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What Is a Reuben Sandwich?

Niki Acker
Updated May 16, 2024
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A Reuben sandwich is made with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian or Thousand Island dressing on rye bread. It is toasted or grilled and often served with a side of potato salad or French fries. There are many regional variations on the Reuben sandwich, though the above description is the standard.

The origins of the Reuben sandwich are murky, with many claims to its invention. However, it seems certain that it arose in the United States in the first decades of the 20th century, and by the 1930s, it was well known. Many stories about the sandwich have its place of origin as Nebraska, although the specific restaurant or hotel that first served it is a matter of contention.

An Omaha man, Reuben Kulakofsky, is said to have invented the sandwich in the 1920s to serve to friends at weekly poker games. One version of this story tells that one of the regulars at these games owned a hotel, which became the first to offer the sandwich to customers. The Reuben restaurant in Manhattan, New York, which closed in the 1960s, also claimed to have invented the Reuben.

Nowadays, the Reuben sandwich is ubiquitous on deli and sandwich shop menus. Variants may use pumpernickel bread in place of rye, pastrami or turkey instead of corned beef, and coleslaw instead of sauerkraut. The type of cheese included may also vary.

A Reuben is a quick and delicious meal to cook at home as well — all you need is the right ingredients, and you can substitute them to suit your own taste. Simply spread Russian or Thousand Island dressing on two slices of bread, cover one side with thinly sliced cheese, add your sauerkraut and corned beef, or whatever meat you prefer, and toast the sandwich in butter until both sides are golden brown. Alternatively, you can cook your Reuben sandwich in a toaster oven or on the grill.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Acker
By Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a DelightedCooking editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "
Discussion Comments
By John57 — On May 14, 2011

@andee - That sounds like a great reuben sandwich recipe. I have always had mine with the traditional corned beef, but turkey sounds like a great alternative.

Another one of my favorites is a monte cristo sandwich. One of our favorite Irish restaurants makes this wonderful sandwich. It has ham, cheese, fried bread and this wonderful raspberry sauce on top. I am sure there are several variations you can do with it, but for me the raspberry sauce makes the whole sandwich.

By andee — On May 13, 2011

My husband does not like sauerkraut so I usually treat myself to a Reuben Sandwich when I go out to eat. My favorite is a turkey reuben sandwich. I enjoy turkey much more than corned beef and like to put a little bit of thousand island dressing on the sandwich! The rye bread is also a must-have.

I have made them at home and substituted wheat bread if I didn't have rye bread on hand, and it just was not the same.

Niki Acker
Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a DelightedCooking editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range...
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