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10+ Best Sides for Brats [Easy Side Dishes for a Bratwurst Bonanza!]

The summer is finally here! Long days, warm nights – and more time to enjoy life and each other’s company.

One of everyone’s favorite ways to spend a summer night with friends in the backyard is to pluck weeds. And de-weed the garden.

Just kidding – hosting a backyard BBQ is much more fun. Of course!

And one of our favorite yummy foods for the BBQ grill is a bratwurst.

Or – those who know the German sausage aristocracy well can call them by their friendly nickname, brats.

But what are brats and bratwursts, exactly? And what are the best sides for brats? We’re about to answer both questions in detail.

Brats are sausages of pure pork, with beef or veal, or more rarely, pure non-pork meat. The exact formula and the shape vary by origin – estimates are that there are over 40 local bratwurst varieties in German-speaking countries.

If you are vegetarian or vegan, don’t leave just yet! There are plenty of delicious vegan bratwurst options. And there are even better side dishes for brats that everyone will love – vegans included.

Everything we’ll be talking about here applies to plant-based sausages – and animal sausages too. Variety is one of the great things about the concept of bratwurst sausage.

And – there is even more variety in bratwurst side dishes.

So – enough introduction! Which are the best sides for brats? And what should you serve with brats?

Let’s slice this topic open!

Best Sides for Brats

French fries, coleslaw, and sauerkraut are three of the most popular sides for brats. We love crunchy homemade fries the best. But to understand the best bratwurst sides better, first, you should understand where brats are coming from – and how most people eat them.

Although they can easily be a satisfying lunch, brats are traditionally used as a simple fast-food snack and have been a fav German pub dish for a long time. But what does that mean? Traditional bratwurst sides are simple and usually pre-made, ready to be stuffed onto a plate.

So – which brats’ sides are best? Let’s take a much closer look at some of our mouth-watering favorites.

Get your plates – and hotdog buns ready!

yummy bratwursts on bbq grill with fresh herbs
We love cooking bratwursts on our gas grill or fire pit grill during the summer. The secret to choosing the best sides for brats is sprinkling just the right amount of garden herbs as you cook them. That way – you can add a sweet, spicy, or savory flavor to match whatever sides you serve. For the record – fries and coleslaw are our two favorite side dishes for brats! But – there are many more that we’re about to discuss.

Traditional Side Dishes for Brats

Brats are considered a pub snack and are a popular fast food sold by street vendors. Thus, the bratwurst sides are not elaborate – but sure go perfectly with the main thing.

  • In Germany, traditional bratwurst sides are usually sauerkraut or German-style potato salad (with vinegar dressing). 
  • Usually, some bakes also go into the account. Rye-based country bread or traditional pretzels are some of our favs.
  • Although not a side dish, the right kind of das Bier (you’ve guessed it – beer) is a critical consideration. Red beers and pale ales of various flavors are all great choices to go along with brats.

(You can always support your favorite local brewery. Or – make beer at home!)

Read More – Best Wood for Smoking Homemade BBQ Ribs!

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is the golden standard side dish for brats. Its slightly sour yet refreshing taste goes perfectly with the salty-fatty-spicy trademark bratwurst taste. 

Sauerkraut can be served in two ways as the brat’s side dish – either fresh or cooked.

Fresh sauerkraut – the ferment offers a crunchy and refreshing texture that is quite salad-like and works great with the sausage. Doubly so, with some sweet paprika on the top!

Cooked sauerkraut – is a perfect bratwurst side. And also a stand-alone dish. Usually, some juice and oil remaining from yummy brats’ cooking get added to the cooking cabbage. It soaks in both the aroma and the fats, blending the main and the side dish in perfect harmony.

beer bratwursts in fluffy buns with sauerkraut
Some homesteaders are bashful about using sauerkraut at first – if they’ve never tried it. Big mistake! We think sauerkraut is easily one of the yummiest sides for brats! It also makes an epic topping for bratwursts. We found an epic sauerkraut recipe if you want to make some. The prime two ingredients are cabbage and salt. But – you can add other veggies, too! (We recommend carrots – at the least.)

German Potato Salad

With its light vinegar-mustard tang and onion juiciness, German-style potato salad creates a perfect balance when cooped with a rich, greasy, and slightly hot sausage taste. The fried bacon connects the two worlds perfectly.

