How To Cook Brats in Air Fryer (Fresh Bratwurst) Recipe

Learn how to make the best juicy Bratwurst in an Air Fryer.

Fresh German sausages are known in Canada and the US as “brats.” It’s quick and easy to cook fresh brats in an air fryer at home. Air fry bratwurst and you’ll bite into a plump sausage with a crispy exterior and juicy interior.

Our simple Air Fryer Brats recipe can be prepared from fresh or frozen. We love using the popular brand Johnsonville Brats. It’s a simple recipe to cook for large family gatherings, kids birthday parties or sports games like the Super Bowl.

In under 15 minutes you’ll have perfectly browned and juicy bratwurst sausages ready to serve your guests. We also offer suggestions on what toppings and condiments you can top each bratwurst after they’ve been sandwiched into a sliced bun.

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Save our Brats Bratwurst in Air Fryer recipe to Pinterest!
Save our Brats Bratwurst in Air Fryer recipe to Pinterest!

What Is Bratwurst?

Bratwurst is a type of German sausage made from pork or, less commonly, beef or veal. The name is derived from the Old High German Brätwurst, from “brät,” which means finely chopped meat, and “wurst,” sausage, although in modern German it is often associated with the verb braten, to pan fry or roast.

While sausage recipes can be found as early as 228 AD, the first documented evidence of the Bratwurst in Germany dates to 1313 and can be found in the Franconian city of Nuremberg, which is still an internationally renowned hub for the production of grilling sausages.

Recipes for the sausage vary by region, with local culinary historians listing over 40 different varieties of German bratwurst. Many of the best known originate in Franconia (present day northern Bavaria) and its northern neighbour Thuringia.

How the sausages are served also varies by region, but most commonly they are regarded as a simple snack served with or in a white bread roll made from wheat flour and eaten with mustard.

As a pub dish, it is often accompanied by sauerkraut or potato salad. It is a very popular form of fast food in German-speaking countries, often cooked and sold by street vendors from small stands, and is also traditionally popular with fans at soccer games.

American Brats

Bratwurst, often shortened to “brat” in American English, is a common type of sausage in the United States, especially in the Upper Midwestern region; the home to many people of German-American ethnicity. 

Wisconsin, where the largest ancestry group is German, is known for its bratwursts. Brats are also popular in Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa, as well as cities with large populations like New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

Originally brought to North America by German immigrants, grilling brats is a common sight at summer cookout barbecues. Many grocery stores and butcher shops sell varieties with popular additions such as cheddar cheese and jalapeño peppers. The most popular North American bratwurst brand is Johnsonville Brats.

We love cooking brats in an air fryer year round, but especially in the winter when standing in front of a barbecue during a blizzard is not so appealing.

Air Fry Bratwurst and you’ll enjoy a crispy exterior and juicy interior. Air frying is now our favourite cooking method when making fresh or frozen German-style sausages.

Bratwurst in Air Fryer recipe ingredients.
Bratwurst in Air Fryer recipe ingredients.

Best Air Fryers

An air fryer is a small countertop convection oven designed to simulate deep frying without submerging the food in oil. A fan circulates hot air at high speed, producing a crisp layer via browning reactions.

In 2010, Philips introduced the Airfryer brand of convection oven at a consumer electronics fair in Berlin. It used the patented Rapid Air technology, though the term air fryer is now used generically.

Early air fryers were barrel-shaped, though more recently, many have come to resemble toaster ovens and pressure cookers, offering additional functions like toasting, baking, dehydrating and rotisserie.

A decade after their launch, Air Fryers are now one of the trendiest kitchen appliance. They are particularly popular with gourmands living in condos or apartments in big cities like Toronto as they reduce the number of appliances taking up space in your kitchen.

  • Hamilton Beach: I tested this recipe with a Hamilton Beach toaster oven-style air fryer. They are an excellent option for those looking for an affordable air fryer and I particularly like mine as it allowed me to replace my toaster, dehydrator and rotisserie. It’s also easier to spread food out and make it crispy by using a baking tray rather than a basket.
  • Instant Vortex: This popular air fryer is brought to you by the inventors of the popular Instant Pot. It’s 6 quart capacity features an easy to clean tray that air frys, roasts and bakes.
  • COSORI: This 5.8 quart air fryer is an 11-in-1 cooker featuring a nonstick basket and helpful shake reminder setting.
  • Ninja: This premium brand is the perfect option for those looking to invest in a heavy duty stainless steel air fryer. The product has been designed to look similar to an Instant Pot, with the top of the air fryer flipping backwards so you can easily lower a basket filled with food.
  • NuWave: This sleek digital air fryer features a traditional removable basket and reaches temperatures up to 390 F.
Organize brats in an air fryer basket.
Organize brats in an air fryer basket.

Travel to Germany by Cooking Brats in Air Fryer

I love traveling to Europe.

As a professional food and travel journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy amazing meals in Europe, from traditional markets to award winning restaurants.

For over ten years, I’ve been on the hunt for the best bratwurst recipe. I’ve embarked on culinary adventures at German restaurants throughout Western Europe in Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland and Austria.

On a road trip of Germany, I devoured hundreds of juicy brats in Freiburg, Berlin, Ahrenshoop, Hamburg, Spreewald, Potsdam, Dresden, Leipzig, Frankfurt, Cochem, Mettlach, Nennig, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Munich, Koblenz and Rudesheim.

The first time I ever ate traditional German bratwurst was during a memorable first meal in Munich. An oversized plate arrived at my table featuring a massive grilled sausage, plump fermented pickle, dollop of spicy mustard and pile of sauerkraut.

