What to Serve with Brats: 13 Must-Eat Sides
Ah bratwurst, another tasty meat that often finds itself at the center of the summer grilling season. Of course, indoors on a hot skillet in the middle of winter doesn’t sound bad either.
Brats, as they’re more affectionately known, are similar to hot dogs in that they are both sausages. Often, you’ll see them both served on buns at a backyard barbecue with mustard (or ketchup if you so dare).
But the similarities end there, for brats are thicker, fresher; and unlike hot dogs, aren’t pre-cooked.
Brats have special flavors to them from the seasonings that make them stand out.
Look, we love hot dogs, but we also have plenty of room to love brats too.
Bratwurst have a variety of flavor options with their juicy centers and tight skins that can be browned or chard to tasty perfection.
These qualities alone lend themselves to what seams a much more vast set of sides options. There’s a lot of directions we can go here.
If you’re wondering what to serve with brats, you are definitely not alone. It’s a common question people ruminate over when making a quick dinner or getting ready for a backyard cookout.
Sides for Brats to Complete Your Meal
Whether you’re in the mood for brats tonight or are planning your next big get together, having the perfect flavorful companion will make your meal complete.
Keep reading and you’ll discover a bevy if ideas for delicious combos!
1. Homemade German Sauerkraut
For us, one of the best things to serve with brats has to be sauerkraut.
Did you know that it has the same kind of beneficial bacteria that you get in yogurt? That’s good for your gut in keeping it healthy.
Plus, sauerkraut, whether you top your brat with it or enjoy it on the side, is the perfect side for brats.
If you’re in a hurry, you could pick some up at the store, but if you’re going that route, please choose the kind that is in the refrigerated section.
But we urge you if you really want to enjoy that sauerkraut, make it yourself. You’ll need to plan ahead a week to 3 weeks to allow it to ferment, but it’s totally worth it.
Not sure how to get this sauerkraut party started? Sarah and Tim at the Curious Cuisiniere have you covered!
2. Warm German Potato Salad with Bacon
We had you at ‘bacon,’ didn’t we? To be honest, it had us too. How can you resist?
Red potatoes seem like a match made in heaven for our old friend bacon, one of the best sides for brats for sure!
When it comes to making German potato salad (or any potato salad for that matter), a gentle touch is required once your potatoes are soft or you’ll have a mashed potato mush.
It will still taste great, but it won’t have that beautiful presentation.
And speaking of presentations, you’ll love the way Samantha over at Five Heart Home walks you through her recipe for a no-fail and fully fabulous German potato salad to go with your brats.
3. Traditional Kartoffelpuffer (German Potato Pancakes)
Brats are a traditional German sausage, and when we think of what goes with brats, we have to think about sides for brats that are authentically German.
Enter Kartoffelpuffer, which might be a fun game to play with your guests after a few beers (let’s see who can say it fast 10 times in a row!) or just call them German potato pancakes and grab your fork.
They’ll disappear fast from your dinner table, or if you’re having a party, they’ll be extra fun with an array of toppings to choose from like homemade applesauce (see below), fruit compote, or even crème fraiche.
Never made potato pancakes of any kind before? Not to worry…Check out the recipe link below.
Kimberly at The Daring Gourmet takes you on a journey of photos through a step-by-step process that will have you flipping your Kartoffelpuffer like a pro in no time!
4. Homemade Applesauce
Yes, in a pinch, you could use that jarred applesauce for sides for brats if you absolutely needed to.
But nothing comes close to homemade. That’s extra-true for applesauce. When you make it fresh, it tastes amazing.
You really just need a bunch of apples and a few spices and you’re in business.
Make a big batch and can it yourself. You’ll be so glad you did.
When you look at bratwurst sides that you cook in the skillet, you need to have homemade applesauce. You can see exactly how it’s done with this helpful video:
5. Creamy Cucumber Salad
If you love the spicy variety of brats, you’ll want sides for brats that cool down the palate. Enter creamy cucumber salad, a traditional German side.
In fact, they call it ‘Gurkensalat,’ another fun piece of German trivia you can trot out at your backyard barbecue.
Plus, when it comes to what to eat with brats, you really need to balance things out with a fresh salad of sorts.
Delightfully creamy and refreshing, it’s one to add to your spread.
Cathy at Lemon Tree Dwelling has a simply divine recipe we love for creamy cucumber salad.
6. Easy German Spaetzle
You know those egg noodles you likely stow away in your pantry for when you want to make homemade chicken soup?
If you love the taste of those with butter (so dreamy!) then get ready to find a new lover with a spaetzle dinner. It’s an easy-to-make egg noodle that’s just a bit chewier.
Once you make these, you’ll never go back to the pre-made stuff. Ever.
Spaetzle is simple and only requires 4 ingredients to make it the authentic way.
All you need to do is toss it in some butter and serve with bratwurst and you’re golden.
Julia shares her authentic and easy recipe for German spaetzle on her blog, Plated Cravings.
7. Grilled Corn on the Cob
Now, before you say, “too easy,” to our grilled corn on the cob suggestion, you should know that grilling corn is an art form.
When you get it right, it has that juiciness yet grilled flavor.
And when you do it wrong, it’s dried out and not at all tasty and won’t be the bratwurst accompaniment you’re looking for.
At your backyard barbecue, you’ll watch guests discreetly trying to throw them out when they’re overcooked.
