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Learn how to make a reuben sandwich at home! The classic deli favorite includes layers of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing grilled between two buttered slices of rye bread for a flavorful, satisfying meal that comes together in less than 20 minutes.

Side shot of a classic reuben sandwich on a cutting board.
Table of Contents
  1. Origin of the Classic Reuben Sandwich
  2. The Difference Between a Reuben and a Rachel Sandwich
  3. Ingredients
  4. How to Make a Reuben Sandwich
  5. Serving Suggestions
  6. Recipe Variations
  7. Expert Tips
  8. How to Make a Reuben Sandwich Recipe

If you love sandwiches as much as we do, be sure to try this 5-ingredient chicken Parmesan sandwich, an easy shrimp po’ boy, these crispy fried fish sandwiches, a simple-yet-delicious Southern tomato sandwich, these decadent French Dip sandwiches, and these buffalo chicken sliders, too!

Origin of the Classic Reuben Sandwich

The Reuben sandwich is a classic American grilled sandwich that’s made with a combination of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye bread. While the origins of the sandwich are not clear, it’s widely associated with kosher-style delicatessens (even though it’s not actually kosher).

Whether the first Reuben was served by Reuben Kulakofsky at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska in the 1920s, or at Reuben’s Delicatessen in New York City, one thing is certain: this popular sandwich has been a favorite since the early 20th century — and you can easily make it at home!

The Difference Between a Reuben and a Rachel Sandwich

While both the Reuben and the Rachel sandwich are grilled on rye bread with melted Swiss cheese, the Rachel includes turkey or pastrami and coleslaw, rather than the classic corned beef and sauerkraut combination that you find on a Reuben.

Reuben Sandwich Sauce

Since Russian dressing is the classic Reuben sandwich spread, I’ve included a quick homemade recipe for this sweet and creamy sauce. Just stir together mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, white vinegar, salt, and pepper. If you prefer a shortcut, you can certainly substitute with your favorite brand of store-bought Russian or Thousand Island dressing instead.

The best reuben sandwich recipe on a wooden cutting board with soda and chips in the background

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a homemade Reuben sandwich. As always, the exact measurements and specific cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe at the bottom of the post.

  • Bread: rye bread is a classic choice, but pumpernickel, marbled rye, or sourdough will all work well.
  • Butter: for grilling the sandwiches.
  • Corned beef: find this flavorful, thinly-sliced meat at the deli counter in your grocery store. You can substitute with pastrami, turkey, or roast beef.
  • Sauerkraut: refrigerated or canned will work, just make sure that you drain it really well. Coleslaw is also a nice substitute if you don’t like the fermented tang of sauerkraut.
  • Swiss cheese: one large slice or two smaller slices per sandwich should be the perfect amount.
  • Russian dressing: prepare the homemade spread shown here, or use store-bought Russian or Thousand Island dressing for a shortcut.
Overhead process shot showing how to make a reuben sandwich

How to Make a Reuben Sandwich

This hearty and delicious sandwich is a satisfying lunch or a quick weeknight dinner. Best of all, it comes together in less than 20 minutes! You’ll find detailed directions in the recipe card below, but here’s the quick version:

  1. Stir together the Russian dressing.
  2. Assemble sandwiches by layering sauce, corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese on 4 buttered bread slices. Top with the remaining slices of buttered bread.
  3. Grill the sandwiches on a large griddle or cast iron skillet until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes per side.
  4. Slice in half and serve!
Stacked classic reuben sandwich on a plate with potato chips

Serving Suggestions

Serve the sandwiches with either potato chips or French fries. Don’t forget the fountain drink, sweet tea, or fresh-squeezed lemonade, too! Here are some other easy sides that go well with a traditional reuben sandwich recipe:

Overhead shot of a homemade reuben sandwich on a plate with potato chips and a side of pickles

Recipe Variations

  • Use roast beef, turkey, or pastrami in lieu of the corned beef. For a “Texas Reuben,” replace the corned beef with smoked brisket.
  • Swap out the sauerkraut and replace it with sweet, creamy coleslaw (like a Rachel sandwich)!
  • Switch up the cheese and use Colby, American, sharp Cheddar, mozzarella, or Pepper Jack cheeses instead of the Swiss.
  • For an open-faced Reuben, skip the top slice of bread. Toast the bottom slice, pile it high with the dressing, meat, sauerkraut, and cheese; then pop it under the broiler for a few minutes so that the cheese melts.

