Best Bratwurst: The 5 Best of the Wurst

The best bratwurst are juicy, snappy, and perfect for the grill—but the similarities between the different bratwurst brands end there. There are so many varieties of bratwurst, from precooked stadium brats that look kind of like hot dogs to big, fat, uncooked bacon brats that ooze with grease when you apply heat. Scientifically speaking, all the best bratwurst belong to the same species, but their genus varies. In this taste test we wanted to find the best bratwurst, yes, but we also wanted to drill down and find the best beer brats, the best Bavarian brats, the best beef brats, and the best uncooked brats at the grocery store. And we did! 

For this taste test, I heated all the fully cooked brats in our office toaster oven; the fresh ones I cooked in a skillet according to the package directions. No matter what kind of brat is your personal preference, there’s a sausage on this list for you.


best bavarian bratwurst

Best Bavarian

Deutsche Kuche Uncured Bavarian Bratwurst

These Aldi bratwurst don’t have much snap, but they have a really pleasant, mild flavor that reminds me of eating at a German restaurant. If you’re not familiar with Bavarian brats, these are paler than the brats you might be used to. My understanding is that Bavarian brats are typically white because they contain white veal meat; these are pork brats, but they’re pale all the same. We tasted these head to head with Trader Joe’s Bavarian brats, which are bigger and fatter than Aldi’s Bavarian brats, but Aldi’s taste a lot better. You get pepper and herbs and a little bit of underlying sweetness. If Bavarian is your bratwurst style of choice, this is the best bratwurst to buy. Plus, they’re from Aldi, so they’re cheap as hell! 

Related: What Is Aldi? The Guten Grocery Store

Credit: Merc / Aldi

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

best fresh brats

Best Fresh

Johnsonville Original Brats

In terms of flavor, these aren’t the best bratwurst we tasted—they are a little plain, but they get props for being so plump and juicy. In general, I think uncooked brats are the way to go. They have more texture and are more akin to sausages you’d pick up at the butcher shop. If you like beer brats, you can cook them by simmering them in your favorite ale so they absorb that hoppy, wheaty flavor. I didn’t fire up the ol’ Weber, but I’m also confident these would be outrageous on the grill. This is the best bratwurst to experiment with due to its neutral flavor; load these up with lots of toppings, like spicy mustard and the best sauerkraut

Related: The Best Sauerkraut for Your Wursts

Credit: Merc / Walmart

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

best beef brats

Best Beef

Johnsonville Beef Brats

These beef brats come precooked, but they’re incredibly juicy. If you like a beefy brat and like some smoke, you’ll like these. They have a great, meaty texture—coarse rather than finely ground like a hot dog—and they absolutely drip juice once you puncture them with a fork. The snap is incredible. They’re luxuriously greasy and have such a nice smoky flavor. They could use a good German mustard to cut the fat, but you could eat one of these totally plain and be very happy. The best beef brats you can buy. 

Related: The Best Hot Dog Buns for Grilling Season

Credit: Merc / Instacart

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

best flavored brats

Best Flavored

Johnsonville Cheddar & Bacon Brats

You can probably tell by the name, but these Johnsonville brats are real treat-yourself sausages. The bacon and cheese make them outrageously greasy, but, woof, the flavor is insane. Cheese starts oozing out of their ends as soon as they hit the pan, and it adds so much creaminess to the whole salty, porky affair. I made one just to take a bite for taste test purposes and ended up eating the entire thing for dinner. These are among the best pork brats you can buy, but you certainly couldn’t eat them every day.

Related: The Best American Cheese for Your Next Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Credit: Merc / Walmart

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

best beer brats

Best of the Best

Fat Tire Beer Bratwurst

I honestly wrote, “Oh, absolutely f*** yes,” in my notes when I tried these Fat Tire brats. These were the best beer brats we tried in our taste test and the best brats, period. These are fully cooked, but they’re as close as you can get to fresh. The snap of the casing is absolutely outrageous, and they’re much more substantial than most other precooked brats. The best part: They really taste like beer. It’s the perfect beer brat flavor—unbelievably fresh and porky, but with that undertone of a refreshing, tasty Fat Tire ale. These are made by Niman Ranch, which seems to take meat seriously. The package says: “Niman Ranch’s all natural pork bratwurst is enhanced by the well-balanced flavor and fresh hops of New Belgium Brewing’s Fat Tire Amber Ale. The result is a juicy sausage with a distinct beer finish.” I mean, the copywriter really nailed it! That’s what you get here and it rules. Buy these for your next BBQ and people are really going to freak out.

Related: Best Trader Joe’s Beers

Credit: Merc / Whole Foods

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

Other products we tried: Trader Joe’s Bavarian Bratwurst, Johnsonville Beer Brats, Johnsonville Stadium Brats, Parkview Cheddar Brats


About the Author

Gwynedd Stuart

Gwynedd Stuart, Sporked’s managing editor, is an L.A.-based writer and editor who spends way, way too much time at the grocery store. She’s never met an Old El Paso taco or mozzarella stick she didn’t like.

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  • I bought the Fat Tire product reviewed here but I have to unequivocally state those are more like a Polish sausage than a Bratwurst. I was very disappointed. The snap is WAY over the top, almost artificial. Best brats are still the J-ville grilled and rested in a beer and grilled onion bath.

    Reply
    • I’m with you on Johnsonville original.

      Reply
  • Update. I just ate two of the Johnsonville Beef Brats. They are beefy. They are tasty. They are smoky. But I regret to inform you all that they are most definitely not bratwursts. It’s a smoky beef hotdog. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. They just do not resemble in taste or appearance any bratwurst I have ever eaten. And I have lived in Wisconsin for the last forty years.

    Reply
  • As a Wisconsinite this list offends me. I get you go with grocery store brands and are not going to butcher shops. however there is no precooked brat that is better than a raw brat. Even though its from Wisconsin most here agree Johnsonville precooked brats are terrible. The raw brats are ok. Rant over. I do love your website and use your suggestions/rankings for grocery decisions.

    For the best brat experience regardless of what kind you have. find a rye sausage roll preferably dark rye add kraut and a good German mustard. (ketchup on a brat is a CRIME here in the land of beer, brats & cheese.)

    Reply
  • Precooked Johnsonville beef brats better than their fresh original? Is my whole life a lie?

    Reply
  • You really need to try Usinger brats and also Klement’s

    Reply
  • are these all supposed to have a 7.5 rating?

    Reply