I'm going to bake in, so make sure it can accommodate everything, and is oven safe. A 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet or grill pan works perfectly, I use this one.
- Remove the brats to a plate and set aside. Add the onions and apples to the same pan and saute over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Stir in the brown sugar.
- Add the spices and continue to cook, stirring often, for 2 more minutes.
- Add the sauerkraut and cider to the pan and mix well. Make sure to get all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, that's great flavor!
- Bring the pan up to a boil, then add the brats to the pan and nestle them deep down into the kraut so they will braise in the oven.
- Bake, uncovered, for about 40-45 minutes, just until the brats are cooked through (internal temperature should be 160F) and the sauerkraut is nice and caramelized. Note: Give the sauerkrat a stir once or twice during cooking to redistribute the juices.
- Serve immediately, with plenty of grainy Dijon mustard.
- This recipe is phenomenal and I highly recommend it. The flavors are wonderfully balanced and it’s just a delight.
- I did use a mild sauerkraut, which I think is a good choice.
- Double or triple the recipe to feed a crowd.