Turkey Reuben

Let’s talk about sandwiches again. I like talking about sandwiches. I certainly have my favorites, with the Croque-Madame I made awhile back being my runaway favorite. But, I’m very fond of the whole family of grilled cheese sandwiches and this is one I think deserves to be made over and over again. I wanted to stick a tomato in there to make it prettier for you, but that would be all wrong. Forgive me. Turkey is white, sauerkraut is white, the cheese is white, the bread is off-white. Not the most compelling sandwich to photograph, but the eating…spot on. I love it.

Then again, I love sauerkraut. And I’m the only one in my nuclear family who does, so I wasn’t able to get any extra opinions on this. But I think it is perfect the way it is. Why don’t you have a sandwich with me and tell me what you think?

As you may remember, I’m extra fond of sandwiches in general because they aren’t voted on by committee. My children cannot overrule what I want to put in my sandwich the way they can, say, get me to leave jalapenos off one side of the nachos. It is not one lick of their business what goes on my sandwich, so I get to absolutely maximize my preferences. That doesn’t often happen in my food life. I lead, I prepare, but I get an earful about likes and dislikes and “this is touching that” and “don’t you remember, mom, I don’t like pickles since last week.” But the gloriously personal art of the sandwich is a celebration of selfish desires. I bet you have never thought of a sandwich that way.

This is probably why I spent one of my last afternoons, before the kids were released from school for the summer, making myself one of my favorite sandwiches. Key to this endeavor, for me anyway, is heating the turkey and sauerkraut before assembling the sandwich for the grilling. By doing this you ensure that the cheese gets good and melty and you don’t bite into any off-putting chilled parts.  It gives me the willies just thinking about it.

Here is my “recipe” for the sandwich. I feel sort of silly trying to describe how to make a sandwich. It seems like a very formal exercise for the most informal of meals, but here goes.

Turkey Reuben
Recipe type: Sandwich
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
One of my favorites!
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces smoked turkey slices
  • 4 ounces sauerkraut
  • 2 slices of bread (I used a whole grain oat bread)
  • 2 slices swiss cheese
  • Whole grain Dijon mustard
  1. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place the turkey in one corner of the skillet, the drained sauerkraut in another corner, and the pat of butter in a third corner. The turkey and kraut will warm up and the butter will start to melt.
  2. As the butter melts, take the bread slices and, one by one, place each slice into the skillet and get it buttery. Do this to both slices so that one side of each piece is buttered. Remove the bread to a plate. (Obviously, if you have softened butter you can just spread softened butter on one side of each slice of bread, but I always forget to take it out of the fridge on time.)
  3. Remove the turkey and sauerkraut from the skillet and place them on a paper towel. Place another paper towel on top and gently press the turkey and kraut to remove excess moisture and prevent a soggy sandwich. Wipe out the skillet and return it to the cook top.
  4. Take one piece of bread and lay it butter side down. Spread mustard on the non-buttered side. Place a slice of cheese on top of the mustard. Place the turkey on top of the cheese. Place the kraut on top of the turkey. Place the remaining slice of cheese on top of the kraut. Place the remaining piece of bread on top of the cheese, buttered side up.
  5. Carefully transfer the sandwich to the skillet and cook over medium heat until the bottom bread is golden and crisp. Using a spatula, turn the sandwich over being very careful not to lose chunks of kraut in the process. Continue to cook until the second side is golden and until all of the cheese is nicely melted. Eat immediately.


You may use a spatula and veggie can to weigh down the sandwich. I find that this method works stupendously, but you have to babysit to make sure it doesn’t start leaning and deform your beautiful sandwich. A prudent person would also wipe off the bottom of the can before using it, and not place the can directly on the heat. Would that make a can explode? I, for one, do not want to tell people I got injured in a tomato sauce explosion, though that is just the sort of thing that would happen to me. Nor do I have any interest in cleaning tomato sauce off of my ceiling. But the can provides just the right amount of weight to help with the heating process but not smash the sandwich.

Other noteworthy sandwiches on PIE:

The Sentient Sandwich (Hummus, portobello, ect.)

Tuna on Ciabatta with Oil and Vinegar

Tomato Confit BLT

Pimento Cheese Sandwiches





  1. Jill…you completely got me with that one. I had never heard that name before. I wiki’d it and found that it is also commonly called a Georgia Reuben or a California Reuben. News to me!! I love learning this stuff. Thank you for sharing. Oh, it also said that some folks call it a Rachel when it has pastrami and cole slaw instead of corned beef. I think I will need to test all the variations.A Rachel…who knew??? Clearly you did. And now thanks to you, I do too. I’ll have to go add that to my tags now.

  2. Turkey Reuben works for me!

    And I am the only one in my family (other than my late parents) who likes sauerkraut.

    One tip my son gave me: Spread sandwiches before grilling with a light even smear of Best Foods-Hellmans mayonnaise instead of butter. Yummy!