The Reuben sandwich was purportedly created in 1914 by Arnold Reuben, the owner of Reuben's Restaurant in New York City. Another claim states that it was first made in 1922 by Reuben Kolakofsky, a grocer from Omaha, Nebraska. Whichever story is correct, there's no denying the sandwich was a success.
The sandwich is traditionally made with sliced corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese on rye bread. It is usually fried like a grilled cheese sandwich and served hot, but it may be served cold. Reuben sandwiches are usually made with corned beef, but pastrami is an excellent alternative.
These classic Reuben sandwiches are a fabulous combination of flavors and a great way to use leftover corned beef. Make this version with Thousand Island or Russian dressing. Thousand Island dressing contains chopped sweet pickles and ketchup, while the spicier (and less sweet) Russian dressing includes horseradish and chili sauce.
Use big slices of seeded rye bread for these sandwiches. This easy homemade no-knead beer rye bread is excellent if you like to make your own bread.
- 2 large slices of rye bread
- 1 tablespoon butter (softened)
- 2 tablespoons Thousand Island dressing or Russian dressing
- 2 ounces corned beef (sliced or shaved)
- 3 tablespoons sauerkraut (about 1 ounce, well-drained)
- 1 ounce Swiss cheese (or Gruyere, thinly sliced)
Gather the ingredients.
Spread both slices of rye bread lightly with Thousand Island dressing.
Place a layer of sauerkraut over one slice, then top with the corned beef then Swiss cheese. Top with the second slice of bread, dressing side down.
Butter the outside of the Reuben sandwich lightly with softened butter (or margarine) and fry the sandwich on a hot griddle or grill over medium heat, turning to brown both sides evenly.
What to Serve With Reuben Sandwiches
- Serve Reuben sandwiches with dill pickles and crispy potato chips, French fries, potato salad, or a cup or bowl of soup. Matzo ball soup or a cream-based soup pairs well with the sandwiches, or serve them with tomato soup.
- Use big slices of seeded rye bread for these sandwiches. This easy homemade no-knead beer rye bread is excellent if you like to make your own bread.
- Scale the recipe for the number of family or guests you are feeding. Serve the sandwiches with chips, fries, soup, or salad.
- A Reuben sandwich is big and hearty, so you might want to save half for later. If you have a leftover half sandwich, it's easy to reheat it. Wrap the sandwich in aluminum foil and place it on a baking sheet. Heat it in a preheated 325 F oven for about 15 minutes.
- To make this an open-faced sandwich, omit the top slice of bread. Either toast the bottom slice of bread first or assemble the sandwich and toast the bottom on a griddle. Place the assembled sandwich on a foil-lined baking pan and place it under the broiler at 500 F until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Swiss is the traditional cheese for the sandwiches, but sliced or shredded Muenster, Havarti, or Gruyere may be substituted.