We explored the Jewish deli scene in the city. Now I'm here to help you recreate that experience at home. Last week, I dove headfirst into the week-long project of making a Reuben sandwich fully from scratch. I corned the beef in my refrigerator, fermented the sauerkraut in my bedroom (hello ladies, I'm single!), made the Thousand Island dressing, and even baked the marbled rye! It was quite the endeavor, but when I finally shared the sandwiches with my friends, it was all worth it.

A reuben sandwich cut in half.
All the homemade components come together in one epic sandwich.
Dan Whalen

Day 1: Start with the corned beef

You'll have enough corned beef for 9 to 10 sandwiches, so consider sending an invite now for a Reuben party next week.

Corned Beef


  • 1 4-pound brisket
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons pink curing salt
  • 5 cloves garlic, pressed or grated to a paste
  • 3 bay leaves, roughly broken
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick, roughly broken
  • 2 tablespoons dill seed
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon celery seed
  • 2 teaspoons allspice berries


  1. Put the brisket into a large zip-top bag. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the bag. Seal the bag and mix well to evenly distribute the salt and spices.
  2. Put the bag into the fridge for 5-7 days. Every day or so, take it out of the fridge and mix it up a bit. You will notice the dry rub will become more of a liquid marinade after a few days.
  3. Remove the corned beef from the bag and rinse it well in the sink. Don’t worry, plenty of flavor has permeated the meat by this point. If you do not rinse it, the final product will be way too salty.
  4. Put the corned beef into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer for about 4 hours until tender.
  5. Remove from heat, let rest for 10 minutes, then slice thin against the grain.

Day 2: Make the sauerkraut



  • 1 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 5 jalapenos, julienned
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon salt


Jalapenos give this sauerkraut a bit of a non-traditional kick, but it works particularly well in combination with the Reuben ingredients.


  1. In a large bowl, mix the cabbage, jalapenos, carrot, and salt. Working with your hands, massage, squeeze, and rub the veggies, wilting and softening them. Continue for at least 10 minutes.
  2. At this point, you will notice the veggies have become wet, and when you hold them in your fist and squeeze, a fair amount of liquid will come out. Do not discard this liquid.
  3. Pack your veggies into a sterilized, non-metal container, and push down on them. You want the solids to be below the liquid line.
  4. Weight the solids down with a plate or any object that fits well in your container.
  5. Lightly cover with plastic wrap, or a few layers of cheesecloth, and set in a cool dry place for up to 1 week.
  6. Taste the sauerkraut every day. When the kraut is sour enough for your liking, transfer to a jar and put into the fridge until you're ready to use it.

Day 5: Make the bread


  • 2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup dark rye flour
  • 1/4 cup potato flakes (often called instant mashed potatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seed, roughly ground in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 package instant dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup pickle juice
  • 2 teaspoons black food coloring


  1. Combine the flour, rye, potato flake, caraway seed, brown sugar, yeast, and salt. Stir well.
  2. Pour in the water, oil, and pickle juice. Mix lightly and allow to sit on the counter for an hour. The dough will be rough looking and sticky.
  3. Knead the mixture on a well floured surface for 10 minutes until smooth. Split the mixture into 2 balls of dough, One a little bigger than the other. Put the larger one in an oiled bowl and cover lightly with plastic wrap.
  4. Knead the food coloring into the smaller dough ball (rubber gloves are helpful here). It takes a bit of kneading to get the color uniform. Place this dough into another oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest for 1 hour.
  5. Grease a 10-inch loaf pan. Line with parchment paper and grease the paper as well. Roll out the white dough thin on the counter, 10 inches wide to match the loaf pan. Roll out the black dough in a similar size and shape but slightly shorter.
  6. Place the black sheet of dough onto the white one. Roll the dough tight to form the spiral. Place the spiraled log of dough into the loaf pan. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise an additional 1 hour.
  7. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool for at least 2 hours. Transfer to a cutting board and slice the bread into thin sandwich slices.

Day 6: Assemble the dressing and sandwiches

Thousand Island Dressing


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 pickle spears, chopped
  • 1 hard boiled egg, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 scallion (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 clove garlic, grated salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The Reuben


  • 2 slices marbled rye sandwich bread
  • 2 tablespoons thousand island dressing
  • 1/3 pound corned beef (still warm)
  • 1/2 cup sauerkraut
  • 1 slice swiss cheese (optional)


  1. Toast the bread until warm and lightly browned.
  2. Spread the Thousand Island dressing on the bread.
  3. If you are using it, put some cheese on the bottom bread.
  4. Pile the corned beef nice and high.
  5. Top with the sauerkraut.
  6. Put the top bread on. Cut in half and dig in!

Day 7: Rest!