Bratsgiving is right around the corner. What is Bratsgiving, you ask? August 16th is National Bratwurst Day which has been dubbed Bratsgiving Day. Think about it. May has Memorial Day and Mothers Day, June has Father’s Day, July has 4th of July and September has Labor Day, all of which are huge grilling/BBQ cookout days, but what about August. It’s high time we have a grilling holiday in August. Bratsgiving is timed perfectly to fill in that nearly two month gap between 4th of July and Labor Day.  So not only is it another reason to invite friends over and enjoy some time around the grill, but with 12 days of Bratsgiving, which lead up to Bratsgiving Day, it is almost a full season of reveling in the iconic bratwurst. Let me help with some possibilities for a Bratwurst Bar for Bratsgiving festivities. I’m going with a bratwurst bar as well as a featured brat that was inspired by the city I live in, St. Louis.

Bratwurst Bar for Bratsgiving Ingredients:

  • Plenty of Johnsonville Brats in lots of varieties
  • A variety of premium buns
  • Yellow, orange, and red bell pepper, sliced
  • Yellow, orange, red bell pepper and purple onion, sauteed
  • Jalapeños
  • Pickles
  • Purple onion, sliced
  • Fresh tomato, sliced
  • Basil pesto
  • Ketchup and mustard (and it is absolutely perfectly acceptable to put ketchup on a bratwurst)
  • Marinara sauce
  • Roped provel cheese

Bratwurst Cooking Basics

Let’s start off bratwurst cooking tips

Johnsonville brats on a platter
From front to back there are two each of Bacon and Cheddar Cheddar Cheddar Jalapeno Beer and Hot and Spicy

Hot and Fast or Low and Slow?

There are two options here for most people, when it comes to grilling brats. Actually the vast majority of people cook brats one way. Hot and fast. I’m not one of those people. I prefer smoking bratwurst low and slow. Low and slow will keep the skins intact and impart some amazing smoke flavor. In fact, if done right, when finished the skins should have a distinct snap with every bite. Here are all those brats in the pic above along with some Italian sausage and a couple standard Johnsonville brats in my smoker which is set at 225F:

Bratwursts on the smoker
In addition to the 5 varieties in the pic above this one there are also Italian sausages closest to the camera and standard brats furthest from the camera

After about an hour and 15 minutes the brats are firm and crisp and ready to eat:

Smoked Bratwurst
Smoked Bratwurst ready to serve

Caramelized Peppers and Onions

While those brats are smoking, slice up the peppers and onions and put them in a pan with some oil:

Sauteed Peppers

Sauteed Peppers
Cook till soft

Set the sauteed peppers and onions on the bar with the other toppings.

350F – 400F not 500F

For those that like the hot and fast method of grilling brats, may I suggest maxing out the temps at 400F. Once the temps get close to 500 and above, those skins rupture pretty quickly. The idea of the skins is not just to keep the meat but the liquid fat as well. Rupture them and that fat floods out which means that ticket to Flavortown just leaked all over the bottom of the grill. The grill marks won’t be as pronounced, but slightly lighter grill marks is a worthy trade off for intact skins:

Johnsonville Brats grilled hot and fast
Johnsonville Brats grilled hot and fast just not that hot or that fast

Here we have smoked bratwursts next to some grilled ones:

Smoked and grilled brats
Smoked top and grilled brats bottom

Now that we have our Johnsonville brats ready to go, time to pick the buns and toppings. Start with the buns. Go with a variety of premium buns. A pretzel bun is a must as are Hawaiian buns as far as I’m concerned:

A variety of buns
The buns dont just hold the brats and the toppings they add a distinct flavor profile and mouthfeel so make sure to have a variety

My spread is St. Louis themed

Now pick the toppings. I went with a St. Louis inspiration here for my feature bratwurst for Bratsgiving. St. Louis is the home of the largest brewer in the world. It is also home of wafer thin pizza topped with provel cheese. So I took a beer brat and topped it with marinara sauce and roped provel cheese to invent the Beer and Pizza Brat:

