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Rachel Sandwich (Turkey Reuben)

This gourmet grilled cheese is sure to become a regular favorite!

A Rachel sandwich is a tasty combination of savory flavors and crunchy textures. Enjoy it for a hearty lunch or a quick and easy dinner.

Most sandwich connoisseurs are familiar with a Reuben – tender slices of corned beef layered with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye.

Enter its lighter “sister” version: the Rachel. Deli turkey meat is used in place of the beef, and the dressing is swapped for tangy and sweet Thousand Island spread.

If you’re the type who needs veggies in each bite, I have a turkey melt recipe that’s right up your alley.

And for those days when you’re craving red meat, try a steak sandwich with homemade horseradish aioli or my twist on a Reuben stuffed with creamy coleslaw.

close up of a turkey reuben sandwich cut in half and stacked on top of each other on a white plate with potato chips.

Key ingredients & substitutions for a Rachel Sandwich

  • Deli meat — Choose your favorite brand of roasted turkey or have it sliced fresh at the deli counter. Since the other ingredients have such strong flavors, avoid varieties like honey-roasted or peppered for best results.
  • Bread — I prefer pumpernickel rye, but marbled rye or sourdough bread may also be used. Be sure the slices are nice and sturdy so they hold up well during grilling.
  • Sauerkraut — Boar’s Head makes a delicious version that is sold in the refrigerated section at the grocery deli counter. It’s fresh — much better than the jarred variety found with the canned foods.
ingredients for a turkey reuben sandwich on a table: bread, swiss cheese, sliced turkey, 1000 island dressing, sauerkraut, and butter.

tip

  • I like to whisk together a quick and easy homemade version of 1000 Island Dressing – it’s made with ingredients I typically have on hand, saving me an extra trip to the store. Feel free to grab a bottle of your favorite brand if you prefer.

ingredients for thousand island dressing on a kitchen counter: mayonnaise, ketchup, pickle relish, cider vinegar, and seasonings.

How to make a turkey reuben?

STEP 1 | Mix up the dressing

Combine all of the ingredients until well combined. If you want to prep this ahead of time, store it in the refrigerator in a jar and give it a good stir before using.

a bowl of thousand island dressing on a table with a loaf of pumpernickel bread in the background.

STEP 2 | Assemble the sandwich

Slather each slice of bread with dressing on one side and softened butter on the other. Layer the remaining ingredients on the bread, leaving the buttered side out.

tip

  • Forgot to pull the butter out of the fridge? Fill a tall glass with hot water and dump it back out, then stand the stick on its end and place the glass upside down over the top. You will have perfectly spreadable butter in a few minutes!

process steps for building a turkey reuben sandwich: spread bread with 1000 island dressing; add sauerkraut; layer turkey and swiss cheese; spread bread with 1000 island dressing.

STEP 3 | Grill

Cook the sandwiches for a few minutes on each side, allowing the buttered ends to get crispy and browned. Slice and serve immediately.

tips

  • Before assembling each Rachel sandwich, drain the sauerkraut (but do not rinse!) to remove excess moisture and prevent the bread from becoming soggy.
  • This is an excellent recipe to cook on an outdoor Blackstone griddle since there’s plenty of room to cook every turkey reuben at once.
  • Love that Thousand Island dressing? Make a double batch and save the rest for salads. If it’s too thick for your liking, add a little extra vinegar until it reaches the right consistency.

a turkey reuben sandwich cut in half and stacked on top of each other on a white plate with potato chips.

Frequently asked questions about the Rachel Sandwich

Can I make these ahead of time?

These are best hot off the griddle, so they should be prepared just before serving. However, you could spend a few minutes prepping the dressing and sauerkraut in advance so everything is ready to go.

Why is it called a Rachel Sandwich?

No one knows for sure, and in some parts of the US it goes by a different name — Georgia or California Reuben seem to be the most common alternatives.

There is a very old song titled “Reuben and Rachel” that may have been the inspiration, or maybe the original creator named it for their sweetheart.

I don’t like sauerkraut. What can I use instead?

Many versions of a turkey reuben replace the pickled cabbage with tangy coleslaw instead. Just sauté shredded red or green cabbage with some green onions until tender, then mix with extra 1000 Island dressing.

Serving suggestions

On busy days, open up a bag of potato chips and call it done! For something a little more gourmet, you can air fry some sweet potato chips or asparagus fries instead.

Since this recipe is a bit short on greens, a simple salad or coleslaw would make a wonderful addition. Or, slice up some seasonal veggies and dip them in any extra dressing!

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Yield: 4 servings

Rachel Sandwich (Turkey Reuben)

a turkey reuben sandwich cut in half and stacked on top of each other on a white plate with potato chips.

A Rachel sandwich is a tasty combination of savory flavors and crunchy textures. Enjoy it for a hearty lunch or a quick and easy dinner.

Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 slices pumpernickel rye or marbled rye bread
  • 1000 Island Dressing
  • 1/2 cup sauerkraut, drained
  • 1 lb. sliced deli turkey
  • 8 slices Swiss cheese

1000 Island Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

Instructions

  1. Spread the softened butter on one side of each slice of rye bread. On the other side, spread a tablespoon of the 1000 Island Dressing.
  2. Build the sandwich by layering sauerkraut, sliced turkey, and Swiss cheese on one slice of bread and top with another slice, gently pressing the sandwich together, butter side out.
  3. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium-low heat. Grill the sandwiches 3 - 4 minutes on each side, until the bread is brown and crisped and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Before assembling each Rachel sandwich, drain the sauerkraut (but do not rinse!) to remove excess moisture and prevent the bread from becoming soggy.
  • This is an excellent recipe to cook on an outdoor Blackstone griddle since there’s plenty of room to cook every turkey reuben at once.
  • Make a double batch and save the rest for salads. If it’s too thick for your liking, add a little extra vinegar until it reaches the right consistency.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 938Total Fat: 69gSaturated Fat: 29gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 34gCholesterol: 189mgSodium: 2356mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 5gSugar: 11gProtein: 36g

Did you make this recipe?

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sheila thigpen in her kitchen

Sheila @ Life, Love & Good Food

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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Amy Nash

Tuesday 24th of August 2021

I love reubens so I'm sure I'll love rachels as well! The textures and flavors are so good!

Kathleen Pope

Sunday 22nd of August 2021

This looks like the perfect sandwich now that the weather is turning.

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