Reuben sandwich

The Reuben sandwich is a North American grilled sandwich composed of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing or Russian dressing, grilled between slices of rye bread. It is associated with kosher-style delicatessens, but is not kosher because it combines meat and cheese.[1]

Reuben sandwich
Place of originUnited States
Created byVarious claims
Serving temperatureWarm or hot
Main ingredientsCorned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, rye bread, Thousand Island dressing or Russian dressing

Possible origins

One origin story holds that Reuben Kulakofsky (his first name sometimes spelled Reubin; his last name sometimes shortened to Kay), a Lithuanian-born Jewish grocer residing in Omaha, Nebraska, asked for a sandwich made of corned beef and sauerkraut at his weekly poker game held in the Blackstone Hotel from around 1920 through 1935. The participants, who nicknamed themselves "the committee", included the hotel's owner, Charles Schimmel. Schimmel's son, who worked in the kitchen, made the first Reuben for him, adding Swiss cheese and thousand island dressing to his order, putting the whole thing on rye bread.[2] The sandwich first gained local fame when Schimmel put it on the Blackstone's lunch menu, and its fame spread when a former employee of the hotel won the national sandwich idea contest with the recipe.[3] In Omaha, Nebraska, March 14 was proclaimed Reuben Sandwich Day.[4]

Another account holds that the Reuben's creator was Arnold Reuben, the German-Jewish owner of Reuben's Delicatessen (1908–2001) in New York City. According to an interview with Craig Claiborne, Arnold Reuben created the "Reuben Special" around 1914.[5][6] Bernard Sobel in his 1953 book, Broadway Heartbeat: Memoirs of a Press Agent states that the sandwich was an extemporaneous creation for Marjorie Rambeau, inaugurated when the Broadway actress visited the Reuben's Delicatessen one night when the cupboards were particularly bare.[7]

Still other versions give credit to Alfred Scheuing, a chef at Reuben's Delicatessen, and say he created the sandwich for Reuben's son, Arnold Jr., in the 1930s.[3]


Montreal Reuben

Corned beef Reuben sandwich

The Montreal Reuben substitutes Montreal-style smoked meat for the corned beef.[8]

Thousand Island dressing

Thousand Island dressing is commonly used as a substitute for Russian dressing.[9]

Walleye Reuben

The walleye Reuben features the freshwater fish (Sander vitreus) in place of the corned beef.[10][11][12]

Grouper Reuben

The grouper Reuben is a variation on the standard Reuben sandwich, substituting grouper for the corned beef, and sometimes coleslaw for the sauerkraut as well. This variation is often a menu item in restaurants in Florida.[13]

Reuben egg rolls

Reuben egg rolls, sometimes called "Irish egg rolls" or "Reuben balls", use the standard Reuben sandwich filling of corned beef, sauerkraut, and cheese inside a deep-fried egg roll wrapper. Typically served with Thousand Island dressing (instead of Russian dressing) as an appetizer or snack, they originated at Mader's, a German restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where chef Dennis Wegner created them for a summer festival circa 1990.[14]

Rachel sandwich

The Rachel sandwich is a variation which substitutes pastrami or turkey for the corned beef, and coleslaw for the sauerkraut. [15][16][17] In some parts of the United States, especially Michigan, this turkey variant is known as a "Georgia Reuben" or "California Reuben", and it may also call for barbecue sauce or French dressing instead of Russian dressing. The name may have originated from the 1871 song "Reuben and Rachel".[16]

Dinty Moore sandwich

The Dinty Moore sandwich is a Detroit variation which substitutes coleslaw[18] or shredded lettuce and tomato[19] for the sauerkraut. It is sometimes on toasted white (wheat) bread instead of toasted rye and sometimes omits the Swiss cheese.[19] It is often a triple-decker sandwich.[19]

Vegetarian and vegan versions

Vegetarian versions, called "veggie Reubens", omit the corned beef or substitute vegetarian ingredients for it, including zucchini, cucumbers,[20] wheatmeat,[21] and mushrooms.[22] Vegan versions can use the aforementioned wheatmeat also known as seitan, tempeh[23] or mushrooms with non-dairy cheese, dressing and butter.[24]