Bratwurst Bar for Bratsgiving
Pizza and beer in a bratwurst

To take this to the next level, throw the Beer and Pizza Brat onto the smoker for a few minutes to melt the cheese:

Bratwurst Bar for Bratsgiving
Mmmmmm Melty

This brat was very reminiscent of a meatball sub and I LOVE meatball subs. This was one of the best bratwurst I’ve ever had. That’s not hyperbole. It was an absolute home run. My dad helped me with this photo shoot and asked me if I would do it again. There is no doubt I’m doing this again. This very well may be my go to bratwurst from now on. Another sausage option here for this combo is the Italian Sausage:

Italian Sausages
Make it a Beer and <em>Sausage<em> Pizza Brat

Here are some other combos to make your Bratsgiving memorable and necessitate the loosening of the waistband just like on Thanksgiving before heading off to the recliner for a quick snooze. If I’m the only one that does this then please don’t judge. I’m only human:

Bratwurst Bar for Bratsgiving
Cheddar Jalapeno Bratwurst with roasted peppers and onions on a Hawaiian bun
Standard bratwurst on a pretzel bun with basil pesto
Bratwurst Bar for Bratsgiving
Bacon Cheddar Bratwurst with fresh tomato and yellow mustard on a Hawaiian bun
Bratwurst Bar for Bratsgiving
Cheddar brat turned into Cheddar Jalapeno by adding jalapenos and put it all into a pretzel bun

But really, just go crazy with the toppings and let your guests decide which bratwurst/bun/toppings combo is the best for them this Bratsgiving Day:

Bratwurst Bar for Bratsgiving
Grab lots of options for potential toppings for family and friends on Bratsgiving

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or shoot me an email.

Here are a couple other sausage recipes. Recipe #1 and recipe #2.

This post was sponsored by Johnsonville Bratwursts. Give those bacon cheddar brats a go. They were a hit during this shoot.

Also, you can follow us on our GrillinFools Facebook pageInstagram, and YouTube feeds

Johnsonville Bratwurst Bar for Bratsgiving

A Bratwurst Bar for Bratsgiving is a series of sausages, buns and toppings arrayed out so your guests can choose what they want for their sausage sandwich
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Entree, Finger Food, Main Course, Sandwich
Cuisine: American, American Fare, Barbecue, BBQ, Bratwursts, Finger Food, Grilling, North American, Sandwich, Sausage
Keyword: #Grilled, #Smoked, Brats, Bratsgiving, Bratwursts, Bratwust, Grill, Grilling, Johnsonville, Johnsonville Brats, Johnsonville Sausage, Pork, Sandwich, Sandwiches, Smoked Sausage, Smoking


  • Johnsonville Brats in lots of varieties
  • high quality buns in lots of varieties
  • yellow, orange, and red bell pepper sliced
  • yellow, orange, and red bell pepper sautéed
  • red onions sautéed
  • jalapeno peppers
  • pickles
  • red onions raw
  • tomatoes sliced
  • basil pesto
  • mustard
  • ketchup (it is absolutely perfectly acceptable to put ketchup on a bratwurst)
  • Marinara sauce
  • roped provel cheese


  • I recommend smoking the brats at 250 for about 75 minutes until they firm up and the skin has a crisp snap when biting into it (and they reach an internal temp of at least 150F)
  • While the bratwursts are smoking, saute some peppers and onions in oil until they become soft
  • Place a variety of buns in a bowl and prepare all the different toppings, creating a bratwurst bar
  • To create the Beer and Pizza Brat, place a beer brat in a bun and top with marinara sauce and roped provel cheese.
  • Smoke the Beer and Pizza Brat until the cheese melts
  • Otherwise have family and friends enjoy mixing and matching bratwurst flavors, buns and toppings to have the bestest Bratsgiving.


Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas

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