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How To Make The Best Reuben Sandwich – A Great Use For Leftover Corned Beef

If you ask someone what you need to make the Best Reuben Sandwich, you will likely get the a list of the most common ingredients. It will start with rye bread, then corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and either Thousand Island or Homemade Russian dressing.

However, there is more to making this classic sandwich than a simple list of what goes in between the two pieces of bread. In fact, over the years, I have order the classic sandwich in restaurants across the country and there are no two that are exactly same.

But before I can tell you how I make my version of a Reuben, I have to explain the difference between corned beef and pastrami.

best Reuben sandwich
The best Reuben sandwich is easy to make by following the specific recipe instructions located below.

Corned Beef vs. Pastrami

Both types of meat are cured in salt or salt brine. However, corned beef is always made from the brisket cut of meat from a cow.

On the contrary, pastrami can be made from beef, pork, mutton, or turkey. And after it has been cured, it will be coated in a dry rub and then smoked rather than being boiled like corned beef.

Therefore, pastrami turns out a little drier but with more complex flavors than corned beef. And corned beef has a moist texture and a saltier taste.

Although you could use either meat to make a sandwich, the best Rueben sandwich is made with corned beef.

Difference Between A Reuben, Rachel and Cuban

So that leads us to the next question. What is the difference between a Reuben, Rachel and Cuban sandwich? Let’s start by comparing the differences between a Reuben and a Rachel.

Rachel sandwich
A Rachel sandwich uses pastrami meat and coleslaw instead of corned beef and sauerkraut.

Reuben vs. Rachel

Although a Rachel sandwich uses rye bread and Swiss cheese, that is where the similarities end. Instead of corned beef, the meat in a Rachel sandwich is either pastrami or smoked turkey.

Then instead of placing a heaping pile of drained sauerkraut, the topping of choice is coleslaw. However both sandwiches still drizzle either Thousand Island or Russian dressing on top.

So now we know the main difference between a Reuben and a Rachel sandwich is the type of meat and the type of cabbage product used.

Reuben vs. Cuban

So where does the Cuban sandwich come into play? Although there are many differences in a Cuban, or Cubano sandwich when compared to a Reuben or Rachel, there are two things that are the same.

First, the sandwich is piled full of meat that is stacked between two pieces of bread. However the bread is a sweet Cuban bread instead of Rye bread.

And the meat is definitely not corned beef. Instead, it is a combination of sliced ham and roasted pork. And in some areas of the country, salami is also added.

Cuban sandwich slathered with mustard, not homemade Russian dressing
Cuban sandwich is made with ham, pork, (sometimes salami), Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles on a sweet Cuban bread.

Second, Swiss cheese is the preferred cheese of choice in all 3 sandwiches. Once piled on the sandwich, the sandwiches are grilled until the cheese becomes nice and melted.

But that is where the similarities end. A Cuban sandwich is made between two slices of sweet Cuban bread and then piled up with pork, Swiss cheese and topped with heavy slathering of mustard and a few dill pickles slices.

So now that you know about the differences between the sandwiches, let’s get to cooking!

The Best Reuben Sandwich Recipe

*A printable recipe card is located at the bottom of this article which contains the specific measurements, temperatures and cook times. However, continue reading below to learn about more helpful tips about this specific recipe.


  • Corned beef, cooked and sliced thin
  • Olive oil
  • Marbled Rye Bread
  • Unsalted butter, room temp
  • Sauerkraut, well drained
  • Swiss cheese
  • Russian Dressing, to taste (store-bought or homemade*)

*Homemade Russian dressing ingredients and instructions are located below.


The first step is to heat a skillet, over medium heat, and then add the oil. While the oil is heating up, drain the sauerkraut in a colander, pressing down to release as much juice as possible.

Once the oil in the skillet is hot add the corned beef and cook just until the meat is heated through.

corned beef slices
You can use either leftover corned beef from your St. Patrick’s Day celebration, or sliced deli corned beef.

