Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hot Reuben Sandwiches with Red Russian Dressing

Who doesn’t love a reuben? The only real question is, “What’s authentic Russian dressing?”

Some say this must-have spread for the sandwich is creamy, thick, and pinkish-orange in color, made with mayonnaise, ketchup or chili sauce, and some minced onion and pickles. That sounds like Thousand Island to me, and, in fact, it’s common to find reubens made with exactly that.

Some say Russian dressing is a deep red color with sweet and tangy flavor, made with ketchup, honey or sugar, vinegar or lemon juice, or all of the above. That’s the version I went with for this recipe—dark red, no mayo.

Regardless of authenticity (“Russian” dressing isn’t even from Russia, but the U.S., anyway), the keys to a delicious reuben are good corned beef stacked high, plenty of sauerkraut, creamy Swiss cheese, and hearty rye bread—light or dark. The ingredients are simple and few—but they play so well together.  

Serves 2


For the Dressing
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Reubens
  • 4 large slices rye bread (light or dark)
  • 1/2 lb thinly sliced corned beef
  • 1 packed cup sauerkraut, drained (warmed, if desired)
  • 4 thin slices baby Swiss cheese
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • dill pickle spears, for serving (optional)
Kraut, Corned Beef, and Cheese
Sliced Rye Bread

For the Dressing
  1. Combine the first 9 ingredients (through paprika) in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. (May be made 1 day ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.)
Red Russian Dressing
For the Reubens
  1. Lay the bread on a work surface and spread all 4 slices with a generous amount of dressing.
  2. Divide and mound the corned beef onto 2 slices and top with sauerkraut. Lay 2 slices of cheese each over the sauerkraut and place the tops on the sandwiches.
Dressing Layer
Corned Beef Layer 
Sauerkraut Layer 
Cheese Layer
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the butter, swirling in the pan as it melts.
  2. Place the sandwiches in the pan and press down with a grill press or large, heavy spatula. Grill until golden on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn and grill 2-3 minutes longer, until golden on the other side and hot throughout.
Reubens Beginning Pan-Grill 
Pan-Grilled Reubens
To serve, transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board and cut each diagonally in half. Serve with dill pickle spears, if desired.

Hot Reuben Sandwiches with Red Russian Dressing


  1. This sound delicious. I think the dressing without mayo is the best way to go. Who needs more fat anyway? Thanks for linking to What'd You Do This Weekend.

    Happy New Year,
    Linda @ Tumbleweed Contessa

    1. Yep, I agree. Thanks much---always appreciated.