The Reuben Sandwich is an American classic made with savory corned beef piled on our favorite marble rye bread and topped with plenty of baby swiss cheese, crunchy, tangy sauerkraut, and zippy Russian dressing, then griddled to perfection until the cheese melts and the bread is toasted. It's thick, meaty, and the best way to use up leftover corned beef!
Table of Contents
- Where did Reuben sandwiches come from?
- What You'll Need
- How to Make a Reuben Sandwich
- Recipe FAQ's
- Recipe Tips
- Substitutions and Variations
- What to Serve With a Reuben Sandwich
- How to Store
- More Famous Sandwich Recipes
- Classic Reuben Sandwich Recipe with Russian Dressing Recipe
- More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series
If you love a good Reuben sandwich, you should know that it's not difficult to make them at home! It seems like any time I'm out with my parents and there is a Reuben sandwich on the menu, they order one to split it, and I've inherited a love for the meaty, juicy sandwiches with melted Swiss cheese from them.
This classic sandwich is filled with all kinds of deliciousness. If you have leftover corned beef from St. Patrick's Day, this is the best way to use it up, but you can also get thinly sliced corned beef from your local deli counter. The tangy, vinegary sauerkraut is the perfect match for the corned beef's bold flavor profile, and the creamy, tangy dressing ties everything together beautifully along with the melty Swiss cheese.
Where did Reuben sandwiches come from?
Reuben sandwiches were first created in either Nebraska or New York, depending on who you ask and which story you believe.
As a Nebraska native, I have to support the claim that the Reuben sandwich recipe originated from the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska by Reuben Kulakofsky, a Lithuanian-Jewish immigrant in the 1920's at a poker game. I was born in Omaha so obviously this version gets my vote.
But others claim that Reuben sandwiches were first created by Arnold Reuben, a German-Jewish immigrant in New York City at Reuben's Delicatessen. I feel like New York lays claim to dozens of recipes and it's not fair, I'm taking off points for this one.
I'm including this classic reuben sandwich recipe for both states as part of my American Eats series since in reality they both have valid claims, I'm not a historian, and nobody REALLY seems to know the truth of the matter anyway. I'll leave it to you to decide which version you think is most likely and you can feel free to leave a comment about it below!
What You'll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Corned beef - This is a great way to use up leftover corned beef and you can shred it or slice it. But you can also pick up some thinly sliced deli corned beef at your local grocery store.
- Rye bread - I love a good marble rye bread for reubens, but any dark rye bread, light rye bread, or even a good pumpernickel bread will work. You can even make my homemade light rye bread, if you like.
- Sauerkraut - Look for jarred or refrigerated sauerkraut for the best flavor. This is one of my favorite ingredients and if you have leftovers you can use it for Sauerkraut and Sausages with Apples, or serve it on grilled Polish sausages with Sweet & Sticky Copycat J Dawgs Hot Dog Sauce or as a side with Schnitzel & Gravy or German Sauerbraten.
- Swiss cheese - Pairs perfectly with the other flavors of this sandwich.
- Russian dressing - I make a quick homemade tangy Russian dressing that you can throw together in about a minute, but you can also pick some up from the store or using Thousand Island dressing instead.
- Butter - We're grilling this sandwich on a griddle or in a frying pan like a grilled cheese for that buttery, toasted exterior and warm, melted cheese inside, so we need a little butter for the bread or you could use a thin layer of mayonnaise on the outside of the bread instead.
How to Make a Reuben Sandwich
- Layer Russian dressing and corned beef. Go ahead and pile the corned beef as thick as you like on top of slices of rye bread spread with a generous amount of sauce. Don't be skimpy!
- Pile on sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. You can measure or eyeball it. I like two slices of Swiss cheese, but you can get away with just one.
- Top with more sauce and buttered bread. Finish your sandwich with even more of the Russian dressing, then top with a slice of buttered rye bread.
- Grill on a hot griddle or frying pan until toasty like a grilled cheese sandwich. It only takes a couple minutes per side until the bread is toasted and the cheese is hot throughout the sandwich. Slice in half and serve with potato chips and a dill pickle on the side!
