Slow Cooked Cider Brats with Apple Onion Relish

Wisconsin style Slow Cooked cider Brats with a wonderful apple onion relish

Slow Cooked Cider Brats with Apple Onion Relish are the real deal ~ Midwestern style brats with a crisp apple onion relish ~ we can’t get enough of them!

Cider Brats with Apple Onion Relish

I’ve got it on good authority that these Slow Cooked Cider Brats with Apple Onion Relish are exactly how they serve them at the pick-your-own apple orchards in Wisconsin. My daughter and her new husband, who’ve settled in Madison, just went last weekend. She raved about these brats and they sounded so good I quizzed her on every last detail. Brats, or bratwurst, are German sausages, and they can be made with pork, beef or veal. The ones I found at my supermarket are pork. The texture of bratwurst is a little smoother than regular sausage, and they are subtly spiced with one of my favorite spices, nutmeg.

In this recipe the brats are slow cooked in cider, and then packed into buns and loaded up with a delicious apple onion relish. Doesn’t that sound amazing?? It is…and don’t forget the mustard!

Grilling Cider Brats

I browned the brats on a hot grill for about ten minutes to build in some flavor and color, and then I layered them in the slow cooker along with some fresh apple cider. They will be done in about 2 hours, but you can keep them there on the warm setting as long as you like. It’s the perfect idea for fall entertaining, and it is the ultimate easy game night grub — just lay out the buns and the condiments and people can come and go as they please and help themselves.

Apple Onion Relish for Cider Brats

The relish is unusual and complements the warm cozy brats with a zingy crunch. I minced sweet yellow onion and peeled apple, then tossed them with cider vinegar and some toasted mustard seeds. That’s it! The vinegar keeps the apples from browning, and everything stays crisp and delicious.

Crock Pot Cider Brats with a zingy apple onion relish

The cider flavor definitely permeates the brats and lends a touch of sweetness which I loved. These brats got rave reviews from my family and I loved them, so I know I’ll be making them often this season. They’re so easy!

cooks notes:

  • If you want to double or triple the recipe, no need to triple the amount of cider. Just put the brats in the slow cooker and add cider to cover.
  • Ultimately the success of this recipe will depend, partly, on the quality of your brats. I always by my meat products from the best supermarket in town. If you’ve got a local butcher, even better.
  • The browning is an important step and even though you could skip it, I recommend taking the extra few minutes to do it, the color and flavor are worth it.
  • Turn these into beer brats by substituting beer for the cider. I’d be curious to try hard cider, too.
  • Use any kind of apple you like for the relish. I used a sweet apple, and next time I may try a tart Granny Smith.

Crock Pot Cider Brats with apple onion relish

I think you should drop everything and run out to the store to get the brats and cider. Let me know how you like love them!

Slow Cooked Cider Brats
4.12 from 18 votes

Cider Brats with Apple Onion Relish

Slow Cooked Cider Brats with Apple Onion Relish are the real deal ~ Midwestern style brats with a crisp apple onion relish ~ we can't get enough of them!
Course dinner
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
slow cooker 2 hours
Yield 6
Author Sue Moran


  • stove top grill pan
  • slow cooker (optional)


  • 6 bratwurst sausages with buns
  • olive oil for brushing
  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns
  • mustard

apple onion relish

  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion
  • 1 medium apple
  • 3-4 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds


  • Heat a grill pan over medium high heat until quite hot,
  • Brush the bratwurst with olive oil and place on the grill. Gently poke the sausage in several places with the tip of a sharp knife to vent. Grill for about 10 minutes total time, turning the sausages to brown on all sides.
  • Meanwhile pour the cider into a slow cooker and turn on low.
  • Put the browned sausages into the slow cooker. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns. Cover and cook for 2 hours. At this point you can turn the slow cooker down to the warm setting to keep the brats ready and waiting for hours.
  • To make the relish, toast the mustard seeds in a dry pan over medium heat until they start to pop. This will only take a few minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Peel and mince the onion. You should have about 1 cup. Add it to a small bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of vinegar.
  • Peel and mince the apple and add to the bowl, tossing well to coat all of the apple with the vinegar so it doesn't turn brown. Add the mustard seeds and toss. Add another bit of vinegar if needed to moisten the relish.
  • Cover and refrigerate the relish until ready to eat.
  • To serve, place a brat in a bun, slather with your favorite mustard, and load it up with the apple onion relish.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.


Don’t forget to pin these Slow Cooked Cider Brats with Apple Onion Relish

Slow Cooked Cider Brats with Apple Onion Relish pin

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  • Reply
    October 5, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    This looks delicious. In this recipe, are these brats pre cooked or raw brats from the meat store? Thanks!

    • Reply
      October 5, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      I used raw brats, Danielle, but there’s no reason you can’t used the pre cooked ones.

  • Reply
    Toni | BoulderLocavore
    September 28, 2015 at 8:32 am

    YUM! I love using my slow cooker especially at this time of year and there is only so much chili my family can take! This is a great option to upgrade hotdogs with style….and little work from me!

  • Reply
    September 25, 2015 at 5:02 am

    I’ll follow in the comment footsteps of Chris as another WI native. My husband and I both actually, and having lived in various parts of the south for nearly six years now — though ever-longing to return — we take every opportunity to create edible memories of home. Our families would poach the brats in beer and onions, but this twist to incorporate fresh apple cider and the apples we’d pick this time of year is marvelous. The perfect meal to cheer on our Packers! Cheers.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    September 24, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    These sound perfect and I am loving that onion apple relish – definitely on the list!

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    September 24, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    5 stars
    This is the perfect meal for game day! Love that apple onion relish with the brats, so good!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    September 23, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    5 stars
    I have never heard of apple onion relish – this is so cool! Everybody loves a good brat and your recipe sounds wonderful – I would have never thought to simmer in cider – cool! sharing and pinning!

    • Reply
      September 23, 2015 at 5:02 pm

      I know — that’s what intrigued me, I hadn’t heard of it either, but now it’s my new favorite thing!

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    September 23, 2015 at 7:51 am

    5 stars
    This is from a born and raised in Wisconsin girl – these look amazing! I love that apple relish, sweet and spicy sounds perfect with brats!
    Every Sunday while I was growing up, my mom would make a big bowl of German potato salad, an old fashioned jello mold and have a big pack of brats ready to grill. Then we would wait to see who would come to visit. Such a different lifestyle!
    We would grill the brats and then let them simmer over a super low heat, in beer – but I love the idea of apple cider. You’re making me homesick 🙂

    • Reply
      September 23, 2015 at 9:39 am

      I was thinking about you when I made these, Chris! The idea of the German potato salad in the jello mold sounds incredible 🙂

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