Corned Beef Reuben Recipe

A corned beef Reuben sandwich sliced and stacked.

Inside: The secret to making a corned beef Reuben with leftovers from your previously cooked brisket.

Want a mouthwatering Reuben recipe using leftover corned beef? There’s a simple way to ensure a melty, juicy corned beef Reuben that’s meaty, melty, and totally satisfying — and you don’t need to go to a deli to get it.

Be sure to slice the corned beef very thinly, against the grain.

Brined beef brisket is one of my favorites. I love it so much that I make my own Brisket Brine for Corned Beef. If you’re looking for leftover corned beef recipes, try this Corned Beef Hash and Eggs or for the ultimate sammie, this Reuben recipe.

This classic Reuben sandwich uses leftover corned beef instead of deli-sliced, making all the difference for this recipe.

Why this recipe works:

  • It’s quick and easy, taking about 15 minutes from start to finish.
  • This isn’t a glorified grilled cheese sandwich. It’s a big, meaty tome—in fact, I can usually only manage half of one for myself, splitting the rest with someone else.
  • For my Reuben sandwich recipe, the corned beef is quickly griddled to melt some of the inherent fat in the meat.
  • Hot corned beef helps to melt the cheese and warm the sauerkraut from the inside out, and griddling with mayo gives the crust a golden brown crunch.
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Sandwich Ingredients:

  • Leftover Corned Beef – Honestly, the best grilled Reuben you can make will come from slicing the meat directly from a leftover beef brisket. You can use deli slices, but it’s just not the same. That said, deli meat is leaner, without the excess fat and consequently, doesn’t need to be griddled first.
  • Swiss Cheese – you can use any type of Swiss cheese like Jarlsberg, Baby Swiss or Emmenthaler.
  • Sauerkraut – I highly recommend using refrigerated sauerkraut that comes in a plastic pouch over anything canned or jarred. The flavor is fresher and the cabbage has more crunch.
  • Russian Dressing is usually a combination of mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, horseradish, and sometimes Worcestershire or lemon juice. Everyone has their favorite (with or without pickle relish, horseradish, etc). Use what you like—either homemade or store-bought—but it should be slightly sweet, tangy, and creamy.
  • Rye Bread – you can use seeded or seedless rye, marbled with pumpernickel, or dark rye bread, and it can be thick or thin sliced.
  • Mayonnaise – for browning the exterior of the sandwich and giving it a nice crunchy crust.

Step-by-step instructions:

Slicing the corned beef when it’s cold makes it easier to get thin slices.
  1. Slice the meat as thinly as possible with a sharp carving knife, cutting against the grain. Cut as many slices as you like for your sandwich, or sandwiches (everyone has their own “just right” amount, depending on appetites.

2. If you love the tangy bite of sauerkraut, drain it well in a fine mesh sieve until most of the liquid is gone. Pat the sauerkraut dry with paper towels so it doesn’t sog up the sandwich. If this condiment is too sour, rinse it in the sieve with cool water to remove much of the brine. Be sure to pat dry with paper towels.

Saute the beef slices just until the fat starts to render and the slices are soft and fragrant.

3. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the meat slices to the pan. Warm the slices until the fat starts to melt and get shimmery in the pan, and the meat looks glossy, not dry (1-2 minutes). Flip them at least once while heating through.

4. Build the sandwich by spreading a generous layer of Russian dressing over the rye bread. You can put it on both slices or just one (I did the bottom half only).

Don’t be conservative when piling on the corned beef.

5. Add the heated beef and pile it evenly over the bread.

6. Add the sauerkraut and spread it evenly over the meat.

I didn’t do it here, but found that folding the cheese slices in half, doubled up on the gooey factor and melted nicely on the sandwich.

7. Top with slices of Swiss cheese. Initially, I just laid the slices over the sauerkraut, but I found that folding the slices of cheese gave a thicker, meltier layer in the corned beef Reuben — and my tasters appreciated it.

8. Top the sandwich with the other slice of bread and spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over the top.

9. Place the sandwich mayo-side down in a hot nonstick or cast iron skillet (heat should be about medium to medium-high depending on your stove.)

While the sandwich is cooking, spread the top with a thin layer of mayo (so both sides get the treatment)

Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the bread is toasty and golden, then flip the sandwich and griddle until the cheese is melty and oozy. Note: if some cheese melts into the skillet, it creates some crusty little cheese crisps that are delicious.


  • It’s best to use leftover corned beef sliced as thinly as possible. Deli meat has less fat, so there’s no need to griddle it beforehand.
  • I’ve noticed a tinny, metallic taste from the canned sauerkraut, so I recommend you use the sauerkraut that comes in refrigerated pouches (unless you have homemade sauerkraut — then use that).
  • If you have a panini press, you can use it to make this Reuben recipe.
A classic Reuben sandwich on parchment paper.


