Charcuterie,  Game Day,  Grilling,  Meat,  Pork,  Wisconsin

Craisin and Cheddar Bratwurst

Wisconsin is known for their bratwurts, or as we know them, brats. Summertime is a time where everyone gets excited about brats, especially while tailgating at a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game. Most everyone that I know cooks Johnsonville, Usingers, or Klement’s throughout the summer, but what most people do not know is that making your own is not only easy, but it allows you to be very creative.

Ever since my wife fell in love with the chicken feta sausage that I made, I have been making sausage on a fairly regular basis. The great thing about making your own sausage is that you are the creator. I think of making sausage like making a pizza. It can be very simple like making a cheese and pepperoni pizza, or it can get as creative as you want that pizza to be. So after I began thinking of what type of sausage I would like to serve to my family and friends, I decided to make a craisin and sharp cheddar style sausage.

Homemade Brats with Cheddar and Craisins

I am so glad that I made this sausage, for only one reason, well there are probably more reasons, but one reason that I will get to after towards the end.

Let’s get started.


  • 3 lbs of pork shoulder, bone out, cut into 2 inch slices
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of craisins
  • 3/4 lb of 3 year old sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Natural casings, cleaned
  • Sausage stuffer

A couple of key components when making your sausages. Casings and a sausage stuffer. You can get the casings at nearly any butcher, and the stuffer can be purchased online, or if you have a KitchenAid, you can get the attachment. Once you have these items, you are on your way to making great sausage.

So to get started, begin by getting your meat really cold. I place mine in the freezer for about 30 minutes before grinding. You want the meat to be really cold. If you do not have a grinder, you can use ground pork, but just make sure it has a bit of fat in there. I would recommend talking to your butcher and having them grind the pork shoulder for you.

Once you have the meat ground, take half of it, and grind it again. You will thank me later.

Next, take the shallots, garlic, cheese, and crasins, and run those through the grinder.

Start off by seasoning the meat mixture with about one tablespoon each of the salt and pepper. Mix well.

Homemade Brats with Cheddar and Craisins

Form a small patty and cook it on medium heat in a skillet. Once cooked, taste it. The key is to taste the sausage and season with any additional salt and pepper before stuffing three feet of sausage. I know people who have not done this and paid for it later!

Once you have your seasoning right, prepare your sausage stuffer.

Place the casing onto the stuffer, tying a knot at the end.

Begin feeding your sausage, working with both hands. Feel free to use a toothpick at times to poke small holes in the casing, letting out any air, and it will happen. Nothing to worry about though.

Once you are done stuffing the sausage, make into your links, or go old school and use the whole sausage ring, placing it on the grill. Depending on who you are grilling for, this can be pretty fun.

Freeze in plastic freezer storage bags, or if you have a FoodSaver, use that.

The best part of making this particular sausage was that everyone loved it, including my oldest boy who has refused to eat sausage since he was about three years old. Not only is he picky about fruit and having cheese in certain foods, but he had no clue. He loved it! The double grinding of the meat makes these brats really stand out in texture, and flavor.

I served mine sliced, and due to the subtle sweetness, drizzled a bit of Jamaican pickapeppa sauce for a bit of heat. However you serve these, you will enjoy them. Hope you enjoy.

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