Food Quiz

How to Make the Perfect Reuben Sandwich


A ham and cheese sandwich is stacked on a plate.


The Reuben sandwich needs certain ingredients for perfection.

  • Rye bread as the base.
  • Plus, corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing.

All of these items work together to make a special flavour. Let’s look at each ingredient in detail. See how they combine to make this classic sandwich!

How to Make the Perfect Reuben Sandwich
How to Make the Perfect Reuben Sandwich

Rye bread

Rye bread is a great option for making Reuben sandwiches. Its heavy texture and bold flavor perfectly complement the sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and Swiss cheese. Look for freshly-baked rye bread with a dark brown to almost black exterior. That indicates the best flavor.

If you can’t find it in the store, you can make your own – either traditional or gluten-free. With some straightforward instructions, you can create a tasty version of the iconic sandwich that all will adore!

Corned beef

Corned beef is the main ingredient in a Reuben sandwich. This type of beef is cured with ‘corns’, which are large-grained rock salt. You can buy it pre-cooked, but freshly cooked corned beef has better flavor. There are several ways to cook it:

  • Boiling
  • Slow-cooking in a Crock-Pot®
  • Roasting in the oven

Make sure it’s fully cooked before using it for your sandwich. To check, use a fork to see if it pulls apart easily or use a meat thermometer. When it reads 160°F (71°C), it should be done.

Swiss cheese

Swiss cheese is a type of cheese from Switzerland. It is a mild cultured cow’s milk cheese with a firm texture that melts easily. It has a sweet, pungent flavor that can vary from mild to intense.

There are many varieties of Swiss cheese, like Emmental or Jarlsberg which are used in recipes like the Reuben sandwich.

When selecting Swiss cheese for a Reuben sandwich, look for one aged 10-18 months. The longer the aging period, the more flavorful the cheese. Shredded Swiss or pre-sliced versions can make assembly of your Reuben sandwich quick and easy. Be sure to check the label for real Swiss!


Sauerkraut is an essential ingredient when making a Reuben sandwich. It’s made from fermented cabbage and has a tangy, sour flavor. Most grocery stores have it close to the pickles and olives. Refrigerated sauerkraut is best for an authentic taste and texture.

For extra flavor, warm it up with beef broth or white wine. Don’t use too much though, just a few tablespoons!

Thousand Island dressing

Thousand Island dressing is a must when making a Reuben sandwich. It’s a creamy dressing made with mayo, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings. You can buy it or make your own with pickles, steak sauce, lemon juice, horseradish, chili peppers, and paprika.

Spread the dressing liberally on two slices of rye bread. Layer corned beef (or pastrami), sauerkraut, and cheese. Finish off with the second slice of bread and press down. Enjoy!


Crafting the perfect Reuben sandwich needs a lot of attention. Start with picking the ideal bread – rye is the classic but any type like pumpernickel or sourdough is great. Make sure you have the components for your sandwich – corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing.

Finally, assemble the sandwich!

Toast the rye bread

For the perfect Reuben, toast is key! Divide two slices of rye bread and lightly butter each side. Heat a lightly oiled skillet and pop in the bread. Flip after 3 minutes or until golden brown. If no skillet, put the buttered slices on an oven-safe baking sheet. Broil in the oven for 2-3 minutes each side. When done, let the toast cool. This helps the sandwich stay together as you construct it.

Layer the ingredients on the bread

Slices of rye bread are the start of a Reuben sandwich. Spread butter or margarine generously on each slice. Place a layer of sliced corned beef over it. Add Swiss cheese or Gruyère and a layer of sauerkraut. Equally spread these layers. Finally, top off with one more slice of rye bread. Put butter or margarine on the top piece of bread too. For optimal results, spread the filling ingredients equally.

Heat the sandwich in a pan or on a griddle

Time to heat that sandwich? Use a large, heavy skillet or griddle. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium-low heat. When the butter is bubbly, put the pan or griddle over medium heat. Then, put your sandwich in. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side until it’s crunchy and browned. Press down slightly as it cooks. Turn several times with a spatula for even browning.

Maximize flavor before serving. Serve warm with extra dressing for a unique “Reubenesque” sensation!

How to Make the Perfect Reuben Sandwich
How to Make the Perfect Reuben Sandwich

Finishing Touches

Creating the perfect Reuben sandwich isn’t only about the ingredients! You must use the right technique and get the right balance of flavors. Let’s discuss the final touches that will turn a good Reuben sandwich into a great one.

Add Thousand Island dressing

Thousand Island dressing is a tasty way to make your Reuben sandwich perfect. It has chopped veggies, like pickles and onions, plus mayonnaise, ketchup, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce and maybe horseradish. Blend it all together until it’s smooth and creamy. You can make it yourself or buy it from a store.

Spread a lot of Thousand Island dressing on both slices of bread before adding the corned beef, cheese and sauerkraut. This will hold it all together and make sure the bread doesn’t get dry when cooked. Yum!

Add a few drops of Worcestershire sauce

Once the sandwich is complete, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce will add extra depth and flavour. A small amount is sufficient to season the sandwich without taking over. This sauce consists of anchovies, tamarind, garlic, molasses, vinegar, and spices. It possesses a strong umami taste, which brings out the flavours in many dishes.

The best choice is either store-bought or homemade Worcestershire sauce.

Add a few drops of hot sauce (optional)

Go wild with hot sauce on your Reuben sandwich! Add a few drops of a flavor you enjoy. Don’t make it overpowering – keep it subtly spiced. Sauerkraut and thousand island dressing are great partners for hot sauce. Try different varieties to find the best taste. Start with one or two drops and add more if you need more heat. Hot sauce brings an extra zest to your classic sandwich.


For the ideal Reuben sandwich, you need the right ingredients. But how you serve it can take the flavor to the max! Whether you’re creating it at home or getting it from a restaurant – understanding the best way to serve a Reuben is essential.

Let’s look at the serving tips and tricks for a Reuben sandwich!

Cut the sandwich in half

Assemble your sandwich then cut it diagonally. It’ll be simpler to eat and the components won’t slip out while you bite. This will also help to spread the ingredients evenly, so each bite of the Reuben has all the flavors. If you want, toast or grill the sandwich for extra flavor and effect.

Serve with a side of chips or pickles

A Reuben sandwich deserves a side! Chips, pickles and other condiments are great accompaniments. They provide a crunch and tangy flavor that pairs well with the hearty sandwich. Want something more substantial? Fries or onion rings will do the trick. For something warm, try potato soup or corn chowder.

No matter what side you serve, it’s sure to be a winning combo! Add some tasty sides to this classic deli sandwich and enjoy the flavors in all their glory:

  • Chips
  • Pickles
  • Fries
  • Onion rings
  • Potato soup
  • Corn chowder

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What type of bread is best for a Reuben Sandwich?

A: Rye bread is the traditional choice for a Reuben sandwich, but you can also use pumpernickel or sourdough.

Q: What type of cheese should I use for a Reuben Sandwich?

A: Swiss cheese is the traditional cheese used for a Reuben sandwich, but you can also use cheddar cheese or Gruyere cheese.

Q: What type of dressing should I use for a Reuben Sandwich?

A: Thousand Island dressing is the traditional dressing used for a Reuben sandwich, but you can also use Russian dressing or a homemade dressing.

Penelope Rossi
Penelope Rossi

Hello! I'm Penny, a creative recipe developer and food stylist with a love for vegetarian and plant-based cuisine. When not gardening or hiking, you can find me in the kitchen, transforming classic dishes into healthier, veggie-packed versions. Let's embark on a delectable journey of colorful, plant-based delights together!