  • Use another type of cheese, like grated Gruyere or slices of Monterey Jack – it’s not a classic Reuben, but it will be good, and those are decent substitutes.
  • You can use a bakery rye bread that you cut by hand for thicker bread slices. It will take longer to griddle the Reuben recipe, but a good loaf makes a big difference.
  • Try Thousand Island dressing instead of Russian.
  • Add sliced onions (either raw or cooked) if you like more heat.
  • Swap the mayonnaise for butter to grill the sandwich; ensure it’s at a spreadable room temperature so you don’t tear the bread.
  • Make a Rachel by swapping corned beef for pastrami (also try turkey pastrami).

Storage for leftovers:

For the best Reuben sandwich, it’s best eaten when made.

  • Wrap leftovers well in tin foil and keep refrigerated for up to two days.
  • Reheat the sandwich, wrapped in foil, in a 350° oven for about 10-12 minutes until heated, unwrapping the sandwich about halfway through heating.
  • Don’t microwave leftovers, as the bread will lose its crusty exterior.

What to serve with a corned beef Reuben:

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Corned beef Reuben with a side of pickles.
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4.67 from 9 votes

Corned Beef Reuben Recipe

This Reuben recipe is quick and easy using leftover corned beef, Swiss cheese, Sauerkraut and Russian dressing on your favorite Rye bread. The secret hack is so simple that you’ll wonder why you never tried it.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword corned beef sandwich, grilled sandwich, sandwich
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Servings 1



  • ¼ pound corned beef very thinly sliced
  • 2 slices baby swiss cheese
  • cup sauerkraut drained and excess liquid squeezed out
  • 2 tablespoons russian dressing (recipe follows)
  • 2 slices rye bread with or without seeds
  • 2 teaspoons mayonnaise (for brushing on bread)


  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • cup ketchup
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon pickle relish you can use sweet or dill
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish not horseradish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice fresh squeezed is best



  • You can use storebought or make your own with this recipe: In a small bowl, combine ½ cup mayonnaise, ⅓ cup ketchup, 1 heaping Tablespoon pickle relish, 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and stir to combine.


  • Drain the sauerkraut (or rinse and drain if you like it less sour). Pat the sauerkraut dry with paper towels.
  • SECRET HACK: Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add the sliced ¼ pound corned beef. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until the fat has started to render and the beef brisket is pliable. Trust me, this makes all the difference.
  • Spread 2 tablespoons russian dressing over one or both slices of 2 slices rye bread.   Add the meat, ⅓ cup sauerkraut and 2 slices baby swiss cheese, folded over on each other to double the thickness. Top with the second slice of Rye and spread 2 teaspoons mayonnaisene teaspoon mayonnaise over the top slice.
  • Heat a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat.  Transfer the sandwich to the hot pan and lay it down on the side you just coated.  Spread the other side of the sandwich with the remaining mayonnaise.  
  • Griddle the Reuben 2-3 minutes per side or until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. Transfer to a cutting board, slice the sandwich in half and enjoy.


This sandwich is best enjoyed the minute you make it!


Calories: 1560.19kcal | Carbohydrates: 63.14g | Protein: 34.25g | Fat: 130.8g | Saturated Fat: 27.66g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 61.07g | Monounsaturated Fat: 34.17g | Trans Fat: 0.22g | Cholesterol: 151.57mg | Sodium: 4011.14mg | Potassium: 873.51mg | Fiber: 6.1g | Sugar: 27.22g | Vitamin A: 853.39IU | Vitamin C: 46.79mg | Calcium: 407.25mg | Iron: 5.46mg

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  1. 5 stars
    I loved this sandwich! I will have to try it with a little horseradish next time!

  2. 5 stars
    Wonderful recipe! I can’t wait to try this at home. Do you think spreading a dollop of horseradish on the rye (not in the dressing) would be too strong of a flavor? I love horseradish and I feel like including it in the dressing and not by itself won’t be enough for me. Either way thank you for sharing!

    1. I’m all for horseradish — a light spread should give you a good zing.

  3. 5 stars
    I love reuben sandwiches and this one looks fantastic. I am sure it tastes scrumptious too.

  4. 5 stars
    Reubens are my all time favorite sandwich so I’m sold!! <3 I love that you're using a homemade Russian dressing too! I didn't know how simple it could be!

  5. 5 stars
    I love a good Reuben. But I’ve never made one at home with my own corned beef and homemade Russian dressing. This is a next level Reuben!

  6. Terry Smith (caregiver) says:

    Myne enjoyed the memory you shared of your first Reuben sandwich.

    1. I’m so glad she liked the post — that memory is VIVID for me!

  7. 5 stars
    YUM. Did you know that the Reuben was invented in Omaha, Nebraska (supposedly)? It’s where I was born, so naturally I love them, lol. Yours looks amazing!

    1. I did read about that — recently — although as with any to-die-for food invention, there is some contention about the original birthplace– another city is claiming its origins.