What a waste! Instead, take a few top corn on the cob grilling tips from our friends over at Oh Sweet Basil, complete with a handy video and all the corn tips you need to bend your ear.
8. Sautéed Spinach with Garlic
Savory sides for brats are a must, and we adore the idea of sautéed spinach to go along with them.
When you think of what to serve with brats, especially if you’re keeping things on the stovetop, one easy side that you can throw on the table in minutes is that of sautéed spinach.
Our only complaint about spinach is that a pound of fresh spinach leaves cooks up to a meager amount, so unless you want to buy 10 bags of spinach for your gathering, this one will be an ideal choice for a weeknight brat-fest.
Heidi has a lovely recipe for getting sautéed spinach on your table at her blog, Foodie Crush.
9. Sweet and Sour German Green Beans with Bacon and Onions
Another vegetable side dish for brats that we love are green beans.
If you’re tired of cooking them the same old way, try them with a sweet and sour flavor from apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, whole grain mustard.
Oh, and don’t forget to adorn it with bacon and onions.
For what to eat with brats that are grilled, baked, or stovetop-cooked, this side delivers.
Kim from Low Carb Maven has a wonderful recipe that takes less than 20 minutes to get on your table!
10. Brown Sugar Baked Beans
For the barbecue spread or an easy, filling side for brats any night of the week, baked beans will fit the bill.
Made with brown sugar, it adds a satisfying sweetness that tends to go well with any level of spice you have your brats at.
Best of all, these can be done in your Instant Pot to get them finished faster, or you can set them in your slow cooker and get them ready while you prep other cookout classics.
Gina at Skinny Taste has a wonderful meatless recipe for baked beans that you’re going to love.
11. German Style Coleslaw
We’re always fans of coleslaw for barbecues and picnics.
This marinated-style salad is the perfect addition to any cookout foods, including bratwurst.
Some people love a creamy style while others prefer a vinegar-based option. If you’re in the latter group, this one’s for you.
Honestly, with the creamy cucumber salad we listed up there and a vinegar-based coleslaw to round out the sides for brats, you’ll hit all the right notes on everyone’s palates.
Lynn at Turnips2Tangerines lays it all out for you in her recipe.
12. Homemade Cheddar Pierogies
Confessions time: we adore pierogies.
And we often keep them tucked in the freezer for a quick and comforting meal.
But to make them from scratch? Oh, heaven!
They’re easy to make though the dough is what takes longest (doesn’t it always?).
You’ll need to plan ahead with making them, but if you do it during your downtime, you can freeze these babies and have them ready for your party, or for any time you want them.
Then when you consider your options for bratwurst sides, you’ll be like, “Of course! My pierogies!”
Tieghan at Half Baked Harvest has truly scrumptious recipe for this comforting food.
13. Grilled Zucchini and Squash
And finally, one of the best simple pleasures to go with grilled brats is grilled veggies.
Zucchini and squash are best in summer, plus you can also employ this technique with eggplant.
Even if you do the brats inside, cooking these veggies outdoors can add another level of flavors.
Plus, people seem to eat more vegetables when they’re grilled because they taste so amazing.
Watch this video by Chef David Bishop for how to get grilling with zucchini and squash!
What to Serve with Brats: Some Quick Tips
Let’s make sure how you prepare and serve your brats turns out just as nicely as your side dishes…
Quick Tips for Cooking Bratwurst
There are a number of ways you can cook your brats. From the range and oven in your kitchen to outside on your gas or electric grill. Cooking up brats in your smoker is definitely not out of the question either!
Some people parboil them and then grill them or sauté them in a pan.
Others simply simmer them in a pan of onions.
You can also bake them in the oven or just throw them on the grill.
When cooking them in the oven, you should keep it at 350F and use either a cast iron skillet or broiling pan.
Cook them 4 to 5 minutes per side before turning them, cooking them for a total of 15 to 20 minutes.
A meat thermometer can help you make sure you’ve cooked them just right.
For a more traditional way to cook your brats, you can boil them in water, or in a pan filled with beer (we recommend the latter!).
It takes just 20 minutes to boil. If you’re doing them in plain ol’ water, you can then add them to the grill with peppers and veggies you can grill along side. Heck, throw some spicy chicken wings on there too if you have a hungry crowd.
Don’t cook them more than 7 minutes and make sure to turn them often!
Quick Tips for Serving Brats
We’ve covered sides for brats pretty thoroughly though for most people, brats really require a few must-have items to serve with them.
In addition to what we’ve listed above for side dishes for brats you should make sure you put the following accessories out on your table.
Spicy-sweet German mustards are the best if you want a more authentic taste. If not, anything you’ve got will do when it comes to pairing with bratwurst.
For a barbecue, you can set out several types of mustards and let your guests choose the ones they want to use.
Depending on where you live, you might be able to find rolls made for brats.
But if not, a French-style sandwich roll or another type of crusty bread roll with certainly work.
Pumpernickel, rye, or other dark breads are another divine match for what to serve with bratwurst. (And of course, you can smother them with sauerkraut in your bun).
And finally, we must insist that you pour a nice, cold beer to go along with it.
German beers will be best, but anything quality and perfectly chilled will complement your brats in the best style and make for a truly memorable meal!
Once you’ve tried a good, cold beer with this meal you’ll know exactly why we mention it as the only drink for what to serve with brats. It’s beyond good.