Nothing says "tailgate" like some brats fresh off the grill. Juicy, savory, and full of delicious flavor, bratwursts just have a way of making your taste buds sing. However, what to serve with brats is usually not such an easy decision—until today, that is!
Click here to learn how to cook your own Beer Brats on the Grill!
Consider this your official bratwurst cheat sheet. We'll consider not only traditional german sides but all of the different ways you can cook, serve, and enjoy your favorite type of sausage. If it has amazing flavor and will contribute to a delicious meal, it'll be on this list!
Why brats are great for tailgating
✔️ Like hot dogs, you can eat 'em standing up—forks optional.
✔️ Super easy recipe, just grill until they're done.
✔️ They don't need extravagant sides. The best things are simple!
What are the best brats?
- Johnsonville brats - my favorite, hands down!
- fresh German bratwurst, readily available almost anywhere
- fränkische bratwurst
Ways to cook brats
A brat, short for bratwurst, is basically a German version of a sausage. Pork bratwurst is the most common variation of the classic dish, but other types of meat have been used, too, like beef or veal.
This means that the best ways to cook brats are just like your favorite ways of cooking hot dogs, Salsiccia (Italian sausage), or Kielbasa (Polish sausage.)
- On the grill
- In a smoker
- On a sheet pan in the oven
- In a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop
- On a grill pan on the stove
- In a slow cooker, instant pot, or air fryer
- Over an open fire
Whichever method you choose, just make sure your brats reach an internal temperature of 160 F degrees and are a nice golden brown—then serve with a great side for an absolutely perfect dish. Cheers!
What to serve with Brats
Let's get down to the "meat" of this post—that is, what to serve with our favorite tasty tailgate meat: brats!
Best side dishes to serve with brats
The perfect side dish to serve with brats is within your reach. Here are classic sides, easy sides, filling side dishes, and even some creative side dishes to accompany your bratwursts:
- Baked potato casserole
- BBQ baked beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Cabbage and onions (it's traditional!)
- Cherry tomato and green bean salad
- Cracker Barrel cheesy potatoes
- Creamy cucumber salad
- Crockpot chili
- Cucumber salad with apple cider vinegar (non-dairy!)
- Egg noodles with butter and onions
- French fries
- Fresh green beans with red pepper flakes
- Fried cabbage and noodles
- German fruit salad
- "Hard-boiled" eggs in the air fryer
- Hash browns
- Homemade potato chips
- Honey-mustard chopped salad
- Mac and cheese
- Macaroni salad
- Olive-oil toasted ciabatta rolls
- Potato pancakes (or, more traditional kartoffelpuffer)
- Potato salad
- Potatoes and veggies on the grill
- Red smashed potatoes
- Sandwich buns
- Sauerkraut with caraway seeds
- Skewered veggies
- Sweet potatoes
- Sweet potato fries
- Three-bean salad
What to serve on bratwursts
It wouldn't be proper to discuss what to serve with brats without discussing what to serve on them. Here are some delicious recipes and ideas for toppings:
- Beer cheese
- Blue cheese
- Caramelized onions
- Cheddar cheese slices
- Cheddar cheese sauce
- Diced sweet onions
- Dijon mustard
- Feta cheese
- Fresh sauerkraut
- Fresh sliced red onion
- Grilled onions
- Hot and sweet pickled peppers
- Sautéed mushrooms
- Sour red cabbage
- Spicy mustard sauce
- Yellow mustard
Desserts for tailgating
For best results, always serve dessert at a tailgate party! There's just something so satisfying about a sweet bite after a savory bratwurst. However, aim for hand-held or bite-sized treats, rather than big, clunky cakes.
- Apple dumplings
- Apple pie bites
- Apple turnovers
- Brown sugar cinnamon pastry twists
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Cracker Barrel fried apples
- Fruit-filled streudel
- German-coconut macaroons
- German chocolate cupcakes
- Homemade applesauce
- Homemade buckeyes
- Linzer cookies
- Pecan sandies
- Trail mix
Beverages for tailgating
Tailgating is all about the beverages—and cheering for your team. (Mostly the beverages, though.) In fact, some would consider cold beer a proper bratwurst side dish. Here are some other "liquid sides" to serve with your brats:
- Apple cider
- Cider punch
- Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate (games can get chilly!)
- Pale ales
- Pitcher punch
- Seltzer waters
- Spiked seltzer
- Spiked ciders
- White wine
- Wine coolers
Serve these sides with your brats next time for a game-winning combination!
Never again wander the aisles of your grocery store trying to come up with a side dish to pair with your favorite type of german sausage. Instead, peruse these bratwurst sides for easy prep and a super enjoyable tailgate.
The best part about beer, brats, and delicious sides? Being surrounded by all your friends—trust me, they'll want a bite (or two!) of what you're serving.