A broccoli Reuben delivers all the hearty deliciousness of a traditional Reuben but this recipe uses charred broccoli instead of corned beef. The end result is one of the best vegetarian Reubens you can make, and you can easily make it at home.
Ingredients for a Broccoli Reuben
Gathering your ingredients together beforehand is key with recipes like this that you cook quickly in parts for the perfect meatless Reuben sandwich. The process leaves very little time cushion for fumbling around looking for the next things you’ll need.
The ingredients to make two grilled broccoli Reubens are:
- 4 slices of rye bread
- 1 head of fresh broccoli
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 – 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup sauerkraut
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons of butter, softened
- 1/4 cup Russian dressing
- 4 slices Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
- salt for seasoning
To prep: Wash the head of fresh broccoli and cut into small florets. Finely chop 2 – 3 cloves of garlic. Then, drain the sauerkraut to remove excess liquid.
You can use store-bought Russian (or Thousand Island) dressing, but if you’re making your own, have that prepared in advance. (See below for a homemade Russian dressing recipe and a homemade Thousand Island recipe.)
Looking for a unique vegetarian grilled cheese sandwich? Try a Grilled Cheese with Pear!
How to Make a Broccoli Reuben
Start a broccoli Reuben by cooking the broccoli and garlic. To do that, heat a cast iron skillet or frying pan with olive oil, then saute the broccoli until it softens and chars. That will typically takes 15 to 20 minutes. Then add, the garlic and cook another few minutes. Set the mixture aside to use later.
For this vegetarian Reuben sandwich recipe, you can use one pan like a cast iron skillet, but it helps to use two at once. That way, you can cook your broccoli and grilled Reuben in one pan and fry the sauerkraut in the other at the same time.
TIP: If you only have one pan, simply make the charred broccoli and garlic, set it aside. Then fry your sauerkraut and set it aside. Finally, make your grilled Swiss sandwich by layering all of your cooked and warm ingredients.
As your broccoli cooks, add 1/2 tablespoon of butter to another pan and fry 1 cup of sauerkraut. Cook on medium high for about 5 to 10 minutes. Cooking your sauerkraut is not totally necessary, but it helps to melt the Swiss cheese. It can also reduce some of the moisture, which could make your Reuben soggy.
Assembling a Veggie Rueben
Start putting together your meatless Reuben sandwich by buttering one side of each slice of bread. Then, spread a layer of Russian or Thousand Island dressing on each slice. Top with a slice of Swiss cheese.
The best vegetarian Reuben sandwich recipe has plenty of Swiss cheese. You can use any Swiss cheese, but aim for higher quality fresh cheese and thinly sliced. Having thin slices will help the cheese melt better.
Of course, using broccoli instead of corned beef makes this a meatless Reuben. But even if you’re not a vegetarian, this is a must-try version of an American classic.
Apparently, a grocery shop in Brooklyn, New York, called Court Street Grocers sells an extremely popular version of a broccoli Reuben using its “comeback” sauce, which is similar to Russian dressing.
Grilling a Broccoli Reuben
Place a piece of bread with the butter side face down on the cast iron skillet (or frying pan). Top with a layer of softened broccoli, then a layer of sauerkraut. Finally, add the final slice of rye bread, with the butter side facing up.
You can give the sandwich a firm press with a spatula to flatten it a bit.
Grill the broccoli Reuben just as you would make grilled cheese — for about 3-4 minutes until golden brown and toasty and with melted cheese. Flip and grill the second side until it’s golden brown as well. Repeat the whole process for the second sandwich.
How to Serve a Vegetarian Reuben
The best way to serve a vegetarian Reuben is to serve it immediately when its warm and toasted, no matter if you use broccoli or any other vegetable. Serving it hot tastes the best, and it helps you enjoy it while the bread is crispy.
Reubens have a tendency to get soggy because they include sauerkraut, which has a lot of liquid. The Russian dressing and vegetables can also contribute to making this sandwich soggy as well.
Cut on a diagonal. You can serve a vegetarian Reuben with a simple side like fries or onion rings. They typically don’t need a sauce because they already have the Russian dressing included! But you can have a bit of extra Russian on hand in case you need more!
How to Make Homemade Russian Dressing
You can use store-bought Russian dressing or make your own.
There are several ways to make this creamy dressing, some using sour cream and other using diced eggs. Here is one way to make homemade Russian dressing:
- Mix 1/2 cup mayonnaise with 3 tablespoons chili sauce
- Add 1 teaspoon horseradish, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 3 Tablespoons of finely diced pickles, 1 tablespoon finely minced onion or shallot and a dash of salt and pepper.
