The Gulbro Family’s Grilled Bratwurst
Food and Drink

Courtesy of Chef K.C. Gulbro

The Gulbro Family’s Grilled Bratwurst

"Brats have always been a family tradition. They are one of the first things my dad actually taught me to cook. Indisputably, his are so so good!"


1 white or Spanish onion sliced.

16-24 oz of Pilsner or ale (I like using an Irish red as well – but Budweiser or MGD works just fine). If you cannot have alcohol, substitute it with 1 cup apple cider vinegar and 1 ½ cups water.

4 cups of ice (used to cool the brine, if needed).

12 Josefs Elegante Meats & Deli (located in Geneva, IL) or Johnsonville brats.

1-2 jalapeños with seeds (if you like less heat, remove seeds and thoroughly wash hands) or a pinch of pepper flakes for desired heat.

2 tbsp of butter

2 tbsp of brown sugar

½ teaspoon of granulated garlic

½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of pepper

1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon ground caraway seeds

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

Create the brine. Combine beer, such as a Pilsner or ale, onion, salt, pepper, garlic, caraway seeds and sage. Optional: sliced jalapeño, habanero or a pinch of red pepper flakes for a touch of kick.

Bring to a boil and cool. Boiling your brine will ensure all your flavors are infused together for even flavoring. Pour brine over ice to cool.

When brine is room-temperature, add brats. Let soak for 3-4 hours on your counter or 12 hours the day before in your fridge for great flavor.

Remove and reserve onions and peppers. Pour brats and beer mixture into a pot, season with a pinch of salt if needed and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 5-8 minutes. 

Pour brats and beer mixture into a pot. Season the water with a pinch of salt if needed and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 5-8 minutes.  I let my brats soak for 3-12 hours. A trick my pops taught me was to add some onions to the mix.

Combine a ½ or whole red onion to the saved onions/peppers into a pan. For nice, caramelized onions, add a touch of brown sugar on low heat till brown, stirring often so not to burn to get all the sweetness out of the onions. For crispy onions, take mixture and add olive oil, 3 oz leftover beer, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper at higher heat, letting them blister and stir.

When the brats are done boiling, remove brats and discard brine.

Place the brats on the grill and let the casings get to desired color, turning twice. Cook on the grill for 5-8 minutes at 400-450 F, turning as needed until done. While finishing up, place your bun on the grill to toast it.

Top them with the onion topping, or a simple bit of sauerkraut and mustard, and enjoy a new grilled favorite!