Can you cook brats in an air fryer? Absolutely! Try my air fryer brats recipe for a super DELICIOUS entrée. You can make precooked brats in the air fryer in under 10 minutes! Learn how to air fry brats, the best toppings for bratwurst, get nutrition information, and more. Forget Oktoberfest, you’ll want to make air fried brats all year long after you see how easy it is!
Today we’re gonna cover how to cook precooked brats in an air fryer. It’s a super simple recipe (barely a recipe, really) but I’m pretty excited about it.
For some foods, air frying doesn’t make a big difference nutritionally. For example, you could make a chicken breast in the air fryer or bake it in the oven, it doesn’t matter too much from the standpoint of nutrition.
Cooking brats in the air fryer is a different story. Brats are often cooked in a buttery beer bath, swimming in added fat. Instead of making the meat leaner, this cooking method coats the sausage with additional fat.
Fatty meats like bratwurst were practically made for air frying. So much fat drips off the meat while it air fries, leaving you with a leaner sausage than you started with.
If you want to see just how much oil came off the air fried brats, watch the recipe video! You can check it out at the bottom of the recipe card.
But wait, you may be thinking, doesn’t this mean the brats get dried out? Nope!
With this bratwurst air fryer recipe, your brats remain juicy and robust in flavor. Put your favorite toppings on those babies, and enjoy German-style sausage all year long.
📋 What are the calories, net carbs, and protein?
One serving of these air fryer brats (one link) provides 240 calories, 2 grams net carbs, and 14 grams protein. This is for the Niman Ranch bratwurst, and excludes any buns or toppings that you choose to add. Check the nutrition facts panel of the brats you buy for more precise info on calories, carbs, etc.
Why make brats in an air fryer? Here are some of my reasons:
- No grilling needed: Air frying allows you to enjoy the great flavor of brats without breaking out the grill.
- Convenience: Air frying brats requires one ingredient, and takes just minutes to make! Sometimes keeping things simple is best.
- Fits many special diets: It’s not too hard to find bratwurst that are low carb, keto, gluten free, and dairy free (since we aren’t using a beer and butter bath). Unless you are vegan or vegetarian, you can probably find a whole foods brat to meet your needs.
- Lower calorie (not lower flavor): Cooking in the air fryer makes your brats leaner. They’ll have fewer calories without sacrificing flavor.
- Tasty: I like brats because they’re delicious and a great vehicle for some of my favorite toppings. (I mean, isn’t that the reason most of us enjoy them?) IMVHO, they are about 1000% better than your average hot dog.
Ok, that last one wasn’t specifically a reason to cook brats in an air fryer, but it’s still important. 😊
What do you need to make beer brats in an air fryer oven? You might want to break out a pen and paper to take notes. Here’s your list:
- Bratwurst Sausage
Hahaha, that’s it really. I hope you wrote it down so you don’t forget something when you go shopping.
You don’t need cooking spray for this recipe. Pork brats are pretty fatty and won’t stick to the air fryer tray or basket.
I used the Niman Ranch bratwurst for this recipe. These are pre-cooked gluten free brats that can be found in the refrigerated meat case.
If you really want to go all out, you could try making your own brats. These homemade chicken bratwurst with pork are a fun project if you have the time and inclination. Keep in mind that these brats are raw, so they’ll have a longer air frying time than precooked bratwurst.
Most people don’t eat brats by themselves, so you might want to have some buns and toppings on hand. I have a long list of topping ideas for brats below. Here is what I used with these air fried brats:
- Pretzel sausage buns
- Grainy mustard
- Sweet caramelized onions (plus olive oil for cooking them)
I used Cleveland Kraut’s roasted garlic sauerkraut and it’s some pretty amazing stuff. In full truth, it smells awful (maybe don’t eat it in public haha) but it tastes like delicious magic. I could eat it out of the bag.
To air fry brats you’ll need an air fryer (obvs, right?) and a meat thermometer. You should also grab a skillet if you’ll be caramelizing onions.
I use a 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven. However, any air fryer should work fine for air frying brats. The Ninja Foodi, Pampered Chef Air Fryer, Actifry, Cosori, Nuwave, Instant Vortex, Cuisinart, Philips, Power Air Fryer, etc. can be used.
My air fryer oven comes with two trays, but I only need one tray for this recipe. This recipe is also perfect for smaller fryers with air fryer baskets. Brats don’t require a lot of space!
Please keep in mind that cooking times can vary a bit between air fryer brands. Feel free to adjust the cooking time for the air fryer you use.
🔪 How to Make Air Fryer Brats
Let’s learn how to air fry brats! Remove them from the package, put them on an air fryer tray, and they are ready. You don’t even need to preheat the air fryer for this recipe.
If you want to caramelize onions, you should start them first. Thinly slice a sweet onion and heat olive oil over medium-low heat.
Cook the onion for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn't burn. It will turn a deep golden-brown color when it’s done.
⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
How long to air fry brats? Cook your precooked brats for 7-10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit in the top rack position of your air fryer oven. You shouldn’t need to flip the brats.
