Reuben Sandwich: the best recipe for a popular American sandwich

Total time: 20 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 4 people
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By Cookist

The Reuben sandwich is a classic American hot sandwich that's loved worldwide. Made with delicious corned beef, Swiss cheese, tangy sauerkraut, and creamy Russian dressing served on rye bread and grilled to perfection, the Reuben is one sandwich that is packed with flavor.

It's a staple item on many delis' menus, but you can easily make it at home. Ready to get cooking? Here's everything you need to know about the Reuben sandwich.

What is a Reuben Sandwich?

Reubens date back to 1920s Omaha, Nebraska, where it's said that a man by the name of Reuben Kulakofsky requested a snack during a poker game at the Blackstone Hotel. The owner's son, who worked in the hotel's kitchen, served up a tasty sandwich made with corned beef, Swiss, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing served on rye. It was a massive hit and soon became famous around Omaha when it was added to the hotel menu.

The Reuben sandwiches' national fame soon followed when someone entered it into a sandwich competition, and now you can find this delicious dish all over the country. Although it's firmly associated with Jewish delis, the Reuben isn't actually kosher due to the fact it has both meat and cheese.

Reuben Sandwich vs. Rachel Sandwich

The Rachel sandwich is similar to the Reuben, but swaps the corned beef out for pastrami and uses coleslaw instead of sauerkraut. However, both sandwiches use Swiss cheese and are served on rye bread.

Reuben Sandwich Ingredients

Crafted from corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian or thousand island dressing, the Reuben is served on pieces of buttered rye bread and grilled.

In addition to the sandwich ingredients, you'll also need the ingredients for making Russian dressing at home (it's much tastier than store-bought). For the dressing, grab some mayo, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, prepared horseradish, and pepper.

How to Make a Reuben Sandwich

Once you've mixed up the Russian dressing, it's time to start building the sandwiches. Butter four pieces of rye bread, then layer each with a piece of Swiss cheese. Take half of the corned beef and divvy it up between the four pieces of bread. Dollop equal amounts of sauerkraut over the layer of corned beef, then pour about a tablespoon of the Russian dressing over it.

Next, layer the rest of the corned beef, followed by the cheese in equal portions over the sandwiches. Butter the remaining four pieces of rye and close the sandwiches. To cook the Reubens, pop the sandwiches into a large skillet over medium heat.

Cook them for 3 minutes on each side, until the Swiss cheese has melted and your rye bread is nice and golden brown. Cut them in half and serve with a side of chips and pickles.

How to Make Homemade Russian Dressing

Homemade Russian dressing is a million times tastier than anything you'll buy in a store, so if you're making Reubens, it's well worth whipping up the dressing at home. All you need to do is add all of the ingredients to a jar, pop the lid on and make sure it's tight, then shake it well to combine. That's it!

You'll have some leftover dressing, so feel free to use it on other sandwiches, salads, or even as a dip for hard-boiled eggs.

Reuben Sandwich Variations

There are several killer variations on the Reuben sandwich you can make when you're ready to switch things up. Use thousand island dressing instead of Russian dressing.

Instead of rye bread, try serving it on sourdough, ciabatta, or Cuban bread.

Use pastrami, turkey, chicken, or pork instead of corned beef, or try a different cheese.

Cheddar, Edam, provolone, or even blue cheese are delicious options.

Tips for the Best Reuben Sandwich

Make sure to squeeze out any extra moisture from the sauerkraut to avoid a soggy sandwich.

Feel free to use low-fat mayonnaise instead of full-fat mayo when making the Russian dressing.

You can heat the corned beef before assembling and grilling the sandwiches, so it stays extra hot.

Serve your Reubens with a side of potato chips or French fries and some dill pickles.

Reuben sandwiches are great washed down with a cold beer, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, or Gewurztraminer, or if you prefer red wine, opt for something light like Pinot Noir or Gamay.

How to Store Reuben Sandwiches

Wrap your Reubens in wax paper or foil and place them in the fridge. Enjoy them within 2 days.

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for the Russian dressing
1/3 cup
1 1/2 tbsp
prepared horseradish
1 1/2 tsp
Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp
freshly ground black pepper to taste
for the sandwich
butter, softened
2 tbsp
rye bread
8 slices
Swiss cheese
8 slices
corned beef brisket, thinly sliced
3/4 pound
1/2 pound
Russian dressing
1/4 cup


For the dressing

Combine all of the ingredients in a jar. Secure the lid, then shake vigorously and set aside.

For the sandwiches

Take four slices of bread. Butter each, then top with a slice of Swiss cheese.

Divide the corned beef in half and layer equal amounts over each sandwich base.

Place equal amounts of sauerkraut over the layer of corned beef. Drizzle one tablespoon of dressing over the top.

Divide the remaining corned beef between the sandwiches. Layer with the remaining cheese.

Butter the remaining four pieces of bread and close the sandwiches.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Cook the Reubens for 3 minutes on each side, or until the cheese has melted and the bread is toasted.

Slice in half, and serve.


You'll have leftover Russian dressing. The remaining dressing will keep for up to five days when stored in the fridge.

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