Vegetarian "Reuben"

October  4, 2022
7 Ratings
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Makes 2 sandwiches
Author Notes

I started making this sandwich when I became a vegetarian because I love reuben sandwiches. My family, who was not vegetarian, loved this sandwich equally. This is the recipe I want to be remembered by, because I would eventually like to open up a deli that specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches. I like to call this a "vegetarian reuben", but it's really not a reuben at all. I make my own "pickled" red cabbage and replace the meat with mushrooms. Instead of a Thousand Island dressing, I make a concoction of mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and dill relish. I generally use rye bread, because I love, love, love rye and pumpernickel breads. So as you see, this is really not a reuben at all. But let's be honest, who's stopping me from calling it one? —Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast

Test Kitchen Notes

Cows everywhere, rejoice! This vegetarian "reuben" is quite possibly better than the real thing. Gooey Swiss, tangy red cabbage, creamy dressing, garlicky mushrooms and crisp, buttery rye make this sandwich utterly irresistible. Thanks to Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast, I have now been ruined for all other sandwiches -- and I'm ok with that! —Rachel Snow

What You'll Need
  • 4 slices rye or pumpernickel bread
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese (lacey, baby, or regular)
  • 10 to 15 button mushrooms (cleaned and sliced)
  • 1/4 head red cabbage (sliced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons dill pickle relish
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 serving unsalted butter, for spreading
  • 1 splash Olive oil
  1. The first step in assembing this grilled cheese is to prepare all your ingredients. Heat two saute pans over medium heat. Add some olive oil to each pan. In one pan, add the mushrooms, garlic, and black pepper. Let cook for 5 minutes.
  2. In the second pan, add the red cabbage, salt, and pepper and let cook in oil for 2 minutes. Add the vinegar and horseradish and let cook for 5 more minutes.
  3. While both the mushrooms and cabbage are cooking, mix up the dressing. Combine mayonnaise, Dijon, and relish in a small bowl.
  4. Butter one side of 2 pieces of bread generously. On the other side of the buttered pieces of bread, spread the dressing. Add mushrooms to each sandwich. Add a slice of cheese on top of the mushrooms. Cover the cheese in cabbage. Add one more slice of cheese on top of the cabbage.
  5. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Place the slices of bread, buttered side down, on the skillet. Add the second slice of bread to the top of the sandwich and place a couple cubes of butter on top of each slice. Put the pan you used to cook the mushrooms or cabbage on top of the sandwiches (unless you have a foil-covered brick or some other cool device).
  6. Flip after a few minutes and cook the other side without the pan. The bread should be nice and crusty, and cheese should be melting out the sides.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Audrey
  • Frances Kinloch
    Frances Kinloch
  • laurie
  • krikri
  • foxeslovelemons

26 Reviews

Audrey December 23, 2021
This is one of our favorite recipes, and a Christmas tradition! We call them Grinchwiches-- they're the closest thing to triple decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwiches with arsenic sauce (remoulade) like from the Grinch song! My elementary age kids LOVE them and ask for them!!
[email protected] April 17, 2021
Just made this a second time. The texture and flavor is perfect. Yum. I’m just starting on a vegetarian journey, and it’s so encouraging to find delicious new meals to try. I’d recommend this to anyone, vegetarian or not.
Hippiedips December 30, 2020
No meat. No sauerkraut. No thousand island dressing. NO COMPLAINTS!

I was SO skeptical when it seemed as though nothing was as I know a rueben to be.. but I followed the recipe thinking if I didn't like it I could possibly use thousand island to dip in or maybe add sauerkraut next time. Well tonight I made it a second time and once again I followed the recipe exactly! It's so delicious and definitely fills the rueben void as a vegitarian. In fact... a couple months ago my fiance said that it sucks we can't have reubens any more and how much he missed them since going vegetarian over a year ago. (It was his favorite sandwich and go to a lot of the time when we went out to eat) well I didn't hesitate. The second he said that, I was on google and in a matter of minutes reading this recipe! I read one other one after.. but when it came time to actually make the recipe, I came back here because of the wonderful looking photo and easy directions!

