Reuben Sandwich

Introduction to the Reuben Sandwich

The Reuben Sandwich is more than just a meal; it’s a slice of culinary history that continues to delight taste buds across the United States. This guide dives deep into the origins, essential components, and variations of the Reuben Sandwich, providing everything you need to know to enjoy this classic American dish.

The Origins of the Reuben Sandwich

The Reuben Sandwich has a storied past, with its origins a subject of friendly debate. Two main stories exist about its creation:

  • Some claim it was first concocted in a New York deli in the early 20th century, a brainchild of a deli owner named Reuben Kulakofsky.
  • Others argue it was born in Omaha, Nebraska, at the Blackstone Hotel during a poker game.

Despite its disputed beginnings, the Reuben Sandwich quickly became a staple of American delis, known for its unique combination of flavors. For more on the fascinating history of this sandwich, explore “the historical origins of the Reuben Sandwich”.

What Makes a Reuben Sandwich?

At the heart of a Reuben Sandwich lies a delectable combination of flavors and textures that make it a beloved classic. This iconic sandwich is traditionally made with:

  • Corned Beef: The star of the sandwich, corned beef provides a rich, savory flavor that’s both tender and juicy.
  • Swiss Cheese: Melted Swiss cheese adds a creamy, nutty taste that complements the meat perfectly.
  • Sauerkraut: The tanginess of sauerkraut cuts through the richness of the beef and cheese, adding a crucial layer of flavor and texture.
  • Russian Dressing: A generous spread of Russian dressing offers a sweet and spicy kick, tying all the components together.
  • Rye Bread: Grilled until crispy, rye bread holds all the ingredients, its distinct flavor rounding out the sandwich.

Each element of the Reuben Sandwich plays a vital role, creating a harmonious balance between savory, tangy, creamy, and crunchy. This combination ensures that every bite is a delightful experience, making the Reuben a timeless favorite in delis across America.

Step-by-Step Recipe

Creating the perfect Reuben Sandwich is an art that combines taste, texture, and technique. Follow this step-by-step recipe to craft a classic Reuben that’s sure to satisfy any craving.


  • 8 slices of rye bread
  • 1 pound of thinly sliced corned beef
  • 8 slices of Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup of sauerkraut, drained
  • 1/2 cup of Russian dressing
  • Butter, for grilling


  1. Prepare the Ingredients: Begin by gathering all your ingredients. Ensure the sauerkraut is well-drained to avoid making the sandwich soggy.
  2. Dress the Bread: Spread Russian dressing generously on one side of each slice of rye bread. The dressing is key to adding moisture and flavor to the sandwich.
  3. Assemble the Sandwich: On four slices of dressed bread, layer the corned beef, followed by the sauerkraut, and then top with two slices of Swiss cheese each. Cover with the remaining slices of bread, dressing side down.
  4. Butter and Grill: Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Butter the outer sides of each sandwich. Once the skillet is hot, place the sandwiches in, pressing them down lightly with a spatula.
  5. Cook to Perfection: Grill the sandwiches for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until the bread is toasted to a golden brown and the cheese has melted. The key is to cook them slowly enough that the inside warms thoroughly without burning the bread.
  6. Serve Immediately: Once grilled to perfection, remove the sandwiches from the skillet. Slice them in half and serve hot. The ideal Reuben Sandwich should be crispy on the outside with a warm, melting interior, offering a symphony of flavors with each bite.

Enjoy your homemade Reuben Sandwich with a side of pickles or potato chips for a complete deli-style meal. This recipe promises a deliciously satisfying experience, bringing together the rich flavors and textures that make the Reuben a beloved classic.

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Reuben Sandwich

  • Author: Skilledcooks
  • Total Time: 18 minutes
  • Yield: 4 sandwiches 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


A classic Reuben Sandwich combines savory corned beef, melted Swiss cheese, tangy sauerkraut, and creamy Russian dressing between slices of grilled rye bread. It’s a hearty, flavorful sandwich perfect for lunch or dinner.


  • 8 slices of rye bread
  • 1 pound thinly sliced corned beef
  • 8 slices of Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, drained
  • 1/2 cup Russian dressing
  • Butter, for grilling


  1. Spread Russian dressing on one side of each bread slice.
  2. Layer corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese on four slices of bread, then top with the remaining bread slices, dressing-side down.
  3. Butter the outside of each sandwich.
  4. Grill over medium heat in a skillet, pressing down slightly, until the bread is golden and the cheese has melted, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  5. Serve hot.


  • Ensure the sauerkraut is well-drained to prevent a soggy sandwich.
  • For a crispier crust, use a cast-iron skillet.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: American


  • Calories: 740 kcal
  • Sugar: 8 g
  • Sodium: 1340 mg
  • Fat: 42 g
  • Carbohydrates: 56 g
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Protein: 35 g
  • Cholesterol: 120 mg

Expert Tips for the Best Reuben Sandwich

Crafting the ultimate Reuben Sandwich requires more than just following a recipe; it’s about mastering a few key techniques and choosing the right ingredients. Here are expert tips to elevate your Reuben Sandwich to deli-level perfection:

  • Select Quality Ingredients: The foundation of a great Reuben starts with high-quality corned beef. Opt for freshly sliced corned beef from the deli counter rather than pre-packaged options. For the rye bread, choose a loaf with a firm texture to support the weight of the fillings.
  • Drain the Sauerkraut: To prevent a soggy sandwich, thoroughly drain the sauerkraut. Squeeze out excess moisture with your hands or let it sit in a colander for a few minutes before use.
  • Layer Wisely: Balance is key. Start with a generous spread of Russian dressing on both slices of bread to lock in moisture. Layer the corned beef and sauerkraut evenly, ensuring every bite is flavorful.
  • Cheese on Both Sides: For an extra gooey experience, place a slice of Swiss cheese directly on each slice of bread before adding the other fillings. This technique ensures melted cheese throughout the sandwich.
  • Grill to Perfection: Use a cast-iron skillet or griddle for even heat distribution. Butter the outside of the bread lightly for a crispy, golden exterior. Cook on medium-low heat to give the cheese ample time to melt without burning the bread.

FAQs about the Reuben Sandwich

What’s the best bread for a Reuben Sandwich?

  • Rye bread is the traditional choice for a Reuben Sandwich. Its firm texture and distinct flavor complement the rich and tangy fillings perfectly. For a slight variation, try marble rye, which adds a visually appealing twist.

Can you make a Reuben Sandwich without sauerkraut?

  • Yes, although sauerkraut is a classic ingredient, you can substitute it with coleslaw for a sweeter taste or leave it out entirely. However, keep in mind that sauerkraut adds a unique tanginess that balances the richness of the corned beef and Swiss cheese.

What are some common sides served with a Reuben Sandwich?

  • A Reuben Sandwich is often served with:
    • Potato chips for a simple, crunchy side.
    • Pickles, which add a tangy contrast to the rich sandwich.
    • A side salad, offering a fresh, light counterpoint to the meal.

Is Russian dressing essential for a Reuben Sandwich?

  • Russian dressing is traditional, providing a creamy, tangy, and slightly spicy flavor that ties the sandwich together. If unavailable, Thousand Island dressing is a common substitute, offering a similar taste profile.

Can the Reuben Sandwich be made healthier?

  • For a healthier version, consider using low-fat Swiss cheese, lean corned beef, and a whole grain or rye bread. Additionally, you can reduce the amount of Russian dressing or opt for a lighter alternative.

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