Assembling on the griddle:
Place the butter side of each slice of bread on the griddle over medium heat and assemble each Reuben sandwich directly on the griddle before topping with the remaining slices of bread, if you prefer. I actually find this easier than assembling on a plate and transferring the whole thing to the griddle.
Either is correct, although we strongly prefer a hot reuben sandwich over a cold one.
Technically neither since it doesn't come from Germany or Ireland. But it was most likely invented by immigrants of German or Lithuanian descent using German ingredients. It's frequently associated with St. Patrick's Day though because of the corned beef that is connected with Irish-American cuisine.
- Use a panini press! If you have a panini press, this would be a great time to use it! Toast both sides of the bread at the same time for this American grilled sandwich!
- Drain the sauerkraut well. This is my top tip for preventing soggy reuben sandwiches. Give the sauerkraut a good squeeze to get rid of any excess liquid before adding it to your sandwich.
Substitutions and Variations
- Rachel Sandwich - You could sub pastrami in place of the corned beef and this would be a "Rachel" sandwich. Pastrami and corned beef are closely related, except that pastrami is smoked while corned beef is roasted or boiled.
- Sauce - A traditional Reuben sandwich uses creamy Russian dressing for the sauce, but Thousand Island dressing is another popular option that tastes really similar, albeit slightly sweeter with a bit less kick than Russian dressing.
- Bread - If you can't find marble rye at your local grocery store and are determined to get it, try going to a sandwich shop instead of ordering online! My favorite local sandwich place had no problem selling me a loaf of their fresh marble rye bread! But any good loaf of rye bread will work, whether it is a Jewish rye or dark rye.
What to Serve With a Reuben Sandwich
Think of any deli favorites and you'll have a good idea of what sides go well with a Reuben. Besides potato chips and dill pickles, here are some of our favorites.
- Deviled Egg Potato Salad
- Classic Macaroni Salad
- Summer Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Poppy Seed Dressing
- Cold Broccoli Salad with Bacon
- Creamy Pea Salad with Bacon
- Homemade French Fries
How to Store
If you have uneaten Reuben sandwiches leftover, you can refrigerate them and enjoy them the next day, but the bread will likely be soggy and they won't be as good as when you make them fresh. I recommend only assembling what you need and refrigerating the rest of the ingredients separately.
More Famous Sandwich Recipes
- Homemade Sloppy Joes
- Leftover Prime Rib Sandwich
- The Ultimate Shrimp Po Boy Sandwich
- Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
- Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches
Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich
Cubanos (Cuban Sandwich Recipe)
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Classic Reuben Sandwich Recipe with Russian Dressing
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 1 Tablespoon grated onion
- 1 Tablespoon horseradish
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1-2 teaspoons hot sauce
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 slices rye bread
- 4 Tablespoons salted butter, softened
- 1 pound sliced or shredded corned beef
- 1 ½ cups sauerkraut, drained
- 8 slices Swiss cheese
- Russian dressing (or Thousand Island dressing)
- Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Set aside.
- Butter one side of each of the slices of bread. Place the bread buttered side down on a hot griddle or skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Generously spread Russian dressing on the unbuttered side of the bread.
- Pile corned beef and sauerkraut on top of the Russian dressing, then top with two slices of swiss cheese. Add more Russian dressing on top of this, then top with another piece of bread, buttered side up.
- Once toasted on the bottom, flip the sandwich to grill on the other side until hot through, toasted, and the cheese is melted. It's about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the griddle and cut in half.
- Serve hot with a potato chips and a dill pickle.
- Bread: We prefer marble rye bread, but light rye, dark rye, Jewish rye, or pumpernickel bread are all acceptable alternatives.
- Rachel Sandwich: Pastrami is also acceptable (and delicious) although a traditional reuben is made with corned beef, not pastrami.
More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series
Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Maine • Maryland • Massachusetts • Michigan • Minnesota • Mississippi • Missouri • Montana • Nebraska • New Jersey • New York • Oregon • Puerto Rico • South Carolina • South Dakota • Texas • Utah • Wisconsin
Reader questions and reviews
On your sauerkraut paragraph, you mention serve with polish sausage and German sauerbraten. Why isn’t the p in Polish capitalized like the G in German? Being of Polish descent, I take that as an insult.
It was purely a typo on my part and certainly not meant as an insult. Thanks for pointing it out!