Thank you for this keeper recipe! I think I'll have it memorized in no time! 😄
(I've already recommended it to mutiple people!)
Hippiedips December 30, 2020
Oh I forgot to add.. my fiance said it might be the best rueben he's ever had!.... and that's saying a lot coming from him!😅
sharskee April 1, 2019
This recipe was great! I have made vegetarian ruebens before and was a little skeptical that actual russian dressing wasn't used, but all the flavors were there. Here are tweaks I made:
-I was finding the cabbage a little too sour and a lot of actual russian cabbage is sweet/sour, so I squeezed an orange over it and added a little sugar to taste. This makes the cabbage edible on its own too!
-I used dark rye break bc pumpernickel doesn't exist for some reason, but these breads are basically made very similarly.
-I didn't have dill relish, but did have kosher dill slices I cut up and it was fine!
-I had oyster mushrooms around too so just added them in and it was fine.

I made extras of the cabbage and sauce so I could easily whip this up later. Pretty excited!
Frances K. December 12, 2017
I made this sandwich tonight. I love Reubens and we are trying to cut out meat. My family praised me more for this meal than any meal I have made for them in 12 years!!!! Seriously I teared up. It's better than the meat version in my book. Don't think about it - make it tonight!
name P. January 21, 2017
I'm pretty seriously surprised by how well this came out. I did use sauerkraut instead of vinegar, but otherwise stayed faithful. Here's how mine came out:
Rose October 7, 2016
Just made this for dinner.....OMG!! Fabulous! I love Reubens and was hesitant to try this. I am so excited about recipes like this. I am 2 weeks in with whole food based diet and so far am loving it! Thank You!
laurie July 9, 2016
This had delicious flavor but i couldnt get it to hold together (any suggestions?)
krikri September 5, 2015
I love reubens, I love pastrami... So this recipe caught my eye. Never mind it has no pastrami; neither do we! In fact, we had no Swiss so I used cheddar. And horseradish morphed into fake-wasabi-in-a-tube. Rye or pumpernickel (also unavailable, or at least rarely seen) meant whole wheat. And we blew off the pickle relish.
I guess this recipe was really a springboard. A delicious one! Even the dubious 16-yr-old liked it and the three of us fought over the 4th sandwich.
Great recipe. I highly recommend it.
Heather September 24, 2014
This is a veggie sandwich which FILLS you up with flavor, texture and deliciousness. I've made these twice in the last month and am ready to have them again. Thank you for a veggie meal which leaves you saying "ahhhh, that hit the spot".
Brussels S. September 24, 2014
Yay, glad you loved in Heather! It's definitely one of my all time favorites.
foxeslovelemons March 28, 2013
Congrats on the Community Pick! My thoughts:

Full disclosure: I've never actually had a Reuben sandwich. So, do this sandwich taste like a "real" Reuben? I have no idea. Does it taste great? Absolutely. It was incredibly simple to put together, especially because you cook two of the main components (mushrooms & cabbage) in two different pans, but at the same time. The mushrooms added a filling and "meaty" element, and the sauce was equal parts tangy, creamy, and spicy. It was the perfect dinner for Meatless Monday!
thefood March 22, 2013
i absolutely hope you win with this one! yummmmm!
Brussels S. March 22, 2013
Thanks, thefood! It's a crowd pleaser for sure!
Tanya T. March 11, 2013
OMG - The Reuben is my FAVORITE sandwich and since becoming a vegetarian, I've been stumped on how to make one. THANK YOU - I will try it after we return from spring break vacation...with dark rye, of course!!!
Brussels S. March 22, 2013
Thanks, Tanya! I hope you get to enjoy it!!
gina.hellman.7 October 14, 2012
Delicious! Made them twice in one week!
constanterratic August 10, 2011
I'm tired of the typical veggie sandwiches I see on menus and in cookbooks (as if vegetarians only eat tomatoes and cheese, or really weird exotic things), so your recipe was a welcome sight. You've punched up two simple staples, the mushroom and cabbage- with incredibly satisfying results. This is one sandwich I would kill to see on menus everywhere!
Brussels S. August 12, 2011
Thanks, constanterratic! I would love it if I showed up at a restaurant and they were serving it!
susan G. April 28, 2011
I love the directions you've gone with the Reuben concept. Our 80's natural food deli served Tempeh Reubens, and it was very popular. I'm trying this ASAP.
Brussels S. April 27, 2011
Thank you everyone! Please try it out and let me know your thoughts/suggestions!
clintonhillbilly April 27, 2011
Sounds delicious!
Jennifer A. April 26, 2011
I love your idea for a vegetarian reuben, and am going to give this a try over the weekend.
Bevi April 26, 2011
I won't stop you! This sounds really good, and I hope your dream comes true!