This is our favourite smoked sausage recipe, and our favourite sausage to make at home.
Introduction – What is Bratwurst?
Bratwurst is a type of German sausage that was traditionally made from raw pork and veal, but now can also contain beef, lamb, poultry or even venison and wild boar.
It is often served with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.
It can also be served with a ketchup mixed with curry powder, called a Currywurst.
We are going to serve ours with a crusty roll, mustard and ketchup, and lovely smoky charred onion.
The German word “Bratwurst” comes from the Old High German word “Brätwurst,” which means “roasted sausage.”
In Germany today there are many regional varieties of Bratwursts (over 40 apparently), not to mention individual variations on the Bratwurst theme.
Different spices are used as well as different meats. That makes talking about an ‘authentic’ Bratwurst pretty complicated!
Germany has a rich history of Bratwurst. There are so many varieties of the sausage, that it is difficult to identify them all.
We are going to make our Bratwursts from scratch and then smoke them in the smoker low and slow.
You are going to need some basic equipment you might not have used before:
- A Meat Grinder
- A Sausage Maker
- Natural Hog Casings – caliber 28 / 30
You can actually get a combination of a meat grinder and sausages maker in one machine very affordably on Amazon. It isn’t the most amazing machine you’ll ever own but it’s an affordable and decent starting point.
You can get natural hog casings on there too.
Can I Make Sausages Without Skins?
It is possible to make Bratwurst without casings, a meat grinder and sausage maker. Bear in mind the end result will probably not hold its shape as well, but it will be fairly decent if you do it right.
You can ask your butcher to grind the pork meat for you, then you can prepare the Bratwurst for smoking by rolling it into shape by hand, and wrapping it in clingfilm.
Put your wrapped Bratwursts in the freezer for 40 minutes or so and they should hold their shape pretty well on the grills.
Smoked Sausage Recipe Stage 2 Prepare Your Ingredients
- 800g or roughly 1 ¾ lb boneless pork shoulder, cubed
- 200g or roughly 1/2 lb pork belly cubed
- 64g or 1/3 cup powdered milk (or dried milk)
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp freshly ground mace
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp dried marjoram
- 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 large egg
- 80ml or roughly 1/3 cup of milk
- 4-5 feet hog casing (sausage skins) rinsed
Instructions For Making the Bratwurst
- Use a fine grinding plate to grind the pork meat in your meat grinder.
- Put the ground pork (or pork mince) into a bowl and then add the powdered milk and various spices and seasonings. Using your hands, mix everything into the meat.
- Add in the milk and eggs, & mix well with your hands.
- Get your sausage stuffer and the hog casings ready. Now you can stuff your pork mixture into the hog casings. You may need to read the instructions for your sausage stuffer thoroughly.
- You will need to shape the sausage into 8 linked Bratwursts and then tie the end of the whole 4 ft casing.
Smoked Sausage Recipe Stage 3 – Smoke the Bratwursts
Now we are ready to smoke the Bratwursts. Make sure to cut each link with a pair of scissors so that we have 8 separate sausages to smoke.
Prick the 8 sausages with a fork to make sure that the skins don’t split.
Yes you will lose some of the tasty fat and seasonings, but nowhere near as much if you end up with split skins down the length of your sausage.
Get your smoker up to 110°C or 225°F. Apple wood is always a winner with pork so add plenty to smoke with.
Make sure that you are using high quality charcoal or it will not maintain the heat, and you will just end up adding charcoal to your smoker constantly, which is the definition of false economy.
Put 3 medium onion whole and in their skins into the smoker on an indirect heat first.
These will char and melt into a gooey loveliness so we can add them to the crusty roll with our Bratwursts.
We need to smoke our Bratwursts on an indirect heat (not above open flames or they will burn). We want the heat of the smoke to cook the Bratwursts, not open flames.
The situation is complicated by the fact that the Bratwursts are full of fat and this can cause flare-ups underneath the sausages as the fat gets into the coals.
There is really no way round this except to check your Bratwursts fairly regularly.
We don’t want the skins to split or we will lose fat and flavour from the sausage. Not to mention have an overcooked Bratwurst, which is a crying (or drying) shame.
Especially after all the great work we have done creating sausages from scratch.
We can remedy this by brushing our Bratwursts with a little oil or mustard during the cook.
It will take around an hour to fully smoke the sausages, and we need to keep an eye on them throughout.
As usual we cook to internal temperature not timings, so we need to get our Bratwursts up to 68°C or 155°F.
If you need an internal thermometer for meat try here for the UK:
And here for the US:
Smoked Sausage Recipe Stage 4 – Prepare Your Crusty Rolls
Around 10 minutes before the end of your cook prepare your crusty rolls.
Brush them with mustard and a little butter.
Remove your charred, smoked onions from the smoker and squeeze them out of their skins.
They should have melted to a lovely gooey and smokey texture, and be easy to squeeze out.
Add to each of your 8 crusty rolls, ready for each Bratwurst.
Smoked Sausage Recipe Stage 5 – Serve Your Bratwursts
When your homemade Bratwursts have come up to temperature, take them off the smoker and add them to the prepared crusty rolls.
Squeeze over as much ketchup as you like and luxuriate in the praise of your guests who crown you King or Queen of the Barbecue Smoker.
If you enjoyed this article feel free to try this one on Top Smoker Recipes:
Or this one on ‘How to Make BBQ sauce’:
For another, but quite different take on ‘Smoked Sausage Recipe and Homemade Bratwurst’ try here: