Hot Tub Beer Brats


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If you’re looking for a unique way to serve up a package of bratwurst, then you must try this Hot Tub Beer Brats recipe. All you need are just a few kitchen staples like chicken broth, butter, onions, and beer and you’ll have cookout-ready brats in no time.

I recommend trying brats in two other beer-based ways – Slow Cooker Beer and Garlic Brats and Beer Brats.

Brats in onion and beer in slow cooker.
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What are hot tub brats?

Hot tub beer brats originated from Wisconsin and are widely known to be cooked for cookouts and summer family gatherings. If you find yourself in that state, you’ll hear this recipe called by several names, including beer brat bath or brat hot tub.

Regardless of what you call them, hot tub beer brats are exactly what they sound like – brats slowly cooked in a “hot tub” of beer, broth, and seasonings. The final step, though, it super important for adding the last flare and sealing in the flavor – smoking or grilling them.

This flavorful dish is a nationwide favorite that your friends and family will surely love.

Recipe Ingredeints

Ingredients for hot tub brats on a table.
  • Brats: I used the Johnsonville brat (raw type), which comes in a pack of 10. This is usually plenty for serving a large family; however, you can easily double the recipe if you need to feed more people.
  • Chicken Broth: This helps create a juice base for slowly cooking the brats and onions.
  • Beer: You can use any beer you prefer. The most common brands used are Bud Light and Miller Lite.
  • Butter: Butter always adds a delicious flavor and when mixed with broth, it creates a flavorful sauce.
  • Onions: These are chopped in rings and slowly cooked to add flavor and texture to the sausage.
  • Seasonings: Salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder are the perfectly-tasting seasonings for a summery dish like this.
  • Buns: Used for serving.

Step-by-Step Directions

6 images showing how to make hot tub brats in the slow cooker.

Step One – Add the sweet onions to the slow cooker. Then, sprinkle with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red chili flakes. Place the sliced cold butter on top of the onions and seasonings.

Step Two – Place the raw brats on top.

Step Three – Pour over the entire contents of two cans of beer.

Step Four – Pour in the chicken broth. Cover and cook brats on HIGH for 4 hours.

Step Five – After the cooking time is up, remove the brats and smoke and/or brown them on a charcoal or gas grill.

Step Six – Pour off all but an inch of the liquid from the slow cooker and set it to warm so they stay warm during serving. Return the grilled sausages to the beer mixture and serve immediately. Enjoy!

cooked brats in a slow cooker.

How to serve:

  • The Wisconsin way to serve brats is on hot dog buns with classic toppings like mustard and ketchup. You can also add some of the slow-cooked onions on top as well.
  • These also pair well with various sides, such as potato salad, chips, and cole slaw.
  • Some other topping ideas to try are bell peppers, dill pickles, chopped white onion, and jalapenos.
2 plates with brats on buns.

Recipe FAQs

What is the best kind of beer to use in this recipe?

I use two cans of pilsner or light beer, such as bud light.

How do I smoke or sear them if I don’t have a gas or charcoal grill?

You can do this in a grill pan, a bbq, or a regular skillet. If you choose something other than a medium to large grill pan, you may need to do this in 2 batches.

Why is the cooking time so long?

The brats may be done in just a couple of hours; however, it takes about 4 hours for the onions to tenderize.

What can I do with the leftover beer and onions?

You can use the leftover broth, beer, and onions for a dish like Shepherd’s Pie or turn it into a delicious gravy.

How do I store leftover sausages?

Place them in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat them over medium heat on the stovetop until hot throughout. Use a bit of leftover broth so they do not burn.

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close up of beer brats in a slow cooker.

Hot Tub Beer Brats

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 10
These brats that are simmered in beer and onions, are perfect for serving at your next cookout, potluck, or family reunion.

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 sweet yellow onions, sliced thin
  • ½ cup salted butter, sliced
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. red chili flakes
  • 38 oz. Johnsonville brats (raw type), this is 10 brats
  • 24 oz. beer, I use 2 cans of pilsner or light beer such as bud light.
  • 14 oz. can chicken broth

For serving

  • buns (you may want to get regular small hot dog buns, these aren't very long dogs)

Instructions 

  • Add the sweet onions to the slow cooker.
  • Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and red chili flakes. Place the sliced cold butter on top of the onions
  • Add the raw brats on top.
  • Pour over the beer.
  • Cook on HIGH for 4 hours (It takes this long for the onions to tenderize.)
  • After the cooking time is up, you'll want to grill or brown the brats. You can do this in a grill pan, a bbq or even in a regular skillet. (You may need to do this in 2 batches).
  • Pour off all but a inch of the liquid from the slow cooker and add the brats back in. Set the slow cooker to warm and serve on buns with the onions (and mustard too if you want).
  • Serve and enjoy.

Sarah’s Notes

  • Place the leftover brats in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat them over medium heat on the stovetop until hot throughout. Use a bit of leftover broth so they do not burn.
  • You can use the leftover broth, beer, and onions for a dish like Shepherd’s Pie or turn it into a delicious gravy.
  • Nutritional values do not include buns or other condiments.

Nutrition

Calories: 482kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 105mg | Sodium: 1252mg | Potassium: 441mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 307IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition info is auto-generated. This information is an estimate; if you are on a special diet, please use your own calculations.

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5 Comments

  1. Lori says:

    What I do is this: brats in a large pan, use enough beer to cover the brats (use Miller beer), 1/2 – 1 stick of butter (your choice), & 2 large onions. Then I put on the stove only long enough to melt the butter. Once cooled, put the pan in the fridge overnight. The next day, put the pan back on the stove & re-melt the butter. Put the brats on the grill & bring the beer & butter & onions to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. When the brats are done grilling, put them back into the beer mixture. It is a personal choice on whether you would want to use the onions from the pot or not. I prefer to use some cut up raw onion instead.

  2. Sue White says:

    5 stars
    We cooked on low for 6 hours Sarah? And we added Peppers to it with the onions on the bottom and stuck to the rest of the recipe absolutely wonderful . We’ve done them with and without green peppers !!! ☺️

  3. Barbara says:

    One more question. Why is chicken broth mentioned in the description and ingredients, but not in the directions? It seems to me it would be a lot of extra liquid.

  4. Barbara Dieges says:

    What about browning them first?

    1. Sarah Olson says:

      Yes, you can brown them first!