Corned Beef Reuben

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

This juicy Corned Beef Reuben is braised in dark beer using the low and slow method, then topped with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and homemade Russian dressing. It's a classic reuben sandwich that tastes like it came from your local deli!

corned beef reuben sandwich with a side of slaw.
Jump To

Where did the Reuben Sandwich Originate?

There are several stories surrounding the origin of the Reuben sandwich, and chances are, they'll surprise you. For starters, it's not a recipe handed down by Irish immigrants.

That's hard to believe, especially if you've been enjoying all of your St. Patrick's Day celebrations by eating reubens!

It's possible that this coveted recipe was discovered in a New York delicatessen by a man named Arnold Reuben back in 1914.

Others swear that it came into existence around 1920 at the Blackstone hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. It was named after Reuben Kulakofsky, a local poker player who came up with the idea. The corned beef sandwich first showed up on a menu at the Blackstone Hotel for only .40 cents!

What Makes a Great Reuben?

A great reuben has a smear of Russian dressing on both slices of bread, and the perfect ratio of melted cheese and sauerkraut to brined corned beef. The type of sandwich bread and how it is grilled matters just as much as the ingredients on the inside. I prefer marbled rye, but seeded dark rye bread runs a close second.

I bet if you asked twenty people, every single person would tell you a different way to make this popular deli sandwich. Better yet, they'd describe exactly where they were when they tasted the best reuben of their life.

I was at Katz Deli in New York City when I tasted the best reuben ever! Hands down, no contest, the first bite of their reuben sandwich sent me into a life-long quest to make a really good reuben at home.

It's so fun to watch the Katz cutters pile the beef on slices of rye bread, top it with melted swiss cheese, tangy sauerkraut and zesty Russian dressing. While I can't hold a candle to the cutters at Katz Deli, my corned beef reuben sandwich recipe comes pretty close to Katz's delicious version.

two reubens on colorful plates.

Katz Deli Facts

The Katz Deli reuben is made with corned beef that has been aged for at least 30 days!

Katz Deli adds sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and homemade Russian Dressing between two slices of rye bread. What sets their sandwich apart is how they make their corned beef brisket, and how high they pile it on.

I can't reproduce their method of cooking, but I can make a mean corned beef brisket with Guinness beer! This low and slow method helps my recipe come close to a New York deli classic.

Ingredients

Everyone's favorite sandwich is even better when it's homemade. Here's what you'll need to make the best reuben sandwich recipe...

  • corned beef - cooked low and slow from scratch
  • seedless rye or marbled bread - dense enough to hold up to fillings
  • sauerkraut - mild or wild (it's your choice)
  • homemade Russian dressing - instructions in recipe card!
  • swiss cheese - sharp, yet mild and creamy
  • butter for grilling - yields the best flavor
corned beef, sauerkraut, marbled rye, swiss cheese and Russian dressing on a platter.

How to Make a Corned Beef Reuben

Some folks like to boil their brisket, or make it in a slow cooker or instant pot. But, I've found that the best way to make fork-tender corned beef is to cook it with dark beer in a dutch oven.

1 - Prepare the brisket the day before using my dutch oven method. You can use the seasoning packet that comes with the cut of beef, or use my homemade dry rub that is absolutely delicious. If you make the corned beef for sandwiches on the same day, start early because the brisket takes 5 hours to cook unless you use a pressure cooker. Once it's cooked, use a cutting board to cut meat into slices.

2 - Rinse the sauerkraut with cold water and drain. I like to mix the dressing with the sauerkraut before putting it on the sandwich. This may not be the traditional way of making a reuben, but it has its advantages.

*TIP - Rinsing the sauerkraut tones down the sourness. I've also found that it heats more evenly if you mix it with the dressing. But, mostly, it keeps the sauerkraut and dressing in place instead of spilling out of the bread.

Assembly

1 - To assemble homemade reuben sandwiches, pile the meat really high on one slice of the bread, then add slices of swiss cheese. Spread the other side of the bread with sauerkraut/dressing mixture.

step by step instructions on how to make a sandwich.

2 - Close the sandwich and spread the outsides with butter. Grill on medium heat in a cast iron skillet or grilling pan for 3 minutes, then flip sandwich over and grill until the slice of cheese melts throughly.

how to assemble a reuben with marbled rye bread.

Recipe FAQS

What's the difference between Russian and Thousand Island dressing?

