Smothered Onion Bratwurst Paired with Riesling

Serve this recipe with braised cabbage and German potato salad and you've got yourself a (really filling) meal!

Do you ever have one of those nights where you just want a glass of wine? "Every day!" might be your answer. I switch frequently from beer to wine and wine to beer. And that's what happened to me while making today's recipe. I was originally planning on serving these onion-smothered brats with beer. I mean, they're cooked in beer, isn't it obvious to drink beer with them? But this is an example of how you don't always have to follow the rules.

So I was really craving some Bavarian flavors when I found this recipe. I have seriously enjoyed the hot days this summer, but I'm also really missing my oven. All my poor German and French cookbooks are getting dusty as the majority of the recipes are hearty, cold-weather belly warmers. With these bratwursts though, I found a loophole.

The Pairing

Along with my cookbooks, a few bottles of Riesling in my collection were getting dusty too. That's when you know its time to open them! (Of course unless that dusty wine is special and you are intending to age it.) Truth is we don't drink Riesling too often. I find this strange because Riesling is one of the best wines to pair with difficult foods. Most sweet or spicy dishes are impossible to pair with wines. If you have a sweeter dressing on a salad or a spicy peanut sauce on some noodles, you can rule out most reds and whites to drink with it. The answer to all these tough situations is Riesling...or beer. And I usually go with beer. But not this time!

This meal really had a myriad of flavors. The key to the bratwursts is the sweet, buttery onions.  I served the brats with red cabbage (also sweet) and German Potato Salad (vinegary...and sweet...and bacony). The riesling, itself having been sweet with very high acidity, enhanced the sweetness and acidity in the food without overwhelming my palate. Besides beer, I can't think of a better pairing {wink wink}.

Suggested Pairings

In general, I suggest a slightly sweet Riesling. Avoid anything that says dry (or anything from Alsace, which are almost always dry). The one we had with this meal was a Kabinett Riesling. This means it  wasn't too sweet but did have some residual sugar. Look for "Qba", "Kabinett" or even "Spatlese" on the label. Anything sweeter will be too much for this recipe. If you're sticking with wine from the states, most should work as long as they are not intentionally a dessert or late harvest Riesling.

If you are in the mood for beer...your options are almost endless! Lots of beers will go with this dish, from pilsners to doppelbocks. Stay true to the origins of this meal and pick a lager from Germany. Some of my picks would be a German Helles, German Pils, Oktoberfest, Altbier, or Doppelbock.

The Recipe

As I mentioned above I served these beer brats with German potato salad and sauteed red cabbage. My stove was jam packed! But the meal gave us a filling dinner and plenty of leftovers. We used it in week 2 of our $30 grocery budget plan if you need a little inspiration. We served the brats in buns topped with the onions but you can easily omit that.

Recipe inspired by

Smothered Onion Grilled Bratwurst

Author:Dani (

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 1 hour

Total time: 1 hour 5 mins

Serves: 4


  • 1 lb bratwurst sausage (about 4 links)
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 bottle of dark lager, like a dunkel or bock. If you don't have this, a pilsner will work well too
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce


  1. Heat 4 tbsp coconut or olive oil in a large skillet. Once hot, saute onions for about ten minutes until golden. Add the butter and garlic and saute for another few minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Pour the beer into the pan and add the brats. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  3. After this, turn an outdoor grill on to high. Remove the brats from the pan and set aside. Turn the heat back up to high and bring the sauce to a boil. Add the salt, brown sugar and worcestershire sauce. Stir frequently and cook, letting the sauce reduce and thicken up.
  4. While the sauce is cooking, cook the brats on the grill for a few minutes until they have the char you desire.
  5. When the brats are done, bring them back inside. Serve on buns with the onion mixture on top.

Happy Pairing!