While the meat is cooking, lightly butter one side of each slice of rye bread. Then place two pieces of bread (butter side down) on a plate.

Assemble each Reuben sandwich by placing a slice of Swiss cheese on each piece of bread that are on the plate. Then evenly divide the meat and place it on top of the slice of Swiss cheese.

Next, add the well-drained sauerkraut on top of the meat. Then spread the desired amount of Russian dressing on top of the sauerkraut. If you don’t have store-bought Russian dressing, I have included a homemade Russian dressing below.

Although the best Rueben sandwich is made with Russian dressing, you can substitute Thousand Island dressing if you prefer. Once the dressing has been added, top the sandwich off with another piece of Swiss cheese.

Two Pieces Of Swiss Cheese Per Sandwich

You may be wondering why you should use two pieces of cheese per sandwich. Besides the amazing taste, the cheese also acts as a moisture barrier to help the bread from becoming too soggy.

To finish off your sandwich, place the unbuttered side of the remaining 2 pieces of bread on top of the cheese. Then in a skillet placed over medium high heat, grill the sandwiches for 2-3 minutes or until golden and crispy.

Flip and then cook for another 2-3 minutes until the bread is lightly toasted and the cheese has melted.

Swiss cheese and homemade Russian dressing
It is best to place a piece of Swiss cheese right next to both slices of bread. This will help prevent the bread from becoming soggy from the Homemade Russian Dressing and sauerkraut.


If you don’t typically use Russian dressing, you don’t have to go out a buy a bottle of it just for this recipe. Instead, make your own with just a few common ingredients that you most likely already have in your kitchen.

Dressing Ingredients

  • Mayonnaise
  • Ketchup
  • Relish
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Smoked paprika*
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Prepared Horseradish (optional)

*I use smoked paprika in a lot of my recipes. Although you can find it in most grocery stores now, I purchase a 1 lb. bag of it and keep the bag of it at the front of my spice cabinet.

Although using Smoked Paprika will make the best Russian dressing for your Reuben sandwiches, you can substitute sweet or Hungarian paprika instead.

Homemade Russian Dressing
Homemade Russian dressing contains less relish than Thousand Island dressing.

Dressing Instructions

Place the mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, salt, pepper and horseradish (if using) into a medium-sized bowl.
Stir to combine. Then place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

So there you have it! How to make the most amazing and delicious Reuben sandwich! Serve it with this Easy Hash Brown Potato soup and you have yourself a complete comfort food meal!

Enjoy! Mary

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best reuben sandwich

The Best Reuben Sandwich

Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 14 minutes

How to make the best tasting Reuben sandwich with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing.


  • 1/3 lb. corned beef, sliced thin
  • 1/3 tsp olive oil
  • 4 slices rye bread
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/3 cup sauerkraut, well drained
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • Russian Dressing, to taste

Homemade Russian Dressing

  • 1/3 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon Relish
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/8 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish (optional)


  1. In a skillet, over medium heat, add oil. Once hot, add the corned beef and cook just until heated.
  2. Lightly butter one side of each slice of bread. Place two pieces of the bread (butter side down) on a plate.
  3. Assemble each sandwich by placing a piece of cheese directly on the bread and then divide the meat into two portions and place on top of the cheese. Next top with the sauerkraut and Russian dressing. Top the ingredients with the remaining piece of cheese. Place the unbuttered side of the remaining 2 pieces of bread on top to make the sandwich.
  4. In a hot skillet, cook sandwiches over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until golden and crispy. Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the bread is lightly toasted and the cheese has melted.

Homemade Russian Dressing Instructions

Add the mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and horeseradish sauce (if using) into a medium-sized bowl. Stir to combine. Then place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour before serving.


Recipe provided by

Nutrition Information
Yield 2
Amount Per Serving Calories 635Total Fat 43gSaturated Fat 19gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 19gCholesterol 141mgSodium 1467mgCarbohydrates 28gFiber 3gSugar 5gProtein 33g

Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.

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