(We always want more bacon! Bacon dishes are some of the best sides for brats!)

However, if you’re vegan, leaving out the bacon won’t hurt the dish – in fact, in some other European cuisines, the bacon-free opinion is the default. 

If you prefer, you can also serve the American-style potato salad with a mayo-based dressing. However, like in the case of sauerkraut, the slightly sour taste of the German style goes with brats better than the oily, sweet-ish mayo taste. Nevertheless, the American-style potato salad can go great with vegan sausages that are less fatty by default.

If you’re looking for what to serve with brats – but you don’t want mashed potatoes? Then we recommend homemade French fries!

They’re just as good as potato salad. But – it’s somewhat weird having two potato dishes in the same meal. We choose one or the other.

So – which is the best side for brats. French fries vs. potato salad! 

We’re not 100% sure. We love both options!

yummy and delicious homemade french fries
When talking about the best bratwurst sides – you can’t forget crispy homemade fries! Homemade and hand-cut French fries make the best sides for brats. And they taste the best when they are well-done and crunchy. The secret to the best homemade fries is drizzling them with a dash of olive oil before baking. Don’t forget a splash of ketchup and fresh ground sea salt!

Spaetzle

Spaetzle is another German traditional brats’ side.It’s like German egg noodles. You can buy them in the store, but many bratwurst enthusiasts promise that once you try the real homemade thing – there is no looking back. 

The spaetzle recipes are pretty straightforward – but you will likely need a Spaetzle maker to succeed to the fullest.

Read More – How to Roast Chestnuts on an Open Fire! DIY Backyard Cooking!

More Side Dishes for Brats and Bratwurst Menu Ideas

Traditional is usually considered best. But that’s not an argument I’d like to get into right now!

Instead – I would like to point out that there are many other bratwurst side options – maybe not as iconic, but still delicious and rich in nutrients. The rightly chosen side dishes can elevate your whole BBQ experience.

Baked Beans

Baked beans get overlooked as bratwurst sides! Beans and brats are a satisfying – yet cheap protein-rich meal. And you also get tons of fiber. Just be careful with the fat intake.

A specialty in the American South, this version of baked beans gets made with bacon. However, for dietary, ethical, or health reasons, the bacon can be omitted – like in the Balkan version of the dish – and the result will still be delicious. 

Coleslaw

The crunchiness of fresh cabbage and the sweetness of grated carrot blended with the mayo or vinegar dressing and a few other spices are ideal for a bratwurst side. It’s a near-perfectly complementing flavor that can be prepared in advance and served fresh or cooled.

The refreshing properties of coleslaw make it go so well with many types of meat! Brats are no different.

If you want your coleslaw to make an impressive visual impression (and who doesn’t want that when throwing a party?), use a combination of plain and red cabbage.

homemade coleslaw with cabbage and carrots
Coleslaw is another snack that makes one of the best sides for brats. The secret? Add plenty of fresh chopped cabbage – and cracked pepper! We also found a yummy homemade coleslaw recipe with apples. We love the sweet flavor – perfect for German bratwursts on the grill. Or oven!

Mashed potatoes

We’ve covered the traditional potato salad, but that’s not all that the world’s most famous edible tuber has to offer when it comes to keeping bratwurst some company. 

Classic mashed potatoes go great with sausages because the dish’s soft texture and flavor both contrast and complement the bratwurst.

And if you’re a true hedonist and you’ve been cooking your brats in a frying pan, pour some of the leftover cooking juices from the pan over your mashed potatoes. Homemade bratwurst gravy. Yum. Yes, please!

Roasted Mushrooms

Roasted or grilled mushrooms – especially the large and meaty portobellos – go well with brats. Their juiciness and mild taste are very complementary to sausage juiciness and zing.

Another great thing about roasted portobellos as a side for brats is that you don’t need a detailed preparation before your barbeque party. You can grill your portobellos along with brats and other BBQ goodies. Just marinade them lightly. And then they’re good to go.

Mushroom-stew-like dishes can also go well with brats. Mushroom stews and soups are also relatively quick to make. However, if prepping in advance, keep in mind that mushroom dishes should never get reheated, which may limit your time management options when preparing for your glorious backyard party.

bratwursts and meat with mushrooms tomatoes and zucchini
If you’re fresh out of ideas for what to serve with brats – think local. What do you have growing in your garden? A handful of zucchini companionsgarden tomatoes, or herbs growing in the shade will often do the trick. Local and fresh garden veggies often beat storebought bratwurst sides – even if the store has fancier ingredients!

