Sandwiches may have originally come from England, but it was in America that they were perfected. Nowhere is this perfection more realized than in the Reuben sandwich – meat, cheese, sauerkraut, and creamy Russian dressing; this sandwich is the epitome of a classic.
For a more summertime sandwich equivalent, why not try this recipe for a Classic Toasted Tomato Sandwich instead? Love heavier sandwiches? Why not try my Monte Cristo sandwich, my Classic Reuben Sandwich or Submarine Sandwich!
Classic Reuben Sandwich
A classic Reuben sandwich is a pretty simple sandwich and is really just a corned beef on rye with the addition of sauerkraut and Russian dressing.
Most Reuben’s you order from delis tend to actually replace the Russian dressing with thousand island, which is a lot sweeter and less spicy. So, if you can, try to make your Russian dressing from scratch using our recipe to get the true, classic Reuben experience.
Ingredients For A Classic Reuben Sandwich
- Rye bread (try to get the marbled kind from the grocery store)
- Corned beef (from the deli counter is best!)
- Swiss cheese
- Russian dressing
If you really aren’t a fan of Russian dressing or just cannot handle the flavor of ketchup, you could replace the Russian dressing in this sandwich with a thick smear of mayonnaise. You could even flavor it a bit with some spicy chilies or some hot sauce to try and replicate the piquant flavor of traditional Russian dressing.
How To Make A Classic Reuben Sandwich
The great thing about making a classic sandwich like a Reuben is that most of the method is up to you. At its most basic, you just stack your ingredients between two slices of bread and cook until browned.
However, the actual make-up of the sandwich is yours to tweak as you wish – the order of the meat, cheese, and sauerkraut is whatever you want it to be, and it affects how the sandwich tastes when you bite into it.
- Heat your corned beef in a pan with butter to get it hot (being careful not to burn it).
- Butter your bread on one side and slather Russian dressing on the other.
- Layer your cheese, corned beef, and sauerkraut and top with another slice of buttered bread with Russian dressing on the inside
- Grill your sandwiches in a pan until crispy, brown and the cheese is melted.
How to Get The Best Corned Beef
While you could certainly make some corned beef yourself, it is infinitely easier to get some from your local deli counter.
If you are lucky enough to live near a kosher deli, that should be your first port of call – they will always have some incredibly flavorful, freshly cooked corned beef on hand.
If not, you can still pick them up from the deli counter at your local supermarket. If you can, try to avoid using the prepackaged sandwich meats in the fridge section.
While they are still beef, their flavor and texture are nowhere near as incredible as the freshly cut stuff from the delicatessen.
The Importance of Rye Bread
Rye bread has definitely fallen out of fashion in recent years, but it is still the best bread of choice for a Reuben sandwich.
Though you could just use regular white bread or even a whole meal brown bread instead, Rye bread brings a whole bunch of intense, nutty flavors to the sandwich that contrasts beautifully with the fatty meat.
If you can’t find rye bread on the shelves at the supermarket, try a local bakery – they will probably have a few loaves of crusty rye bread no matter what.
Regardless, try to find the marbled kind; it is made from a braid of light and dark rye dough, so tastes even more incredible than the regular stuff.
Tips & Tricks For A Classic Reuben Sandwich
Browning your sandwich in the pan is something a lot of people struggle with getting right because it is so easy to burn it accidentally.
The best way to avoid a burnt crust on your Reuben sandwich is to keep your heat on medium, rather than using high heat.
Though it will take longer, keeping the temperature a bit lower gives the butter on your bread the time it needs to caramelize and form a tasty brown crust without turning into burnt charcoal.
Alternatively, instead of butter, use Mayonnaise on the outside of the bread. This tip came from a chef friend of ours. The trick is that mayo has a higher smoke point and therefore takes longer before it begins to burn the bread. This is a trick we use actively for grilled cheese and really any kind of grilled sandwich and you don’t notice the change at all flavor wise.
It’s a great sandwich, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Mike (Mr. Magpie)
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Classic Reuben Sandwich
- Prep Time
- 15 minutes
- Cook Time
- 5 minutes
- Karlynn Johnston
- 2-3 tablespoons butter
- 8 slices marbled rye bread
- 12 slices deli corned beef
- 8 slices Swiss cheese
- 1/2 cup sauerkraut drained
- ½ cup homemade Russian dressing
- Lightly butter one side of each bread slices and set aside. Get your ingredients all ready to go before you heat the frying pan.
- Preheat a large skillet on medium-high heat.
- Place 1/2 tablespoon of butter into the skillet, then add the corned beef into the pan and quickly heat up, then remove.
- Take a slice of bread and slather Russian dressing on the un-buttered side. Place the buttered side down on a plate.
- Layer 1 slice Swiss cheese, 3 slices corned beef, 2 tablespoons of sauerkraut, and then the second slice of Swiss cheese.
- Slather Russian dressing on another piece of bread ( the unbuttered side again, and place on top of the sandwich, buttered side out.
- Repeat until you have all four sandwiches done.
- Place the sandwiches, butter side down, and grill in the pan, grilling each side until it's crispy and browned.
- Remove, slice, and serve.
All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.