How to Make Homemade Thousand Island Dressing
If you’d rather a sweeter sauce, you can make your own homemade Thousand Island dressing. Try this sweet Reuben sauce recipe:
- Mix 1/2 cup mayonnaise with 3 tablespoons ketchup
- Add 2 teaspoon sugar, 1 Tablespoon white vinegar, 1 Tablespoon diced pickles or pickle relish, 1 Tablespoon finely minced onion or shallot, a dash of salt and pepper.
Other savory grilled cheese sandwiches by Bacon & Bevs include:
- French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese (Gruyere Grilled Cheese)
- Goat Cheese Grilled Cheese
- Raclette Grilled Cheese
How to Make a Reuben Sandwich Vegan
To make a Reuben sandwich vegan, you’ll need to make a number of tweaks to the traditional recipe. Of course, you’ll need to substitute the corned beef with a sturdy vegetable like sauteed broccoli, eggplant, or mushrooms. You can even use crispy tofu for a Reuben.
Then, use a plant-based oil for grilling or to saute the vegetables (not butter), and brush the outside of your sandwiches with a vegan mayonnaise that uses a plant-based oil like avocado oil.
Next, you can create your own Russian dressing using the same vegan mayo, which would be made with a substitute like a avocado oil. (Try this vegan Russian dressing recipe: Mix 1/2 cup vegan mayo, 1 teaspoon horseradish, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 3 tablespoons chili sauce, 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 3 Tablespoons of finely diced pickles and 1 tablespoon finely minced onion or shallot.)
Finally, you will need to substitute the Swiss cheese with a vegan cheese. You can find a variety of vegan Swiss cheese products on the market — just make sure the cheese you use is dairy free!
Rye bread is generally vegan, so you can keep that in your vegan Reuben recipe!
Looking for a great Tofu recipe? Try this irresistible Tofu Marsala dish, a twist in Chicken Marsala using crispy tofu.
- cutting board and knife
- 2 cast iron skillet or frying pan
- fine mesh seive
- spatula, tongs
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 – 3 cups broccoli florets
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 – 1 cup sauerkraut
- 4 slices marble rye bread
- 2½ Tablespoons softened butter
- 4 slices Swiss cheese (ideally thinly sliced)
- 1/4 cup Russian dressing
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- Chop one head of broccoli into small broccoli florets to yield about 3 cups. Finely chop 2 – 3 cloves of garlic.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper for seasoning. Cook broccoli florets until they are softened and begin to char (about 15 – 20 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add garlic and continue cooking another 3 – 4 minutes. Transfer broccoli and garlic mixture to a plate, set aside and wipe the skillet to remove debris.
- While broccoli is cooking, drain the sauerkraut with a fine mesh sieve. In another frying pan, melt ½ tablespoon of butter and add drained sauerkraut. Cook about 5 – 10 minutes on medium heat until sauerkraut is warmed through.
- Butter 1 side of the 4 slices of marble rye bread. On the non-buttered side, spread about 1 tablespoon of Russian dressing. Place one slice of Swiss cheese over the Russian dressing.
- In the cast iron skillet, place one slice of rye, buttered side down. Top with 1/2 of the charred broccoli and garlic to create a layer. Top with about 1 – 3 tablespoons of sauerkraut to cover the broccoli. Finally, top with a second slice of rye, with the buttered side facing up.
- Grill the broccoli Reuben, pressing the sandwich with a spatula to flatten. until the bottom is golden brown and toasted, about 4 minutes. Then, carefully flip over and grill the other side. (Repeat the previous step and this step to make the second broccoli Reuben.)
- Cut on a diagonal and serve immediately warm.
How Do You Make a Vegetarian Reuben?
Reuben sandwiches are traditionally made with corned beef or pastrami. You can make a vegetarian Reuben by substituting other hearty vegetables. Try a mushroom Reuben, a kale Reuben, an eggplant Reuben, or the broccoli Reuben recipe here. You can keep the other traditional ingredients: rye bread, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, all of which have no meat.
What’s the Difference Between a Reuben and a Rachel Sandwich?
A Reuben is served with corned beef, sauerkraut, and Russian (or Thousand Island) dressing. A Rachel sandwich uses turkey and coleslaw. Both a Reuben and a Rachel use rye bread, Swiss cheese, and Russian (or Thousand Island) dressing. And they’re both grilled with butter!
How Do You Keep a Reuben From Getting Soggy?
If your Reuben is soggy, it may be due to the sauerkraut, which is packed in a lot of liquid. Be sure to drain your sauerkraut thoroughly and remove as much moisture as possible. Heating it on a skillet helps remove more moisture. A soggy Reuben may also be caused by the Russian dressing. To prevent the dressing from softening the bread, you can lightly toast your slices before you assemble the sandwich for grilling. Serving the Reuben quickly while its warm can also help keep it crispy.