What Goes Well With Brats?

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Beer is the beverage of choice to accompany bratwurst.
Beer is the beverage of choice to accompany bratwurst. (Image: HandmadePictures/iStock/Getty Images)

In Germany, there are dozens of varieties of bratwurst, a sausage with a history that's more than 700 years long. All are some variation of coarsely ground seasoned pork and/or veal. They are usually pan-fried or grilled, or else braised in beer or occasionally broth. In the U.S., Wisconsin is particularly famed for its bratwurst. Brats, as they're nicknamed, are hearty enough to make a meal, especially with a few well-selected accompaniments.

Mustard Is a Must-Have

The one truly indispensable accompaniment to brats is a good-quality mustard. Ideally, it should be a spicy-sweet German-style mustard, but a whole-grain Dijon will also do in a pinch. You can even serve it with American-style yellow mustard if you like, though it's not traditional and some purists may sneer. At a cookout or other gathering, it can be fun to offer a range of mustards for guests to choose from.

Serve With Sauerkraut and Other Cabbage Dishes

Bratwurst and sauerkraut go together like peanut butter and jelly. The sharp flavor of the kraut cuts through the rich meaty quality of the brats. Other cabbage dishes also pair well with bratwurst, with the crunchiness of the vegetable adding a nice taste counterpoint. Cabbage is an important component of German cuisine so such side dishes are culturally appropriate, too. Try a mound of coleslaw made with either vinegar or mayonnaise as you prefer. Or choose a side dish of sauteed red cabbage.

Pair With Potatoes

Potatoes are another important German vegetable, and they provide a pleasant starchy backdrop for a variety of flavors, including the savory taste of grilled or pan-fried brats. At a backyard cookout, serve up your brats alongside a scoop of potato salad, either American-style with mayo or German-style, warm with vinegar. You can also prepare grated potato pancakes and serve them alongside brats. If that's too much work, simply roast cut potatoes in the oven and serve as a side dish.

Bread Options

Bratwurst are usually too large to fit in a standard hot dog bun; if you can find brat-specific rolls, by all means use them. If you can't, French-style sandwich rolls or other rectangular crusty rolls will do. In Germany they would be served in a small roll called a brotchen or semmel roll. It's also typical to serve them accompanied by slices of pumpernickel, rye or other hearty dark bread.

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