A Reuben sandwich is so much more than just another pastrami sandwich. Piled high with warm, fall-apart homemade pastrami, quick sauerkraut recipe, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese, this is a sandwich that’s so good it can make a grown man cry!
This recipe is a copycat of the Reuben Sandwiches made famous by Katz’s Deli in NYC. Because I can’t fly halfway around the world every time I need a fix!
Reuben Sandwich recipe
If you’re wondering what’s a Reuben Sandwich and why are you so bonkers about them?? close your eyes and imagine biting into this: lightly toasted rye bread slathered with butter and a slightly tart/spicy mayo (Russian Dressing), piled high with warm, flavour infused homemade pastrami, the juicy tanginess and crunch from a quick homemade sauerkraut all smothered in melted Swiss cheese.
It’s an unbelievable combination of flavours and textures.
And it is, without question, one of the BEST sandwiches in the world!
What goes in a Reuben Sandwich
Here’s what you need to make a Reuben sandwich:
- Homemade Pastrami – you’ll find plenty of recipes out there that tell you to just use plain corned beef (aka salt beef)… but just imagine how much more outrageously good it it is when made with an EASY slow cooked homemade pastrami that’s fall apart tender and crusted with fresh pastrami spices! That’s the Katz’s way!
- Sauerkraut – essential for a true Reuben sandwich, a big pile of sauerkraut which is pickled cabbage. We’re making our own here because even a quick sauerkraut is way better than what you get in jars at supermarkets. I use a Rick Stein recipe, and it’s really (really!) good.
- Russian Dressing – Another essential component of a Reuben Sandwich! It’s basically a slightly spicy Thousand Island Dressing. I don’t know who decided this sauce was a good idea for a Reuben but it works outrageously well to bring all the ingredients together!
- Swiss Cheese – We never say no to cheese in any form, and especially not to Swiss Cheese (that nutty savoury flavour is just so perfect here!) Gruyere or Emmental or even “Swiss style” cheese works a treat as well.
- Rye Bread – No other bread will do here. (Just jokes. Some might say it’s criminal to use another bread, but actually, all the stuff between the bread is way more important in my view. Just be sure to use a sturdy bread – stock standard white sandwich bread won’t hold up to the generous filling!)
I’m going to briefly talk through each of the components here, but if you want to dive right in, skip to the recipe!
1. EASY Homemade Pastrami
Homemade Pastrami is one of those gold nugget recipes that has high returns for very little effort. Essentially, you roll corned beef in a whole bunch of everyday spices, wrap in foil, slow cook until fall apart tender then bake so the spices become crusty.
That’s it. Really.
One bite, and you will be BLOWN AWAY how good it is. It’s sliceable but fork tender, and the fresh flavour of the spices is just so so good!
2. QUICK Sauerkraut recipe!
Typically sauerkraut is left to ferment for weeks to allow flavours to develop. And as regular readers know, I do not possess such patience – when I want a Reuben sandwich, I want it now, now, now!
Luckily for us, Rick Stein has a mighty good quick sauerkraut recipe – 15 minutes on the stove. Though not quite as good as one you’ll get at a European deli that’s been fermenting for weeks, it’s way (way!) better than what you get in jars at the supermarket.
Not seen in most sauerkraut recipes but adds an extra something-something to make up for the flavour the develops from weeks of fermentation. Rick Stein uses it – and I like it! But it’s optional.
3. Russian Dressing
Just calls for mixing up a handful of ingredients. Essentially it’s a slightly spicier Thousand Island Dressing.
I know Sriracha looks like an odd choice, being an Asian ingredient and all. But it works a treat in place of spicy Ketchup which isn’t something I’m familiar with. Chilli sauce or ketchup + tabasco works fine here too.
The kick of spice from the sriracha and horseradish (jar stuff, not fresh) combined with the richness of the mayo is just sensational with the fall-apart pastrami and the tart sauerkraut!
And here’s how to assemble the Reuben. The only thing to note here is to pile the sauerkraut on the pastrami not on the bread (so it doesn’t soak the bread.
Pile up the sauerkraut generously! Once you squish the sandwich together, it compresses down alot.
I know I said that this is a sandwich so good, it can make a grown man cry.
But we both know I meant a grown woman, right? (ie ME)
This is the sort of food that’s so good, it makes me do the jiggy. Believe it. All the while I was devouring this sandwich, I was doing the jiggy around the kitchen. Which might sound strange to people living in NYC you can pop around the block for their Reuben sandwich fix. But for us Aussies, this is a sandwich that you literally cannot buy here except on rare occasions at night markets.
