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Reuben Fried Toast

I love a good Reuben sandwich, and this delightful twist puts all of the delicious toppings in a starring role, nestled on a perfectly crispy slice of fried toast. An open-faced Reuben sandwich on fried toast is a crave-worthy lunch with layers of flavors and textures, from corned beef to sauerkraut to melty Swiss cheese to a decadent topping of creamy coleslaw. More fillings, less bread! This is the second edition of my series, Toasted Tuesdays.

Open-faced Reuben Fried Toast on a plate with black trim.

Why I Love Reuben Fried Toast

One of the beauties of the Reuben sandwich in general is that it’s just layer upon layer of flavor and texture. Savory beef, crunchy, tangy sauerkraut, smooth and nutty Swiss, capped off with creamy dressing on fresh rye bread.

But the fried toast treatment takes it all to a new level. Many sandwiches are made even better with toasted bread, and fried toast is a rich, extra virgin olive oil-enhanced version. It’s a win all around.

For my tastes, and why I love open-faced sandwiches, one thick slice of bread is a better balance of fillings to bread. Even when the bread is a beautiful, bakery-fresh rye. And there’s no squeezing the ingredients out the sides when you bite down onto two outer bread layers!

Another advantage of frying the bread, instead of merely toasting it, is that it creates a very sturdy foundation for lots of toppings, with no worries about the bread collapsing. Dried toast just can’t pull it off.

Ingredients and Substitution Notes

Ingredients for Reuben Fried Toast on a wooden cutting board.

Marble Rye — I usually use sourdough bread for my fried toasts, but I saw a beautiful loaf of marble rye at the bakery and grabbed it. It fried up just beautifully. But if you don’t have or want marble rye, sourdough, whole wheat or multigrain from the bakery works best.

I would advise against the regular, squarish, squooshy-soft sandwich bread, as it’s a little too flimsy and, frankly, too small. You won’t regret a big slice of toast! (The slice above measures 6″ across!)

Extra virgin olive oil — They’ve finally proven that evoo is perfectly fine to cook with, and that it doesn’t go rancid at higher heat. Thank you, food media, for catching up with the rest of us home cooks, who have known all along!

For these fried toasts, I always use evoo, although avocado oil is a great substitute, too. I’ll note here and elsewhere that you only need to use a modest amount of oil. I’ve been making fried toasts for years, and I used to add a pool of oil to the pan. While this makes a.m.a.z.i.n.g fried toast, you really don’t need that much oil.

I apply the oil in zig-zags across the bread. Take care if you’re pouring oil directly out of an un-spouted bottle, as it might glug out.

I almost always use the California Olive Ranch brand of extra virgin olive oil in my kitchen, and I was so excited to find this squeeze bottle on Amazon. Cooks are picky about their tools, and I just prefer the plastic twist cap to those messy metal pour spout inserts.

The squeeze bottle makes it easy to quickly oil down a pan with good control over the stream. When this bottle is empty, I’ll just refill it.

Corned Beef — Since I usually have sauerkraut on hand for the probiotics, I like to make Reuben Fried Toasts for lunch. And that means hitting up the deli — rather than the meat dept — at the grocery for my corned beef. My local Kroger even sells in-store pre-sliced corned beef in the deli, so I don’t have to wait in line.

If you’re a traditionalist and want to cook your own corned beef, absolutely go for it! I can’t help but think of meat loaf, and how awesome the leftovers are the next day as sandwiches.

Sauerkraut — Fermented foods are having a moment, and I’m always amazed at the variety of kimchis and sauerkrauts available now. I remember the sauerkraut from my youth being aggressively … well … sour. But not anymore.

It’s possible that my taste buds have just matured, but today’s sauerkrauts are puckery although well-balanced and absolutely delicious. If you have access to an artisan brand, I suggest you give it a try.

Swiss Cheese — A Reuben wouldn’t be a Reuben without lots of melty Swiss cheese. But of course, in your house, it’s your rules. I think Monterey Jack or fontina would be quite lovely too.

Thousand Island Dressing — I know that Russian dressing is traditional for Reubens, but I was surprised to discover that my Kroger doesn’t carry bottled Russian dressing and that the nearest source was a bit of trek out to Walmart. Which I wasn’t going to do, since I already have Thousand Island dressing.

But don’t let me discourage you from using Russian dressing if you have access to it. If I were making it at home, I’d be inclined to follow this recipe for Russian dressing as its ingredients suggest a zesty and not-as-ketchupy version that I would enjoy.

Coleslaw — Coleslaw is entirely optional on my version of the Reuben, but I had some leftovers from dinner and couldn’t resist topping things off with a little creamy cabbage. This makes the fried toast sort of a “Rachel.”

But I think a true Rachel is turkey pastrami (instead of corned beef) and coleslaw (instead of sauerkraut). Here, I’m taking the ole Reuben and just plopping some slaw on top. Overkill. Total, delicious overkill.

Close up of Fried Reuben Toast with a bite taken out of it.

Why Fried Toast?

Pan-frying a slice of bread seems like a lot of fuss for toast — why not just regular toast? It’s simple, really. Heating toast with a bit of fat makes a crunchier, sturdier, richer slice than the dried result that pops up out of the toaster. I mean, I love toast, but fried toast is toast 10X.

Imagine a grilled cheese sandwich … using two slices of toaster bread. Instead of frying them up in butter. Ummmm. That’s the difference. It’s night and day, in my view.

And as for the fuss, pan-frying is minimally hands-on — you’re just drizzling oil and flipping, drizzling and flipping. Done. It gives you time to gather and prep the toppings. That’s why it’s the perfect lunch meal: 15 minutes and done.