Kosher status

As a Reuben combines both meat and dairy ingredients in the same meal, it cannot be kosher.[25] However, it is frequently served at kosher style restaurants.[26][27] Kosher versions may be made using non-dairy imitation cheese, or substitute vegetarian corned beef, or omitting the meat or the cheese.[28][1]

See also


  1. Genger, Tamar. "Making a Kosher Reuben Sandwich". Joy of Kosher. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  2. Weil, Elizabeth (June 7, 2013). "My Grandfather Invented the Reuben Sandwich. Right?". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
  3. Rader, Jim. "The Reuben Sandwich". Reuben Realm.
  4. Griswold, Jennifer. "Today is Proclaimed Reuben Sandwich Day". KMTV. Archived from the original on 2015-03-15.
  5. Jared Ingersoll (2006). "Toasted Reuben sandwich". Danks Street Depot. Murdoch Books. p. 115. ISBN 9781740455985.
  6. Craig Claiborne. The New York Times Food Encyclopedia. See also Arnold Reuben interview, American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936–1940, quoted on What's cooking America site.
  7. Sobel, Bernard (1953). "Broadway Heartbeat: Memoirs of a Press Agent". New York City: Hermitage House: 233. OCLC 1514676. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. "Montreal Corned Beef Reuben Sandwich", The Gazette
  9. Holl, John (December 22, 2014). "America was sweet on its spicy Russian dressing — until Thousand Island, that is". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  10. Minneapolis, Town Ball Tavern 1 Twins Way; MN. "Walleye Reuben @ Town Ball Tavern".
  11. Otis, Ginger Adams (September 6, 2015). "Ohio proves to be a great destination for a history- and fun-loving family". New York Daily News.
  12. Deptolla, Carol (May 17, 2012). "Chez Ballpark: What's good to eat at Miller Park". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. For the homestand against the Minnesota Twins this weekend, look for walleye Reuben sandwiches, for $9.25.
  13. Calloway, Karin (September 21, 2010). "Takeoff on Reuben sandwich makes tasty meal". The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved February 2, 2011. In Florida … many restaurants serve a grouper Reuben
  14. Zeldes, Leah A. (March 10, 2010). "Irish' food in Chicago isn't quite so in Ireland: Who played a role in the reuben egg roll?". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on April 13, 2010. Retrieved March 15, 2010.
  15. Mary-Lane Kamberg (2004). "Grilled Reuben sandwich variation: Grilled Rachel sandwich". The I Don't Know How to Cook Book: 300 Great Recipes You Can't Mess Up. Adams Media. p. 42. ISBN 9781593370091.
  16. Popik, Barry (November 13, 2004). "Reuben Sandwich (and Rachel Sandwich, Celebrity Sandwiches)". The Big Apple. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  17. Rombauer, Irma S.; Becker, Marion Rombauer; Becker, Ethan (2006). "Reuben Sandwich". Joy of Cooking (75th Anniversary ed.). Scribner. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-7432-4626-2. For a Rachel, substitute turkey for the corned beef.
  18. "Dinty Moore Sandwich" recipe at Grobbel's Gourmet website. Retrieved 1 May 2022. "2 Slices rye bread...corned cheese...Russian dressing."
  19. "The Bread Basket" at the Food Network website. Retrieved 1 May 2022. "a triple-decker sandwich piled high with corned beef, slathered with a creamy Russian dressing and topped with crisp shredded lettuce and ripe tomato."
  20. Better Homes and Gardens, Cooking for Two, p. 82
  21. Joy Nicholson, "Reubenesque", Los Angeles Magazine September, 2001, p. 52
  22. Cameron Woodworth, Green Cuisine, p. 25
  23. Editors, Vegetarian Times (May 10, 2017). "Vegan Tempeh Reubens". Vegetarian Times. Retrieved 7 November 2018. {{cite web}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  24. "Vegan Reuben Sandwiches". 10 June 2019.
  25. Jacob Rader Marcus, United States Jewry, 1776-1985, 1989, p. 334
  26. Sue Fishkoff, Kosher Nation, 2010, ISBN 0805242651, p. 103
  27. Moline, Jack (1987). Growing Up Jewish, Or, Why is this Book Different from All Other Books?. Penguin Books. p. 44.
  28. "Kosher Reuben Sandwiches" in Faye Levy, 1,000 Jewish Recipes, 2011, ISBN 0544189124, p. 347

Further reading

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