Hands down, one of the BEST sandwiches in the whole world – and worth the effort! – Nagi x
Sink your teeth into these!
- Cubanos (Cuban Pork Sandwiches) – made famous by the Chef movie!
- Bread Bowl Sandwich – called a Muffelata, a giant hollowed out bread stuffed with antipasto type things, squished and toasted with garlic butter. OUTRAGEOUS.
- Homemade Filet-O-Fish (BAKED!!) – Maccers copycat, but SO much healthier!
- Slow Cooker Beef Brisket with BBQ Sauce – one of the best things to load up into sliders!
- Browse all Sandwiches and Sliders, and Burgers
Watch how to make it
Reuben Sandwich recipe!
Recipe VIDEO above. The iconic Reuben Sandwich made famous by Katz’s Deli in New York, made at home! Hands down still one of the best sandwiches I have ever had in my life, the most incredible combination of ingredients, the star of which is warm fall-apart tender homemade pastrami!
- 1 kg / 2 lb homemade pastrami (1 quantity, easy!) ((Note 1))
- 10 slices light rye bread
- 10 slices Swiss cheese
- Butter (, for spreading)
- 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 1/2 onion (, thinly sliced)
- 350g/ 12 oz white cabbage (, thinly shredded (1/4 large head, 6 – 8 big handfuls))
- 1 1/4 cups (300ml) cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup (85 ml) water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp caraway seeds (, optional (Note 2))
- 1 tbsp onion (, finely minced)
- 1 tbsp dill pickle/gherkin (, finely minced)
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2.5 tbsp sriracha, spicy ketchup or Chili Sauce ((or 1/4 cup ketchup + 2 tsp tabasco) (Note 3))
- 3 tsp horseradish ((jar), to taste (spicy/tang))
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
- Mix ingredients, refrigerate 20 minutes+ (keeps 2 weeks).
- Dissolve sugar and salt in vinegar.
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes to soften, don’t let it brown.
- Add cabbage, vinegar, water and caraway seeds, give it a toss.
- Cover, cook on low for 15 minutes, mixing once at 10 minutes.
- Transfer to container (including liquid), cool until just warm. Keeps 2 weeks in the fridge.
Thinly slice still cold pastrami (Note 1). Place in a container with a couple of tablespoons of pastrami liquid (reserved from cooking, see pastrami recipe).
- Microwave to warm through (or use other method of choice etc cover with foil and place in oven).
- Preheat grill/broiler to medium high with shelf about 25cm/10″ from heat source.
- Toast bread. Spread with butter, then 1 tbsp Russian Dressing on each piece.
- Pick up pastrami and let excess juices drip away, then place on bread.
- Do same for sauerkraut, pile onto pastrami, then top with cheese.
- Also place cheese on other slice of bread (ie with just Russian Dressing).
- Place under grill until cheese is just melted. Sandwich together and devour while hot!
Recipe quantity: Makes enough for 5 sandwiches, Homemade Pastrami makes 1.4kg / 2.8lb which is more than needed for this recipe (leftovers is always a good thing).
1. Pastrami (see Easy Homemade Pastrami) – please don’t even think about making this recipe with store bought slices! It is nothing like slow cooked homemade pastrami with a fresh pastrami spice crust that’s warm and fall-apart tender! (PS Some Reuben sandwiches are made with plain corned beef. Homemade pastrami is a zillion times better, made famous by Katz’s Deli in NYC)
Easier to slice when cool/cold, it crumbles if you try to slice when hot. That’s why we need to slice when cold then reheat in the cooking juices.
2. Caraway seeds – not normally included in sauerkraut. But it works really well to add an extra something-something to compensate for this being a quick sauerkraut rather than one that’s been left to ferment for days. Idea from Rick Stein! Optional.
3. Russian Dressing is usually made with spicy ketchup which isn’t a readily available ingredient. Sriracha works a treat as a sub, otherwise, use ketchup + tabasco to taste. It’s like a spicier version of Thousand Island Dressing – should be mildly spicy mayo with a touch of sour from the horseradish paste and chilli sauce. Recipe source: Epicurious
Life of Dozer
Dozer was hoping that because he was on holiday, it meant no post-beach wash downs. No such luck Mr Dozer!
(PS Last photo from last weekend’s trip to Rick Stein’s Bannisters – I promise!)