I enjoyed the sausage with a swig of fresh beer and ordered brats whenever I could while galavanting through Germany. It really is the perfect grab and go lunch if you’re pressed for time when sightseeing.

You May Also Enjoy These German Recipes…

Air Fry Bratwurst until browned and crispy on the outside.
Air Fry Bratwurst until browned and crispy on the outside.

My Family Loves Cooking Brats in Air Fryer

My family loves hosting an easy cookout party in the backyard.

We particularly enjoy firing up the barbecue in the summer at our cottage in Muskoka where we’ll grill up a selection of sausages, hamburgers, pork chops and jumbo prawns.

During the colder months of the year, typically from November to May, we retire the barbecue for the winter and prefer to cook brats in an air fryer. You can cook all your favourite grilled meats in an air fryer during the cold months of the year from the comfort of your cozy kitchen. Avoid shivering in front of your barbecue during a blizzard!

Johnsonville Brats is the most popular bratwurst brand in North America and grocery stores often sell a multitude of flavours, from traditional to spicy and smoky varieties.

We like to purchase high quality hot dog buns, with brioche or sourdough being our favourites.

If you’re really looking to impress guests serve juicy air fryer bratwurst with crispy bacon, fried onions, German mustard, ketchup, garlic aioli and pickled jalapenos.

Cooking Brats in an air fryer products a juicy plump sausage.
Cooking Brats in an air fryer products a juicy plump sausage.

How To Make Air Fryer Brats

Our bratwurst in air fryer recipe is quick & easy to make, ready to serve in under 15 minutes.

There are two methods to making air fryer brats, which depend on the style of device you are using.

  • Traditional Basket: air fryers with a removable basket are still the most common. In order to make Air Fryer brats in these machines, simply place the sausage links in the basket and shake to ensure they are evenly separated and spread out.
  • Toaster Oven Tray: modern air fryers featuring a glass door and tray configuration make it easy to prepare bratwurst in an air fryer at home. Simply place the sausage links in the basket and slide into the top position before closing the glass door.

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We love serving air fryer brats with bacon, fried onions and German mustard.
We love serving air fryer brats with bacon, fried onions and German mustard.

Bratwurst in Air Fryer Recipe Cooking Tips

  • You can purchase brats like Johnsonville at your grocery store, visit a local pork farm or artisanal butcher or make your own homemade bratwurst.
  • You can cook fresh or frozen brats in an air fryer. Review our recipe card below to assess ideal cooking time for fresh sausages. If cooking from frozen you likely have to double the cooking time. Keep an eye on the sausages as they cook to ensure they don’t burn.
  • Flip brats half way through the cooking time to ensure even browning.
  • If you are using an oven-style air fryer we suggest wrapping the bottom crumb tray in tin foil. Fat from the bratwurst will drip during the cooking process so this method makes clean up a breeze.
  • Since brats contains an ample amount of natural fat there is no need to spray them with cooking spray as you would to make other air fryer dishes crispy.
Bratwurst in Air Fryer Photo Image.
Bratwurst in Air Fryer Photo Image.

Best Bratwurst Toppings

We like to serve air fryer brats at large family gatherings or parties as they make for a quick & easy buffet DIY option.

Once you finish cooking brats in an air fryer pile them onto a large serving plate with a selection of your favourite condiments and toppings.

Some of our favourite Bratwurst toppings include:

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Mayo or Aioli
  • Crispy Bacon
  • Cheese like Cheddar, Havarti, & Mozzarella
  • Pickled Jalapeno
  • Fried Onions
  • Sauerkraut
  • Relish or Pickles
  • Chili
  • Coleslaw
Serve Air Fryer Brats with your favourite chips, fries and fresh salads.
Serve Air Fryer Brats with your favourite chips, fries and fresh salads.

What To Serve With Air Fryer Bratwurst

Air Fryer Bratwurst are the perfect quick and easy meal to serve for lunch or dinner.

We’ve used store bought Johnsonville Brats cooked from fresh but you can also use frozen bratwurst.

My fondest memories eating brats are at family reunions in the summer when all our aunts, uncles and cousins would get together. We suggest setting up a table with your favourite bags of chips, sweet potato fries, and onion rings.

If you’re looking to serve healthy side dishes prepare a selection of fresh salads. Some of our favourite salad recipes include:

Now you're an expert on how to make the best Bratwurst in Air Fryer recipe!
Now you’re an expert on how to make the best Bratwurst in Air Fryer recipe!

You May Also Enjoy These Air Fryer Recipes…

How To Cook Juicy Brats/Bratwurst in Air Fryer

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Brats & Bratwurst in Air Fryer

How to make the best Brats in an Air Fryer. Cook fresh Bratwurst sausages until crispy and juicy then serve on a bun with fresh condiments.
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, german
Keyword: Bratwurst in Air Fryer
Servings: 5
Calories: 326kcal

Equipment

  • Air Fryer
  • tongs

Ingredients

  • 540 g Raw Bratwurst (5 in a Johnsonville pack)

Instructions

  • Preheat air fryer to 350 F.
  • Arrange the uncooked brats in the air fryer basket or tray.
  • Place in the air fryer and cook for 12-15 minutes, flipping halfway through at the 6 minute mark. Brats are finished cooking when they reach an internal temperature of 155 degrees.
  • Remove the cooked brats from the air fryer basket with tongs and serve hot in a bun with your favourite toppings and condiments.

Nutrition

Calories: 326kcal | Carbohydrates: 1.9g | Protein: 19.2g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 8.6g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 864mg | Sugar: 1.9g | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 1mg

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