Sausages or bratwursts are some of the most misunderstood of the grilled meats. For some reason, because it’s a sausage, people assume they can do just about anything to them and they will come out fine. They boil them before grilling. They boil them after. They cook them so hot that the skins rupture. All of these things are no-nos. Let’s get into some sausage tips and tricks.

1) Just like any meat, avoid poking holes in bratwursts or sausages

The juices inside brats, just like the juices inside a steak or a chicken breast, taste good. Try to keep them inside the meat, or in this case the casing, so they make it to your taste buds. If the juices flare up over the grill, that means you don’t get to taste them. If roasting brats over a camp fire, sure they have to have holes poked in them, but don’t continually stab them with a carving fork to flip them over.

Sausage Tips and Tricks

2) Don’t cook them over high heat or the skins will rupture

Most people cook brats and sausages way too hot. Those casings are really thin and rupture at anything over medium heat. Super hot grills might as well be a prickle of porcupines. A group of porcupines is called a prickle. I had to look it up too but man is it fitting. Back to bratwursts. Ruptured casings means a TON of flavor lost. Put some grill marks on your sausages but don’t go crazy with the heat.

Grill Marks

3) Never boil brats or sausages

There are many sausage grilling rituals that involve boiling them, usually in a delicious adult beverage and some slices of onion. Some boil before and some after grilling them. Don’t do this. Boiling meat in liquid does not make tasty meat. It makes tasty liquid. This is how we make soup or stew. We get tasty broth not tasty brats. Now if you’re feeding a crowd in the backyard or at the campsite, an aluminum pan with some beer and onions to keep the sausages warm in a low simmer is perfectly acceptable. Boiling is a crime.

4) Save yourself the risk of cross contamination at the camp site by using the pre smoked sausages, which are also lighter to pack

If you’re out camping and don’t have all the comforts of a $200,000+ motor lodge and the obligatory trailered SUV behind it, you might want to consider going with the already smoked brats like these from Johnsonville.

Johnsonville Brats

No risk of cross contamination as they are already cooked. They are lighter than uncooked brats and thus save space and weight in the pack. As someone who just hiked more than 20 miles in two days, I can relate. On one day I hiked up Angel’s Landing and nearly had a heart attack from the over exertion of the steep climb, high elevation and a pack full of water to counter the 100 degree heat. The following day, extra water weight in my shoes from traversing the sodden Narrows made what seemed like a leisurely walk deceptively more strenuous. Because of those 2 days of hiking I know that every ounce saved in the bag is vitally important. Here I am in the middle of the Narrows carrying that pack:

The Grillin Fool in the Narrows

The scenery made me forget about the toll I put on my body both days, but the next couple days my aching muscles explained in finite detail how much stress I put on my body. A few ounces less in my pack and I would’ve had a much faster recuperation. Also, the flavors are already packed in the sausage which eliminates the need to pack extra spices when camping.

I also know that too many adult beverages and a lot of wonderful BBQ don’t make for a good physique for hiking. Nah. Gonna blame the heavy pack!

5) Smoked sausages make a great, smoky addition to any Dutch oven stew

Dutch Oven Cooking

Smoked sausages make a dutch oven stew into a STEWpendous meal! See what I did there? How could you not? I put stew in all caps!

6) They don’t have to be just for dinner

Instead of boring breakfast sausages, why not try the smoked sausages? I had them for breakfast twice last week. I’m not kidding.

Full disclosure. Johnsonville compensated me and provided product to do this post. 

Check back for my next post which will be a recipe for campfire cooking featuring the Johnsonville Smoked Sausages. This is one of those recipes the kids can be a major part of so if you like camping with the children, this is the recipe for you.

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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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