Let’s Make a Reuben Fried Toast!

The instructions here and in the recipe card are for one open-faced Reuben, so that you can make it for your own lunch or easily scale up for multiple servings. Let’s take a quick look at the steps, with visuals. Don’t forget to review the recipe card below to ensure you have all of the ingredients prepped and to note the cooking times.

Step 1: Fry up the bread

Slice of marble rye bread frying in some olive oil in a skillet.

Place a small to medium skillet over medium heat. Make sure the slice of bread sits flat in the skillet. The bread I use, for instance, is too long for an 8″ skillet, so I have to use my 10″ T-Fal. When water flicked on the surface sizzles away, the pan is ready.

Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over one side of the bread in zigzags. You don’t have to completely saturate the slice. The oil will disperse through the bread while cooking.

Place the bread oil-side down in the center of the hot pan and let toast. Check every minute or two — you’re looking for golden brown markings more or less evenly across the slice.

When the first side is toasted, drizzle more olive oil over the upside of the bread slice, and flip. Let toast for a few more minutes, until golden. Transfer the toast to a plate to cool.

Step 2: Add the dressing

A slice of marble rye bread on a plate with Thousand Island dressing.

Spread a thick layer of dressing on the bread. Of course, “thick” is my personal preference, but just remember that the dressing should complement the amount of toppings that are on this fried toast. Which are a lot of toppings lol.

Step 3: Add the Swiss cheese

Melted Swiss cheese on fried toast.

Place the cheese slices on the bread, shingling them to cover the surface of the bread.

You can stop here, or, I like to stick the toast under the broil for a minute until it just starts to melt. (I use metal tongs to carefully lay the toast directly on the oven grate, so as not to dirty another pan.)

Step 4: Layer on the corned beef

Thin slices of corned beef on a slice of fried toast.

Deli corned beef usually comes in slices that are larger than the slice of bread so I like to tear the slices into smaller pieces — maybe thirds or fourths — and then pile them up across the slice of bread. This makes for a more pleasant bite, as you’re less likely to accidentally snag and pull an entire slice of corned beef off the bread (hate when that happens!).

Step 5: Top with the cabbage(s)

Topping off the Reuben Fried Toast with sauerkraut and creamy coleslaw.

Spoon your preferred amount of sauerkraut over the corned beef. And then top with the optional coleslaw if that’s your groove (it is mine). I like to add a little dollop of Thousand Island dressing on top of the sauerkraut, and then kind of smear around with the coleslaw. But I’m weird that way and if you’re not, that’s okay!

And then, dig in!

What to serve with an Open-Faced Reuben Sandwich

Remember that this is a pretty hearty open-faced sandwich, so if enjoying for lunch, you might not need much to go along with it. If it’s for dinner, then it’s the perfect side to go with some soup or a big tossed salad. Here are some suggestions:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Edition #2 of my series, Toasted Tuesdays, where the motto is, More fillings, less bread!

Karen xo
Overhead view of a Reuben Fried Toast on a gray plate.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Reuben Fried Toast

All of our favorite ingredients of a Reuben sandwich piled high on a slice of rich, olive-oil fried marble rye. Fast and delicious!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time7 minutes
Total Time12 minutes
Course: Sandwich
Cuisine: American
Keyword: reuben fried toast
Servings: 1
Author: Karen Gibson

Ingredients

  • 1 slice marble rye bread
  • 2 tablespoons Thousand Island or Russian dressing
  • 2 slices Swiss cheese
  • 3-4 slices corned beef, sliced thin (deli slices are fine)
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut
  • 1/4 cup creamy coleslaw (optional)

Instructions

  • Heat a small skillet over medium heat, until drops of water flicked on the surface sizzle away on contact.
  • Drizzle the oil in zig-zags across one side of the bread. Lay the bread oil side down in the center of the skillet. Press gently on the slice to ensure maximum contact with the pan.
  • Let the bread toast on the one side for several minutes. Check periodically by carefully lifting up a corner of the bread and examining the underside. You’re looking for a nice, golden brown across the surface.
  • When the first side is ready, drizzle more oil over the second side (the “up” side) and flip the bread. Again, let the bread toast until that side is golden brown. Remove to a plate to cool.
  • Spread the dressing thickly across the fried toast. Although I’ve listed an amount, you should use as much or as little dressing as you want. I like a thick coating.
  • Lay the Swiss cheese slices over the dressing. Optionally, you can melt the cheese by placing the bread under the broiler for just a minute or two.
  • Shingle the corned beef slices over the cheese. Spoon on the sauerkraut over the corned beef, using as much as you want. Top with the optional creamy coleslaw.
  • Serve immediately with your favorite sides.

Notes

Although this recipe is for one fried toast, it can easily be scaled up by just doubling, or tripling, etc., the ingredients.
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.
Recipe Rating




Julie

Tuesday 26th of March 2024

You are on to something special with Toasted Tuesday (kinda tired of Taco Tuesday). This looks especially good so I'm going to add a few things to my grocery list. I am in the Cincinnati area so will have to look for that squeezable bottle of olive oil. Glad you shared that!

Karen - SoupAddict

Tuesday 26th of March 2024

I actually got the squeeze bottle on Amazon but in thinking about, it seems like it’s something that Jungle Jim’s would carry

Lisa

Tuesday 26th of March 2024

Wish you best of luck with your scan. I can sort of relate.Love your recipes

Karen - SoupAddict

Tuesday 26th of March 2024

Thank you, I appreciate it!