If you have an air fryer spit, you could also try making brats on an air fryer rotisserie. (I plan on testing this out in the future!) I decided to cook them on a tray this time, as not everyone has an air fryer with a spit.
After the brats are air fried, check their internal temperature with a meat thermometer. Precooked brats should reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If they have not reached this temperature, you should air fry them longer.
After air frying, let the brats rest for 5 minutes before topping and serving. Enjoy!
🌡️ How to Reheat
Air fried brats can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can reheat them on the top rack of an air fryer oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 3-5 minutes. Leftover brats be used in place of sausage in other dishes, such as this kielbasa salad.
I made air fryer brats and onions with mustard, and sauerkraut. If you really want to go all out, here are some DIY recipes for shredded fermented veggies and mustard:
You could also add Swiss cheese or cheddar cheese to your brats. Another idea is to pile on the veggies:
- Pickled jalapenos
- Roasted red peppers
- Banana peppers
How about going in a completely different flavor direction with one of these dressings or sauces? (FYI: some of these are high in added sugar.)
- Keto Cheese Sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Sweet Chili Sauce
- Hot honey
- Blue cheese dressing
- Nacho cheese sauce
- Buffalo sauce
Of course, you can always add a little crumbled bacon on top. Bacon has a way of making everything taste even better.
🥗 Side Dishes
What goes good with beer brats? One of my top picks would be air fryer brats and peppers, a spinoff of classic sausage and peppers.
Slaw or air fryer brats and potatoes are some other tasty options. Here are some recipes for sides for brats you may want to check out:
Potato salad is another common side dish for brats. This Smoked Mac and Cheese would be completely dreamy and indulgent as a bratwurst side dish. Ooooooh...
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 2 recipe (transition or weight maintenance). Pork bratwurst is a fatty meat made leaner by air frying. The total calorie and carb count for your meal will depend on what you pair the brats with.
For example, the pretzel rolls I used with my brats contain practically as many calories as the brats themselves. Unlike the brats, the rolls have minimal protein and are mostly white flour. After piling on the toppings, I’ve got a 500-calorie entrée (and I’ll still probably want some side dishes).
Alternatively, we could serve these brats “keto style.” Skip the bun, but keep the mustard, sauerkraut, and onions. Serve the brats with some non-starchy veggies (with minimal added oil).
What you’ll end up with is a low carb and low calorie way to enjoy brats. You could slice them up and use them to top a salad. Or make a lettuce or collard wrap for the brats.
A lot of the strategies used to make a meal low carb and keto will also reduce the calories. Those on the keto diet may feel they are indulging (they get brats with this way of eating, after all). However, they may be eating far fewer calories than they were when they were enjoying products made with white flour and sugar.
In general, if I must choose between the two, I would say a bratwurst sausage is a better choice than a white flour bun. A bratwurst provides more filling high-quality protein and is higher in an assortment of B vitamins than a bun (without having to rely on enrichment/fortification). Do you find this surprising? Many do!
Bratwurst is most commonly made of pork, but veal, chicken, and beef brats can also be found. The seasoning in this German sausage varies by the region of Germany it comes from.
There’s no need to boil your precooked bratwurst before air frying. Save yourself the time (and the beer, if you were going to make a beer bath).
Yes, you can air fry frozen brats! Cook them in an air fryer preheated to 350F for 13-15 minutes (use the top rack position). Ensure they’ve reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 160F before enjoying.
Yes, you can make air fryer raw brats! Try cooking them at 375F on the top rack of the air fryer for 13-15 minutes. (The minimum safe internal temp is 160F.)
Yes, you can air fry Johnsonville brats (a raw, large, refrigerated bratwurst). Follow the guidance for raw brats above.
Color shouldn’t be used as an indicator of doneness in brats. Precooked brats should be heated to a minimum safe internal temp of 165F. Raw brats should be heated to a minimum safe internal temperature of 160F. It’s fine if they are a little pink, as long as they’ve reached a safe temperature.
I’ve never had an issue with my air fryer oven smoking when cooking fatty meats. However, I’ve heard that putting some water or a piece of bread underneath the air fryer basket can stop the smoking. YMMV, but it may be something to try.
👩🏻🍳 Other Air Fryer Sausage Recipes
Looking for other air fryer recipes using sausage? Check these out:
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All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Air Fryer Brats
- 4 fully cooked, refrigerated Bratwurst
- 4 sausage buns (optional)
- mustard, sauerkraut, caramelized onion (optional)
- Note: If you'll be making caramelized onions, you should start those first, since they take 45-60 minutes. (Check out step 3 of Smoked Mac and Cheese for directions on caramelizing an onion.) The FAQs above provide information on air frying frozen brats and raw brats.
- Remove the brats from the packaging and put them on your air fryer tray. Place the tray in the top rack position of the air fryer oven (closest to the heating element).
- Air fry the brats for 7-10 minutes at 350°F (175°C). (No need to flip them!) Check with the meat thermometer to ensure they've reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Air fry longer if needed to reach a safe temp. They should be nicely browned.
- Let the brats rest for 5 minutes before putting in buns and piling on the toppings. Enjoy!