The Reuben sandwich is easily one of the most popular sandwiches in the world.
Thanks to the unique balance between smoky pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and tangy Russian dressing nestled between two slices of toasted rye bread.
This sandwich is quick and easy to make (once you have the Pastrami), and is satisfying enough for a full meal. Especially when served with a plate of potato crisps.
Making your own Pastrami
Traditionally Reuben sandwiches were made with corned beef, but I love the taste of home smoked Pastrami.
The whole process takes up to 7 days, and involves making your own corned beef and then smoking it.
For this Reuben recipe you can always buy pastrami from the deli, but once you’ve tried homemade pastrami you’ll never go back.
A good in-between option is to buy corned beef from the store, and then make your own smoked pastrami from the corned beef.
We have a full guide to making the Pastrami, but the whole process can be broken into a few steps:
- Curing the beef (brisket flat is the most common cut) in a solution of brine for 5 – 7 days
- Soaking the brisket in fresh water for 8 hours to remove excess salt
- Coating the brisket with a rub combination of Pepper and Coriander and other spices.
- Smoking the brisket until it’s moist and tender
Preparing the sandwich ingredients
The Reuben is a pretty simple sandwich. You only have 5 ingredients to work with so using them right is crucial.
I’ve already covered the benefits of making your own pastrami. Whether you buy it or make it yourself it’s better warm so steam it or throw it in the microwave for a few seconds.
I like it to slice the Pastrami fairly thin, and then use about 4 slices per sandwich.
You see a lot of photos of Reuben sandwiches where they’ve crammed a pound of meat into one sandwich. This might look cool and get you lots of likes on Instagram, but I like being able to eat my Reuben without unhinging my jaw!
You can definitely make your own sauerkraut, but store bought is also fine.
You don’t want a lot of liquid to leak into your sandwich, so use squeeze the sauerkraut in your hands and let all the juice run out.
Spread it out on a paper towel until you are ready to assemble.
3. Russian dressing
You will probably struggle to find Russian dressing in the supermarket. We have a simple recipe to make your own Russian dressing.
It only takes a few minutes and you should already have most of the ingredients you need in the fridge.
Some Reuben recipes use Thousand Island dressing. You can definitely use this if you can’t get your hands on any Russian dressing, but in my opinion it’s not as good.
4. Rye bread
I like to use a medium to dark style rye bread sliced thin. You can also use dark pumpernickel rye.
5. Swiss cheese
Any Swiss cheese, Jarlsberg or Emmentaler works fine.
Two thinly sliced or one thicker sliced pieces of cheese works well.
- 2 slices rye bread
- 6 slices pastrami
- 1 tsp butter
- 2 tbsp Russian dressing
- ¼ cup Sauerkraut
- 2 slices Swiss cheese Jarlsberg or Emmentaler would be good substitutes
- Preheat the sandwich maker or large skillet on medium heat.
- Lightly butter one side of both slices of rye bread.
- Spread the non buttered sides with Russian dressing.
- Layer on the sliced pastrami, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese and top with the remaining bread slice with the butter on the outside.
- Put in skillet and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
- Let it rest for a minute, serve with potato crisps and a beer.