Reuben Sandwich

Being a strict disliker, oh alright, a HATER, of mayonnaise, I've always shied away from Reuben sandwiches because of the "Russian" dressing used on them. It's based on mayo, and I won't eat it. ("Russian" is in quotes because the dressing doesn't have anything to do with Russia - it's first mentioned in US sources in the early 1900's.) Recently I read through a couple of Reuben recipes and they sounded absolutely fantastic. EXCEPT for the dressing. So, I branched out and searched for "russian dressing no mayonnaise". What to my wondering eyes should appear but dozens of recipes for red Russian dressings that don't use mayo! This one sounds fantastic.

(Please make the dressing before you start on the sauerkraut and the sandwich. The celery seeds need time to infuse the liquids. At least an hour, but a day or two would be even better.)

Well, it's been a week since I found this recipe, and I made the dressing right after I put it up here. After 3 days I tried it and it was spectacular. (I upped the celery seeds from 1.5 Tsp to 1 Tbs - the increased celery notes are awesome.) Last night, 6 days since I made the dressing, I made an Italian pasta salad and used the red Russian instead of Italian dressing. OMG, it was GREAT! This recipe is much more than just for Reuben sandwiches.

😍 But...this weekend here come the Reuben sandwiches! 😍

Another note about the dressing, it takes BLTs to another level!

Catalina (Red Russian) Dressing


Red Russian Dressing
No mayo!

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (Most recipes call for red wine vinegar but the balsamic brings out the beautiful dark red color.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds (I used a tablespoon and the flavor skyrocketed.)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) of garlic powder

What to do with them...

  • Combine all of the ingredients and whisk to blend well. Put it in a jar and then into the refrigerator. Let the dressing sit for as long as possible before using it to allow the spice flavors to infuse the liquid. At least an hour or better yet a day or two or even longer.

The Sauerkraut

From America's Test Kitchen

Switch this to the Pioneer Woman or just get some from the store. Much easier that way.


  • 1 head green cabbage (2 1/2 pounds), quartered, cored, and shredded
  • 2 tablespoons pickling and canning salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons juniper berries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup red Russian dressing

To help the cabbage stay submerged, place a bag of brine on top to weigh it down. We use brine (rather than water) because if the bag breaks it won’t ruin the careful balance of salinity inside the jar. For a balanced flavor, we prefer fermenting at a cool room temperature of 65 degrees (consider locations such as a basement, den, or cabinet in an air-conditioned room). Fermenting above 70 degrees is not recommended because the flavor suffers, and above 75 degrees food safety becomes a concern. You will need cheesecloth for this recipe.

What to do with them...

  1. Cut out parchment paper round to match diameter of 1/2-gallon glass or ceramic container. Toss cabbage with 4 teaspoons salt in large bowl. Using your hands, forcefully knead salt into cabbage until it has softened and begins to release moisture, about 3 minutes. Stir in juniper berries.
  2. Tightly pack cabbage mixture and any accumulated liquid in jar, pressing down firmly with your fist to eliminate air pockets as you pack. Press parchment round flush against surface of cabbage.
  3. Dissolve remaining 2 teaspoons salt in water and transfer to 1-quart zipper-lock bag; squeeze out air and seal bag well. Place bag of brine on top of parchment and gently press down. Cover jar with triple layer of cheesecloth and secure with rubber band.
  4. Place jar in cool room-temperature location (50 to 70 degrees; do not expose cabbage to temperatures above 70 degrees) away from direct sunlight and let ferment for 6 days; check jar daily, skimming residue and mold from surface and pressing to keep cabbage submerged. After 6 days, taste sauerkraut daily until it has reached desired flavor (this may take up to 7 days longer; sauerkraut should be pale and translucent with a tart and floral flavor).
  5. When sauerkraut has reached desired flavor, remove cheesecloth, bag of brine, and parchment and skim off any residue or mold. Serve. (Sauerkraut and accumulated juices can be transferred to clean jar, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 months; once refrigerated, flavor of sauerkraut will continue to mature.)

The Reuben Sandwich

From Carlsbad Cravings

I'm slowly editing this recipe to fit me :-) So far I've added the Catalina dressing and horseradish sauce, and now the panini press version. One important thing I found when starting out was that you can use pastrami instead of corned beef; corned beef is often hard to come by, at least a slab version of the meat. Cans of corned beef are everywhere but, no thank you. I'd much rather have thinly sliced deli meat on my sandwich.


(These ingredients are for four (4) sandwiches)

  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 pound corned beef – thin deli slices, or homemade - pastrami works if corned beef is hard to find
  • 8 slices rye bread
  • 8 slices Swiss cheese, preferably Swiss Gruyere
  • 1 1/4 cups sauerkraut, well-drained
  • Horseradish sauce to mix with the sauerkraut
  • Catalina dressing to mix with the sauerkraut
  • Butter for grilling
  • Vegetable oil or light olive oil for grilling

What to do with them...

  1. Homemade Corned Beef, if using: Can be sliced or shredded. Microwave just to warm through with jus (or gently heat on the stovetop) and cover with foil to keep warm. Drain excess liquid before using.
  2. Spread parchment paper out on a flat surface. Spread ½ tablespoon of butter on one side of each slice of bread.
  3. To four bread slices (the other slices are the tops), layer the corned beef, drained sauerkraut, a little horseradish sauce, some Catalina dressing, and two slices of Swiss cheese. Top with the other 4 slices of bread, buttered side up/on the outside.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in a nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add 1-2 sandwiches (whatever comfortably fits), cover, and cook until the bread is golden on the bottom and the cheese is starting to melt, about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Flip the sandwich(es) over and continue to cook until the cheese is melted and the bottom bread is toasted, another 3-4 minutes. (Reduce the heat as needed if the bread is browning too quickly before the cheese is melted). Repeat with remaining sandwiches.

On a Panini Press

The last two steps above can be skipped if you have a Panini press, and you can skip the oil called for in the ingredient list above. Just put the sandwiches in the press and cook 'em up! Here are the steps specifically for a panini press:

  1. Butter the outside surface of the bread.
  2. Turn the bottom piece over so the buttered side is lying down. Put two half slices of cheese on the bread, and then layer as much corned beef/pastrami as you'd like.
  3. Drain the sauerkraut you want to put on the sandwich, get it as dry as possible. Spoon the sauerkraut on the corned beef.
  4. Add the horseradish sauce and Catalina dressing on top of the sauerkraut. Put the other two half slices of Swiss cheese over the sauerkraut, place the top piece of bread on top, buttered side facing up, and plop it in the press for between 5 and 10 minutes.