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Gluten-Free Reuben Sandwich – the champion of all toasted sandwiches!
This Reuben sandwich is the perfect excuse to use up leftover corned beef and assemble this classic New York creation. Grilling the Reuben brings all the tangy, pickled and salty flavours into a melting masterpiece.
About the ingredients
Gluten-Free Mock Rye Bread
Rye bread is the traditional bread used for Reuben sandwiches. As rye is a gluten grain, using either a store-bought gluten-free brown rye-like bread or my homemade gluten-free mock rye bread recipe will give good results for that classic texture and flavour.
In some countries, finding a corned brisket of beef together with the pickling spices to cook at home is straightforward. In other countries, like Austria, I have never been able to find one already-brined. I resorted to brining a beef brisket over 5 days with a homemade pickling spice mix and roasted it for our Sunday dinner. It tasted authentic and melted in our mouths. The only ingredient missing was the pink curing salt that is needed to get that distinctive “pink” corned beef colour, which explains why my corned beef in the photo looks more like roast beef!
It is important to stack at least three layers of thinly sliced corned beef in the sandwich, otherwise, if your corned beef is very tender, shredding it works well too.
This vital ingredient is available in every supermarket in Austria, so I had no trouble finding sauerkraut, in fact, there is quite a range of different sauerkrauts. I choose an organic, plain one. Make sure to drain the sauerkraut before assembling the sandwiches, otherwise, the bread will become soggy from the brine.
Should you have trouble finding sauerkraut, you could substitute coleslaw and lessen the Reuben mayonnaise. It isn’t a classic Reuben sandwich with this substitute, but it will still taste amazing with the other condiments.
Otherwise, fry some shredded green cabbage until soft and add a few dashes of white vinegar and water with some salt.
Using a strong Swiss cheese such as Emmental or Gruyère gives the Reuben sandwich that strong, nutty and salty flavour. If you prefer a milder cheese, add a mild Cheddar or Gouda instead.
Any cucumber pickles either sliced lengthways or in thin rounds will suit these Reuben sandwiches.
This mayonnaise is supposed to be tangy and slightly sweet & spicy. If you prefer to buy a ready-made mixture, select Thousand Island dressing for a similar, but less spicy flavour.
How are the Reuben sandwiches cooked?
The best method to cook Reuben sandwiches is in a frying pan, griddle pan or preferably, a cast-iron pan.
As the outer sides of the mock rye bread are buttered, the medium heat toasts the bread nicely. Covering the pan with a lid for the first 5 to 7 minutes generates enough heat to start melting the cheese and warming up the corned beef.
Once the sandwiches are flipped over to grill the other side, keep the lid off and grill for another 3 minutes, pressing down slightly with a spatula.
My second favourite grilling option is using an oven grill or broiler. Keep the tops of the sandwich 10 cm away from the grill and have the temperature on medium.
The panini maker is not a good option for this large sandwich as the lid ends up pressing the contents out, especially the melting cheese between the bread.
Gluten-Free Reuben Sandwich
- 1 tbsp fresh horseradish, grated, or
- 2 tsp horseradish cream
- 1 tbsp shallot, finely chopped
- 100 ml mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp tomato sauce or ketchup
- 2 tbsp sweet pickles, chopped finely
- 1 tsp tabasco sauce
- 1 tsp store-bought or homemade gluten-free Worcester sauce , or
- 1 tsp Tamari
- ¼ tsp unsmoked sweet paprika powder
- Salt and white pepper, to taste
- 12 slices store-bought or gluten-free mock rye bread
- 2 tbsp butter, at room temperature
- 6 tbsp homemade Reuben mayonnaise
- 18 slices corned beef, thinly sliced
- 240 g Sauerkraut, well drained
- 6 slices Emmental or Gruyère cheese
- 18 slices cucumber pickles
- Peel the skin off a small section of the fresh horseradish and finely grate it directly into a small bowl.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix well.
- Set aside or if making ahead, cover and chill.
- Gather and measure all the Reuben sandwich ingredients together.
Assembling the Reuben
- On a sheet of baking paper, place the gluten-free mock rye bread slices in pairs side by side.
- Butter each bread slice and flip over the bread to face the baking paper.
- Spread ½ tbsp of homemade Reuben mayonnaise to each bread slice.
- Add several slices of corned beef and a tbsp or so of sauerkraut on one half of the bread slices.
- Fold the cheese slice in half and top this on top of the corned beef & sauerkraut, followed by several pickle slices.
- Take the unfilled bread slice and cover the filled slice, pressing down gently.
- If making ahead, wrap each sandwich in foil and chill until ready to grill.
Grilling the Reuben
- Heat a large cast-iron frying pan to medium heat.
- Add the assembled sandwiches, leaving enough room between them to flip them over later. Use two pans or grill two batches separately if your pan is too small.
- Cover the pan with a large lid or some foil to create heat for the cheese to melt. Grill for 5 to 7 mins, checking that the bottoms of the sandwich are toasting nicely and not burning.
- Remove the lid and lift each sandwich carefully by using a spatula to scoop them up and holding the top slice with your fingers to then flip over back into the pan.
- Keep the lid off and press down slightly on each sandwich while they grill for a further 3 mins.
- Transfer to a serving platter or chopping board. Allow to cool down for a few minutes before slicing each sandwich in half, or leave them whole if preferred. The centre will be piping hot, so keep your fingers away from the filling when slicing.
- Serve with some fresh salad and extra Reuben mayonnaise on the side.
- Keeps for 2 days before or after grilling
- Not suitable to freeze