For a classic sandwich that never disappoints, sink your teeth into a sky-high corned beef sandwich.
Corned Beef Sandwiches Recipe photo by Taste of Home

When it comes to deli sandwiches, few are as iconic or popular as the corned beef sandwich: hearty rye bread piled high with tender slices of corned beef, layered with melty Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and dressing. It’s one of those vintage sandwich recipes that always hits the spot, no matter the day or occasion.

What’s the difference between a Reuben and a corned beef sandwich?

A square is always a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square. Similarly, all Reubens are corned beef sandwiches, but not all corned beef sandwiches are Reuben sandwiches.

A Reuben is a specific type of sandwich with corned beef that must include rye bread, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and either Russian or Thousand Island dressing. A corned beef sandwich broadly, however, can include an array of different toppings, sauces and fillings to suit one’s personal taste preferences. The recipe shared here is a slight variation on a classic Reuben sandwich.

What is corned beef?

Corned beef is a cured deli meat made from beef brisket and other spices. The meat gets its signature pink hue from the nitrates that are typically added to the brining solution. Those nitrates help inhibit the growth of harmful foodborne bacteria during the curing process. Once cured, the corned beef is typically boiled, braised or roasted, then sliced or shaved for serving. Use it in one of our favorite recipes to make with corned beef.

Now, what about pastrami? While similar, corned beef is not the same as pastrami. For pastrami vs. corned beef, it comes down to the actual cut of beef used. Plus, pastrami is additionally spiced and then smoked.

Ingredients for a Corned Beef Sandwich

  • Corned beef: Corned beef makes any sandwich feel hearty with tons of rich, meaty flavor and texture.
  • Sauerkraut: This fermented cabbage adds moisture to the sandwiches and offers a wonderful tang that cuts through the richness of the beef and cheese. For a fun project, try making homemade sauerkraut.
  • Swiss cheese: This cheese melts beautifully and complements the flavors of corned beef and sauerkraut.
  • Sauce and dressing: A combination of mayo and chili sauce adds a wonderful kick to this sandwich, and a side of store-bought or homemade Thousand Island dressing is perfect for dipping and dunking to your heart’s content. If you have some left over, use it in any of these Thousand Island dressing recipes.
  • Rye bread: Great bread is the foundation of any sandwich. Choose a high-quality loaf of seeded or unseeded rye, pumpernickel or marble rye for these corned beef sandwiches.


Step 1: Make the sauce

In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and chili sauce until well combined. Fold in the cheese and sauerkraut.

Editor’s Tip: Mixing the cheese and sauerkraut into the mayo and chili sauce helps bind the ingredients together so they melt together and don’t fall out while toasting and flipping on the griddle.

Step 2: Assemble the sandwiches

Spread the mixture evenly over 1 side of each bread slice (about 2 tablespoons per slice). To half of the bread slices, add a pile of corned beef, then top each with a remaining piece of bread, spread side down.

Step 3: Toast on a griddle

Corned Beef Sandwiches served on plate with beverageTMB STUDIO

Spread the outsides of sandwiches with butter. Then, on a preheated griddle, toast the sandwiches over medium heat until golden brown and cheese is melted, four to five minutes on each side. If desired, serve with dressing.

Editor’s Tip: To help the cheese melt, you can cover these hot sandwiches with a domed lid from a pot or saucepan while toasting the first side of the sandwich. The trapped steam will help transform your sandwich filling into ooey-gooey cheesy corned beef heaven.

Corned Beef Sandwich Recipe Variations

  • Try a different sauce: If you’re not a fan of using store-bought or homemade Thousand Island dressing, you could also use Russian dressing on your corned beef sandwich. While not traditional, a Dijon or whole-grain mustard would also be a great flavor pairing.
  • Use coleslaw: Instead of using sauerkraut, you can make something like these corned beef and coleslaw sandwiches.
  • Add some bonus toppings: Besides the classic fixings like Swiss cheese and sauerkraut, you can also add caramelized onions, pickles, or pickle relish to your homemade corned beef sandwich recipe.
  • Change the cheese: While Swiss is the most common cheese for corned beef sandwiches, it’s far from the only option. For a spicy kick, opt for pepper jack cheese. Muenster, Gouda or butterkäse are some of the best melting cheeses for sandwiches.

How to Store Corned Beef Sandwiches

Once cooked, corned beef sandwiches are best enjoyed immediately while they are warm. Unfortunately, these sandwiches tend to get soggy, and the bread loses its toasted crispness if stored for later enjoyment.

Can you make a corned beef sandwich ahead of time?

While we don’t recommend cooking the sandwiches ahead of time, you can prepare the sauce ahead of time and store until you’re ready to build the sandwich. You can also slice the meat and have it ready to go. The sauce is good for up to three days before making the sandwiches.

Corned Beef Sandwich Tips

Corned Beef Sandwiches served with chips, dip and beveragesTMB STUDIO

Can I make my own corned beef to put on corned beef sandwiches?

Yes, you can make your own corned beef for sandwiches. While we love the ease of using pre-sliced corned beef from the deli counter, nothing beats using homemade corned beef on a sandwich. Try this slow-cooked corned beef recipe for a real treat. Use up any extra meat in our favorite leftover corned beef recipes.

How do you cut corned beef for sandwiches?

If you pick up deli corned beef, it will already be sliced for you. But if you’re making homemade corned beef, cut it against the grain for sandwiches. Alternatively, shaved or shredded corned beef also works well.

Why is my corned beef sandwich soggy?

To prevent your corned beef sandwich from being soggy, do your best to drain and squeeze as much excess moisture from the sauerkraut before adding it to the recipe.

Watch how to Make Corned Beef Sandwiches

Corned Beef Sandwich

My daughter shared this corned beef sandwich recipe with me. It's become a favorite of our entire family. —Kathryn Binder, Pickett, Wisconsin
Corned Beef Sandwiches Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time

Prep/Total Time: 20 min.


10 servings


  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons chili sauce
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sauerkraut, rinsed and well drained
  • 12 ounces sliced deli corned beef
  • 20 slices rye bread
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • Thousand Island salad dressing, optional


  1. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise and chili sauce until blended. Stir in cheese and sauerkraut. Spread over all 20 bread slices, about 2 tablespoons per slice. Place corned beef on 10 bread slices; top with remaining bread, spread side down. Spread outsides of sandwiches with butter.
  2. On a griddle, toast sandwiches over medium heat until golden brown and cheese is melted, 4-5 minutes on each side. If desired, serve with dressing.

Nutrition Facts

1 sandwich: 486 calories, 32g fat (13g saturated fat), 69mg cholesterol, 1308mg sodium, 34g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 5g fiber), 17g protein.