Sausage Grilling Tips From the Butcher

Sausage Grilling Tips From the Butcher

Sausage making has truly become a culinary art form, even though it’s basically made the same way it has been for hundreds of years. Fresh ground meat is mixed with salt and spices then stuffing it into casings typically made from hog intestines. Over 80% of sausage made in the U.S. is made out of pork. Beef, lamb and poultry are also used and are gaining popularity.

Sausage is made in almost every country in the world.  Some recipes can be linked back to their original town or country. Bratwurst is a German sausage usually made with fresh ground pork and veal.  It is seasoned with salt, pepper, nutmeg and a few other spices. In Germany, you can find over 40 different varieties of Brats. They differ from one region to the next in flavor, spices and the way they are prepared.

Bratwurst is very popular in Wisconsin because of its large population of German ancestors. It’s also home to the nation’s largest Bratwurst Festival!!!

At my shop we make Bratwurst along with many other types of sausage.  We make hot or mild Italian, Italian with green peppers and provolone cheese, Polish, Lamb, Turkey, Cajun style.  We also make Brats with Portobello mushrooms and baby Swiss cheese.  Good sausage making begins with fresh meat that is about 70% lean. We use only pork shoulders for our brats. I feel it’s just the right combination of meat to fat ratio.

I love to grill fresh Bratwurst by lightly poaching them with peppers, onions and a dark lager beer in a shallow pan at medium to low heat.  Then finish grilling them direct until reaching an internal temperature of 155-160 degrees.  Brats are delicious when served on a toasted bun with sautéed peppers and onions, and topped with whole grain Dijon mustard… Nothing better than that!!! You know I’m German….

Here are a few of my Sausage grilling tips:

  • Use tongs to turn your sausage; not a fork. You don’t want to poke the casing and let out all the juices.
  • Grill low and slow; fast and hot will cause the juices in the sausage to boil, making the casing burst open, resulting in a burnt outside and a raw inside.
  • Never cut the sausage open while grilling to see if it’s done; use an instant read thermometer.
  • Sausage is pretty inexpensive so grill enough of it to go around, and grill it often!

Some type of grilled sausage is always a staple at my barbecues…. My family and friends demand it!!!

What are your thoughts? (3)


Luiz Alberto F

Hello Mark, I´m from Brazil, love charcuterie, and I´m starting to make sausages. I would really appreciate if you could tell me a recepie for seasoning the pork meat for a bratwurst tipe sausage. Or, in case you can´t, is there any specific site in the internet with reliable recipies for that kind of thing you could reccomend? Keep up the good work!!


David H

I have never been successful at the method of poaching brats first and grilling secondly. I like the idea cause the poaching liquid does flavor the inside of the brat. However, even at at the lowest heat setting and poaching for 10 minutes, the temp of the brats gets to about 145. That is too high prior to grilling if the preferred target finishing temperature is 165.


Mark Holzkopf

David, your spot on about the poaching liquid getting into the brats! That's why I always use a nice dark lager beer, I feel it adds great flavor.
Poaching them 8 to 10 minuets is perfect at 140 to 145 degrees.Then, just a quick sear to brown them up and your good to go!!
Happy grilling !!


Bill J

In today's world it would be nice to see a section dedicated to vegetarian grilling. I saw some nice vegetarian sausage in the store today and would certainly like to have tips on grilling that along with regular sausage.


Mark Holzkopf

Bill, that's a great idea!! A section dedicated to vegetarian grilling. I'll pass your idea along, and thanks for your input.
Happy grilling


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