Pho Reuben Sandwich


Writing this post feels pretty cathartic for me. Although loading up a Reuben sandwich and frying it on a pan is pretty darn straightforward, this post is the culmination of many different pho-spiced Reuben components I developed over a month. If you want to see how I personally prepare & cook the Reuben, read on.

The fact is, this recipe will work for a traditional Reuben using all store-bought components. You can buy a bottle of Russian dressing (or Thousand Island for a sweeter alternative), get corned beef at a deli counter, and purchase sauerkraut, even the mushy non-fermented kind in a bag, although I might say that part is sacrilege.

Now if you’re a regular to this site, you know I love me some Vietnamese pho noodle soup! Now, to get that pho spice flavor running through the whole sandwich on a bunch of levels, I made pho ketchup to be mixed into a Russian dressing and an alternate Thousand Island dressing (both recipes also incorporated other fermented items off this site and my easy mayo recipe) , pho-spiced sauerkraut, pho-spiced pickles, and last but not least, pho-spiced corned beef (which takes ten days before it’s ready).

For the Swiss cheese, I used real imported cheese from Switzerland, but this is up to you. The bread was a sourdough rye from a great local German bakery. If, like me, you’re not much of a bread baker, any nice store-brand Jewish or marble rye will do though.

Whether you make some or all the components from scratch using the recipes I developed, this is a delicious, classic sandwich you’ve got to try at least once in your life. Its creation is a bit of a mystery, but likely was developed by Reuben Kulakofsky in the 1920s, or perhaps even earlier by Arnold Reuben of NYC’s “Reuben’s Delicatessen” as early as 1914. I wonder what they would have thought of my pho-spiced version!

If any of the components don’t suit your fancy, today there’s many variations on this sandwich. Turkey can replaced for corned beef. (Heck, some recipes even use grouper for the meat!) Cole slaw can be substituted for kraut. Spicy brown mustard can be substituted for Russian dressing or Thousand Island.

However you make it, enjoy!

This recipe is for two sandwiches. (The pictures below feature 3 sandwiches each using different bread.)

You will need:

  • Frying pan & turner
  • Knife & cutting board
  • Toothpicks (optional)


  • 4 slices bread
  • ~3 TBSP butter
  • ~6-8 slices corned beef (or 1/2 lb.)
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup sauerkraut (tip: squeeze the kraut very dry beforehand)
  • 1/4 cup Russian dressing (most traditional) or Thousand Island dressing.
  • Pickles to garnish (they’re also used in the Thousand Island recipe)


1.) Preheat a large skillet or griddle on medium heat.

2.) Butter one side of all the bread slices. On the other side, spread the Russian or Thousand Island dressing.

3.) On the side with the Russian dressing, add a slice of cheese to each slice of bread. (This means each sandwich has two slices; if you prefer, you can only use one.)

4.) On two of the four slices of bread, add 3-4 slices of corned beef each. After that, add 1/4 cup kraut on top of the meat. (Optionally, you can also add some thin-sliced pickles

5.) Place the bread slices with only dressing and cheese on top of the meat/kraut slices. Melt a pat of butter to the pan then add the sandwiches.

6.) Grill sandwiches until both sides are golden brown, about 4-5 minutes per side. Turn down heat slightly as needed, so as to avoid burning the bread.

7.) When sandwiches are ready, transfer to cutting board and cut in half. (Diagonally is a nice touch.) If desired, place a toothpick the middle of each half, with a couple pickle slices. Serve hot.

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