Last Updated on October 12, 2021
Smoking brats on a pellet grill allows you to add delicious flavors to this tasty German sausage. While many outdoor cooking enthusiasts like to charcoal grill their brats, the risk of flare ups increases the chances of the casing splitting. Although this affects the sausage’s appearance, the more concerning problem is the split allows all the juices to escape.
A more relaxing and effective way to smoke brats is to use a pellet grill. A pellet grill combines the convenience of grilling with the ability to add a range of smoky flavors to your sausages.
By following some straightforward tips, you can prepare delicious smoked brats every time.
When learning how to smoke brats on a pellet grill, the first step is understanding how pellet grills work. Pellet grills burn hardwood pellets in an area at the bottom of the grill, often called a burn pot. Warm air circulates throughout the cooking chamber, heating food on top-mounted grills by convection.
A hopper holds the supply of wood pellets, and when the amount in the burn pot runs low, an auger automatically feeds more into the container. Pellet grills offer precise temperature control using a dial or control panel.
You can choose unique flavors for your wood pellets, like mesquite, applewood, pecan, and hickory. These mix with your bratwurst to create a sweet, savory, nutty, or spicy taste.
2. Prepare Your Brats
Just like considering the right ground beef ratio to stuff with, there’s considerable debate about the best way to prepare brats before smoking. If you prefer, you can just put them straight on the grill. However, you can reduce the risk of the brat’s casing splitting during smoking and introduce delicious flavors by marinating them overnight.
The most popular marinade is probably beer. But you can also add in mustard, onions, and pepper to make a tasty blend before grilling. You don’t need to leave your brats to marinate overnight. However, the longer they soak, the more they take on the flavors of the marinade.
Unlike sausages or hot dogs, do not poke holes in the brat’s casing before you place it in the smoker. Since you are cooking the bratwurst at a consistent lower temperature, they will not explode. However, they will expel some fat on their own while they cook. To reduce the chance of a mess, place a pan below your bratwurst to catch any drippings.
3. Choose Your Wood Pellets
The most crucial step when smoking brats on a pellet grill is to ensure you have enough pellets. Expect to burn through around 2 lbs. of pellets for every hour of smoking. Depending on their size and thickness, brats should be ready to eat after two hours of smoking.
The type of pellets you choose is also crucial. You need food-grade wood pellets, which are different from pellets you use to burn in your room-heating stove.
You also don’t want to use pellets that have overpowering aromas, or they could detract from the taste of your marinade. Applewood pellets have a relatively mild scent that complements most meats. If you prefer something more potent, you can opt for hickory. Use mesquite only if your marinade has a spicy kick to it.
If you’re unsure what flavor you’re looking for, mix a small amount of hickory with milder smelling wood pellets such as cherry until you find the right combination.
4. Prepare Your Pellet Grill to Smoke Brats
Plug your pellet grill in and switch on the power source, and set the desired temperature to 225°F. This heating level is ideal for producing plenty of smoke during cooking. Check your manufacturer’s instruction booklet when deciding whether to keep the lid closed or open during the preheating process.
Some manufacturers recommend opening the lid for several minutes, which helps clear out small particles from the previous use. However, keeping the lid closed speeds up the preheating process, so you can begin smoking your brats more quickly.
When you begin the preheating process, you’ll hear the fan start, and you may also hear the auger start to feed pellets into the firebox. At this stage, the igniter rod is hot and burning the wood pellets.
After a couple of minutes, you should see smoke. When you close the lid, the smoke comes out of the chimney.
5. Place Your Brats on the Cooking Grates
When your temperature gauge shows a heat level of 225°F, it’s time to place your brats on the cooking grates and close the lid. They will cook over indirect heat, so you can also add in the onions from your marinade for extra flavor. They won’t burn in the same way as when cooking over direct heat for an extended period.
You can relax for a couple of hours while your brats smoke on your pellet grill. It’s a good idea to check the pellet hopper occasionally to ensure there are enough wood pellets to keep the smoker operating effectively. You can also check on your brats’ cooking progress, although you don’t want to lift the lid too often to let the smoke out.
Most pellet grills come with an integrated meat probe, so you can check the internal cooking temperature before deciding if your brats are ready to eat. For safety, the internal meat temperature should be 160°F. If it is lower than this, close the lid and recheck the cooking progress every 15 minutes.
For extra flavor, you can place your brat buns on the pellet grill grates to preheat. They’ll absorb some of the smoky flavors swirling in the cooking chamber. They should be ready to serve in five minutes.