Reuben Sandwich

published Jan 14, 2022
Reuben Sandwich Recipe

In this classic diner sandwich, corned beef is layered with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing, then griddled until toasty.

Makes4 sandwiches

Prep15 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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Reuben Sandwich
Credit: Photo: Danielle Acken | Food Stylist: Aurelia Louvet

As far as diner sandwiches go, the reuben might be my all-time favorite. Thin slices of corned beef are layered with sharp and crunchy sauerkraut, melted Swiss cheese, and sweet and tangy Russian dressing, then pressed between toasty griddled rye bread. With so many flavors and textures for your palate to enjoy, what’s not to love?

Who Invented the Reuben Sandwich?

The reuben is surrounded in mystery and lore. Some say it was created in a New York deli in 1914, when a famished actress walked in and asked for a sandwich from the deli owner Arnold Reuben.

Others say it was created at a poker game in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1925. In one version of this story, it’s thought that one of the players, Reuben Kulakofsky, created the reuben when the ingredients were brought to him tableside. Others claim that Bernard Schimmel, the owner of the establishment the game was being played in, created the sandwich for Reuben. From this point onward, both families claimed to be the inventor. In 2016, Elizabeth Weil, granddaughter of Bernard Schimmel, wrote the most definitive piece I’ve found on the origins of the sandwich, filled with source material backing up her family’s claim.

Credit: Photo: Danielle Acken | Food Stylist: Aurelia Louvet

How to Make the Best-Ever Reuben Sandwich

Follow these three steps for success every time.

  1. Heat your ingredients first. Before I assemble my sandwich, I like to quickly sauté the sauerkraut and corned beef. This ensures the center of the sandwich is warmed all the way through when you griddle it.
  2. Assemble the sandwiches. Before griddling, I assemble all the sandwiches on a work surface. I layer in the following order: rye bread, Russian dressing (you can make your own or buy your favorite store-bought brand), Swiss cheese, corned beef, sauerkraut, another slice of Swiss, and then the second slice of rye. In the recipe, I give a sandwich ratio that I feel is most balanced on my palate. If you prefer more or less of any ingredient, you do you.
  3. Griddle the sandwich in butter. Both sides, in a generous amount — need I say more?

What Should I Serve with a Reuben Sandwich? 

Serve this sandwich with anything that will balance out the richness. It’s commonly served with a pickle, but I would be happy if there was a side salad as well.

Reuben Sandwich Recipe

In this classic diner sandwich, corned beef is layered with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing, then griddled until toasty.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Makes 4 sandwiches

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    packed cup sauerkraut (about 7 ounces), such as Boar’s Head

  • 2 tablespoons

    vegetable oil, divided

  • 12 ounces

    thinly sliced deli or cooked corned beef

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 8

    slices seeded or unseeded rye bread

  • 8

    tablespoons Russian Dressing, divided

  • 8

    slices Swiss cheese (4 1/2 to 6 ounces), divided

  • Pickles, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Drain 1 packed cup sauerkraut through a fine-mesh strainer. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a medium cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the sauerkraut and cook, stirring often, until just warmed through, about 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl.

  2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in the same pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add 12 ounces sliced corned beef and cook, tossing occasionally with tongs or chopsticks to separate the slices, until just warmed through but not browned, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl or plate. Wipe the skillet clean with paper towels and set aside.

  3. Cut 4 tablespoons unsalted butter into 8 pieces.

  4. Lay 8 slices rye bread on a work surface. Spread 1 tablespoon Russian dressing on each slice. Place 1 slice Swiss cheese on each of 4 slices of bread. Divide the corned beef and sauerkraut over the cheese. Top each with a second slice of Swiss cheese. Close the sandwiches with the second slice of bread dressing-side down.

  5. Heat the reserved skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 pieces of the butter. When melted, swirl the pan to coat, then carefully add 2 of the sandwiches. Press down on the sandwiches with the back of a flat spatula to flatten slightly, then cook until deep golden-brown on the bottoms, about 1 1/2 minutes.

  6. Add 2 pieces of the butter. Once melted, flip the sandwiches and cook until deep golden-brown on the second side and the cheese is melted, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate or cutting board. Repeat cooking the remaining sandwiches in the remaining butter. Serve with pickles if desired.