Grilled Zucchini and Eggplant

Like our mushroom example, there is no extensive prep with zucchini squash and eggplant before roasting them with the brats. Just slice them lengthwise and add salt and spices to taste.

The tender, juicy, meaty structure of these veggies comes to prominence when grilled. Also, their sweetness complements brats perfectly. They’re underrated side dishes for brats. No doubt!

Of course, you can coat them with a grill sauce or another type of marinade according to your preferences, but trust me – you can add salt and (importantly), leave them to sit for a while so the salt can work its way in and squeeze out the excess water from the slices – and that’s it. Some say this method also rids eggplant of any bitterness. (But like many cooking-related topics, it gets debated!)

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Pickled Red Eggs

Pickled eggs are a traditional pub snack – a trait they share with brats. Thus, they make good companions.

A German twist on pickled eggs is that they get prepared with the addition of beet juice, which gives them a lovely red coat. 

Best Bratwurst Sides and Bratwurst BBQ Goodies!

Summer is the best time to plan your epic bratwurst BBQ party!

But – knowing what to serve with bratwursts and satisfying everyone is a tall task.

But no worries!

We put together a list of yummy and savory side dishes for bratwursts.

And – one of our favorite bratwurst brands for grilling.

We hope you enjoy them!

  1. Organic Chicken Sausage, Bratwurst | Whole Foods Market
  2. Organic Chicken Sausage, Bratwurst | Whole Foods Market

    These organic chicken bratwursts are tasty! Their yummy flavor matches nearly any side dish for brats you can imagine. These chicken bratwursts aren't vegan. But - the chickens who make up the sausage get a vegan diet. And - no antibiotics or added hormones get used.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  3. Organic Chicken Sausage, Apple | Whole Foods Market
  4. Organic Chicken Sausage, Apple | Whole Foods Market

    Want something that fits in a hotdog bun other than bratwursts? Maybe light and tasty sausage? Try these! They're organic chicken sausages from Whole Foods. They're yummy - and made with chickens who get an organic diet. The reviews are also excellent - many say they love the sweet flavor. They're also USDA-certified organic. Perfect!

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  5. Sauerkraut | Bubbies
  6. Sauerkraut | Bubbies

    Bubbies sauerkraut has a reputation for being some of the best sauerkraut for bratwurst sides, BBQ picnics, and more. It contains no preserves, sugars, or vinegar. The reviews are nearly perfect. The only downside? The bottle is only 25 ounces.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  7. Potatoes Shoestring Organic | 365 by Whole Foods Market
  8. Potatoes Shoestring Organic | 365 by Whole Foods Market

    These julienne-cut French fries are delicious and ready for seasoning. They're the best side dish for brats, sausages, hamburgers, and hotdogs. For the best results - cook them until they're crispy!

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  9. Organic Coleslaw Mix | 365 by Whole Foods Market
  10. Organic Coleslaw Mix | 365 by Whole Foods Market

    Don't have the time to make fresh homemade cabbage? Here's the next best thing! It contains organic red and green cabbage and organic carrots. It's one of our favorite side dishes for bratwursts and backyard family BBQs. The customer reviews are also stellar.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Conclusion

Brats are certainly royalty amongst sausages! As such, they require special treatment in the form of perfectly matching sides.

When it comes to side dishes for brats, we love variety. It’s tough to beat fresh, hand-cut French fries. But we also love baked beans and sauerkraut!

I hope this list has offered you some candidates to choose from for your next BBQ gathering – and has equipped you with the best arguments when that ancient bratwurst debate about the best sides for brats inevitably starts.

What about you? What are your favorite side dishes for brats?

Any tasty recipes or sides that we missed? Let us know!

Thanks again for reading.

Have a great day!

Author

  • Katarina Samurovic

    An environmental analyst, gardener, insect enthusiast, and a mom of three, trying to pour her life-long naturalist experience into useful articles. She is passionate about protecting biodiversity, achieving harmony with natural ecosystems, and raising kids conscious of - and conscientious about - our shared environment.

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