They're very similar, but the main difference is Russian dressing adds horseradish and chili sauce to the mix. If you look at the two dressings side by side, you'll notice that Russian dressing is a bit darker due to the color in the chili sauce. Both have a delicious sweet pickle relish.

Are reuben sandwiches topped with mustard?

Sometimes, but it's usually when pastrami is used instead of corned beef brisket. Some folks like reubens with Russian dressing instead of mustard, but everyone has their own way of making this sandwich!

What type of sauerkraut is best?

I never knew there were so many types of sauerkraut until I started making reubens. My favorite is a Bavarian type because it's mild and not so pungent. If you love that strong flavor, then look for a fresh sauerkraut that has a real bite.

What is a Rachel sandwich?

It's just like a reuben, but made with pastrami instead of corned beef. It also substitutes coleslaw for sauerkraut and is often made with thousand island dressing.

corned beef reuben on a blue plate.

Top Tips

  • Since the meat is piled so thick on this corned beef sandwich, it's challenging to flip over in the pan. Use two spatulas or one that is strong enough to handle large items.
  • Grill only one sandwich at at time to prevent crowding the pan. It will help you adjust the heat and flip easier.
  • Use medium heat in the skillet so the bread won't burn while you're waiting for the cheese to melt.
  • If the meat is cold, warm it in the microwave for 30 seconds before assembling the sandwich to aid in the heating process.
three corned beef reuben sandwiches stacked on a green plate.

Storage and Freezing

  • Store leftover corned beef in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can use the beef slices to make a delicious sandwich for lunch, or warm it up for dinner time with cabbage and potatoes.
  • You can also make corned beef hash from the leftovers which is really good!
  • To reheat, warm up leftovers in the microwave in 30 second intervals.
  • Freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for best results.

What to Serve with a Corned Beef Reuben

If you love this classic Corn Beef Reuben, enjoy these other recipes that taste great when served together!

 

Recipe Card

three corned beef reuben sandwiches stacked on a green plate.

Corned Beef Reuben

Corned Beef Reuben is braised in dark beer using the low and slow method, then topped with sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and scratch-made Russian dressing!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Sandwiches
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 1208kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.

Equipment

Ingredients

GRILLED REUBEN

  • 2 lbs. corned beef (click link to follow recipe)
  • 8 slices seedless rye or marbled bread
  • 8 slices swiss cheese
  • 2 cups sauerkraut (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 cup Russian dressing (recipe below)
  • butter for grilling

RUSSIAN DRESSING

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup chili sauce or ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

GRILLED REUBEN

  • Cook corned beef in advance using this recipe.
  • To make 4 sandwiches, arrange 8 slices of bread on a cutting board.
  • Pile ½ pound of corned beef on 4 slices of the bread.
  • Arrange 2 slices of swiss cheese on top of meat on each sandwich. 
  • Mix sauerkraut with Russian Dressing (below).
  • Spoon sauerkraut mixture on remaining bread slices. 
  • Close sandwiches and spread bread with butter.
  • Grill one sandwich at a time in a skillet over medium low heat.
  • Flip the sandwich using a large spatula after about 3 minutes.
  • When cheese is melted, take off heat. Watch to make sure the bread doesn't burn.

RUSSIAN DRESSING

  • Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.
  • Combine with sauerkraut, or use as a dressing.

Notes

  • Be sure to use my Dutch Oven Corned Beef recipe to make the corned beef ahead of time. 
  • Grill only one sandwich at at time to prevent crowding the pan. It will help you adjust the heat and flip easier.
  • Use medium-low heat in the skillet so the bread won't burn while you're waiting for the cheese to melt.
  • If the corned beef is cold, warm it in the microwave for 30 seconds before assembling the sandwich to aid in the heating process.
  • Cooking time includes preparation of the corned beef.
  • View this story on how to make a Corned Beef Reuben

Nutrition

Calories: 1208kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 50g | Fat: 88g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Sodium: 4707mg | Potassium: 1079mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin C: 75mg | Calcium: 372mg | Iron: 8mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

Love this recipe? PIN it!Visit @quichemygrits or tag #quichemygrits!

Sharing is Caring! If you love my recipes, please SHARE with friends!

2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    What a reuben sandwich! I’ve never been to New York City, but I can’t imagine anything being better than this recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    I made this corned beef reuben and have to say that it's just as good as any deli sandwich I've ever had. The corned beef is so tender after being cooked in beer that it falls apart. And the Russian dressing is spot on. Thanks for a great recipe!

Leave a Review

Your email address will not be published.

Please RATE this RECIPE: