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During these last hot days of summer, I’m still looking for easy and economical recipes that don’t heat up the house. This brat recipe fits the bill! While not a traditional German bratwurst, it’s a great alternative and goes together quickly. Plus, with meat prices what they are, this is a fabulous way to stretch a pound of ground meat.
Because these are freshly made and quick-cooked brats, there’s a long list of exotic spices or casings to choose from. In fact, this brat recipe isn’t even really a recipe! It’s a method for creating a dish unique to you. Methods and formulas are one of my favorite ways to keep my food expenses low. I’m able to use ingredients abundant to me, instead of having to run to the store for a special ingredient. This brat recipe gives you a basic formula to follow, which you can then personalize with what you have on hand.
Easy & Economical Homemade Brat Recipe
Meat: Any ground or minced meat: beef, pork, lamb, wild game (our most common meat), chicken, turkey, or you can even use a combination of meats.
Don’t have any ground meat? Many times I mince stew cuts of wild game in the food processor to make my own “quick” grind. I use the pulse feature to get to the stage that I want. Just don’t over pulse. You want to keep a little texture to the mixture.
Grain: This is the magic of the recipe! Adding a grain stretches the meat and makes the end product oh-so-tender. Some grains you can use are:
- Leftover oatmeal, rice, cornmeal mush, or any other cooked grain.
- Soaked, uncooked grains (put to soak early in the day: 1 cup grain, 1 tablespoon acidic medium [learn more about soaking grains and why here], and 1 cup water). Note: small grains like oatmeal can be added uncooked. If using rice, wheat, barley, or other larger grain, it’s best to cook them in advance and allow them to cool.
- ½ cup flour (sprouted is best for reduced phytic acid, but unsprouted works well too).
- Sprouted grains. If a hard grain, like wheat, lightly steam and allow to cool. Softer grains, like quinoa, can be added raw.
- 1 cup fully hydrated sourdough starter (this makes a very tender brat, but also very fragile—handle with care during the forming and cooking stage.
- Your favorite bread or cornbread, cut into chunks and then moistened with a little milk to equal 1 cup.
Produce: Finely minced onion is a must! Also delicious (and a great way to stretch the meat) are grated carrot, grated potato, finely minced celery and/or finely shredded cabbage.
Fruit can also be an interesting addition. You can use dried fruits or fresh fruits finely minced. If the fresh fruit is wet, drain it for about half an hour in a colander and consider tossing it in flour. This helps keep the moisture manageable and the fruit separated.
Keep your produce addition to around 1 cup total. Feel free to mix and match!
Egg: At least one egg, but two may be needed. Start with one and see how it’s all holding together. I’ve found that when using leftover cooked grains, sourdough starter, or bread/milk, one egg is usually adequate. Uncooked grain or flour tend to need two eggs. If you’re low on eggs, use one egg and 3 tablespoons of milk or water.
Seasoning: This is the fun part! You have so many options here. Basil, fennel, peppermint, chili powder, cumin, oregano, parsley, and even a little hard cheese (like Parmesan) make a great flavor addition.
What flavor do you feel like tonight?
- Italian? Parsley, basil, and oregano are nice.
- Greek? Try fennel, marjoram, and oregano (go easy on each of these; about ¼ teaspoon).
- Asian? Powdered ginger, chives, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Maybe even a splash of soy sauce and/or sesame oil.
- If you just can’t decide what you’re in the mood for, keep it simple with minced garlic or garlic powder, along with salt and pepper, for a nice lightly flavored brat.
Mix it: Add all your ingredients to a bowl and mix with the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, or (my favorite) mix with a wooden spoon or even your clean hands.
Shape it: Portion out into the needed number of brats. One pound of ground meat, with the grain and produce addition, will yield six to eight brats. Roll the portioned meat into a sausage shape. I like to keep them on the thinner side for easy cooking.
Chill: After you’ve finished shaping, move the meat to the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes. This helps them firm up and hold together during the cooking process.
Note: Depending on your additions, they could still be quite fragile, so be gentle with them.
Cook: You have options again: oven-baked, pan-fried, or even grilled.
- Oven-baked: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Put brats on a parchment-lined cookie sheet (for easy cleanup) and bake at 425 for five minutes. Turn heat down to 375 degrees and continue baking to your desired doneness, about 15 to 20 additional minutes.
- Pan-fried: Heat up your favorite cast-iron skillet. Add a little healthy fat (tallow, lard, or coconut oil works well here). Put brats in the heated pan, leaving space between them so they don’t touch. Cook for six to eight minutes, turning gently as needed to brown on all sides.
- Grill: Preheat your grill. Grill on one side to fully sear (about four minutes for a hot grill), flip, and cook to your desired doneness for an additional three to five minutes.
Jalapeno and Mango Brat: This one is inspired by a commercially prepared brat that we love. Unfortunately, the commercial version has MSG, and I feel terrible after eating it. Use very finely minced jalapeno (to keep the heat down, I only use ½ of a pepper and remove the seeds) combined with finely minced mango (drain for 30 minutes in a colander and toss with flour) along with minced onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Delicious!
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More Recipes You Might Enjoy:
- Design a Meatloaf Burger
- Sweet and Sour Venison Meatballs
- Not-Really Maine Baked Beans
- Sourdough Cornbread (made in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop)
- Healthy Family Meals