Expert Tips

  • For even quicker prep, stir together the Russian dressing up to 4 days in advance. Keep it covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Cook the sandwiches slowly so that the inside of the sandwiches can heat through and the cheese can melt without the bread burning. If the bread is browning too quickly before the cheese melts, reduce the heat to low and cover the sandwiches with the lid of a skillet or pot.
  • Use a sturdy bread that can stand up to a hearty grilled sandwich. Rye, pumpernickel, and sourdough are great options. I don’t recommend a simple white sandwich bread in this case.
  • To keep your reuben from getting soggy, drain off the sauerkraut really well, and pat it dry with paper towels if it still looks like there’s too much liquid.
  • Cook the sandwiches in a cast iron skillet or on a larger cast iron griddle. These heavy skillets conduct heat really well and yield the crispiest bread.
Front shot of a reuben sandwich on a red and white vintage plate

More Sandwich Recipes to Try

Homemade Sloppy Joes

25 minutes mins

Classic Patty Melt

1 hour hr

The Best Tuna Melt Recipe

25 minutes mins

Square side shot of a homemade reuben sandwich recipe on a wooden cutting board.

How to Make a Reuben Sandwich

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 8 minutes
Total: 18 minutes
Servings 4 sandwiches
Calories 550 kcal
Make the deli favorite at home with this classic Reuben sandwich recipe!

Ingredients
  

For the Russian Dressing

For the Sandwiches

  • 8 slices rye bread or pumpernickel bread (sourdough bread or marbled rye also work well)
  • ¼ cup salted butter (or more less, to taste), at room temperature
  • ¾ lb. thinly-sliced cooked corned beef
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, drained (or use coleslaw)
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese

Instructions

Make the Dressing

  • In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, relish, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Assemble the Sandwiches

  • Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices, buttered-side down, on a cutting board. Spread 1 tablespoon of Russian dressing on each of the 4 slices. Top each slice with ¼ of the corned beef, ¼ cup of sauerkraut, and 1 slice of Swiss cheese. Top each sandwich with one of the remaining slices of bread, buttered-side up.
  • Heat a griddle or large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the sandwiches to the griddle and cook until golden brown on one side, about 4 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the sandwiches over and continue cooking until the second side is golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 4 more minutes.

Notes

  • For even quicker prep, stir together the Russian dressing up to 4 days in advance. Keep it covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Cook the sandwiches slowly so that the inside of the sandwiches can heat through and the cheese can melt without the bread burning. If the bread is browning too quickly before the cheese melts, reduce the heat to low and cover the sandwiches.
  • Use a sturdy bread that can stand up to a hearty grilled sandwich. Rye, pumpernickel, and sourdough are great options. I don’t recommend a simple white sandwich bread in this case.
  • Cook the sandwiches in a cast iron skillet or on a larger cast iron griddle. These heavy skillets conduct heat really well and yield the crispiest bread.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwichCalories: 550kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 29gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 1458mgPotassium: 191mgFiber: 5gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 561IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 226mgIron: 4mg
Keyword: classic reuben sandwich, how to make a reuben sandwich, reuben sandwich, reuben sandwich recipe
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in February, 2021. It was updated in February, 2024.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Blair you have saved my dinners again. I was totally over cooking and lost my desire this week until I saw this recipe. Thank you so much. So good! My hubby and sons loved it.

    1. Oh, that’s so great to hear, Adela! I’m glad that the Reuben got you back in the kitchen. 🙂 It’s definitely one of my favorite sandwiches, so it’s nice to know that you can make it at home whenever you want, right?! Glad your family approved, too!